Shigemoto welcomes new investigation on releasing 40 million guilders

POSTED: 10/31/11 12:29 PM

St. Maarten – Finance Minister has welcomed an announcement by Dutch Secretary of State for Finance Frans Weekers that he has assigned his technical advisor Robert Cornax, to research the situation with the Dutch Ministry of Interior Affairs and Kingdom Relations with respect to the 40 million guilders in debt payment arrears that is up to and including the end of 2005.
“This is a positive development since there was a deadlock with respect to this particular issue, and I am looking forward to the funds being released soon. Weekers informed me during my meeting with him in The Hague last week that the debt payment arrears funds were still on the budget and that they have not been scrapped from the Dutch Kingdom Relations budget. During the discussions with Weekers and his staff, it was revealed that those monies are still in an account at the Central Bank of Curacao and St. Maarten. The debt payment in arrears is one of those areas left undone after the dissolution of the former Netherlands Antilles. I am looking for a quick resolution to this as noted in my letter to Minister Piet Hein Donner at the end of September,” Shigemoto stated in a release.
“We have signed agreements with respect to debt payment arrears and the dissolution of the Netherlands Antilles and we need to keep to them, otherwise it opens a whole new can of worms,” he added.
St. Maarten submitted the relevant documentation for 40 million guilders in debt arrears to be paid in early 2011 (March edi.,-) and according to Holland this could not be paid because there was no approved declaration for the invoices. The Minister of Finance informed Weekers that an accountant’s declaration was provided and for the majority of invoices an approved declaration could not be given due to the state of the administration at the time which was known prior to 10-10-10 by all parties concerned including the Netherlands.
“The Committee of financial supervision (Cft) was established for the BES islands and Curacao and St. Maarten in order to put a system in place to build up the financial administrations and capacities of the five islands as part of the process of dismantling the Netherlands Antilles. How can the Netherlands unilaterally move the goal post when it comes to payment of debt arrears knowing full well that the administrations needed to be upgraded and was well aware of the state of affairs? This is unfair and is not in keeping with the agreements signed by all parties. There was no deadline mentioned in any of the agreements. If the Minister of Kingdom Relations is referring to 10-10-10 then this is moving the goal post. Let’s just execute the agreements and finalize this once and for all,” Shigemoto stated.
“The Dutch Secretary of State of Kingdom Relations since 2007 had the opportunity to utilize a clause in the agreements on debt relief/financial supervision of “kan bepaling (can determine),” which basically states that if a positive accountant’s declaration is not possible, then the Dutch Secretary of State can decide to pay based on the report from the Government Accountants Bureau (SOAB), the instance that was in charge with the controlling of the invoices of Curacao and St. Maarten or pay what is in the creditors invoices or even take the two and average them. To decide not to pay is not in line with acting in good faith as was agreed upon, however I am confident that this matter will be quickly resolved within short,” Shigemoto concluded.
The Minister of Finance returned on Saturday after a one-week working visit to the Netherlands.

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