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Kingdom Government instruction for St. Maarten imminent

SATURDAY, 27 APRIL 2013

THE HAGUE–The Kingdom Government is considering giving the St. Maarten Government an instruction to prevent the construction of the Justice Park, stated Dutch Minister of Home Affairs and Kingdom Relations Ronald Plasterk after Friday’s meeting of the Kingdom Council of Ministers.

The Kingdom Council of Ministers is taking very seriously the negative advice of the Committee for Financial Supervision CFT on the Justice Park. “The CFT has clearly stated that the financing proposal of the Justice Park is not allowed under the Kingdom Law on Supervision. The CFT deems it necessary to possibly give an instruction to stop this,” Plasterk told the media.

The CFT finds the loan construction of the US $100 million Justice Park too expensive. The interest rate of the current financing scheme would surpass St. Maarten’s interest charge norm for 2013, which would result in an unbalanced budget. The Financial Supervision Law requires St. Maarten to have a balanced budget.

“The Kingdom Government is very worried about the financial situation in St. Maarten,” said Plasterk. He noted that there would be no instruction for now. St. Maarten has been given time to come up with an alternative financing scheme for the Justice Park that would put less financial strain on the budget.

St. Maarten’s Minister Plenipotentiary Mathias Voges has been asked to relay the message to St. Maarten Prime Minister Wescot-Williams, Justice Minister Roland Duncan and other members of government. Plasterk said he also would use other means of communication and channels to get the message across, including letter and phone.

The Kingdom Council of Ministers reminded Voges of its earlier warning that it wants an independent investigation of the St. Maarten Government’s general integrity. This investigation is a separate issue from the current Orca investigation carried out by the local Prosecutor’s Office into alleged corruption in the Bada Bing strip club case, clarified Plasterk. He said that “naturally” The Hague would stay out of the Prosecutor’s Office investigation.

St. Maarten has been urged to subject members of future cabinets to strict screening before they can be appointed in a new cabinet. St. Maarten’s reply to that request was not satisfactory. “I am not under the impression that St. Maarten has this intention. This is a serious issue of concern for the Kingdom Government,” said Plasterk.

The announcement by Wescot-Williams that she has requested an investigation by Transparency International (TI) into integrity appears insufficient for the Kingdom Council of Ministers.

“It is not conducive if the confidence of integrity is in doubt for too long. It is not good for the country, not good for the economy and not good for the finances. The Kingdom Government is getting impatient,” said Plasterk, who could not say when exactly The Hague would run out of patience.

The Kingdom Council of Ministers was more positive about Curaçao, which has made progress in the financial area. However, the instruction that the country received from the Kingdom Government last July remains intact for now.

“We have discussed the CFT reports about Curaçao and St. Maarten and this was reasonably positive for Curaçao, aside from a few remarks,” said Plasterk, who had a meeting with Curaçao’s Finance Minister José Jardim earlier this week.

Discussions are ongoing about two issues: the stop on hiring government personnel and compensation of deficits from the previous years. But, added Plasterk, “It is clear that Curaçao has taken measures that weren’t easy.”

He did not want to give an indication as to when the instruction for Curaçao would be lifted. “Let’s do this step by step.”

The Curaçao Government is hopeful that The Hague still will agree to lift the ban on hiring new personnel and hopes for some flexibility from the CFT and the Kingdom Government, said Curaçao’s Minister Plenipotentiary Roy Pieters.

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