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St. Maarten prime minister calls for discussions on country’s ‘financial reality’


PHILIPSBURG–“It is unfortunate that there is a lack of discussion regarding the financial reality of St. Maarten, both in a global context as well as within the kingdom, Prime Minister Sarah Wescot-Williams said on her weekly radio programme “One-on-One with Prime Minister” that’s aired on Pearl Radio 98.1 FM.

“… We are catching up and that has serious financial consequences to it. Yes, we agreed to a Balanced Budget and, yes, it is in the law, but why cannot we talk about the issues that we are being faced with?”

Her comments stem from government’s ongoing battle to get the revised version of the 2013 budget through all the necessary checks and ultimate approval of parliament while avoiding any form of instruction by the Kingdom Council of Ministers.

“The point that we are making as a government is one of, yes, indeed, we are bound by the laws that govern financial supervision, but it is unfortunate that discussions are refused to be held regarding the financial realities with which St. Maarten as a new country is faced,” she said.

Since 2008, St. Maarten has been strongly affected by the global financial crisis. The Netherlands has also been impacted and had struggles with its budgetary responsibilities to the European Union, the Prime Minister said.

“St. Maarten never received its debt relief as was projected and what was agreed to with the Netherlands … the building up of Country St. Maarten had to, in crucial instances, be started from scratch. There was no positive legacy in so many areas that we inherited from the Netherlands Antilles.”

As for a possible instruction from the Kingdom Council, she explained, “An instruction means that St. Maarten would need to have a balanced budget by a certain date … I am confident that we can have an approved, balanced budget within short.”

The instruction issued to Curaçao by the Kingdom Council of Ministers had called on that country within the Dutch Kingdom to, among other things, reduce the budget amount and present a plan for executing that cutback.

Source: The Daily Herald, St. Maarten

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