St. Maarten government owes creditors between NAf. 20 to 30 million


~ Tuitt working to clear this year ~

PHILIPSBURG--Minister of Finance Roland Tuitt on Wednesday said that successive governments have racked up debts to creditors between NAf. 20 to NAf. 30 million. Though the minister could not be definitive about the amount, he did say government's lack of discipline in paying its bills also contributes to economic stagnation in the country.

Tuitt said successive governments "were not good children" in paying their bills and he is looking to clear all debts to creditors so that 2013 could begin with a clean slate. "If government takes services from creditors, they have to pay on time. If government does not pay on time, then money is not turning around and generating activities in the economy. So government also has to become a good citizen and pay its bills on time," the minister said.

He said there are debts on the books prior to 2005 which, in his opinion, should have been cleared with debt relief programme. "So for those (debts) we still think we could look at that issue (debt relief). Then from 2005 up, all the debts that government has I'm working on clearing up and bringing government up-to-date. I don't see why government shouldn't be able to pay its debts within 30 to 90 days (after debts are incurred)," he said.

Moving forward for this year, the minister said "We will establish that the debt is owed, once that basis is established, we will look at the cash flow and use as much cash flow as possible to clear up the debts."