Philipsburg – Since its inception, SHTA has been using the administrative and management expertise of our membership base to provide all incoming Governments, committees, task forces etc., with information, suggestions and opinions in ways on how to improve the finances of the country by either reducing expenses and/or increasing revenues. There are many economic principles that are equally applied to government as well as the private sector. The goal of SHTA’s suggestions is always the same: To ensure that by keeping a lean Government apparatus the tax burden that is passed to individuals and businesses is always kept at the lowest possible level.


During the past week’s Budget debates we were very pleased with the businesslike approach of the Minister of Finance. Some of the discussions in Parliament have echoed our previous suggestions and recommendations with respect to cost savings and revenue improvements. Some of the more notable and significant topics are the following:


*       Payroll control. Payroll is the highest single expense of Government as it is in many businesses.      Therefore, proper internal controls over time and attendance, enforcement of “no work, no pay” will immediately result in a major reduction of payroll expense to any organization, public or private. Now that this topic has been floored during the budget discussions we hope that a plan of action is made to implement “biometric punch clocks” on all government departments and that employees that cannot account for their time are simply not paid. This implementation alone will bring the payroll controls of government in line with the times and the investment will pay for itself within the same year.


*       TOT issues. TOT is damaging the growth of our economy and motivates local businesses to purchase from overseas rather than from the local vendors. Finally we get confirmation that the
“temporary” increase of the TOT (as of 11 February 2011) from 3% to 5% actually resulted in a detriment to the coffers of the country and resulted in a contraction of the island’s economy.


*       The need for tax reform. For many years SHTA has been advocating to implement a tax system that works for the economy instead of against it, spreads the tax burden in an even and fair manner while simplifying the filing process which in itself has been proven internationally to increase compliance.


*       That our one pillar economy can no longer depend on ad hoc and word of mouth marketing. That a structured and well executed plan of approach to increasing our Tourism based economy needs to take shape urgently. This has always been a mantra of SHTA and we reiterate the call for an independent Tourism Authority so that in times of political change, the economy can stay a steady course.


Once again SHTA remains available to assist in public private partnership to implementing the above which will undoubtedly result in an improvement to the fiscal position of the country and a lower tax burden for all.


The St. Maarten Hospitality & Trade Association is dedicated to bringing quality to all aspects of life on St. Maarten by promoting sustainable economic development for its members in cooperation with the social partners and the creation of a fair marketplace. For more information please contact our offices at 542-0108 or visit our website at

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