St. Maarten government still working to erase its NAf. 100-million deficit


PHILIPSBURG--Government is working on cutting the deficit in the draft 2013 budget by NAf. 100 million before the September 1 deadline for submission to the Committee for Financial Supervision CFT. St. Maarten's budget is not allowed to have a deficit, according to Kingdom regulation.

Finance Minister Roland Tuitt told the press on Wednesday that if the adjustments could not be made by the deadline the process would not take longer than another week to complete. Government is working on achieving a total operating expense of some NAf. 432.5 million, the same as in 2012.

The deficit has come about for the individual budgets of the seven ministries. The ministries have put forward their budgets with their desired projects and policies. The Finance Ministry's task now is to work with the ministries to cut away non-essential projects to get the country's budget in line with the required budget norms.
The individual ministry deficits do not all arise from ministers' projects. In the case of the Justice Ministry, for example, agreements have been made with the Dutch Government to build up the justice system in a specified period, Tuitt pointed out.

Government is waiting for a new government to take office in The Netherlands to begin discussions about budget norms and expectations placed on St. Maarten to have all of its institutions in order without structure or funds like Curaçao, Tuitt said.

Meanwhile, amendments to the 2012 budget have been reviewed by the Advisory Council and will soon make their way to Parliament for approval. The amendments cover some NAf. 17 million in Cost of Living Adjustment (COLA) payments for civil servants (including teachers) and filling the NAf. 21-million hole left by not collecting back income tax from non-resident condominium owners.