PM: Central Bank survival dependent on political will

POSTED: 01/10/13 12:51 PM

St. Maarten – Arriving at a consensus on the way forward the Central Bank of Curacao and St. Maarten remains the most pressing issue that ought to be addressed between the two governments. So says Prime Minister Sarah Wescot-Williams, who during yesterday’s Council of Ministers press briefing revealed that the government had dispatched a letter to Curacao on Tuesday requesting a meeting to discuss among other matters, the Central Bank.

It is a tenacious issue but it takes “two to tango”, the prime minister said as she rehashed the various controversies that have surrounded the financial institution since its establishment. The government in Curacao may be recently installed but St. Maarten is not wasting anytime to have issues like the joint monetary union addressed.

“We need to get some closure to that topic and we are still in the mode of the agreement that we had made regarding a joint monetary union, currency. It is important now that both governments express whether we wish to continue in that union and if not then let us decide how then we separately can move forward. While we have been through the many issues surrounding representation on the board and the conflict between management and board, a part that we have not been paying much attention to is that there is a union and you have things happening on St. Maarten and Curacao that both governments must be able to talk about because one affects the other,” the prime minister said.

She cited a recent report coming out of the Central Bank as proof that broad based measures and regulations that are imposed have differing effects on the two countries whose economies are not equal.

“You clearly would see, for example, in terms of credit the demand is so much lower on St. Maarten yet when an institution like the Central Bank issues measures, restrictive or otherwise,  they affect both countries. The question is whether we can go ahead again in this fashion whereby blanket solutions are being put in place for both countries. We need to be able to talk about these matters because things that happening.”

It was both governments signed onto when they opted for Constitutional Status but it looked better on paper in 2006. Application of the equality that the Central Bank was supposed to bring between St. Maarten and Curacao, the prime minister admits is far from reality.

“We needed to approach the matter of the monetary union on the basis of equality, that’s where  the construction of the board was done  in such a fashion but what we have recognized is that politically over the years that feeling was no longer supported.

While on paper that seemed to be a good way of moving forward in terms of equality for both parties, we must also recognize that unless there is the political responsibility to support equality in institutions like the Central Bank it could go awry and that is what we saw over the last couple of months,” the prime minister added.

 

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