FRIDAY, 07 SEPTEMBER 2012
THE HAGUE–St. Maarten is on the right track, while Curaçao is not, stated Dutch caretaker Minister of Home Affairs and Kingdom Relations Liesbeth Spies at a gathering with the Antillean community in The Hague Wednesday evening.
St. Maarten has made strides where it comes to budget discipline and financial management, according to Spies, who largely attributed the improvements to St. Maarten’s new Finance Minister Roland Tuitt. She said St. Maarten had faced difficulties in presenting timely and balanced budgets in 2010 and 2011, but the 2012 budget had been ready at an earlier time.
Curacao, on the other hand, so far hasn’t managed to present a timely and balanced budget. She said the July 13 instruction by the Kingdom Council of Ministers ordering Curaçao to balance its 2012 budget and to include the 2011 deficit had been necessary.
“Things would have gotten out of hand financially if we allowed Curaçao to have it their way. Budget cuts and policy measures are necessary, because otherwise the problems would have been even bigger next year. When you don’t take action, things only get worse. The worst thing you can do is to sit on your hands and do nothing,” she said.
The Financial Supervision Law was arrived at jointly and approved by Curaçao, St. Maarten and The Netherlands. “Financial supervision wasn’t instituted because we are all good at bookkeeping, but because having healthy financial management is essential for a country and the process to build that country, for the people and the facilities,” Spies said.
The Minister made clear that The Netherlands would not pay off the debts of the overseas countries again. “The time that a rich sister or brother would foot the bill if you couldn’t pay it are over.”
She said that Curaçao had submitted an amended 2012 budget in time for the September 1 deadline set by the Kingdom Council of Ministers and that the Committee for Financial Supervision CFT was looking at it.
Spies again voiced her concerns about the Central Bank of Curaçao and St. Maarten (CBCS). “It is very bad when an institution that is so essential in the building up of your country doesn’t function. A breakthrough must come quickly.”
The Minister said that St. Maarten still had work to do in the area of Safety and Justice. Execution of the plans of approach to improve this sector has made insufficient progress and that is why the plans were extended by two years.
“People may demand of their government that it makes a maximum effort to tackle crime. But a solid judicial system is also essential for St. Maarten’s number-one economic sector: tourism. You have a major problem if the people on all those nice cruise ships don’t want to come off, because they don’t feel safe. Tourism is the cork on which the economy drifts,” she said.