Council of Ministers approve balanced 2011 budget; Expects positive advice from CFT

Honourable Minister of Finance Hiro Shigemoto announced on Tuesday that the Council of Ministers (COM) in its Tuesday meeting approved a balanced 2011 budget for country Sint Maarten and he expects a positive advice from the Committee for Financial Supervision CFT. 

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The expected positive advice from CFT is based on indications received after the draft national budget of country Sint Maarten was sent to the CFT to be scrutinized.

"I do believe the approved budget by COM complies with the Kingdom Law on Finances. We have not had any additional increases in taxes or fees. The budget is a lean one and will require heightened liquidity controls before expenditures are made.

"The budget was also sent to Minister Donner and the CFT well before the deadline," Hon. Minister of Finance said on Tuesday.

Dutch Minister of Interior Affairs & Kingdom Relations Piet Hein Donner and the CFT were formally informed by COM on Tuesday.

The Naf.420,916,597 million budget is Naf.23,526,328 million less than the one that was approved by Parliament in December 2010. The amount at that time was Naf.444,442,925 million. Parliament will now have to meet in the coming weeks to approve the new budget; however, it has to go to the Council of Advice.

"I am very pleased that Government and the CFT have been able to reach this point with an approved balanced budget. There has been minimal impact on projects that will be executed in 2011. There hasn’t been any impact on the service level aspect of the budget.

"Department heads will have to ensure with the existing staffing levels, everybody works in an efficient manner. Thirdly, our countries national reserves remain intact. We did not have to draw on those and in the future they could be used for incidental expenses if necessary.

"I would like to thank the staff of the Ministry of Finance and those from the Finance Department for their hard work and efforts put into the process of getting a balanced budget for the country," Hon. Minister of Finance Hiro Shigemoto said on Tuesday.

In order to balance the 2011 budget and comply with the financial regulations, the COM had to reduce personnel costs across all seven ministries with respect to the filling of vacancies. Persons will only be hired based on the plans of approach which refers to the Ministry of Justice, the Civil Registry Department, the Department of Finance, and the Ministry of Public Housing, Spatial Planning, Environment and Infrastructure.

Some of the reductions that the COM approved in order to balance the 2011 budget according to the financial regulations are: Travel allowance for personnel Naf.500,000; Consultants Naf.1.4 million; Rental of properties and spaces Naf.1.8 million; Legal and other advice Naf.568,000; Projects and other activities Naf.670,000; Back pay Naf.14.7 million; Depreciation Naf.2.7 million; Interests costs for pre-financing and re-financing of projects Naf.500,000; and Unforeseen costs Naf.598,000.