The business community on Sint Maarten is very much concerned with the decision by Management of The Receiver to eliminate the use of all checks as a means of payment.
Like it or not, St. Maarten’s predominant tool for financial exchange is still a paper check. To restrict its use is hindering the economy and increasing the cost of doing business. Once again, the Government enacts a knee jerk reaction which succeeds in punishing those that comply without affecting those that don’t. If such a drastic measure were necessary, it would make sense to at least consult with the clients of the Receiver in order to mitigate negative impact for all parties, instead of unilaterally making such a far-reaching change.
All other payment alternatives being offered by the Receiver, will in fact force businesses to settle their monthly tax debt earlier than it is due by law, because payments will have to be negotiated in advance in order for a payment receipt to be submitted with the declaration. The SHTA doubts very much that this is legally allowable within the current legislation, and certainly not based solely on an announcement by “Management”.
Further, we emphasize that our fiscal system is not technologically nor efficiently aligned to deal with a direct bank payment. Businesses have already experienced missing payments, unapplied payments, late fines and penalties because of the date an online payment was entered into the system versus when it was made by the company or when it was received by the Receiver; it takes three business days for an interbank transfer to be executed. This is unacceptable when by default the payment will have to be made in advance and the business has no control over when it will be posted to the bank or to the accounts of the Receiver.
While we recognize the issues caused by bad checks and NSF payments, the Receiver also has not been timely in processing its deposits, as we’ve noticed often payments made to the Receiver are not cleared for several days. This, in itself, can increase the number of bounced checks as many smaller businesses are operating on really tight cash flow and are not keeping their administration up-to-date on a daily basis due to cost constraints. The bottom line is the economic situation on St. Maarten is deteriorating. Companies are struggling in this period 2 years post Irma without any relief or marketing, more than before. If the Receiver cannot assist by making the tax payment process more efficient, they should at least not make it worse.
We request this be revisited immediately.
The Sint Maarten Hospitality and Trade Association (SHTA)
The Indian Merchants Association (IMA)
The Sint Maarten Timeshare Association (SMTA)