Curaçao’s Parliament began handling the 2024 draft budget in a Central Committee meeting this week. However, they did so without the amendments announced by the Pisas II Cabinet to reflect recent developments with a financial impact.
These include increased health care budgets for Curaçao Medical Center (CMC), spending 46 million Netherlands Antillean guilders for two years of wage indexation in the public sector, repayment of the Dutch COVID-19 liquidity loans and a yet-unspecified solution for the Ennia insurance company pension policy holders. The latter two, along with outstanding salary increases in the justice sector, also count for St. Maarten.
Discussions at the start of legislative proceedings in Willemstad on Monday centred around whether debating a budget already knowing this version is not final even makes sense. The chair suggested any amendments should be received before a General Assembly to actually vote on the proposed document.
In Philipsburg too, budgets have been approved and published into law on several occasions while aware they would be changed later due to various circumstances, sometimes well into the year they were supposed cover. That was the case again in 2023, but can hardly be called a desirable situation.
In general, adopting a budget before the preceding year ends seems advisable. However, regarding figures one usually does best to keep it real.