Finance Minister Hassink: “Budget-amendment will be approved before instruction”

POSTED: 09/5/13 2:03 PM

St. Maarten – “We basically expect an instruction to say: balance the budget,” Finance Minister Maarten Hassink said at yesterday’s press briefing in a reaction to the announcement by the financial supervisor Cft that it had advised the Kingdom Council of Minister to issue an instruction to St. Maarten.

The Kingdom Council of Ministers – consisting of the Dutch cabinet plus the Ministers Plenipotentiary of St. Maarten, Aruba and Curacao – will handle the Cft-advice tomorrow. “After that the process starts whereby they will hear us and then we’ll see how we will progress,” Hassink said. If the council follows the Cft-advice – which is basically standard procedure – a decision about the instruction could be taken in its meeting of September 20.

“Before that date the amendment to the 2013 budget will be approved by the parliament,” Minister Hassink said.

The minister regretted being unable to discuss the 2014 budget. “It is a very frustrating process. Sometimes I feel like a medical assistant standing at a red light – the 2013 budget – and on the other side of the street there is somebody choking – the budget process 2014.  I am not allowed to go to that patient to help him out until the traffic light turns green. It’s not realistic; everybody would walk over to help the patient.”

The ministry wants to tap into the reserves of government-owned companies to balance the 2013 budget. The government-owned water company has built up excess reserves and the Bureau Telecommunication and Post has for some time failed to pay the difference between its operational costs and the fees it is collecting to the government. Altogether these funds add up to around 25 million guilders.

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