Theo Heyliger: “Any deviation from the budget will create a major problem”POSTED: 04/27/11 11:40 AM
St. Maarten – Vice Prime Minister Theo Heyliger said yesterday that any deviation from the just approved 2011 budget will create “a major problem,” thereby dismissing expectations of any government initiative to lighten the burden for citizens in the face of rising food and energy prices.
Heyliger said that the rising oil prices affect everything, not only transport and energy prices. He pointed out that prices of corn have gone up too, because corn is the basis for ethanol production. This in turn has led to higher prices for beef.
“We have achieved 10-10-10,” Heyliger said, adding pragmatically, “There are rules and now we have to live up to it. The only thing the Dutch still provide for us is supervision.”
Heyliger said that the country has “to continue facing the music until people realize the predicament we are in. Emancipation Day is coming up and I have said to our Minister of Culture, emancipation for what? To me it is more modern slavery.”
The Minister said that the government is considering “every option” to generate state revenue.
The report by the research department of the Central Bank that predicts flat or negative economic growth for this year does not especially worry Heyliger. “I like to prove those who are saying negative things wrong,” he said. “I am not convinced that the numbers are correct in that Central Bank report.”
The Minister said that one of the major problems the Central Bank traditionally struggles with is the availability of reliable statistical information about St. Maarten. “I love statistics,” he said. “They give you the right information. Figures of the Central Bank are usually conservative. If we lose just one cruise ship due to the crime situation, it means an enormous blow to our economy. We have to make sure that those figures are not correct.”