Opinion: Amfo

POSTED: 05/16/12 12:59 PM

We’ve known this for almost three years now and by the end of this year it will be a reality: no more Dutch subsidies for the Antillean co-financing organization Amfo. The consequences will soon be felt among the organizations that depend for their work on Amfo-funding.
St. Maarten is supposed to take over from the Netherlands but given the poor financial position the country finds itself in after its first nineteen months of autonomy, it is almost certain that many projects will bleed to death for lack of money.
As usual, our Members of Parliament have nothing to say about the subject, even though there has been a meeting of understandably concerned non-governmental organizations in February to sound the alarm.
There are sixteen projects running on Amfo, so to speak, there are 150 jobs on the line, and the projects tend to the needs of 4,900 citizens – mainly children, elderly, and sick and handicapped people.
We know from the financial supervisor Cft that the outgoing government has left the state’s finances in a mess, with a budget deficit that could turn out to be as high as 39 million guilders this year: 21 million that’s not coming in from rental taxes on foreign condo-owners, 17 million the government wants to spend on cost of living adjustment that is not booked in the budget, and 1 million the parliament took off the books during the budget meeting by freezing the collection of succession taxes.
There is no provision for Amfo-subsidies in the budget and given the current state of affairs that won’t be the case next year either. The oxygen-deprived government has bigger headaches than finding funding for social projects.
Heartless as this may sound, this is the reality. Nobody speaks out, nobody seems concerned, and in the meantime these social projects that keep children off the streets and that give weaker parties in our society a form of relief will have to scale down the level of their activities.
The governing accord is entitled Working for the people. It sounds hollow and that probably because it is hollow.
We would love to be wrong in this respect of course. We would love for at least one politician to stand up and say: Hey! What about all those Amfo-projects. Why don’t we all take a pay cut and chip in?
If only Frankie Meyers gave up what he does not really need during the next two years, and if Rhoda Arrindell joined in, the Amfo-projects would at least be able to get their hands on some government money. But that Christmas present is not going to arrive, so we’ll just have to wait and see what exactly our new government means by working for the people. You never know.

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