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CFT: Drastische maatregelen in ontwerpbegroting St. Maarten voor 2014

6 januari 2014

PHILIPSBURG – De ontwerpbegroting 2014 voor St. Maarten, die volgende week in het parlement wordt behandeld, bevat drastische bezuinigingsmaatregelen. Dit blijkt uit het advies van het College financieel toezicht (Cft).

Zo moeten burgers die onder de sociale ziektekostenverzekering vallen 10 procent gaan bijdragen in de kosten van medicijnen en medische behandeling. Het ziekenfondspakket wordt naar beneden toe bijgesteld, maar het is nog niet bekend welke behandelingen voortaan van vergoeding worden uitgesloten.

Het kabinet wil verder de bijdrage aan sociale fondsen verlagen, de loongrens verhogen en de kosten van medicijnen beperken.

De indexering van salarissen voor overheidsdienaren wordt, als het aan de regering ligt, afgeschaft. Vorig jaar werd nog 50 procent van deze aanpassing uitbetaald en vakbonden eisten destijds dat de andere helft dit jaar zou worden betaald. Dat gaat niet gebeuren.

Bevroren
Om de personeelskosten verder onder controle te krijgen worden de ambtenarensalarissen bevroren en worden periodieke verhogingen geheel afgeschaft. De overheid wil verder zes miljoen gulden binnenhalen door verhoging van de tarieven voor diensten die worden verleend door de ministeries van Economische Zaken en Justitie.

Voorwaarden
De Cft is nog niet overtuigd dat de begroting aan alle voorwaarden voldoet en stelt diverse eisen. Zo wil het Cft dat tegelijkertijd met de begroting een wetgeving aan het parlement wordt voorgelegd die zowel kostenbesparende als inkomens verhogende maatregelen regelt.

Volgens het kabinet is 452 miljoen gulden het minimale kostenniveau om het land draaiende te houden en dat 90 procent van dit bedrag vaste kosten zijn. De ontwerpbegroting is gebaseerd op 427 miljoen gulden aan uitgaven.

Bron: NTR Caribisch Netwerk

 

Ministry of Justice faces cuts but increases expenditures

WEDNESDAY, 08 JANUARY 2014

PHILIPSBURG–The Ministry of Justice has significantly less money at its disposal, but will increase its income by some 500 per cent, according to the draft 2014 budget. The draft has been submitted to Parliament and will not be implemented until it has been approved. Parliament will be debating the budget on January 13.

The overall finances available to the Ministry of Justice will come down from NAf. 66.9 million in 2013 to 62.7 million this year; far less than the desired budget of 80.3 million.

The draft refers to the Ministry of Justice’s budget as “sober” and points out that the Ministry is expected to deliver in the areas of safety and law and order despite a worse financial situation.

“It is unreasonable that all wishes and expectations that the public of St. Maarten have of the people who work in Justice can be realised. A sharp prioritisation is necessary and painful choices have to be made. Aside from that, flexibility and creativity, as well as courage and financial strength are necessities.” The document states, “2014 will be a tough year … but even with limited resources we can make progress.”

The document explores the option of using technology as a means to utilise fewer personnel and save money – such as a close circuit television (CCTV) camera project and electronic supervision as an alternative to incarceration.

It also mentions certification for bona fide companies whereby only certified companies can provide services to government, and a number of pilot projects aimed at an improved cooperation between police, private security companies and the public. Cooperation with international partners also will be intensified.

No vacancies will be filled within the Ministry of Justice or the organisations that fall under the ministry in 2014, and a number of policies will have to be reviewed. The document states it will be difficult to combat the issue of human trafficking more intensively. Attention will be paid to generating extra income.

The Ministry of Justice recorded an income of NAf. 728,000 in the 2013 budget. NAf. 3,140,000 growth is forecast in the 2014 budget, bringing the total income to NAf. 3,868,000. The planned increase is the result of a number of charges that will be introduced or increased.

The biggest change is a fee for resident permits. These permits, which currently are issued free of charge, will attract fees between NAf. 200 and 750, with lower fees for related permits such as the extension of a tourist stay, a re-entry permit or a certificate of guarantee for visiting relatives.

Other new measures boosting the income are a 50-guilder charge for a temporary driver’s licence for foreign visitors, an increase to NAf. 45 in the charge for a police check and a system whereby fines are paid sooner. A system is being considered whereby people cannot travel out of the country through the airport unless fines have been paid.

The Ministry of Justice has managed to make savings on personnel cost and material cost.

Main priorities named in the budget for the Ministry of Justice are the completion of the detention facility and investing in a youth detention centre that is due to materialise in Cay Bay.

Source: The Daily Herald, St. Maarten

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