St. Maarten Prime Minister clarifies budget cuts to ministry

POSTED: 04/8/13 2:05 PM

St. Maarten – Prime Minister Sarah Wescot-Williams commented on the various budget reductions, in particular within the Ministry of Justice as it relates to the plans of approach for Government Ministries.

During her weekly radio show One on One with the Prime Minister, Wescot-Williams addressed the criticisms which has been reaching her from the community with regards to budget cuts; “There has been some criticism regarding some cuts in the Ministry of Justice budget. Some have taken it so far in saying that these cuts will result in the judicial authorities not being able to execute their tasks. Some persons have questions whether the cuts have been done deliberately to thwart the current ongoing Orca Investigations. Amongst other agencies whose budgets have been cut was the office of the Public Prosecutor and this has raised some questions in the community,” commented the prime minister.

With regards to these questions the prime minister explained that the budgetary process always starts with the various ministries submitting their budgetary desires and the associated costs. “This can be quite a significant amount when you take all ministries together for a particular year. The next step would be to look at the income of government for that particular year as well. After this the process starts of basically cutting and trimming the budget in order to arrive at a balanced budget which is a requirement and an agreed to item between the government of St. Maarten and the partners in the Kingdom in accordance to the Kingdom laws with regards to financial supervision. Additionally you have the Cft which is the monitoring agency to look at the Budget and give its opinion on the various expectations. Taking all of this into consideration all Ministries needed to make some cuts in their budgets this year to bring it to where it is today where a balanced budget taking the Cft recommendations into consideration has been submitted to Parliament,” the prime minister added.

The prime minister explained that the ministry of justice is one of the bigger ministries and therefore the cuts seem larger. “As part of the agreement when St Maarten became a country that government needed extra support with regards to things which needed to be done. In the case of the justice ministry there was a significant plan of approach which needed to be developed which was quite expensive. These plans of approach were an agreed to approach to meet certain targets to reach to the level where we need to get to as a country. There is a monitoring committee created as a law between the government of St. Maarten and the Kingdom Government with St Maarten has a member. The Kingdom Government and St. Maarten receives the reports from the ministries in terms of how they have been able to meet the targets set. These reports are submitted to the Minister of Kingdom Relations and Interior Affairs and the prime minister of the respective country which in this case is the prime minister of country St. Maarten. We then meet and look at those reports to see whether those things are on track. Based on that report we come up with administrative decisions which are crucial and necessary. In the case of the justice ministry it required a lot of money to do the things within the time frame to do the things set from them. That money comes from the budget of St. Maarten. For example it takes a lot to get the police force up to the level where it should be at in terms of manpower. Clearly when we became country our police force was not up to par and we have worked hard to bring that force up to the level where it should be. And therefore we had to make the cuts necessary to present a balanced budget, as we had to do with all ministries,” commented the prime minister. The prime minister will be in Parliament today for the budget deliberations.



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