PHILIPSBURG – Minister of Finance Richard Gibson has called for a review of the performance of government-owned companies, especially as it relates to the salaries earned by directors of these companies.
He made the comments at the Council of Ministers press conference on Wednesday, July 20. He wants government-owned companies to present a policy on how its directors are paid, and to introduce a salary ceiling that should not be higher than what the Prime Minister earns.
“I don’t think that should be the case and I think government-owned companies will have to come with a policy for key positions in government-owned companies to determine what is being paid to directors, to top positions in government-owned companies and to make sure that the policy to come with that it has a ceiling, and the ceiling has to be that it cannot be higher than what the Prime Minister makes,” Minister Gibson said.
He called for a performance-based approach to the management of government-owned companies. “If (the company) suffer losses, I cannot square how the company could decide to pay that director huge bonuses while the management did not perform. It’s time that we take a good look at this and it’s time that we take polices to be able to restrict this,” Gibson stated.
The Minister was speaking in the context of a recent revelation by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) that St. Maarten has the highest GDP per capita income annually of US $26,000. He is of the view that if the salaries of directors of government-owned companies is restricted, this can help reduce the per capita income measurement of St. Maarten, making the country eligible to receive international funding. Barbados’s per capita income is US $16,000, Jamaica US $4,909 and Belize US $4,366.
“Countries with a per capita income with that level has access to many international programs where they receive grants, where they receive assistance in order to develop their country because they are characterized as a low income country. When you are characterized as we are as a middle income country, none of these programs are available to us. We have to fend for our self,” Minister Gibson explained.