While in Europe this would not be tolerated
Honourable Minister of Finance Hiro Shigemoto says government must guarantee a certain basic level of public services to the people of Sint Maarten under the Constitution of the country.
"It is totally unacceptable for the people of Sint Maarten to receive substandard public services that is not acceptable throughout the European Union. Why should the people of Sint Maarten be pushed in that direction?
"Government understands the position taken by the Council of Financial Supervision CFT based on the Kingdom Law on Financial Supervision for Curacao and Sint Maarten; however everybody should also have an understanding for the position of Sint Maarten after attaining country status.
"We had to start departments and ministries from scratch, and we are moving forward in doing what has to be done. Under the principles of good governance we will not be pushed into a corner and allow our people to receive substandard public services. Government is working to improve services as well, but this will take investments and will also take time," Minister of Finance Hiro Shigemoto said on Thursday.
The Board of the CFT has advised the Kingdom Council of Ministers in a letter dated March 30, 2011 to give an instruction to Sint Maarten regarding its 2011 Budget.
"Sint Maarten has worked tirelessly and will continue to work to get the additional funds that would continue to guarantee a proper level of public services for the people of the island. We have worked with the CFT over the past months and will continue to do so, but we won’t be rushed into anything," Hon. Minister of Finance Shigemoto pointed out on Thursday.
The Parliament of Sint Maarten passed the budget in December 2010 for a sum of Naf.444 million. The CFT has set a budget ceiling of Naf.416 million; however, due to cost of living adjustments for civil servants and some additional investments in various areas based on agreements with the Kingdom Government, additional revenues are needed.
The Minister added that the global recession has impacted the island just as it has other countries around the world. "We are slowly coming out of the recession; however, we must not increase taxes further that would put pressure on our slow economic recovery.
"I am very sympathetic to the people who are hurting, and we cannot go raising taxes again that would impact the average man. Those out there need to realize that the reality of the situation is Sint Maarten has an open economy; the increase in global oil prices is impacting every household; increase in global food prices are also impacting every household; a further increase in the tax burden on the average man is not acceptable.
"This budget challenge will be resolved as long as everybody is working in the interests of the people. It will be a win-win for everybody, but most importantly for the people of our country," Hon. Minister of Finance Hiro Shigemoto stated on Thursday.