Law amendment aims to increase cross-border cash to NAf. 25,000

PHILIPSBURG--A law amendment before Parliament aims to increase the threshold for cash coming into and leaving St. Maarten to NAf. 25,000, up from the current amount of NAf. 20,000.
 
The change aims to put the country in compliance with international regulations to combat money-laundering and the financing of terror activities.
 
  The amendment not only covers money transfers, it also includes a clause to cover the cross-border transport of big-ticket items such as jewellery, cars and other luxury items.
 
  The amendments, outlined by head of the Financial Action Taskforce Ligia Stella, was not welcomed without question by Members of Parliament in Wednesday’s Central Committee sitting of Parliament. Several argued that the changes, though internationally prescribed, will harm the country’s economy.
 
  MP Silveria Jacobs (National Alliance (NA)) queried whether the transport of cash and goods to and from the French side had been considered when the amendments were made. She also asked how the pending change about goods transport matched with the Treaty of Concordia about free movement of people and goods.
 
  MP Rolando Brison (United St. Maarten Party) was not in favour of the “blanket powers” the amendments appear to give the minister to make regulations when needed. He questioned whether everyone coming in would have to declare their expensive watches and even caviar when visiting or leaving the country.
 
  MP Franklin Meyers (United Democrats) said the changes seem poised to “jeopardise our only source of income” – tourism – by placing constricting regulations. “This will make us into a poor country,” he said.
 
  Similarly, MP Christophe Emmanuel (NA) queried whether the law changes would “affect the millionaires and billionaires” who frequent the country such as “Michael Jordan, Denzil Washington and [Roman] Abramovich.”
 
  The country has bigger issues to deal with in this post-Hurricane Irma recovery period, said MP Dr. Luc Mercelina (United Democrats). He said this draft law should not be high on government’s agenda when focus is needed on making the lives of people better.
 
  MPs had expected Justice Minister Cornelius de Weever, under whose purview the law falls, to table the law for discussion. However, they were told by Parliament Chairwoman Sarah Wescot-Williams at the start of the sitting that De Weever was off-island attending the regular meeting of the justice ministers of the Dutch Kingdom.
 
  Stella and Customs Department Head Franklin Bernadina gave brief outlines of the law. Stella pointed out to MPs that a legal person was needed to give them information on the technicalities of the amendment. She and Bernadina noted the MPs’ questions and concerns and will return to the legislature in the near future to deliver answers and related information.
 
  In yesterday’s session, MPs also agreed on a delegation to go to Suriname for consultation sessions among the Dutch Caribbean countries of Aruba, Curaçao and St. Maarten and the former Dutch territory of Suriname in early February. Forming the delegation are MPs Jacobs, Brison, Theo Heyliger (United Democrats) and Claude Peterson (St. Maarten Christian Party).
 
The Daily Herald

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