Member of Parliament George Pantophlet said it was very disconcerting to read in the daily newspapers and hear the Prime Minister state that it is proving difficult to get information on the government owned companies. Of the government owned companies the Member of Parliament says he has special interest in particularly the Harbor where things seem to be flourishing.
Apparently 2006 was the last time a Financial Report was prepared on the Harbor Group of Companies and reiterates that the very mention in the March 16, edition of the Daily Herald where a photo was shown of the additional piece land that was filled in stimulated some questions which he submitted over one week ago. Simple ones for which he has yet to receive answers. On the whole matter of government owned companies and foundations it will be interesting to see if the Committee for Financial Supervision (CFT) has more authority that the members of Parliament in obtaining the financial reports of these companies/foundations. If one can recall when he asked why government owned companies could not pay dividends into the coffers of government. The Minister of Finance had responded that government did not know the viability of these companies and were busy working on a dividend law. The only company that paid a concession was the Juliana International Airport who ironically is repaying a large loan created by the airport expansion and settling of outstanding debts. In the 2011 Budget that was passed in Parliament (vote of 9 for, 4 against and 2 absent) on December 23, 2010 5 million guilders was budgeted as a concession fee to be collected from the Airport and an amount of 25 million guilders in dividend taxes from the Central Bank of St. Maarten and Curacao. He is curious to know how the Minister of Finance came to the calculation of 25 million guilders. Note worthy also is that Nil was budgeted for Income Tax collection. This probable oversight has to be explained. How could one go from3 million guilders Budgeted for Income Tax in 2010 to zero in 2011? and is the amount realistic if one compares it to the Wage Tax? The Member of Parliament had also proposed some solutions to Balance the 2011 Budget by selling 45% of shares of the Government as 100% shareholder maintaining majority shares in the companies. Finally but not lastly in a letter of March 28, 2011 the Member of Parliament requested a hardcopy of the recent Draft of the 2011 Budget that was sent with amendments to the Committee for Financial Supervision (CFT) and if he is not mistaken the Advisory council . He also requested all correspondence between government and the CFT from December 23, 2010 to the present. The Member of Parliament said he should have received those documents the same if not the following day but up to date no response. Parliament should not have to wait until April 15, 2011 for a response. As elected representatives we are entitled to receive documentation upon request. It is apparent that dualism is just a name and the government is behaving like business as usual. There is a time for politics and this is not it. There is no doubt that calling a Public meeting on these matters is the next step to take. But we need the information now.