St. Maarten PM on radio program: “Budget is number one priority”POSTED: 05/27/13 2:02 PM
St. Maarten – “When on May 6 the majority in parliament submitted a new proposal for working together, one of the first items arrived at was to come with an action plan for the essential items that need to be handled in the interest of the people; when they need to be handled and where the financing needs to come from in order to handle them,” Prime Minister Sarah Wescot-Williams said in her weekly radio program ‘One on One’.
“I think that at this juncture that is one of the main things that the people of St. Maarten need to know; what government’s stance is on the various issues facing the population and how we will tackle these issues? While we can write a one-year governing program I think that we need to take concrete actions so that people do not have to wait until they find out from the media to know what government is doing. I think it is critical to be clear in terms of what are some of the things which we are going to do in the coming months,” the prime minister continued.
She emphasized during her weekly live call-in show that the 2013 budget is the most critical issue facing the government and people of St. Maarten. “The budget is now government’s number one priority and it must be understood that this is very critical. Many persons feel that the budget, having been passed by parliament, is now in place and that government can now do its work on the basis of that. However, that is not the case; the budget has indeed been passed by parliament but now needs to go through the finalization procedure.
“The budget has been balanced on the premise of certain new income sources. However the laws which need to be in place in order to make it possible to secure these income sources have not been provided for yet by the responsible entities and I am gravely concerned that the Cft will give a negative opinion on both the fact that we are already in the 5th month of the year and that those laws are not yet in place.
“I am now very concerned that so many organizations, foundations and individuals that rely on a passed budget are now being brought into jeopardy. School boards and any other institutions receiving support from government, the payment of salaries of our civil servants; these are all of these things are a part of our budget. That is why the matter of the transition of a new government needs to happen as soon as possible; we cannot have a void which was exacerbated by the political impasse of the last few weeks continue, a void which has now brought the budget into jeopardy,” the PM emphasized.
Wescot-Williams also explained that other priorities which are currently being worked on are the matter of the national health insurance, the changes in the national tax system and the social development of St. Maarten. “Government needs to now make sure that we are able to reach the people and to ensure that there is a social net where people can go to with their various issues and receive the necessary support they need. Government needs to be more accessible in reaching the people and that will be our focus going forward,” Prime Minster Wescot-Williams concluded.