CBCS building in Philipsburg
PHILIPSBURG–St. Maarten received approximately NAf. 18.5 million from the foreign exchange licence fee in 2020, Finance Minister Ardwell Irion told Members of Parliament (MPs) on Thursday.
Irion’s statements came during Thursday’s meeting of Parliament’s Finance Committee that discussed matters related to the Central Bank of Curaçao and St. Maarten (CBCS). The meeting was a continuation of the one held on February 1.
From 2011 to 2019, St. Maarten received an average of NAf. 24.6 million annually in licence fees, Irion told MPs. CBCS is responsible for assessing and collecting licence fees from local financial institutions, and transferring those funds to government.
The country received about 25 per cent less than the average figure in 2020. This was mainly due to the economic impact of coronavirus COVID-19, said Irion, which subsequently limited the amount of money that persons sent abroad. He said the country is expected to again receive less than the average figure in 2021.
Irion said the proposal to increase the licence fee from one to 1.5 per cent was briefly discussed during the CBCS shareholders’ meeting in December 2020, with further talks to follow once the proposal has been analysed.
CBCS president Richard Doornbosch told The Daily Herald in late January that CBCS is busy preparing legislation to increase the licence fee. The draft legislation will have to be passed in Parliament before it can go into effect.
This move could potentially raise an additional NAf. 12.3 million for St. Maarten’s coffers, said Irion, referring to the annual average of NAf. 24.6 million.
Money sent abroad as remittances totalled some NAf. 81.5 million in 2020. This figure comprises NAf. 27.2 million sent via money transfer companies and NAf. 54.3 million through commercial banks.
Total remittance outflow – from money transfer companies and commercial banks – stood at NAf. 93.4 million in 2019, NAf. 90.3 million in 2018, NAf. 115.2 million in 2017, NAf. 132.9 million in 2016, and NAf. 112.2 million in 2015. This totals some NAf. 625.5 million over the five-year period.
Of these figures, money transfer companies accounted for NAf. 31.8 million in 2019, NAf. 21.7 million in 2018, NAf. 59.2 million in 2017, NAf. 73.9 million in 2016, and NAf. 58.8 million in 2015.
Remittances sent abroad via commercial banks stood at NAf. 61.6 million in 2019, NAf. 68.6 million in 2018, NAf. 56 million in 2017, NAf. 59 million in 2016, and NAf. 53.4 million in 2015.
After Irion answered the questions from the previous meeting, some MPs took the floor again to pose additional questions to the finance minister.
The MPs who posed additional questions were Sarah Wescot-Williams of United Democrats (UD), Claudius “Toontje” Buncamper of United St. Maarten Party (US Party), Christophe Emmanuel (independent), Omar Ottley and Rolando Brison of United People’s (UP) party, and George Pantophlet of National Alliance (NA).
The meeting was adjourned until further notice following the round of questions.
Source: The Daily Herald https://www.thedailyherald.sx/islands/naf-18-5-million-collected-from-licence-fees-in-2020