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St. Maarten minister Tuitt: Budget cuts should be finalised by end of week

THURSDAY, 31 JANUARY 2013

~ Feels CFT should make criteria clear ~

PHILIPSBURG–Government is hoping to finalise the NAf. 25 million budget cuts across the various ministries by the end of this week, and is hoping to have the budget sent to Parliament in two weeks, Finance Minister Roland Tuitt said on Wednesday.

He told reporters during the Council of Ministers press briefing that the Committee for Financial Supervision CFT should also make its criteria for evaluating the budget clear so that St. Maarten can know what criteria is being used and adhere to this.

With respect to the budget cuts, Tuitt said the Finance Ministry has already made some cuts and meetings will be held with the other ministries to see how the cuts can be facilitated in keeping with the CFT’s request that 25 million be cut from the budget.

“Once the 25 million is complied with, we will send an adapted budget to the CFT and they promised that if everything is in order they will give a positive advice on it.”

Tuitt said government is working on the advice received from the Advisory Council on the budget and once CFT’s positive advice is given the budget can be on its way to Parliament for handling.

Tuitt made clear that if the ministry has some “arguments” with the CFT, it does not mean that there is a “bad relationship” between the two. “It’s just that I am making sure that if I am in this position or if someone else is in this position that the criteria is understood.

“My contention with the CFT is that it should be made clear what are the measures that you are using to control or to audit the budget of St. Maarten; what are the criteria being used to audit the budget, that’s all we want to know then we will know what to present to satisfy those criteria.”

Tuitt stressed that if the CFT does not make its criteria known then the minister would not know what is expected of him. Tuitt said when he was part of the CFT certain recommendations, he along with the other accountant from Curaçao on the CFT board at the time, had made were either not taken into consideration or not projected. The minister said this is why he continues to make a case for the CFT to make its criteria clear.

He said the Advisory Council, for example, had given an elucidation of its criteria used to evaluate its advice as it relates to the road tax. “If you will evaluate the laws because the budget is a law then you have to tell me what criteria you are using,” he stressed.

He said prior to sending the budget to the CFT, he had asked them what was required given the new revenue streams government had planned and “they told me ‘x’, I did ‘x’ plus ‘y’ and they are still not happy so then I don’t know what criteria they are working with.”

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