St. Maarten has finally received some good news from the Committee for Financial Supervision CFT (see related stories). For starters, all signs are that the 2016 budget will end in a surplus.

That would be a first in recent years, although a pay-out of 17 million Antillean guilders from utility company GEBE to Government had a lot do to with it. Since that obviously regards incidental revenues, broadening the tax base by enhancing compliance was again strongly advised.

CFT also says it seems the draft 2017 budget is being amended and sufficiently substantiated to be on the right track. This means that Parliament, having passed the budget on Friday evening after several days of debate, may not again have to deal with any major adjustments next year.

Finance Minister Richard Gibson deserves credit for getting the country’s financial household in order, but so do other cabinet members and the elected representatives. After all, no politician likes to hear that there is no room for any new policies as was the case with the budgets of both 2016 and 2017.

Of course, legislators complained, expressed frustration, made proposals and adopted motions, some of which will raise income and others cost additional money. However, they also showed understanding for the need to limit expenditures in the face of economic challenges.

The best way to counter the latter is by stimulating business activity and investments from the private sector such as with the Pearl of China and Rainforest Adventure Park projects. As Gibson himself often says, in the end one can only spend what one earns.

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