Opinion: Go for it GeorgePOSTED: 08/29/11 12:20 PM
To be fair to National Alliance MP George Pantophlet, he is not only into hazy half-baked proposals like levying toll at the border. He has also set his sights on the casinos and the lottery business. Bravo!
Really, it is about time that the government gets serious about assessing this industry. We’re not in favor of slapping a fee on the casinos just like that. We need a balanced and sensible approach. Grabbing the report written by the Scientific Research and Documentation Center (WODC) of the Dutch Justice Ministry and taking from granted that its estimated turnover of the casino industry is the correct figure is a bit too easy.
The estimated turnover of 125 million guilders ($69.8 million) Pantophlet cites is fourteen years old: it stems from a report written by the (Antillean) Committee Indirect Taxes for Casinos. On July 30, 1997, this committee reported that there are no reliable figures available about the casino industry in St. Maarten. Nevertheless, the committee estimated the annual turnover to be 125 million guilders.
It is therefore an Antillean committee, established at the time by the Finance Ministry that came up with this figure, but it is based on nothing: there were, already in 1997, no reliable figures available. Some things never change and this is one of them.
Maybe the casino bosses are laughing their head off at the idea that they would have to pay 15 million guilders. Of course, they’ll keep the laughs to themselves and object to their heart’s delight.
If Pantophlet is really serious about tackling the casino industry, he will have to come up with a sensible plan that appeals to the business sense of casino operators. To make this possible, the casinos must be audited; this way the government will get a realistic insight in the money that is going around in the industry.
But will the government act on Pantophlet’s suggestions? Again, these plans should not be announced in the media (at least not alone) they should also be followed up with action in the forum where it matters most: the parliament. That is where a parliamentarian is able to put the government to the test, where he is able to ask questions and demand answers.
We encourage MP Pantophlet to do just that. This way, we will all learn a bit more about the most interesting relationship between the casino industry, the government and our politicians.
Go for it George.