From left: Julisa Frans (member upon proposal of St. Maarten); CFT Chair Lidewijde Ongering; Gregory Damoen (member upon proposal of Curaçao); and Hans Hoogervorst (member upon proposal of the Netherlands).
PHILIPSBURG--The Committee for Financial Supervision CFT said on Thursday that based on discussions with Finance Minister Ardwell Irion, it has determined that St. Maarten is taking the necessary steps to improve its budgetary process.
The Kingdom Council of Ministers RMR had requested St. Maarten to adopt the 2023 budget by March 31, 2023. This budget has to comply with the budget standards as stipulated in the Kingdom Act on Financial Supervision for Curaçao and St. Maarten RFT.
According to the RFT, the 2023 budget had to be adopted prior to December 15, 2022. St. Maarten did not meet this deadline and has indicated that it will submit the 2023 budget to Parliament as soon as possible, so that it can be adopted before the March 31, 2023, deadline that was requested by the RMR.
New CFT Chair Lidewijde Ongering, Julisa Frans (member upon proposal of St. Maarten), Gregory Damoen (member upon proposal of Curaçao) and Hans Hoogervorst (member upon proposal of the Netherlands) held a press conference in St. Maarten on Thursday where it updated the press (see related story).
The level of public investment in St. Maarten has been low for some time now. Consequently, St. Maarten is not using the opportunities to stimulate sustainable economic development. In 2022, St. Maarten planned to finance NAf. 15 million in investments through the loan subscription by the Netherlands. St. Maarten had a significantly higher deficit in the adopted budget amendment 2022 than was permitted by the RMR. Therefore, the CFT said it had been unable to give a positive advice on the loan request. The government is currently working on sufficiently substantiating the investments in the 2023 budget.
CFT said in recent months St. Maarten has assessed various financial work processes and cleared various (suspense) accounts. The 2019 and 2020 annual accounts were adopted in January 2023. This means that the backlog with regard to the preparation and adoption of annual accounts has largely been cleared. The 2021 annual accounts are expected to be adopted shortly. St. Maarten is also working on shortening the process for the delivery and audit of the annual accounts. CFT said it emphasized the importance of a sustainable implementation of the improvements resulting from the projects, in order to structurally improve the quality of financial management. It is important to have sufficient capacity to this effect.
As of February 1, 2023, Ongering was appointed as chair of the Board of financial supervision Curaçao and St. Maarten, the Board of financial supervision Aruba and the Board of financial supervision Bonaire, St. Eustatius and Saba. In its new composition, the CFT visited St. Maarten on February 15 and 16, and held talks with Governor Ajamu Baly, the Council of Ministers, the Minister of Finance and Parliament. CFT also spoke with the executing agency for Social and Health Insurances and the director of Princess Juliana International Airport (PJIA).
On February 13, the Board of financial supervision Bonaire, St. Eustatius and Saba (CFT BES) visited Saba where it held talks with the Executive Council and the Island Council. The CFT further visited the construction site for the new port. On February 14, CFT BES spoke with the Executive Council and received a tour of Global Terminal Investments Statia on St. Eustatius.