People who can afford to buy luxury vehicles should pay more road tax, says independent Member of Parliament Maurice Lake.
“The small man is already scraping to make ends meet and to find money to pay the already hefty road tax, and government should not add more burden to the people, he pointed out.
The MP is in fully agreement with Finance Minister Richard Gibson that the increase in the road tax, which has now been withdrawn from Parliament, does not take into account the social aspect and impact of the tax increase.
“An across-the-board increase is very unfair. Persons driving expenses vehicles must pay more than those persons driving around in smaller vehicles. Those who can afford to purchase luxury vehicles should pay more because they can afford to do so. It’s as simple as that. The small man should pay less,” the MP pointed out.
“There are several other ways to generate and collect monies to balance the budget. But, it comes down to control, control, control of who is not paying their fair share and government not going out there to collect from others who are beating the system every year,” MP Lake adds.
An untapped source of income, according to Lake, is the collection of fees for water rights from people granted such by government. “You will be surprised how many marinas are making millions for the use of government water rights without paying government one cent.”
Lake said, “Imagine how much monies government can generate from a tourist driver’s license. Our neighbour, Anguilla, is doing this and generating revenues. If you look at the visitors we receive annually and government charges US $20 dollars for a tourist driver’s licence, it will translate in hundreds of thousands of dollars for government.
“We also have to control car rentals companies not paying their fair share by using French number plates while doing business on the Dutch Side.
“Other sources of new income can be vehicle registration fee, a fee for exporting of vehicles, a higher fee for sending money abroad via Western Union, Money Gram and other courier services. Every little bit adds up.”
Lake said a better coordination is also needed between Finance and Domein Beheer with respect to invoices to pay for government land that is leased out. There are too many outstanding invoices in this area for government land.
Priority, he said, should be given to the development of an aircraft registry as well as a shipping registry. These will generate millions of dollars in revenues once the proper resources are in place.
An agreement should be made with the two ports of entry to take the lead in setting up the infrastructure to execute an aircraft and shipping registry. The airport and the port both have financial resources as well as the drive to get this done on behalf of government who is the shareholder in both companies, he said.
“We attract private jets and big planes every day and especially around this time of the year. The same can be said for mega-yachts and cruise ships. These planes and vessels are registered in different countries around the world. Why can’t they be registered in St. Maarten? Let’s get back to basics and get this done,” Lake said.