PHILIPSBURG–“Innovative, structured, and relevant” were the words used by Party for Progress (PFP) to describe the economic recovery plan presentation made by Minister of Tourism, Economic Affairs, Transportation and Telecommunication (TEATT) Ludmila de Weever in Parliament last Wednesday.
“What we found particularly relevant was the proposal made for tax reform,” PFP Member of Parliament (MP) Melissa Gumbs said.
The party said COVID-19 has brought to the forefront long-known issues not only in St. Maarten, but worldwide. Countries around the world are being forced to take stock of their practices and policies in order to weather this storm, the party said in a press statement.
“As a small island and very small economy we are particularly vulnerable to the economic fall-out of COVID-19. The Minister’s proposal to phase out both income and profit tax in an effort to increase local purchasing power and to incentivise doing business is one that shows she has her finger on the pulse, and one that we welcome and will support where possible,” it was stated in the release.
MP Raeyhon Peterson added, “In our manifesto, PFP identified our five strategies for policy and legislative change to bring about our vision of improving the quality of life for all. Our first strategy, financial stability at all levels, called for a simplification of the tax system and the lowering of profit tax to 15 per cent and an abolition of the income tax, with particular preferential policies for our small and medium enterprises.”
PFP said its scientific committee, whose mandate is to ponder, research, and propose policy and legislative solutions for identified problems, has been working on a proposal for tax reform that they are happy to share with the Minister.
The two MPs said that now more than ever the country needs to establish a data-driven living wage. With all the (anticipated) cuts in both the private and public sector, particularly as it relates to salaries and wages, the already high cost of living in St. Maarten will only become more pronounced.
“Moreover, how is government able to negotiate such measures without an established poverty line? Within the first month of lockdown, hundreds of persons found themselves in a critical position. This could be an indication that our policies and the way we do business don’t provide enough of a safety net for our people.
“The so-called paycheque to paycheque living is much bigger on our island than we thought. To that end, for the sustainability of our economy and the people of St. Maarten, PFP would like to see economic policies that also include the establishment of a poverty line,” it was stated in the release.
“We are going through a process now of self-evaluation in our country; looking at what works and what doesn’t. Reforms, be they economic or fiscal, must therefore also be people-focused and the poverty line will help to drive the decisions we take now for the long-term well-being of our people.”
Source: The Daily Herald https://www.thedailyherald.sx/islands/pfp-calls-de-weever-s-tax-reform-proposal-innovative