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St. Maarten prime minister thanks Parliament for urgent handling of 2013 budget

SATURDAY, 14 SEPTEMBER 2013

PHILIPSBURG–Prime Minister Sarah Wescot-Williams thanked Members of Parliament (MPs) for their speedy handling of the amendments to the 2013 budget between Wednesday and late Thursday night.

The amended budget will go from Parliament to Governor Eugene Holiday for his signature, and then it will be sent to the Council of Ministers for co-signature. It will subsequently go to the Ombudsman and Committee for Financial Supervision CFT for review.

The approval of the amendments allows Finance Minister Martin Hassink to tell Dutch Minister for Kingdom Relations Roland Plasterk that the country has an approved, balanced budget.

CFT had earlier this month advised the Kingdom Council of Ministers to issue an instruction to government to get the country’s financial house in order. It is to that advice that Hassink must respond to on Monday, at the latest.

Wescot-Williams thanked Parliament President Gracita Arrindell and all other MPs for “giving the urgency of the budget situation the deserved attention and to have within a short period of time both the Central Committee and public meetings,” and for having the meeting “notwithstanding the sometimes heated and often times long-winded debates.”

Responding to statements from an opposition National Alliance MP that the budget, adopted by Parliament in April, was not signed into law because the prime minister did not sign it, Wescot-Williams said that was “a quite an unfortunate statement.”

The MP should have “his facts straight” when informing the public he represents, because a national ordinance, which the budget is, has to be signed-off by Governor Eugene Holiday.

A day after the United People’s (UP) party/Democratic Party/Laville coalition took office in June, Finance Minister Hassink received the unsigned budget from the governor with the question of whether the Wescot-Williams Cabinet III supported the budget. The 2013 budget was prepared, presented and approved under the National Alliance/DP/Independent 3 coalition.

A day after the governor sent the budget to Hassink, the CFT sent government a letter saying it found NAf. 30 million in perceived deficit, that deficit meant that in CFT’s estimation the budget was unbalanced and not in conformity with the Kingdom Law on Temporary Financial Supervision for Curaçao and St. Maarten. The law prevents St. Maarten and Curaçao from having deficits on their budget.

Wescot-Williams said, “Every day and every night Minister Hassink and his ministry, as well as all of the other ministers, were coming up with a feasible amended Budget 2013. The good thing is that the government overall was very conscientious in its spending pattern despite us having to do our mandate to do the people’s work.”

Source: The Daily Herald, St. Maarten

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