The Executive Council of the Public Entity of Saba, presented a letter to Minister of Interior Affairs and Kingdom Relations, Liesbeth Spies, during a meeting when she visited the island on Tuesday of this week. In the letter the Executive Council requests that she look into the possibility that the “vastgoedbelasting” or property tax only be levied on businesses that are valued at more than 5 million dollars.
The reason for the request, the letter states, is because the new tax structure “continues to challenge Saba and its people.” It goes on to say, “since the implementation of the new tax structure, the cost of living has increased exponentially with no indication of relief on mounting financial burden Saba’s inhabitants are facing.”
While the shift from direct taxes to indirect taxes was intended to reduce the tax burden on the population, it has actually adversely affected citizens of the island. A study conducted by government on the salary of persons employed in the civil service found that there was an average net increase of just S44, which cannot substantiate the tremendous increase in the already high cost of living.
The government during the Caribisch Nederland week in March requested “clarity and insight” into reports that the tax revenue collected for 2011 far exceeded the quota and was denied the information outright. The government goes on to ask, “If these reports are correct, it begs the question, why the Ministry of Finance continues to pursue the collection of “vastgoedbelasting” retroactive to January 2011?” The Council also suggests that, “if the quota has been met and exceeded, this information should be shared with the BES islands and the approach of the implementation of the “vastgoedbelasting” should be addressed.”
The provisional solution proposed by the Executive Council until the matter of the tax burden is to have the Tax Department focus only on businesses that are “valued at over 5,000,000 US Dollars”.These businesses the Council concludes “will account for more than 85 per cent of the anticipated revenue generated by the “vastgoedbelasting” and in turn will provide much needed relief for the smaller businesses on the BES Islands”
Press release GIS Saba, June 14, 2012 (9)