Deviation of the Budgetary norms linked to approval Note of Amendments COHO Legislation

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Silveria Jacobs

 

Philipsburg – St. Maarten requests postponement of the Kingdom Council of Ministers (RMR) decision that was scheduled to be taken today, to approve the deviation for the budgetary norms of article 15 of the Rijkswet Financieel Toezicht (Rft). The Netherlands made the granting of the deviation conditional on St. Maarten’s political approval of the Note of Amendment to the Consensus Kingdom Law COHO, in an effort to force consensus. Additionally, the State Secretary included excerpts of said amendment as decision points for the RMR, thereby circumventing the Parliaments of the Kingdom from debating this aspect of the law. Furthermore, decision points were included which would give the government of the Netherlands carte blanche to impose further unrelated conditions for future liquidity support. It is clear that undue political pressure is being placed on the smaller countries and as such, St. Maarten could not agree with the conditions put forth.

Note should be taken that St. Maarten, according to the Committee for Financial Supervision (Cft), was not in need of liquidity support for the first quarter of 2022. The Cft had also advised positively on the necessary deviation of article 15 (Rft) which allows for a deficit budget.

St. Maarten requested for article 25 (Rft) to be applied, allowing the country in times of a disaster the right to deviate from Article 15 (Rft) which establishes the budgetary norms. This legally empowers St. Maarten to enact the law for an approved deficit budget. This proposal before the Kingdom Council of Ministers, if approved, would have hampered the government to be able to execute St. Maarten’s 2022 budget currently being debated in Parliament. This demonstrates the continued unconstitutional handling of St. Maarten within the Kingdom by State Secretary Knops, on the eve of the long-awaited new government being sworn in.

The inclusion of excerpts from the Note of Amendment to the decision points (which does not yet have political agreement to go to the Parliaments) is a blatant disregard for the legal trajectory of the Consensus Law and Amendments. In this way, the State Secretary is seeking to circumvent the approval of the Parliaments to increase the authorities of the Cft. Such an action would bind the governments whether or not the consensus laws are approved.

Lastly, the broadly formulated conditions for future liquidity are too open-ended, and would allow the Government of the Netherlands carte blanche to attach any new conditions to all future agreements. These would have very far-reaching consequences for the government of St. Maarten.

As three countries, we collectively decided not to approve or handle this agenda point and have asked for a postponement to afford the three countries the opportunity to have the necessary political discussions in preparation for the next Kingdom Council Meeting scheduled for January 21, 2022.

The Government of Sint Maarten has continued to work diligently on the Country Package measures and are successfully achieving our agreed upon goals. This information has been confirmed by the Ministry of Interior and Kingdom Relations (BZK) and in the Implementation Reports (uitvoeringsrapportages). We have also been committed to dialogue and participated in all discussions on the Consensus COHO law and the Note of Amendment on a technical level.

“The current trend of the Government of the Netherlands to attach more and more conditions, which are almost impossible to accept, clearly demonstrates an attempt to double down and exert undue pressure on their weaker partners. The Kingdom Council of State has strongly advised against such actions in their advice to the Kingdom Council of Ministers. It is therefore disconcerting to read the threats in the press statement by the State Secretary that the liquidity support loans would become due in April 2022, if St. Maarten does not agree to their demands.

Nonetheless, St. Maarten remains positive and open to dialogue and fair negotiations. We look forward to the opportunity to sit with colleagues in the Kingdom to remove the conditions attached to the legal obligation to approve the deviation as well as other unethical conditions that have been attached to these decisions. We continue to work towards the achievement of true resilience for our countries. St. Maarten remains committed to working towards the trajectory of the consensus kingdom law in mutual collaboration whereby parties are not unduly pressured to carry out actions which could potentially hurt the people of St. Maarten. We look forward to handling this amended agenda point in the next Kingdom Council of Ministers,” stated Prime Minister Silveria Jacobs.