THE HAGUE--The Dutch Government is not obliged to financially help out St. Maarten if the latter country fails to reach an agreement to pay off the debt to St. Maarten's General Pension Fund APS and the St. Maarten Social and Health Care Insurances SZV.
Dutch Minister of Home Affairs and Kingdom Relations Ronald Plasterk stated this in response to written questions by the members of the Permanent Committee for Kingdom Relations of the Second Chamber of the Dutch Parliament.
The committee had expressed concerns last month about what it termed as St. Maarten's "deficient" financial administration and the ability to comply with its payment obligations. St. Maarten owes the APS and the SZV NAf. 70 million and NAf. 87 million respectively.
Plasterk confirmed that the Committee for Financial Supervision CFT has urged the St. Maarten Government to find a solution to settle these arrears before the end of May this year. "The Netherlands is not legally obliged to financially support St. Maarten in case St. Maarten doesn't comply with its payment arrears. Therefore, solutions must be found within St. Maarten's own budget," he stated.
Referring to the committee's concerns about the "deficient administration" of fixed assets, debtors and creditors in relation to proper financial management, Plasterk stated that the fact that St. Maarten's financial management behoved improvement didn't mean that there was no proper financial management and that the financial information was not credible. He stated that the CFT has found "no great risks" for St. Maarten's 2015 budget.
According to Plasterk, most government entities had complied with the obligation of having an approved annual account. The annual accounts of St. Maarten government-owned companies were generally in order. Most of the companies have published their annual accounts on their website, be it in an abbreviated version, while the documents are also in possession of government.
The members of the Committee for Kingdom Relations had further expressed concerns about the collection of taxes in St. Maarten and the fact that the collection of taxes was deficient in comparison to the economic growth.
Plasterk explained that the CFT reports had shown that St. Maarten's Tax Department was not properly functioning. A reorganisation of the Tax Department is being planned. The measures concern the collection of back taxes, increasing of control, simplifying of the tax system and the integration of the Receiver and Inspection.
Overall the Tax Department will be strengthened with more personnel. The effect of the measures will be monitored by the CFT through the results of the tax revenues in relation to the budget.
On May 21 a general debate will be held in the Second Chamber in which the government finances of Curaçao and St. Maarten in relation to the biannual report of the CFT on the second half of 2014 will have a central role.