Budget in compliance with rules expected by April 15

PHILIPSBURG--Government has "more or less assured" Dutch Minister for Home Affairs and Kingdom Relations Piet Hein Donner that the island will have a 2011 budget that complies with especially the Kingdom Law on Financial Supervision for Curaçao and St. Maarten by April 15, when the next Kingdom Council of Ministers meeting is scheduled, Prime Minister Sarah Wescot-Williams said at a press conference on Monday.

"There is a proposal that during this week a consensus would be worked out" with the Committee for Financial Supervision CFT that takes into consideration the position of government and CFT, the Prime Minister said in a press conference with Donner.

Wescot-Williams and the Council of Ministers had meetings with the visiting Dutch minister about the budget and related matters.

Government hopes to communicate with Donner by next week about the progress of the discussions, "to assure" him that "before or by April 15, we would have a budget for St. Maarten that complies with the law," she added.

CFT had recommended to the Kingdom Council of Ministers on March 31 to issue an instruction, based on the law, to force St. Maarten to provide financial information about government-owned companies. However, when the Kingdom Council met on Friday, it was decided not to issue an instruction for now.

Donner said, "We had a firm discussion" and added that he was "glad to hear" about the "conviction" of the Council of Ministers to be able to present a budget that could have the support of CFT, "so that we can proceed from there and in that way we stop talk about it and start implementing."

He was also glad to hear there had been contact between the Council of Ministers and CFT.

"Far too much discussion and energy are going into the budget [preparations-Ed.] rather than implementation, which is most important," Donner said in the presence of Wescot-Williams and Dutch Minister for Immigration and Asylum Gerd Leers.

CFT and government had had some disagreements last week Monday about Wescot-Williams and Finance Minister Hiro Shigemoto not turning up for a video conference about the budget. The advisory body had issued a press statement decrying the lack of cooperation from government.

Talks between the two entities are continuing with Shigemoto already in contact with CFT during last week. CFT is scheduled to meet with government today, Tuesday, for continued talks on the budget.

Wescot-Williams said that the positions of CFT and government were "not far apart" and the focus now should be on coming to an agreement "to avoid" further discussion in the Kingdom Council as well as outside it.

Government needs to put its energy into the other important matters, because St. Maarten needs to continue not only with its budget, but also with the other aspects that require attention, she explained.

(Source: The Daily Herald St. Maarten)

4 April 2011

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