SINT MAARTEN (PHILIPSBURG) – During Tuesday’s virtual parliamentary setting, Faction Leader of the United St. Maarten Party (USP) Member of Parliament (MP) Claudius Buncamper asked a number of questions to the Minister of Finance Ardwell Irion with respect to the Sint Maarten Stimulus & Relief Plan (SSRP) which was presented to the MPs on Tuesday by the minister.
MP Buncamper’s questions and statements are as follows:
How much aid are we receiving as liquidity support outside of the recently received Naf 50.2 million guilders which was liquidity support for budget 2019?
What's the CFT's position on the matter of the grant request seeing that Minister Knops from day one said loan not grant, not even partial grant? I ask this especially regarding the Caribbean members of the CFT recent position on being pushed aside and their letter to the Kingdom Council of Minister distancing themselves from the advice.
Our stimulus package in my opinion leaves a serious vacuum when it comes to capital expenses seeing our budget 2020 cannot carry such for sure anymore in no form of a loan seeing what's already stated by the IMF documents published in the daily newspaper about a week ago. Do you agree with this statement and if not why not?
Seeing we have very little room in our annual budget to make the government leaner, a requirement of the Dutch government would creating more income with the same government be seen as a form of making government leaner in the sense of income vs expenses?
Based on the previous question Is there any monies presently available to start the tax reform on the island? Are there any contracts already approved to start these works? What are these costs if there's a contract and who pays for it?
The statements of the Dutch Government regarding the support of the stimulus plan makes one believe that during crisis periods one must punish the country through its politicians, that are elected by the same population of the same country. Do you believe that statement to be correct?
If we do not get Dutch aid what would that mean for the country Minister? Are there any other options available to feed our people and get our economy back up and running?
What's the government’s position on passing the increase in age of the pension and the decrease in premium? I ask as the last time I understood the Prime Minister had mixed feelings. How does this go with the approval for the stimulus plan?
Is there a plan in place to make the necessary salary cuts across the board in the government apparatus and also in the government owned companies?
The assumptions and considerations of the Central Bank look to be very optimistic with 50% return of economic activity by July when our main industry tourist come from the worst infected country the USA. Is this a realistic assumption seeing the Dutch will look at their numbers over ours?
What did CFT think of the Stimulus plan and the CBCS assumptions and considerations?
Will the Rental Committee startup capital and personnel to be given now, this in order to stay ahead of the eviction curve and also to adhere to the request of the Ombudsman office?
Will the landlords be able to come into considerations for income support for the month of April when the government starts up the Stimulus plan? By doing so we can basically wave the rental payments by the payroll support recipients to landlords in my opinion.
Minister does the government have another option to get a loan from other sources. I believe we can also take a loan from our own entities like the SZV or APS to ensure we cover these difficult times if the Dutch play hardball.
Do you support the position of the Dutch government that we must give something to get something when they are giving away everything to their European partners and not their Kingdom partners?
The payroll support will cost an anticipated Naf 74.1 million guilders for the 3 months with a minimum income of Naf 1150,-. Why would we go below the threshold of the minimum wage?
The payroll support is Naf 32.3 million for April due to the lockdown but for May its Naf 20.9 million and for June also. Seeing that half of May will be a lockdown period isn't the amount of Naf 20.9 million to little?
Everyone knows that nobody can live from that amount so is it to be understood that the businesses that have no income will pay the missing 20% to reach back to the minimum wage amount? If not, how do we intend to handle such?
Will the government use funds to start up export businesses to start the changing of income sources? Just think for example on a window and door making businesses (home repair programs) as with the Small Medium Enterprise support program only deals with the recovery of existing businesses.
Does the stimulus plan have any additional monies to skill train persons seeing we cannot use the Trust Fund monies? We might be able to use the trust fund money, but we can use the platform and don't have to waste funds and time to reinvent such.
I ask that the soft loan program of Naf 33 million is reviewed and that the possible startup of small and Medium enterprise is possible with a maximum cap?
I'm a little confused with the addition of the airport in the first stimulus calculation done by SZV for payroll support as when we had our meeting with the airport (for which we are still awaiting answers) they stated they had a pot from the World bank to keep them afloat till December 2020. Is that correct or not as now they out, and is the WB going to allow the usage of Trust fund money for COVID19 when the Dutch government said absolutely no fund monies will be used covid19 related
Why are we also paying a maximum of Naf 1150,- per month with income support to sole proprietors, vendor license holders, bus and independent taxi and tour drivers while the minimum wage is some 300 guilders higher?
The food vouchers will cover who all, seeing that the payroll support and income support can result in a minimum amount of Naf 1150,- which is below our minimum wage? Can everyone apply?
Many persons of the 1500 on the VSA list get help indirectly or directly from family members, as in my opinion they cannot really live from what the get. Now with so many persons receiving less than minimum wage with the payroll and income support this will affect those families. Was any consideration kept with this?
The cost that the stimulus plan is indicating for the hospital is only some 1.6 million under healthcare. The loss of income projections of the hospital is some Naf 17.8 million due to having to down scale operations to make rooms available for the Corona Virus crisis for the months of march to June 2020? Who will cover such losses if the Dutch don't approve such?
I didn't see anything really to give the young people an opportunity to serve their country at the highest level in the plan? What I mean with such is that we start getting our youngsters in some sort of army/militia that isn't just a voluntary service, but is with pay and teach them over a 3 year period a skill through NIPA, Coast Guard, Police, Fire Department, Medical assistance or whatever. Once done with the education and training aspects you serve 2 years active making a total of 5 years. You can always continue or transfer to the skill you trained within the organization. This way you also build a reserve team of volunteers in a disaster who are skilled for such.
Agriculture is so needed, and I would like to see some sort of startup capital for the farmers on the island to expand and also land be made available to do agriculture? The Buncamper family is now looking at how we can assist with land for agricultural purposes in the very near future gods willing Minister, so any startup funds would be great.
Taxi drivers position of the Naf 1150,- being too low and they aren't part of the food voucher program. How can that be worked out as they are the high-risk group for sure? The have send a letter asking for a review on the amounts listed
Will government be given a tax break on TOT when such a tax is only paid when something is sold, and the client is who pays that tax anyway?
How much revenue is lost out of the Naf 67.5 million on taxes not being paid to government by businesses?
How much was projected in budget 2020 this year on profit tax from the businesses? Is this also projected in the loss of income?
This is a great time to implement a new tax system and also introduce the POS (point of sale) systems across the board. We now have some time to implement them while business is still slow.
Have the entities representing the businesses been asked to get onboard with the implementation of this POS (point of sales) system in their respective businesses?
How do we intend to ensure that everyone is compliant with their taxes moving forward? Will to new tax structure ensure this?
I see no real mention is made of the Tourism industry in the recovery plan. Is there a reason for such?