PHILIPSBURG–Parliament adopted government’s annual accounts for the years 2013 and 2014 on Friday afternoon, just over half a decade after the years they cover.
Finance Minister Perry Geerlings, who was not even a minister at the time the accounts cover, told Members of Parliament (MPs) the accounts are “extremely late and far from perfect.” He urged the passing of the accounts, as they are vital in clearing up the backlog in the financial systems.
Geerlings promised to reduce the backlog of annual accounts this year, and United St. Maarten Party MP Frans Richardson said he plans to hold the minister to that promise.
Prior to the sitting of the legislature on the annual accounts, Geerlings and MPs were in discussion about another financial topic – amendments to the tax laws to reflect compliance with the international Common Reporting Standard (CRS).
The CRS is an information standard for the automatic exchange of information (AEOI) regarding bank accounts between tax authorities on a global level, which the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) developed in 2014. Its purpose is to combat tax evasion.
MPs Richardson and Franklin Meyers have indicated that they will not support the law. While they say they are not against checks and balances, they believe laws such as these international regulations are forced on St. Maarten without its particular situation taken into consideration.
Meyers said such laws are tantamount “to putting a target on the backs of the people of St. Maarten.”
Geerlings warned that not passing the law puts the country at risk of losing investors, as investment banks will shy away from the destination. The law aims to protect the country from losing needed funds, he said.
The session to pass the law will be reconvened in the coming days. The sitting was suspended for the one on the annual accounts to take place.
Source: The Daily Herald https://www.thedailyherald.sx/islands/85856-parliament-adopts-annual-accounts-for-2013-2014