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St. Maarten Prime Minister satisfied with non-issuance of instruction


PHILIPSBURG–Prime Minister Sarah Wescot-Williams said Friday, that an instruction was not issued by the Kingdom Council of Ministers on Friday “due to government’s diligent work in balancing the amended budget.”

The council was advised by the Committee for Financial Supervision CFT earlier this month to issue an instruction to government to get the budget balanced and approved by Parliament.

Parliament approved amendments to the budget on September 12. The budget now stands at NAf. 440,349,856, down from NAf 457.5 million. The downsizing of the budget was achieved by several cuts across the seven ministries based on realised income in the first half of the year; the deletion of a number of items for which legislation or policy is not yet ready (such as financing of free education, funds estimated from a one per cent increase in the property transfer tax, etc.) and tapping into unpaid surpluses from government-owned entities.

Wescot-Williams said, “Friday was a day that we all were looking at with keen attention as far as the 2013 budget is concerned … Parliament approved the budget any instruction in that context would have not been necessary and we are satisfied to see that the Kingdom Council of Ministers did not accept it.”

Governor Eugene Holiday, Prime Minister Sarah Wescot-Williams and Finance

Minister Martin Hassink signed the 2013 Budget into law earlier this week following the approval of the amendments by Parliament.

Government is now focused on completing the draft 2014 budget. The prime minister said government wants to see the 2014 budget approved by Parliament before the end of this year. Government is “working very hard on achieving that.”

Source: The Daily Herald, St. Maarten


No instruction for St. Maarten


THE HAGUE–The Kingdom Council of Ministers decided on Friday to hold off an instruction for St. Maarten. The Council will await the advice of the Committee for Financial Supervision CFT on St. Maarten’s approved 2013 budget and will meet again next week at which time the integrity investigation also will be discussed.

Dutch Minister of Home Affairs and Kingdom Relations Ronald Plasterk stated after Friday’s meeting that a procedural instruction was off the books now that St. Maarten had an approved budget. The 2013 budget was approved by St. Maarten’s Parliament last week Thursday and signed off by St. Maarten Governor Eugene Holiday earlier this week.

Plasterk said he was glad there was an approved budget even though it was “way too late.” He warned that the Kingdom Council of Ministers would not accept another delay of this kind. “The 2014 budget has to be approved by December. We will impress upon

St. Maarten to get this done, because this should not happen again,” he said.

The Kingdom Government will take a final decision whether to give St. Maarten an instruction after receiving the CFT’s advice on the approved 2013 budget. The budget has been sent to the CFT for evaluation.

The CFT had rejected the initial 2013 budget and advised the Kingdom Council of Ministers to give St. Maarten an instruction to speed up the procedure to have an approved budget that complied with the conditions of the Law on Financial Supervision.

The integrity investigation that has been ordered by the Kingdom Council of Ministers was discussed briefly on Friday, but it was decided to defer this agenda point until next week’s meeting.

St. Maarten has objected to this investigation, which will be coordinated by Governor Holiday. According to St. Maarten Prime Minister Sarah Wescot-Williams, the Kingdom Government does not have the legal mandate to order such an investigation, especially as St. Maarten has requested that Transparency International carry out an integrity investigation.

Plasterk said on Friday that he was aware of the St. Maarten Government’s objection. He said the agenda point on the integrity investigation had been moved to next week’s Kingdom Council of Ministers on the request of the St. Maarten Government.

St. Maarten has already informed the Dutch Government of its objections to the integrity investigation. St. Maarten was supposed to give details on the objections, including the legal aspects, during Friday’s meeting, but requested another week to further substantiate its claim.

The integrity investigation is a specific request of Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte. Rutte reiterated during his weekly press briefing two weeks ago that he had discussed this issue with Prime Minister Wescot-Williams during his visit to St. Maarten mid-July.

Source: The Daily Herald, St. Maarten

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