Kingdom Council of Ministers decides about instruction

POSTED: 07/12/15 9:41 PM

St. Maarten / THE HAGUE – The Kingdom Council of Ministers met for the last time before the summer recess. On the agenda is, among other issues, the instruction to St. Maarten.

Financial supervisor Cft sent an advice to the council on July 3 to give the country an instruction. Cft-chairman Prof. Dr. Age Bakker already announced this option during a press conference on June 25.

St. Maarten should have settled its payment area with social insurance agency SZV and pension fund APS before the end of June to avoid the instruction.

However, the deadline passed and the parliament went on recess. At the end of June, the Cft announced it would advise the Kingdom Council of Ministers towards the end of July. The lackluster attitude in St. Maarten seems to have inspired the financial supervisor to send its advice to the Kingdom Council of Ministers in a hurry, so that it is still possible to issue the instruction before politicians in The Hague go on recess after today.

The combined outstanding arrears are 189 million guilders. To solve the problem, the Cft has suggested that the government sell some of its assets. It has ruled out long-term loans as an alternative.

“Progress has been made in agreeing on the exact magnitude of the arrears, but the financial means to settle them have not yet been properly identified by the government. The Cft regrets that this long-standing issue – which is of paramount importance for the viability of the social security for the people of St. Maarten – has not been resolved,” Bakker said in June.

The Cft-advice to the Kingdom Council of Ministers is based on articles in the consensus kingdom law financial supervision. St. Maarten’s 2015 budget does not comply with the standards that are outlined in this legislation. The result is that the country is unable to borrow money for capital investments – reason for instance for the delay in the expansion of the Pointe Blanche prison. This project awaits the approval of the budget.

Based on the letter the Cft sent to the chairman of parliament Dr. Lloyd Richardson and to Finance Minister Martin Hassink on July 3, the government could decide to suspend the execution of the 2015 budget, or a part of it.

When the budget is suspended, the government has to work with the budget of the previous year. The cabinet is obliged to present this budget immediately to the financial supervisor.

The Kingdom Council of Ministers could decide today to give St. Maarten an instruction to amend the 2015 budget in such a way that it is in line with the standards of the law on financial supervision. Before the Kingdom Council issues the instruction, Minister Plasterk will give the cabinet the opportunity to present its vision on the situation.

The Kingdom issues the instruction based on a royal decree at the recommendation of Minister Plasterk and in line with the conclusions from the Kingdom Council of Ministers.

While the second step towards an instruction could be taken today, it will still take a little bit of time before the royal decree appears in the Staatscourant, given the procedure the Kingdom has to follow.

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