SATURDAY, 14 JULY 2012
THE HAGUE–Curaçao and St. Maarten will present a plan of approach shortly to resolve the impasse surrounding the Central Bank of Curaçao and St. Maarten (CBCS).
That was decided during the Kingdom Council of Ministers in The Hague on Friday. Dutch caretaker Minister of Home Affairs and Kingdom Relations Liesbeth Spies said at a press conference afterwards that the plan of approach would be presented by August 24, during the first Kingdom Council of Ministers meeting after the summer recess.
Spies said the plan of approach was necessary because the CBCS “doesn’t function.” She said this could have a serious effect on the financial and economic development of the countries and their relations with financial institutions. “This is considered a great concern in the Kingdom,” she said.
St. Maarten Prime Minister Sarah Wescot-Williams said in an interview with The Daily Herald that she shared those concerns. She also said it was mostly St. Maarten that suffered due to the poor functioning of the CBCS.
Wescot-Williams said the wrong impression had been created that St. Maarten was frustrating the cooperation with Curaçao where it came to the CBCS and that St. Maarten at all events wanted to have its own Central Bank. “We are not clamouring for our own Central Bank. The question is: How long can you continue?”
The fact is that St. Maarten still does not have a fully operational CBCS office nearly two years after Curaçao and St. Maarten attained country status in October, 2010. This went against the agreement that was made as part of the Final Accord in November 2006, said Wescot-Williams. “We ask, is that still workable? It is very difficult.”
She said the situation affected St. Maarten negatively more than any other country in the Kingdom. “No party is affected as much as St. Maarten. Curaçao has the legacy of the Central Bank, Aruba has its own Central Bank and The Netherlands is far away. We suffer the most.”
Wescot-Williams said St. Maarten was eager to reach a solution on this matter. “Nobody has as much interest in reaching a solution as St. Maarten,” she said, explaining that St. Maarten already had offered a while back to have a government-to-government meeting with Curaçao.
As for Friday’s Kingdom Council of Ministers meeting, Wescot-Williams said the outcome felt “bittersweet,” because Curaçao had been given an instruction to balance its 2012 budget (see related story) at a meeting that could be considered historic with the attendance of all four Prime Ministers of the Kingdom.
Wescot-Williams said St. Maarten actively had supported the idea to hold more frequent meetings of the Kingdom Council of Ministers in the presence of all four Prime Ministers to discuss positive issues like cooperation and relations in the Kingdom.
“You can’t deny the historic nature of today’s meeting. Coming together to discuss things is good. It was a new thing and it should take place every so often. I hope we can get to the point of cooperation as quickly as possible,” she said.
St. Maarten and Aruba underlined their friendship and partnership during an informal dinner that Wescot-Williams and St. Maarten Minister Plenipotentiary Mathias Voges hosted on Friday evening for a small select group of people. Wescot-Williams told Aruba Prime Minister Mike Eman and the other guests that she looked forward to continuing to work with Aruba.
Eman praised Wescot-Williams for her professional and positive contribution during the Kingdom Council of Ministers meeting. “I was impressed about the way you showed how St. Maarten is dealing with the challenges of financial supervision,” he said.
Wescot-Williams was able to take away much of the concern about St. Maarten’s 2012 budget during the Kingdom Council of Ministers meeting. “I gave an update and explained that the July 10 letter of the CFT [Committee for Financial Supervision] was clear, that it was positive and that our budget was balanced and balanced in a realistic way. I told them that we had passed the test.”