Execution to be monitored closely
The Board of financial supervision (College financieel toezicht – Cft) has granted a positive yet cautious advice on Sint Maarten’s 2010 budget, including adjustments.
The budget shows a small surplus. An indication on how slow the process has developed is the fact that the positive advice has been given in the current year – as a matter of fact in the eight month, exactly one year after the period in which the budget actually should have been submitted to Cft for advice.
Now it is important not to close the year with a deficit, like it was the case in 2009. The Executive Council should keep a close eye on the execution of the budget of 2010, so that in the upcoming months, timely measures can be taken in case of possible drawbacks. Effective monitoring can be achieved by means of complete and timely monthly reports, including an informative clarification.
The most important reason why Cft has not presented a positive advice earlier was due to the fact that the budget of 2010 indicated a deficit which is against the General Decree of the Kingdom. Meanwhile a political agreement has been reached between the Netherlands Antilles and Sint Maarten upon an amount of 15 million guilders by means of an advance, anticipating the division of properties of the Netherlands Antilles. In the meantime Sint Maarten has received this sum; therefore the threat of a deficit is covered.
In spite of the positive advice, the Cft is and will remain very concerned with regard to the budgetary process and the quality of the underlying financial management on Sint Maarten. At the end of July Cft expressed its concern about the progress of budgetary process up until now in a letter to the Council of Ministers of the Kingdom. The Board is aware of various circumstances such as the coinciding financial problems due to the economic situation, the change of administration in Sint Maarten in 2009 and the agreements between the Netherlands Antilles, Sint Maarten and Curaçao on the transferring of responsibilities.
The process to achieve a budget adopted by the Island Council and which is in compliance with the criteria has proven to be lengthy ever since the beginning. The annual report of 2008 has been submitted behind schedule and the budget of 2009 has also been adopted late by the Island Council. Furthermore, the budget of 2010 (with adaptations) has been adopted very late. Moreover various execution reports were submitted late.
Cft therefore fears that the preparations for the budget of 2011 will run into the same problems. In its letter to the Council of Ministers of the Kingdom, Cft indicates that structural solutions should be sought in order to avoid this. In spite of the positive advice on the budget of 2010, the worries of the Board of financial supervision are not taken away.