Opinion: Another blow to an impeccable career

POSTED: 10/18/11 12:12 PM

Finance Minister Shigemoto has claimed that he has a clean record and that the allegations at his address from former Finance Commissioner Xavier Blackman are without merit.
But the impeccable career of the Finance Minister gets another blow today with revelations by his former head of the finance department, Bas Roorda, who explains in minute detail how the Finance Ministry failed to take the appropriate actions that would have brought St. Maarten 80 million guilders in debt relief.
According to Roorda, the island will never see that money, because the Netherlands has in the meantime pumped it back into its general resources. The deadline to claim this money has passed, and the money is out of sight forever.
We are not blind to the fact that Roorda was hired by (then) Finance Commissioner Xavier Blackman, and that Blackman has a tiff of his own with the government about the pension he is entitled to. Roorda was fired as head of the finance department under murky circumstances and whatever the outcome of the court case on November 9 will be he will not get his job back.
It is therefore logical that some people – the beleaguered Minister included – think that both Blackman and Roorda have an account to settle and that their attacks on the Finance Minister are their way to get even.
One may argue about the Minister’s attitude, as described by Blackman, and never see eye to eye on the issue. That’s because attitude is rather fluid and hard to pin down.
But the story about the 80 million guilders the island missed out on from the debt relief program is another matter. Here we are dealing with verifiable statements, and they become important now that the government has so much trouble balancing the budget that it has already announced that the 2012 budget will shrink by 10 million.
Against this background it is logical to investigate what went on with those 27 debts and which role the current Finance Minister played in it, both in his current position and in his function as Director Resources.
We do not need a Rosenmöller committee to figure these things out. We have a parliament that has a function to control the government. And it is obvious that it is in the interest of the accused minister and the country to establish what is what.
If it turns out that the Finance Minister indeed failed to take the appropriate action that would have secured 80 million guilders in debt relief payments for St. Maarten, it is up to the parliament to decide on a course of action.

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