St. Maarten’s Prime Minister sticks to young country-mantra

POSTED: 02/6/13 12:22 PM

St. Maarten – The board on financial supervision (Cft) comments last week that St. Maarten can no longer use the excuse that it is a young country in running its financial affairs, has drawn the ire of Prime Minister Sarah Wescot-Williams.

The Prime Minister in passionately defending the country’s position said that it has been established as a fact that the country is young. She said that whether one looked at it in terms of age or development, St. Maarten only attained autonomy less than three years ago.

“St. Maarten became a country on 10.10.10. As far as I am concerned, that is young. It is young in terms of time and what we were given to start off with as a country.”

She added that if people were uncomfortable with the description of St. Maarten as young, then a more suitable description may be found in the term “a country in development.”

“If there is one thing that we are asking to be taken into consideration is that St. Maarten is a country in development. This status requires special attention,” the Prime Minister said while adding that the term “young country” has never been used to get anything.

Finance Minister Roland Tuitt whose 2013 budget is yet to be approved by the Cft also weighed in on the issue.

He maintains that while performing his duties, he has never seen the need to refer to the country’s age.

“In my case I will never use that excuse that St. Maarten is a young country. If you are in a position it is expected that you run the country the way it is expected of you. Using the excuse that a country is young or old doesn’t matter you have to do what you are placed there to do,” Tuitt said.

Dutch Minister of Home Affairs and Kingdom Relations Ronald Plasterk shares the same sentiment as the Cft; the country needs to reduce its expenditures by 25 million guilders and find other ways of stimulating development.

On another issue, Tuitt said that the division of assets and liabilities of the Netherlands Antilles process is “stagnated” and he is also not happy with the work of the Vereffenings Commissie – the committee charged with the division of assets of the former Netherlands Antilles..

“These are all items in preparation for our talks with Holland we will bring all of this forward,” the minister said.

St.  Maarten is represented by Jean James on the committee. He is responsible for providing periodic updates to the government. The committee has to look into registration of unmovable properties of the former Netherlands Antilles in the name of St. Maarten, and the finalization of claims by former central government civil servants.

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