First visit Cft in 2010

Budgetary process Sint Maarten difficult; public finance Bonaire under pressure

At the end of its first visit of this year of the Board financial supervision (College financieel toezicht – Cft) to the islands and the Netherlands Antilles, the Board concludes that the budgetary process of Sint Maarten is difficult at the moment, and the public finance of Bonaire is under pressure. 

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For the other islands the financial process is quite acceptable. During this visit the Board not only met with the executive councils, but also with the island councils. The meeting with the island council of Curaçao will take place next Friday.

Sint Maarten

The situation on Sint Maarten regarding the 2010 budget is quite particular at the moment, since at the beginning of March 2010 the budget is still not adopted by the island council. After intensive deliberations between Cft and the executive council, the Board came to the final conclusion that in the draft budget 2010, which was submitted to the Board on December 2nd 2009 for review, the norms were not taken sufficiently into account. Sint Maarten has established the draft budget in anticipation on its status, in the opinion of Cft however, without sufficient substantiation by means of managerial and financial agreements with Netherlands Antilles and Curaçao. The Board has presented several recommendations to the executive council to have the budget still meet the requirements.

At this moment, as stated before, Sint Maarten has not yet an adopted budget based on which Cft can determine up to what level Sint Maarten has implemented its recommendations. During the visit of Cft in Sint Maarten last Tuesday, discussions were held about said difference in insight, and Sint Maarten indicated that next week in the executive council a renewed deliberation on this matter will take place. It is stated as well that the intention is to discuss the budget in the island council in the 3rd week of March.

Based on the need to have decisions concerning the budget be made shortly, Cft has decided to send a letter to the State Secretary of Internal Affairs and Kingdom Relations, in which she is informed about the current state of affairs. In this same letter it is further announced that in the event by next week Sint Maarten has decided not to modify the budget in the direction desired by Cft – thereby observing the standards of the General Decree of the Kingdom on Financial Supervision and the relevant accountability requirements – Cft will send a letter to the Council of Ministers of the Kingdom in which this council is advised to give an instruction to the executive council to have a budget adopted that will meet the requirements, and to make this budget immediately available for review by Cft.


The implementation of the 2009 Bonaire budget will likely show a higher deficit than was foreseen, mainly because of short falling incomes. The 2010 budget is further placed under increased pressure, as a result of the agreements made in terms of allowed shortages during the period 2008-2010. This surely makes the financial picture critical, since the deficit allowed for 2010 is lower than for the previous years, and for 2011 deficits are even no longer permitted. The island territory has indicated that for the time being an exercise will be done to catch up with the collection of taxes. The Board has also shown a variety of income increasing measures. Should this not have sufficient beneficial results, then concretely outlined cutbacks on the expenditures must ensure that the budget 2010 (including long term figures) will become and stay balanced.

Saba and Sint Eustatius

The implementation of the budget 2009 of the island territories of Saba and Sint Eustatius will likely not lead to any significant problems. The same is the case up till now with regard to the execution of the 2010 approved budget. Saba will conduct an in-depth assessment of its health and education sector. The Board has proposed to offer assistance if and where this may be needed. Furthermore Saba is cleaning up the database of its personnel administration, and after several requests by Cft, the island territory has now imposed a deadline of April 1st of this year.

Saba and Sint Eustatius equally have difficulties adhering to the deadlines mentioned in the Decree on temporary supervision. Both island territories have a great shortage of personnel. Sint Eustatius agreed to submit a request with Cft for technical support. The Board indicated in general to all island territories that it will be a lot stricter this year in assuring compliance with the stipulated terms.

Netherlands Antilles and Curaçao

The execution of the 2009 budget of the Netherlands Antilles will likely show a surplus. The same counts for the execution of the 2009 budget of Curaçao, and up till now the execution of its 2010 budget is developing well. The casino tax which at last has been implemented is showing some very positive results. The in-depth assessment of the education sector, on which the Board has insisted, is finalized. A plan of action is being developed for an in-depth assessment of the health sector. Both assessments were conditions imposed by the Board on the 2010 budget, and will serve to allow a better insight in the long term funds, which are necessary in order to execute the policy in these areas, and the results of which will be used in the 2011 budget preparations.

Corporate Governance

The Board is satisfied that, except for Saba and Sint Eustatius, all islands meanwhile have adopted their own Corporate Governance Code. Now the articles of association of the various government companies will have to be adapted, and the Codes will have to be implemented on all islands. The Board has emphatically requested for this process to be closely observed and monitored by the authorities. On Saba and Sint Eustatius all efforts are being made to finalize the respective Corporate Governance Codes.

Financial statements

For the financial statements up to and including 2009 the deadline of April 1st, 2010 is established for the BES islands and August 31st, 2010 for the Netherlands Antilles, Curaçao and Sint Maarten. The Board is still awaiting the latest quarterly reports of Sint Maarten. All other islands have already submitted their fourth quarter 2009 reports.