THE HAGUE--St. Maarten will be facing several (financial) challenges in 2015 and the years after where it comes to measures to increase government's revenues and to lower expenditures, stated Dutch Minister of Home Affairs and Kingdom Relations Ronald Plasterk in the draft 2015 Kingdom Relations budget.
Government will not only have to seek ways to raise the necessary revenues and to reduce expenditures, but it will also have to catch up on its arrears in payments and get its cash and capital position in order, according to Plasterk.
The Committee for Financial Supervision CFT has already stressed that these aspects will be essential for the committee to give a positive advice on the 2015 budget of Country St. Maarten, added the minister, who did indicate that St. Maarten had shown an improvement in its financial management in the last few years.
Plasterk was positive about the finances of the Curaçao Government, which he said had proven capable of implementing far-reaching measures and reforms to get its financial household in order. Curaçao has complied with all components of the 2012 instruction of the Kingdom Council of Ministers.
The minister was less positive about Aruba's government finances, which he stated, have "greatly deteriorated" in the past few years. "This is among others the result of policy- related decisions, declining income due to the closure of Valero Refinery and the stimulation policy that was applied to tackle the consequences of the economic crisis in Aruba," he stated.
However, the result of these factors is yearly-recurring deficits and a steadily increasing national debt. "It is important that all countries in the Kingdom strive for financial solidity and the related credit position," stated Plasterk, adding that all countries are responsible for tenable government finances.
The minister noted that on July 11, the Kingdom Council of Ministers decided to give the Governor of Aruba an instruction. A position will be drafted, based on the audit by the secretariat of CFT as to the "distance relating to sustainable tenable government finances."
In the Explanatory Note, Plasterk also referred to the integrity audit of St. Maarten's Government. The results of the audit, ordered by the Kingdom Council of Ministers through St. Maarten Governor Eugene Holiday, are related to the customary norms and values applicable in the area of integrity as included in treaties, guidelines and codes of various international organisations, including Organisation of Economic Cooperation and Development OECD of the United Nations (UN), explained the minister.
"Based on the audit results and recommendations, the Government of St. Maarten may implement improvements in 2015, possibly in cooperation with the other countries of the Kingdom. Thus, an important step will be taken on the road to recovery of the trust that the interior and exterior should have in the proper functioning and integrity of St. Maarten's Government," Plasterk stated.
The minister further announced that he is developing a system to "clearly weigh and prioritise" the requests from the Dutch Caribbean governments for technical assistance in the area of maintenance of law. This exercise takes place in conjunction with the Ministries of Safety, Justice and Defence.
"Prerequisites to honour such requests will be agreements on financing, cooperation with the other countries in the Kingdom, the continuity of input of joint facilities, such as the Kingdom Cooperating Team RST, the Royal Dutch Marechaussee and the Coast Guard, and the realisation of an integral approach of organised crime, financial-economic crime, drug trafficking and human trafficking."