Governing program not yet ready.
PHILIPSBURG:— Prime Minister William Marlin who is responsible for the Ministry of General Affairs explained to Members of Parliament on Tuesday that all the Ministries had to face several cuts in order to get the CFT to approve the 2016 budget. Minister Marlin said that St. Maarten never had a realistic budget based on the income government gets, instead the former Minister of Finances prepared budgets based on a so-called wish list.
Marlin said he could not tell Parliament exactly what are the priorities for his government because the governing program is not yet ready. He said he expected the governing program to be ready in the next two weeks. Another point Marlin raised during the central committee meeting is that one must take in consideration that the current government will be in office until October 31st.
The Prime Minister said that the Minister of Finance had to do everything to meet the deadline given to the former government on finalizing the 2016 budget. He also stressed that the idea is not only to have a balance budget approved by parliament or the CFT but to ensure that the budget stays balance throughout the years ahead.
Marlin said when government gets more monies there will be budget amendments where the additional funds will be reflected. One example he gave is the profit from the Central Bank is not included in the budget simply because St. Maarten did not receive its share as yet.
He also reminded Members of Parliament that the former government got an instruction where by the country must settle its debts with SZV and APS within a period of three years. Therefore government had no choice but to set aside NAF20M for the payments of these debts. Besides that government had sell the government administrative building on Pond Island. He said that the building still belong to government today, but as soon as the completion of the building is finalized then the building will be transferred to SZV with a clause that will be included in the agreement, where government will get the opportunity to buy back the building after 3 years.
Marlin said that when government moves in to the new building government will save monies, while there is already indications that government will save about NAF4M when the garbage contracts are awarded.
MP Leona Marlin Romeo wanted to know if the project of merging ministries were abolished and if there is no continuity in government, she indicated that she is aware of project. Prime Minister Marlin explained to the MP that he is not aware of the project and while she felt the Secretary Generals and department heads should know about project. Marlin said when he asked his support staff about the project they all indicated to him they did not know of it, however, he told the MP that he will do more research and hopefully before the budget debate ends she will get the answer to her question. The Prime Minister said that what was priority for the former government is not necessarily priority for his government. One example he gave is the deplorable state of the archives of the civil registry, something he intend to address, another project he said he consider priority is solar panels on schools which he is working on. As for continuity he explained the MP what continuity means, again he gave an example to the MP who was determined in getting certain answers. Marlin said when he went into government in 2013 he found the causeway bridge which had to be completed. He also found classrooms that had to be repaired which was also completed, therefore priorities are set by politicians especially those that will benefit the populace.
Marlin also mentioned that the Council of Ministers still have to approve the capital expenditures of the budget. He also mentioned one of the problems that government his Ministry has to address. Marlin said that while government have a number of security guards on the payroll but there is a high rate of absenteeism.
The Prime Minister who is also the acting Minister of Education Youth, Sports and Culture presented the answers for the EYC Ministry. He explained the reasons for the cuts from NIPA, and several school boards, and the amount of monies that are set aside for repairs of schools.
Source: St. Martin News Network Prime Minister Marlin told Parliament that Government cannot spend what they don’t have.