Publiká riba 8 January 2016
Let me start by wishing you all a fruitful and successful 2016 and by encouraging each and everyone of you to contribute to the innovative character of our jurisdiction by continuing the effective collaboration I have experienced through CIFA, IFG, CIFC and others in the past year.
Distinguished guests, the budget for the year 2016, delivers on the commitment to protect and to grow our International Financial Sector, by taking the difficult decisions to live within our means as a government and to allocate the needed resources to further enhance the functioning of our jurisdiction on the international front.
Three years ago, when I presented the first budget, our finances were in crisis and there was little money left. We were depleting our reserves and the necessary changes in the health and welfare system of the country were neglected. The job of the government then was to rescue the country.
Over these three years, it has been the job of this government to:
And so we leave to the next generation a stronger country than the one we inherited. Today I want to mention that the budget for the year 2016 is set out to build on that commitment.
I promised to expand our International Network of Tax Treaties. Today, I can present to you that after nearly two decades, as Anouschka mentioned, of a virtual stand still we now have added
I promised to enhance the adherence to International Rules and Regulations by our jurisdiction.
Today, I can tell the members of CIFA that
I promised to draft legislation, in cooperation with the Financial Sector, to stay competitive as a jurisdiction.
Today the Export Facility, incorporated in the Profit Tax Legislation stands testament to this promise.
I have re-launched the Taskforce Taxation to also draft new legislation in cooperation with the Financial Sector in the year 2016, to make our jurisdiction more innovative and competitive.
In an effort to push to create economic substance in our jurisdiction, the budgets adopted by this government have permitted large scale capital investments in our infrastructure. To name a few: the investment in the building of a new hospital stands tantamount to the renewing of the health care infrastructure, the rebuilding and renewing of our hard infrastructure, the investment in our utilities with an increased emphasis on greening our energy sources and finally the development of the Blue Economy, with the needed international exposure.
This shows that the claim that Curacao had to choose between sound public finances and great capital investments is a false one. If you are bold with your reforms, you can have both. That is because sound public finances are not the enemy of sustained growth – they are its precondition. Without sound public finances there is definitely no confidence and definitely no sustained economic growth.
But the anemic growth rate of our economy reminds us of the huge challenges we still face at home and abroad. Our combined tax and premium burden is too high and our red tape remains a problem. Our competitiveness as a jurisdiction is growing, but we still lag behind most of our competitors.
And I can tell you that expectations for world growth and world trade have been revised down again. The weakness in the Eurozone remains a persistent problem, there are rising concerns about debt in emerging economies.
These are yet more reasons why I am determined to follow through on the necessary steps to be taken to protect and develop our International Financial Sector.
I will be vigilant to avoid overregulation which will hurt our competitiveness and which will increase the costs of our International Financial Center.
In addition I will continue my efforts on the international front to increase our links to the global economy, by expanding our International Network of Tax Treaties.
And you can count on my commitment to this new era in International Financial Services, when it comes to supporting innovative initiatives on the creation of new products.
To conclude I am a strong supporter of creating economic substance to support our International Financial Center, in which structural spending by the government is at a level that a competitive, modern and developed economy can sustain.
And it’s a level the Curacao people are prepared to pay their taxes for. It is precisely because I believe in decent public services and a properly funded welfare state that I am insistent that they are sustainable and affordable.
To simply argue all the time that public spending must always go up and never be cut is irresponsible, and lets down the people who rely on public services the most.
Equally, to fund the things we want the government to provide in the modern world, we have to be prepared to provide the resources.
Now we are finally ready and poised for real economic growth in the coming years. In 2015 our economy finally showed slight growth that is expected to continue into 2016 and beyond.
This ladies and gentleman is progress. I hope that you see that as well and feel as confident as I am that 2016 will be the year of growth!
Thank you all for your attention and thanks to CIFA, CIFC, IFG and all other organizations for their great collaboration and teamwork.