CFT pleased with government approach on preparing 2016 budget.
PHILIPSBURG:– Minister of Finance Richard Gibson informed members of the media Friday afternoon that on Thursday he got a reaction from the CFT regarding the 2016 budget. The Minister had indicated earlier that he had sent the draft budget he sent to parliament to the CFT before parliament passed the budget because he did not want the CFT to disapprove the budget after it is passed by the parliament of St. Maarten. He said that happened in 2015 and he took the necessary steps to avoid that from happening this year.
Minister Gibson said in the letter he received from the CFT they gave some indications, made suggestions, and recommendations, and if the government of St. Maarten comply with their requests then the CFT will most likely approve the 2016 budget when it is passed by parliament.
“In light of this, I sent a letter to the Parliament of St. Maarten asking that the public meeting be postponed for at least two weeks in order for the government to comply with the CFT. In my letter to parliament I requested that the public meeting be held on February 29th 2016.’
Minister Gibson said the CFT have at least four main concerns all of which government will comply with in order to get the 2016 budget approved by the CFT.
1. The CFT wants government to make a commitment in the 2016 budget that the monies they get from the division of assets from the former Netherlands Antilles will go towards paying off the debts owed to SZV and APS. Minister Gibson said that this has already been consummated in the agreement government signed with SZV and APS but government did not have that document in their hand.
2. The CFT also asked the government to include the figures from the fourth quarter of the 2015 budget, he said that has not yet been finalized because the staff in the department of Finance was focusing on preparing the 2016 budget in order to meet the deadline. The Minister of the Finance said the request from the CFT makes a lot of sense because those figures will allow the CFT to see if the country’s budget ended up with a positive or negative balance. “Either way it could influence the numbers in the 2016 budget, therefore government has to incorporate those numbers in the draft budget of 2016.
3. The CFT also wants government to incorporate the total premium that has to be paid to the pension fund. Minister Gibson said over the years St. Maarten have been indicating 22% but in the law its states 25%. The Minister of Finance said that the CFT have been asking government for years to make an amendment to either lower the percentage or stick to the law and indicate the 25%. He said that government already took a decision to lower the percentage to 22% but the process has not yet been finalized. Therefore, government will comply with the request of the CFT and calculate the pension premiums at 25%, however, government will have to find some NAF4.4M to fill that gap in order to comply with the request of the CFT. The Minister said that there will not be any need for further cuts because the “parking garage” will generate that amount of monies. Minister Gibson said that government will continue the process to lower the premium percentage and when it is completed then an amendment will be made to the budget.
4. The CFT also wants government to explain to them what savings the country will be able to generate, and how they intend to lower their expenses. The Finance Minister said that this point was addressed in the draft 2016 budget but the CFT seems to want more indebt information which government will provide by giving more detail information.
Minister Gibson said the CFT also have concerns on the multiannual budget and they asked for more explanations on projected tax compliance.
In conclusion the Minister said that the CFT expressed appreciation in the way government dealt with the 2016 draft budget and it is highly likely that when the recommendations and suggestions they gave to government is incorporated in the draft budget then the CFT will give the budget its approval.
Source: St. Martin News Network CFT gave government some suggestions to incorporate in draft 2016 budget — No more cuts necessary.