SINT MAARTEN (GREAT BAY) - “Increase in the interest rates if conditions are not met is exacerbating the already precarious situation of the countries and against our development,” Leader of the Democratic Party (DP) Member of Parliament (MP) Sarah Wescot Williams said on Tuesday afternoon that the Dutch Government must respect the Right to Development (RTD) of the Caribbean Countries in the Kingdom.
In assessing where we are financially and economically, the DP leader did not mince any words when she firstly directed her view to the Dutch government: “Even though they are in a care-taker’s state, I continue to remind the Dutch government of their responsibility to assist in our country’s sustainable growth.
Refinancing of Dutch loans amid threats if conditions are not met, is counterproductive in this context, illogical and rubbing salt in an open wound”.
Increase in the interest rates if conditions are not met is exacerbating the already precarious situation of the countries and against our development.
The MP elaborated her point with the example of the demand on Aruba: “Case in point, the condition placed on Aruba for example is a reversal of the principle of self-governance, one the tenets of the Right To Development”.
Closer to home, the latest addition to the conditions for debt refinancing is a multi-year economic framework.
“This comes out of left field, when we consider that we already have the report Spurring Economic Activity on the shelf. This report was commissioned and delivered as part of the country package. Is this serving as our economic blueprint going forward? If not, the question begs, why not?”
Much in this report is known, but requires concrete action, the MP elaborated. “Improve the investment climate, be transparent in your investment requirements and your investment benefits, are but some of the recommendations in the report Spurring Economic Development. I surmise that the government of St. Maarten has its own reasons why they don’t promote an open and transparent investment policy”.
In the opinion of MP Wescot, “Another multi annual economic framework would just be added to the reports on the shelves. This government thrives in obscurity and lack of policy implementation. The year 2023 thus far has been a financial disaster, created by the government”.
The Parliament was supposed to receive an amended budget 2023 since June. “It is because of that commitment by the government of St. Maarten back in April, to provide an amended 2023 budget ASAP, that the CFT gave the final green light for the capital budget of government, in order to get loans for the capital investments for the country. What is still necessary and needed to be included in the amended budget 2023 would have been a multi annual projection of this capital budget.
“Government does not even have the decency to tell us why we have not yet received the 2023 amended budget. We have passed the halfway mark in this budgetary year that projected over 500 million incomes for 2023 and that was based on items like the visitors’ tax for 10 million guilders, ship registration fees, increase in the vehicle inspection fees, to name a few.
All of these were amounts which we queried as to their feasibility on short term, but these queries were discounted.
Right now, it is anyone’s guess how close we are to these budgetary projections. Yet the government claims to have a (counter)proposal for debt refinancing, that it is keeping close to its chest. But when they get in a jam, by trying to outmaneuver their Dutch counterparts, then they know to run to parliament for support, MP Wescot concluded.