PHILIPSBURG — Minister of Finance Perry Geerlings outlined critical elements of his strategic plan focused on driving efficiency and restructuring government, during an introductory meeting with over 100 civil servants from the Finance Ministry, Thursday afternoon at the Government Administration Building in Philipsburg.
Geerlings told his team the roadmap for a healthy and sustainable St. Maarten has been laid out in the governing program 2018 -2022 entitled ‘Building a Sustainable Sint Maarten,’ and encouraged them to familiarize themselves with it, as their activities over the coming years will have to be aligned with strategic objectives of the governing program. The governing program can be downloaded from www.sxmgovformation.org and contains the goals for each ministry for the Sint Maarten United Christian Democratic Coalitions governing period.
According to a press release issued by the Ministry, part of its restructuring process will be taking measures to simplify procedures for submitting tax returns while simultaneously improving customer friendliness. The use of technology will play a significant role in enhancing the level of service government provides to the public. At the same time, Geerlings will be looking closely at the internal processes within the Finance Ministry to find ways of improving efficiency.
Geerlings told his team to seize the opportunity during St. Maarten’s redevelopment, to redefine “how we do business and how we govern ourselves.” He said at this critical time after being devastated by hurricanes in 2017 “restructuring government is a top priority, and everyone will be held accountable, myself included.”
At present St. Maarten’s limited financial and human resource is a cause for significant concern. However, Geerlings said in keeping with his motto of “achieve more with less,” for there to be economic stability, everyone would be called upon to find creative means of addressing operational and liquidity challenges.
The Ministry of Finance will be taking measures to improve financial accountability and to provide efficient budget reporting, but Geerlings made it clear, he will be requesting an extension for the delivery of the 2019 budget as he is not intent on competing to bring out a swiftly generated budget with no real reflection on the islands financial reality. He said he requested additional time to prepare the 2019 budget because he felt it was more prudent to deliver a realistic budget. At the end of the session, Minister Geerlings promised to operate with an open-door policy and pledged to make routine visits to the various departments to get first-hand knowledge of their challenges and to find solutions collectively.