Ministry of Finance working diligently to close 2011 budget deficit hole;

Government must also guarantee the people an adequate level of service

Honourable Minister of Finance Hiro Shigemoto says the Ministry of Finance is working diligently to close the 2011 budget deficit based on a number of possibilities. 

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The budget ceiling at the moment is Naf.416 million and the Parliament of Sint Maarten has approved a budget of Naf.444 million. With the costs of living adjustment added to that for teachers and civil servants and some additional investments in various areas based on agreements with the Kingdom Government, the budget increases to Naf.461 million.

With reference to the request made for Naf.20 million as part of the division of assets of the dismantled Netherlands Antilles, referred to as incidental income, the Minister of Finance says the country needs to have a balanced budget as soon as possible, and the Naf.20 million would result in bringing the country closer to closing the current hole. He added that the Government will also prove that their reserves are not attached to any debts and the balance of Naf.25 million can be covered from the reserves.

"Government has a responsibility to provide a certain level of services to the people and business community of the country. This must be done in a responsible manner and taking into consideration the current global economic climate. We have a one-pillar economy and we cannot tax the economy to death, because that will be counter-productive. Other countries have different economic sectors to fall back on while we don’t have that luxury.

"We have over Naf.35 million in incidental costs on the budget which is one-time costs and the Committee for Financial Supervision CFT have agreed to allow us to use incidental income such as the advance on Sint Maarten share of the division of assets and liabilities to cover these incidental costs.

"The CFT didn’t want us to use the country’s reserves because they need us to prove that these reserves are not tied to debts by delivering the balance sheet of 2009 and the financial statement of 2010 for the period January 1, 2010 – October 9, 2010 and the Country statement which starts with a beginning balance as per October 10, 2010 – Dec 31, 2011.

"The balance sheet for 2009 has been approved by the Council of Ministers and was sent to the CFT as a beginning point to prove that the reserves are debt free. When we asked the CFT if we can get an advance on our share of the assets and liabilities, they would allow us to use those funds once all parties agreed," Hon. Minister of Finance explained on Sunday.

Curacao and Sint Maarten together have more than the majority of the assets of the former country Netherlands Antilles.

The Minister of Finance disclosed that Government is also working on a matrix of measures to ensure that the 2012 budget does not have a problem similar to the current process of the 2011 budget.