St. Maarten’s Draft 2012 budget passes September 1 deadline

POSTED: 09/3/11 12:09 AM

Cft awaits copy for informal advice

GREAT BAY / By Hilbert Haar – St. Maarten did not submit its draft 2012 budget in a timely manner to the parliament and to the Cft. The deadline expired on Thursday. Prime Minister Sarah Wescot-Williams said during Wednesday’s press briefing that the budget is still under discussion at the various ministries of her cabinet, where civil servants are looking at ways “to slash costs and to generate revenue.” Sources close to the process told this newspaper that the government will not manage to present a balanced budget.
Curacao received a thumbs-down for its 2012 draft budget this week. Jefka Alberto, the spokeswoman for the board of financial supervision Cft told this newspaper yesterday that Curacao had decided, contrary to what the law ordains, to ask the supervisor for an informal advice instead of submitting it to the parliament for approval first. St. Maarten also intends to follow this path, she said.
But the State Regulation of St. Maarten says in article 100, paragraph 3, that the annual budget must be submitted “in one or more drafts to the parliament, the latest on September 1.”
It is clear that St. Maarten Has missed this deadline. “We expect that it will be submitted quite some time later,” Alberto said.
The regular procedure is that the parliament approves the budget and that this approved budget is sent to the financial supervisor. But both Curacao and St. Maarten have decided to diverge from this procedure for an obvious reason. The governments do not want to face a situation whereby their parliaments approve the budget and the Cft does not.
St. Maarten has therefore agreed with the Cft to submit its draft budget to the supervisor for an informal advice, just like Curacao did. “At this moment the draft budget has not been submitted to the parliament in St. Maarten and it also has not been submitted to the Cft,” Alberto said.
The decision to ask the Cft for informal advice is a tactical maneuver. “If the parliament passes the budget and the Cft does not approve it afterwards, the government loses face,” Alberto said. She expects that St. Maarten will submit its draft budget simultaneously to the Cft and to the parliament, giving the supervisor the opportunity to issue an informal advice before the parliament handles it.
Prime Minister Sarah Wescot-Williams said that the discussions about the 2012 budget had started “a couple of weeks ago” and that it had been the intention to continue these talks last Tuesday in the Council of Ministers. “We received insufficient feedback from the ministries,” Wescot-Williams said on Wednesday so we were unable to have that discussion. As soon as we have enough information we will be able to see how close we’ll get to the ideal of a balanced budget.”

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