PHILIPSBURG–The Council of Ministers is expected to approve today, Wednesday, a package of measures related to the draft 2017 budget now before Parliament. The debate on the draft budget started in the Central Committee of Parliament on Monday and will continue today at 11:00am in Parliament House.
The amendment comes from the Committee for Financial Supervision CFT, which reviewed the draft budget in advance of Finance Minister Richard Gibson tabling it in Parliament. The amendment is aimed at shifting some budget items in an attempt to keep it “realistic, conservative and balanced” as described by Gibson on Monday.
It is not clear whether the amendment to the budget will receive unanimous approval by the Council of Ministers. The draft budget did not receive such in the Council of Ministers. Gibson said it is not required to have a unanimous decision for approval as long as there is majority support.
Government is maintaining the hiring freeze put in place since 2015 to keep expenditures low, Gibson said.
Also being worked on is formalizing the writing off of taxes prior to 2006. This was an initiative started by Roland Tuitt when he started as Finance Minister. He had only issued a letter to the Tax Department with instruction not to collect taxes prior to 2006. However, Gibson said this was not correct procedure, because a change in the tax regulation is needed.
“Steps have been taken by myself to complete and formalize the contents of that letter Minister Tuitt sent to the Island Receiver so it can reach Parliament to effectuate that desire,” said Gibson.
The minister said he made a mistake on Monday when he announced that the loss of cruise ship calls from Disney Cruise Line and Norwegian Cruise Line led to an economic impact of NAf. 90 million. The loss to the local economy actually stands at NAf. 100 million, he said
Source: The Daily Herald https://www.thedailyherald.sx/islands/62101-budget-amendment-with-cft-measures-for-approval-today