CFT-chairman Age Bakker to Central Committee:

POSTED: 01/18/12 12:18 PM

“Challenge to meet requirements of a balanced budget”

St. Maarten – “To be effective you have to be a trusted advisor; that is high on my agenda,” the new chairman of the Board of Financial Supervision (CFT) Age Bakker said in a meeting of the Central Committee yesterday afternoon.
“The Board of Financial Supervision (CFT) is here to see to it that the country adheres to the Kingdom Law on Financial Supervision. We do not have an opinion about government policies – that is up to the country and to the Parliament – but we do have an opinion about risks to the budget,” Bakker said.
The 2012 budget has been sent to the Council of Advice with the CFT’s advice attached. Bakker believes the 2012 budget is being presented in a challenging time and that it will probably be necessary to re-assess it in the course of the year.
“That is a positive step. The budget will be presented to Parliament soon. We are making progress. It will be a challenge to meet the requirements of a balanced budget,” the CFT chair said as he promised regular updates.
Bakker said that the December 15 deadline for the 2013 budget seems feasible now.
“We want to be within that limit.”

The 2011 annual account will still take some time, but the CFT-chairman expects it to be ready by August 15. The 2010 account is being finalized to be sent to the General Audit Chamber and to Parliament.
Bakker also told Parliament that they are legally mandated to supervise the implementation of good corporate governance.
“This is a work in progress, but there is progress,” he said, adding that the CFT is “seeking the same added value” in the cooperation with St. Maarten.
“We operate on the basis of shared goals and to end on a positive note, we are cooperating well. At the same time there are economic challenges that put pressure on the government’s ability to provide the social benefits and pensions citizens expect.”

Answering questions from MPs, Bakker said that the CFT’s five-year plan for St. Maarten ought to result in “financial management that is internationally acceptable” by 2015.
Later he added that he is not surprised about the findings presented in the devastating Public Expenditures and Financial Accountability (PEFA) report about the state of affairs in the country’s financial administration. PEFA, a Cft-workgroup, assessed the governments financial administration on 28 points; on 23 of them, the assessment was valued with a D on a scale where A was the highest possible score.
“We have to be realistic. It is not possible to change these things overnight,” Bakker said.

National Alliance leader William Marlin quizzed Bakker about good corporate governance on the assumption that the CFT-chairman had said that St. Maarten is progressing well in this field. He asked whether the CFT had met with the Corporate Governance Council, or if its opinion about corporate governance was solely based on talks with the government.
“Not too long ago the council’s chairman was not too happy with the progress because he was unable to access the necessary funding. This remark that it is progressing well comes as a surprise and to me as a contradiction.”
Bakker quickly corrected the opposition-leader and also pointed out that CFT-secretary Kees van Nieuwamerongen had spoken with the council.
“I said it is a work in progress, meaning that progress is being made. But we are not there yet. Our role is to see to it that corporate governance is implemented. Based on his (Nieuwamerongen edi., -) information the board has signaled to the government where it thinks improvements are necessary,” Bakker said.

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