St. Maarten Budget 2016 needs 50-million trimming

POSTED: 08/14/15 9:52 AM


St. Maarten – Finance Minister Martin Hassink repeated at yesterday’s press briefing what he already confirmed last week in a report that appeared last Saturday in this newspaper: the Kingdom Council of Ministers will take a decision about an instruction for St. Maarten in its meeting of September 4.

Yesterday, Hassink gave details about the instruction. On July 10, he received a draft instruction from Kingdom Relations Minister Plasterk. Last week, the Council of Ministers sent a reaction to the Netherlands but, as Hassink announced last week, he will still travel to Holland before to meeting of the Kingdom Council of Ministers to explain his position in more detail.

“The Kingdom Council of Ministers wants us to compensate the 60 million guilders in deficits from the period 2010-2014 in the 2015-2018 period,” Hassink said. “They also want us to properly incorporate in the multi-annual budget the costs of care and pensions and to make sure that the pensionable age in the AOV is increased.”

Furthermore, the instruction orders St. Maarten to settle its payment arrears with pension fund Aps and with social insurance agency SZV within three years. “We also need to take measures to keep the care and pension systems feasible. We should show this in a budget amendment that must be approved before November 1,” Hassink said.

The government is aware that serious steps must be taken, Hassink added. “On the other hand, we feel that we do not get the chance to do so and that we are limited in the execution of certain tasks.”

The 2015 budget is therefore still in limbo. As long as there is no green light from financial supervisor Cft, the country is unable to borrow for capital investments.

The cabinet is working on the 2016 budget but that still needs some tweaking: “The wish list of the ministries is pretty long and it currently exceeds projected income by 50 million guilders,” Hassink said. “We know that certain ministries have to expand and there is no way that we are able to cut a lot of costs. We really have to look into ways to increase income. That will be the focus for this Council of Ministers.”

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