Brug says an approved 2024 budget is good for Sint Maarten! 

422
Richinel Brug

 

In a media statement released on Tuesday afternoon, Richinel Brug expressed his appreciation to the Parliament of Sint Maarten for passing the 2024 budget. Brug, who is set to replace the leader of the URSM in Parliament once he swears in as Prime Minister, called this accomplishment significant in light of the current political situation.

Brug acknowledged the peculiar circumstances under which the outgoing Counsel of Ministers presented and defended the budget for the incoming Government, while assuming their roles as opposition members.

Brug highlighted the significance of this budget approval, noting that it not only guarantees the continuation of projects initiated before 2024 but also ensures the availability of funds to initiate the process of paying justice workers.

“It is crucial to recognize that receiving a signed decree, without appealing the content, is just the first step in a long process.” Brug expressed his hope that all stakeholders would prioritize this process, ensuring the signing of more than 25 decrees per week.

“The approval of the 2024 budget also brings positive news for (regular) civil servants and teachers, as it includes a long-awaited salary indexation retroactive to January 2024. This development is particularly noteworthy because it marks the first time in over a decade that salaries will be indexed. The last adjustment occurred back in 2012. This budget approval also enables the timely payment of the 2023-2024 vacation allowance payment of seven percent instead of the usual six percent. The salary indexation and increased vacation allowance provide a much-needed boost for civil servants and teachers whose salaries have not been indexed since 2012.”

Brug emphasized that the approval of the 2024 budget sets a positive precedent for future budgetary decisions. It demonstrates a commitment by both coalition and opposition partners to prioritizing ongoing projects and ensuring that previous commitments are honored. This continuity is crucial for the effective implementation of government initiatives and the maintenance of public services, setting the stage for progress and development, ensuring that essential services and initiatives can be continued and improved.

At the same time, Brug noted that the approved budget is certainly not perfect, as it does not contain sufficient initiatives that actually attempt to alleviate poverty in Sint Maarten, such as a structured school meal program and financial relief to seniors and single parents. According to Brug, the budget places too much responsibility on entities such as the National Recovery Program Bureau (NRPB) and the Sint Maarten Developing Fund (SMDF) to tackle social projects. While these organizations undoubtedly have an important role to play, Brug argues that the government should take a more active approach in implementing projects that actually address poverty.

Brug’s comments serve as a timely reminder to the incoming government that an approved budget does not mean they are devoid of power and influence. Instead, it should motivate them to actively participate in the execution of current and new projects throughout 2024. The budget serves as a framework, but it should not restrict the government’s ability to shape policies and initiatives that address the needs of the people they represent.

Improving the budget’s allocation of resources to poverty-alleviating projects should be a priority for the incoming government. By taking direct action and working on these initiatives, the incoming government will have the opportunity to make a tangible difference in the lives of our Sint Maarten residents.