Heyliger: Pursuing own Central Bank is first step to ending partnership

POSTED: 06/13/11 12:49 PM

St. Maarten – Deputy Prime Minister Theodore Heyliger has revealed that he and Finance Minister Hiro Shigemoto will seek more information on how the Dutch government “acquired and achieved their dollarization status.” He announced the intention during a press conference on Friday morning, where he also talked about his June 14 meeting with Prime Minister Gerrit Schotte.

“We have already initiated the talks with the Dutch government on how they acquired and achieved their dollarization status and the reason I am going down with the Minister of Finance is to discuss this. Yes, we are continuing to start those discussions, because the Council of Ministers, have indicated that this is the way we want to go,” Heyliger said.

Heyliger maintained Friday that he’d always been a proponent of dollarization, but he “bent and went along” with the arrangements made in the November 2, 2006 Final Declaration so that the island could acquire its country status. With this latest controversy between the President of the Central Bank of Curacao and St. Maarten Dr. Emsley Tromp opening a discussion about the institution, it’s functioning and the subsequent discussion on whether the arrangement benefits the two countries, Heyliger believes the time has come to part ways.

“The talks for next week will center on how we can proceed as fast as possible with the dismantling of the present agreement on the Central Bank. It is a situation that behooves us, that if we don’t want to work together, then we should look at ways of completely getting away from each other,” Heyliger said.

Ending cooperation on the Central Bank is not even the start of the breakup for the two countries. St. Maarten has already made sure it pulled its premium income and its share of the return on investments made by the Pension Fund of the Netherlands Antilles (APNA) and its share of the premium income and return on investments from the Social Insurance Bank (SVB).  The next step on the government’s agenda is selling the shares it holds in companies that were once held by the Netherlands Antilles. The value of those shares is now being determined. The government is also having every ministry that has a Service Level Agreement with a Curacao institution inform those agencies that if service is not improved the government will seek alternatives. None of this is something Heyliger and his colleagues do with joy, but they do understand the reasons.

“It is really a pity, I find, that we cannot, in certain instances, work together, but again it shows the level that, in particular Curacao, wants a complete freedom for itself and I think that is the right approach,” Heyliger said.

The vice prime minister has also said that he’s looking at this matter from a purely business perspective and the need for the national interests of the people here should prevail.

“I know Mr. Wiels, I know Mr. Cooper. I know Mr. Schotte. The former prime minister, you know, all of these individuals, but Curacao, again I consider is a total different animal in terms of what it wants politically. They have taken a stance, whether there’s a good relationship or not, they do not want to be part with St. Maarten, because they feel St. Maarten will hold up the construction or the ideas and the vision that they have for Curacao and yeah, if that is their belief then that’s their belief. I can’t go beyond telling them anything else,” Heyliger said.

Asked about how he felt about the relationship Heyliger said, “For St. Maarten I think it also holds up the further development and the further expansion of St. Maarten and while I’ve known Dr. Tromp from back to 1995 when I first entered politics and you know I’ve always stated that they never really looked at St. Maarten as any major player, it was sort of a step child and left St. Maarten to deal for itself. All of the loans, the bonds that St. Maarten has taken out or her government owned companies have been on her own resources, whereas in Curacao the Central Bank has helped tremendously with Aqualectra bonds and everyone else, even the pension fund has invested heavily into Curacao as nothing has been invested in St. Maarten. So I think these things have to come to light and they need to understand that the position that St. Maarten is in.”


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