PHILIPSBURG — Minister of Finance Perry Geerlings has every intention of delivering the final budget for 2019 to Parliament of St. Maarten before the December 15, 2018 deadline but says he will take the time necessary to “fine tune” the budget.
Hi statement came as a reaction to media reports on Monday that the 2019 budget will not be ready for the December 2018 legal deadline.
Under normal circumstances, the budget for each following year is delivered to Parliament by September 1 for deliberation by the Members of Parliament who are required to have an approved budget for the coming year by December 15.
Considering the new Council of Ministers entered office on June 25, Minister Geerlings said the 2019 budget will have to be aligned with the Sint Maarten United Christian Democratic Coalition’s governing program 2018 – 2022. The Council of Ministers who are still in their first month in office will also have to review the budget to ensure that it matches with the vision for the governing program. The governing program entitled ‘Building a Sustainable Sint Maarten’ stresses the importance of sound financial planning by government and encourages the strategic development of realistic goals for the short, mid and long-term.
The Ministry will present a budget that accurately reflects St. Maarten’s present financial reality and will in as far as is possible, incorporate every aspect of government’s financial commitments.
The additional time taken will also be used to secure positive advice from the Committee for financial supervision Cft, for the government to submit its budget with a deficit. Article 25 of the Kingdom Law on Financial Supervision allows countries within the Netherlands Kingdom to seek permission to send an unbalanced budget under exceptional circumstances, such as the one St. Maarten has been facing since hurricanes Irma and Maria visited its destruction on the island in 2017.
The Kingdom Council has in the past given approval for the 2017 and 2018 budget using article 25 allowing the government of St. Maarten to submit its budget with a deficit. However, according to the Ministry of Finance, the time for receiving the approval is not set in stone and can affect the timing for submitting budgets. At present, the Ministry is in discussions with the Cft and The Netherlands in a bid to find an amicable solution to the approval process for submitting a deficit budget, which reduces the time for approvals.