>PHILIPSBURG, Sint Maarten — Minister of Finance the Honourable Perry Geerlings informed the Committee for Financial Supervision Cft that his ministry is in the final stages of preparing the trajectory for improved financial management and tax reform.
Geerlings held discussions with the visiting College of Financial Supervision Cft who were on the island for meetings between February 11 and 13. He gave the Cft updates on the Finance Ministry’s plans and the necessary steps that will be taken in connection with the reform of the Tax Department and the Public Finance Department when he met with them on Monday, February 11, at the Government Administration Building in Philipsburg.
The urgent need to improve Financial Management within Government and improve the functioning of the Tax Department is consistent with Minister Geerlings’ Financial Recovery Plan post-Irma, which aligns with the Governing Program for the St. Maarten United Christian Democratic Coalition, entitled “Building a Sustainable St. Maarten.”
During the meeting, the Minister provided updates on the work being done behind the scenes to improve financial accountability and outlined his Ministry’s plans of approach as it transitions from planning and preparation to the next phase, which is implementation. “The CFT is one hundred per cent in support of our plans and the approach we intend to take for these reforms and to improve the Public Financing for Country St. Maarten. The Cft has also pledged to provide assistance wherever necessary to ensure that these two critical financial, operational improvement projects reach fruition at the earliest possible time,” said Geerlings.
He said the objective is to move Country St. Maarten to a status where it no longer needs to rely on financial assistance from third parties. To achieve this objective, Geerlings says, “Reform is urgently necessary.”
The Cft and Finance Minister also discussed other financial matters as it relates to Country St. Maarten including the status of affairs regarding the 2015 Instruction. That instruction includes the need for the Government to improve its financial management, reduce the country’s debt and to finalise outstanding payments amongst others.
The Cft stressed the need for the Government to finalise the financial statements that are still pending from 2013 to 2018. At present, the government has submitted the 2013 and 2014 Financial Statements to Parliament for approval while the Ministry of Finance is preparing the 2015 and 2016 and 2017 financial statements.
Minister Geerlings said the Cft was also informed that the 2019 Budget would be ready as promised to be submitted to his Excellency Governor Eugene Holiday during this month. That budget is a revised version of the first Draft 2019 Budget which was sent to the Parliament of St. Maarten in 2018 but was recalled after the Cft submitted recommendations for reduction in projected spending amongst other things. The revision of the Draft 2019 Budget was prepared in close collaboration with the Cft to ensure that all changes were mutually acceptable to Government and the Cft.