Casino gambling is the number one source of leakage of foreign exchange in this country, Finance Minister Colm Imbert claimed on Friday as he wound up debate on a motion to confirm the Provisional Collection of Taxes Order 2017.
The motion was passed around 11 pm with some modifications from the Government bench.
Imbert, who urged the Opposition to support the tax measures imposed on the casino industry in the 2018 budget, to rid the country of money-laundering and criminality, said owners of such establishments often use cambios, Western Union, Money Gram and the black market to leak foreign exchange.
“You have people who have no means, man of straw walking to a cambio with $30,000 to change it into US to send to China and whatever other country and this is happening, every day, because they deal in cash. They don’t have bank accounts,” he said, adding that most of the casinos are not allowed to have bank accounts.
“The banks don’t deal with them. So they deal in cash and they send the little workers, the same ones who came around the Parliament, the same ones who misbehave in here. The same ones who came shouting outside my house —to send those little workers with $30 and $50,000 to change into US dollars and to export it to Indonesia and China and Turkey.”
He told Opposition MPs: “It is the number one source of leakage of foreign exchange in the country and you all need to understand that.
It is putting pressure on our foreign exchange system and pressure on our exchange rate.”
Imbert said the measures imposed on the casino sector could become permanent if the Opposition did not support moves to regulate it.
“They can be as cantankerous and obstructive as they need to be. They can be as flippant as they need to be.
“They can be as inaccurate and just plain wrong in what they say as they wish to be but this is an interim measure which will become permanent if the members opposite do not.”