2016 Budget Debate ongoing.
PHILIPSBURG:— Minister of Finance Richard Gibson Sr. called on Members of Parliament to do the right thing and approve what he described the 2016 shotgun budget which is balanced. Minister Gibson said over the years, St. Maarten built up debts and even though they were deducting heath care deductions from civil servants but was not paying it to USZV. Minister Gibson said because of that St. Maarten got an instruction from the CFT, while government had to take serious actions to pay off the debts owed to USZV and APS.
Minister Gibson said that if the Members of Parliament approved the 2016 budget unanimously for three consecutive years then they will be able to get rid of the CFT which was appointed by the Kingdom and St. Maarten would then have the opportunity to install its own CFT.
Minister Gibson also made clear that he already consulted with the Council of Ministers to approve his plans to hold each Minister responsible and to ensure that all reports on budget spending be sent to the Council of Ministers and the Parliament of St. Maarten. Another project the Minister of Finance is working on is to establish a National Bank in order for the country to better invest and manage its monies.
Minister of Justice Edison Kirindongo in a very short presentation said that one may not be able to direct their course but certainly they could adjust their sails. He said for the moment the Ministry has made the camera project a priority.
Minister of Education, Youths and Sports said even though the budget is lean and mean her Ministry does have several plans that will benefit the country. One of the plans is to install solar panels on all elementary schools.
Minister of VSA outlined the services offered by VSA and even update parliament on the illness that affected students that participated in the Leeward Islands debate last weekend.
Minister of TEATT Igrid Arrindell expounded on the need to properly advertise the island in Europe and her plans to properly market the island to attract more stay over visitors. She presented the plans and figures of the Port of St. Maarten and how they intend to attract cruise tourism that are diverting from St. Maarten to other markets. The Minister said even though the budget is slim and trip her focus will be placed on proper marketing and the use of technology through internet market.
Prime Minister William Marlin in his presentation told parliament that the focus of his government is to cut cost, one being revamping the ITC system so that government pay less phone bills, save monies by moving into the Government Building on Pond Island, while he is also working in giving the Department of communication their own Television and radio licenses in order for government to be able to properly broadcast meetings and other events and not have to worry with the schedule of Cable Television.
Marlin also spoke of the parking lot that is now functioning properly but stated that he still needs to finalize some other things such as parking for the church goers on weekend and the opening of the parking after hours.
The budget debate has since been adjourned, when it resumes Members of Parliament will start posing questions to the Minister of Finance and other Ministers.
Source: St. Martin News Network Finance Minister pleaded with Parliament to approve the shotgun budget in order to move forward.