(AUDIO AVAILABLE)Commissioner of Finance Mr.Xavier Blackman’s Press Conference on Financial Matters was held on July 30th 2009 at the Dr.Wathey Hall at 10 a.m.
Commissioner Blackman clears the air, Working with CFT & the Netherlands
Thursday morning, July 30, 2009 at the Claude Wathey Legislative Hall, Commissioner Xavier Blackman held a press conference to elucidate on financial matters.
Commissioner Blackman began his press conference stating that he wanted to clear the air a bit, that since taking office he has been become acquainted with the details of the financial situation of government. He pointed out that the difficulty was that there were no archives in the office, so he had to start from scratch, retrieving documents from departments and from general affairs.
In addition, the commissioner pointed out that he is working well with the CFT, the control and financial auditing body attached to the Island Government. Along with this financial oversight and the Netherlands, cooperation and progress is being made. The way of conducting and reporting has increase and the relationship changed due to a more open, interactive and transparent dealings with the parties involved.
Commissioner Blackman added that there will always be a difference in actual legislation and practical implementation in terms of working with the CFT and the Netherlands. There are reports that are constantly being sent to the CFT and the Netherlands for review. Based on this ongoing and open and honest relationship, we are able to progress despite the deadlines.
We have gained the confidence of these two groups, Commissioner Blackman said. "It is a learning experience for all. This is new for everyone. There are no laws being broken as was suggested and/or reported. If that was the case, there would have already been some implications from the Netherlands. But we are working in close cooperation with all parties involved."
The commissioner also wanted to point out that the new Executive Council is not late in submitting the quarterly financial reports. But, the quarterly financial report has been submitted and is currently going through some changes which were recommended by the CFT.
In the meantime, the government is looking at producing monthly financial statements, for the benefit of the Executive Council, who would do well with such reports in making timely and informed decisions relating to policy matters and to share with the general public, thereby increasing transparently.
The progress on the 2010 Budget is going well, Commissioner Blackman said, we are on track. We are now on our 3rd or 4th draft. We are not waiting until the final days, but working consistently in trying to produce reports.
The commissioner spoke on the budget and the idea of a deficit; he said that no developed country, more less a developing one, operates solely on balanced budget, especially when the central government has not lived up to their responsibilities. There are some talks in this direction but for now, the deficit has to be eliminated.
In the end, St. Maarten has the potential to be in a good financial situation, after the division of assets and the Country status of St. Maarten is achieved. The details could not be entered into due to ongoing talks with the different partners, but rest assured, St. Maarten has good financial potential.
Corporate Governance was also a topic of discussion. The code is being revisited, after several consultations with a third party and the relevant Dutch Ministry.
Present at the press conference were his advisors and the Department Head of the Island Receiver’s Office.