Philipsburg:--- Minister of Finance Roland Tuitt said that he intends to clean up the debts of government in the near future. The Finance Minister made the announcement on Wednesday during the Council of Ministers' press briefing, he said the former governments have been saying that they are doing all they could to boost the economy when in fact these governments were acting like a bad child. "The former governments used to say they wanted to bring action into the economy but when you look carefully government was not a good child, they were not paying their bills on time and I want change that by the end of this year. I want to clear up all the old bills and I want to start the New Year with a new vision and allow government to do business with the community (creditors) without giving government a bad name." Tuitt said it is important for government pay its creditors on time so that the money can turn around in the economy and generate activity. Therefore, government has to become a good citizen and pay their bills on time.
When questioned by the media regarding the debts government owes it creditors, Tuitt said that there are bills to be paid dating back to 2005. Tuitt said government owes it creditors somewhere between 20 to 30 million guilders. When he was asked how he intends to pay those bills, Tuitt said there are debts that existed before 2005 and it should have been cleared up with the debt relief. He said government is of the opinion that they can revisit the issue of debt relief. However, from 2005 to present he is working on clearing up the debts by bringing government up to date with its creditors. He said he does not see any reason why government cannot pay its bills within 30 to 90 days as long as the cash flow is in place. Tuitt said when government establishes the debt and the cash flow is available, he could use the money to clear the debts. He said the government of country St. Maarten should have four months of expenditures on the bank which amounts to about 10 million per month for critical items. He said the excess monies on the bank can be used to pay off government debts.
Making Government more Responsible for their Ministries.
Tuitt further explained that his Ministry is trying to make the other Ministries more responsible. "We are working on this with the SOAB to implement some activities, one of those activities is to establish an internal control department and to implement a real treasury department that will have the capabilities to do proper investments for government." Tuitt said there is already a treasury department but that department has to function properly with the investment policies of government which would make government more efficient and effective as well as generate more income for government.
CFT confirms approval of St. Maarten 2012 Budget --- Wants more Clarification.
Tuitt also told reporters that he received an official letter from the CFT on July 16th confirming that the 2012 budget of St. Maarten has met their requirements. Tuitt said the CFT also asked government to provide some more answers to them. One such question was regarding how the government of St. Maarten intends to deal with the TAXAND issue. Tuitt said government split the budget 2012 amendments into two parts. One part of the budget deals with the daily operation of government (operational cost) while the second part is the capital budget, under which the TAXAND contract will fall since it is a big investment.
The Finance Minister also announced on Wednesday that the SOAB submitted a Performa invoice to investigate the TAXAND contract. The cost to do the investigation is Naf. 58,000.00 and the Council of Ministers already approved the amount for the investigation. Tuitt said he has to make up a Landsbesluit because the amount is over Naf.50,000.00 and when that is completed SOAB will begin their investigation which will last about five weeks.
The CFT also wants government to provide them with some more information regarding the 2012 budget amendments and to make sure the 11 million guilders on the back services is in the financial statement of 2010, which Tuitt said was sent to the CFT.
St. Maarten Government Asks UTS Supervisory Board for Information on the Naf. 11.2 million paid to Curacao Government.
The Finance Minister also announced on Wednesday that he will be requesting more information from the United Telecommunication Company (UTS) on the 11.2 million guilders they paid out to the Government on Curacao. Tuitt said UTS made the payment without basis because the only payments UTS can make to a government are either a dividend or a loan. He said the payment made by UTS, is not a dividend therefore, they need to have some other basis as well as approval from the Supervisory Board of UTS.