Today’s news that government has committed to paying off its debt of about 91 million Netherlands Antillean guilders to Social and Health Insurances SZV is most welcome. After all, it’s essential to secure the various collective funds managed by the institution so that their viable future is safeguarded.
Pointing fingers makes little sense at this point, as the arrears in premiums including those collected from civil servants and division of assets outstanding were accumulated over many years. Settling them all is understandably also going to take a while, but it must nevertheless be done.
There wasn’t much choice either, because eliminating the debts to SZV and General Pension Fund APS was part of a 2015 financial instruction issued by the Kingdom Council of Ministers in The Hague and remains a condition for the Financial Supervision Committee CFT to give its required approval to the Dutch Caribbean country’s national budgets.
However, this is something that needs to take place first and foremost in the interest of St. Maarten and its people themselves, rather than because others say so. It’s simply the only correct thing to do.
Most important is not to repeat the costly mistake of government not meeting such obligations due to cashflow issues or whatever reasoning used at the time. It is not only completely wrong and quite irresponsible, but also immoral especially where the money was taken from employees’ salaries but never transferred on their behalf as intended.
That is nothing short of highway robbery.