Ultimate chance for St. Maarten

THE HAGUE--The Kingdom Council of Ministers has given St. Maarten one last chance to reach an agreement with the Committee for Financial Supervision CFT.

The Kingdom Council of Ministers will not issue an instruction for now to force St. Maarten to provide financial information about government-owned companies, but is considering such a measure, stated a spokesperson for Minister of Home Affairs and Kingdom Relations Piet Hein Donner on Friday.

Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte announced after the Kingdom Council of Ministers meeting on Friday that Minister Donner would have a "harsh" talk with St. Maarten's government. Donner travels to St. Maarten this weekend and will meet with St. Maarten's government on Monday. Donner is not going to St. Maarten to negotiate, stressed his spokesperson.

Donner will relay the message to St. Maarten "in block letters" that it will have to adhere to the Kingdom Law on Financial Supervision. "St. Maarten must stick to the agreements," said Rutte, adding that it would be "disappointing" if the island didn't do so. Rutte said he was "a bit concerned" about St. Maarten's financial figures.

The Kingdom Council of Ministers has increased pressure on St. Maarten by informing St. Maarten's Minister Plenipotentiary in The Hague Mathias Voges that the Council is considering issuing an instruction to force St. Maarten to cooperate with the CFT. Voges was present at the Council's meeting.

There is not much time to reach an agreement with the CFT, because the Dutch Second Chamber expects a letter from Minister Donner on the developments in St. Maarten by Tuesday. A vast majority in the Dutch Parliament wants intervention in St. Maarten. Parliament has chosen the CFT's side in the standoff between the supervisory body and Philipsburg.

The Second Chamber almost surely will seek a debate if Donner is unable to inform Parliament in that letter that the impasse between St. Maarten's government and the CFT has been resolved. The Second Chamber possibly will force intervention in St. Maarten through a motion which, as it looks now, will have the support of at least 121 of the 150 members.

The position the Kingdom Council of Ministers took Friday to consider an instruction is a strong signal that the Council has no more patience, according to insiders. But the Council wanted to give St. Maarten one last chance to reach an agreement with the CFT.

Donner's spokesperson told The Daily Herald the discussion on realising a balanced 2011 budget was between St. Maarten's government and the CFT, and Donner and the Kingdom Council of Ministers were not parties in those discussions.

"The CFT has to look at the [St. Maarten budget] proposal and take a decision whether it will approve or reject it. The decision of the CFT is important to the Kingdom Council of Ministers," stated the spokesperson.

(Source: The Daily Herald St. Maarten)

2 April 2011

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