~ But shortage will use up surplus ~
PHILIPSBURG--Government's total income, less expenses, in the first quarter of 2011 shows "a positive balance" of about NAf. 14 million, Finance Minister Hiro Shigemoto told Parliament in his "Year Notes" submitted on May 16.
However, he added that taking into account the seasonal pattern and the fact that road tax and part profit tax are paid in the first quarter, "this surplus will be consumed by shortages in the coming periods."
As for liquidity, the total of bank balances as of March 31, 2011, amounts to NAf. 90 million – including NAf. 73.3 million in time-deposits.
Total income in the first quarter of 2011 is in line with the first quarter of 2010 and takes into account the change from Island Territory to country.
"There is a decline in wage tax/income tax income and possibly profit tax income, however, this decline is compensated by an increase in turnover tax, transfer tax and concession fees."
Total income for the first quarter of 2011, including accruals for concession fees, amounts to NAf. 109 million. In the same period of 2010, comparable income was also NAf. 109 million. There are, however, reasons that justify monitoring the flow of income carefully and timely so that disappointing income levels can be restored and/or expenses reduced, the minister stated.
Revenue from income and wage tax increased over the last ten years significantly due to strong economic growth, but declined in the last couple of years compared to Gross Domestic Product (GDP). Income- and wage tax as percentage of GDP declined from ten per cent in 2001 to eight per cent in 2010.
Shigemoto said the possible reasons are increase of minimum tax free income level, decrease of compliance/increase informal sector, increase in income tax reimbursements due to elimination in backlog income tax assessments and unreliable GDP figures or actually decline in economic activities.
Specifically, the compliance issue will be addressed by the Compliance Team through its plan of action.
Total operating expenses for the first quarter of 2011 have been preliminarily calculated at NAf. 93 million. Compared to the prorated calculated budget for the first quarter of NAf. 105 million, this means an under spending of about NAf. 13 million. This is mainly due to the fact that because of the lack of an approved budget 2011, actual spending was based on a maximum allowed spending level of about NAf. 30 million per month.
Shigemoto further explained that investments in fixed assets in 2011 are minimal, in total about NAf. 250,000. Study loans paid out in the first quarter 2011 amount to NAf. 1.6 million.
"The fact that the budget 2011 has not yet officially been approved and signed into law, funding for the planned capital investments in 2011 cannot be acquired which leads to a postponement of capital investments in mainly infrastructural works and consequently a slow down of economic growth," he added.
Figures prior to Oct. 10
Tax revenues in the first three quarters of 2010 show "a little decrease" in revenue compared to 2009, from NAf. 192.3 million in 2009 to NAf. 191.5 million in 2010). A substantial decrease (17 per cent) in profit tax income is compensated by increased receipts in all other tax items, except for income tax.
The Tax Office has in the last couple of years reduced the backlog in income tax assessments which has led to more refunds than receipts. Income tax revenues (receipts less refunds) in 2009 was positive NAf. 2.4 million, income tax revenues (receipts less refunds) in 2010 amounts to negative NAf. 1.6 million.
Total income in the first three quarters up to 10-10-10 amounts to NAf. 210 million compared to NAf. 192 million in 2009 over the same period. The increase of NAf. 18 million consists mainly of incidental income items like NAf. 11.7 million from advance settlement dismantling, NAf. 3.9 million newly introduced concession fee for utilities company GEBE and NAf. 3.1 million charges against reserves.
Total income in the first 3 quarters of 2010 up to 10-10-10 amounts to NAf. 210 million or NAf. 10 million below the budget of NAf. 220 million. This difference consists mainly of less income tax receipts than budgeted (NAf. 1.7 million), no condominium fees introduced (NAf. 2.3 million) and less receipts in several charges and retributions (NAf. 6 million).
The budget of operating expenses for the period up to 10-10-10 amounts to NAf. 211 million. This is without back-service premiums that should have been budgeted for. The actual expenses as recorded and reported in the quarterly reports amount to about NAf. 196 million or NAf. 15 million less than budgeted.
Investments in capital goods and study loans amount to about NAf. 14 million.
The total of bank balances as of 10-10-10 was NAf. 78.9 million of which NAf. 77.6 million was in time deposits.
From Oct. 10 to Dec. 31
Shigemoto said that a proper allocation of income and expenses to the various periods to the Island Territory of St. Maarten prior to 10-10-10 and to the Settlement committee for expenses paid related to the previous Federal Government prior to 10-10-10 and the expenses allocated to country St. Maarten as from 10-10-10 still needs to be worked out in detail.
There are no final figures for Oct 10 to December 31, 2010, as yet. Preliminary calculations indicate that income (NAf. 80.4 million) covers most expenses (NAf. 80.9 million) in this period.
Income of the country in this period amounts to NAf. 80.4 million. This included taxes that previously were part of the Netherlands Antilles like the two per cent of the turnover tax (NAf. 11.5 million), the transfer tax (NAf. 0.8 million), the gasoline excise tax (NAf. 1.1 million), the bank licenses fees (NAf. 5.6 million), the bureau telecommunication fees (NAf. 1.7 million), and others like stamp tax, penalties, deposit permits, and inheritance tax.
Total operating expenses for the mentioned period amounts to NAf. 80.9 million which includes the expenses of the tasks taken over from the Netherlands Antilles like the police force, prison, tax office, federal receiver's office and others.
The total bank balance as of December 31, 2010, amounted to NAf. 77.8 million, of which 73.4 in time deposits.
A list of 132 countries (CIA Factbook) shows national debt ratios varying from 3.3 per cent (Libya) to 226 per cent (Japan). St. Maarten has a debt/GDP ratio of 23 per cent increasing to 31 per cent in 2011 if all capital investments planned for 2011 according to budget will be funded and executed, Shigemoto stated. "A 31 per cent debt/GDP ratio brings us at the level of countries as Canada, Taiwan, and Trinidad and Tobago."
According to the same list, Aruba's debt/GDP ratio is 46 per cent, the Netherlands 65 per cent.
"Without debt relief, the financial situation would be quite different with the obligation to take over high interest bearing debts of over NAf. 480 million which together with existing interest bearing backlog in pension premiums of over NAf. 65 million would result in interest expenses of at least NAf. 40-45 million yearly." At present with the debt relief, interest expenses including interest over extra funding for capital investments in 2011 amount to only NAf. 11 million.