GREAT BAY – On Tuesday, the draft 2018 budget was delivered to Governor Drs. Eugène Holiday for submission to Parliament, Finance Minister Richard Gibson announced at yesterday’s Council of Ministers press briefing.
“This is the first time in the history of country St. Maarten that the budget has been submitted on time, as prescribed in the constitution,” Minister Gibson said.
The Council of Ministers approved the draft on Tuesday. Earlier it went through the advice process at the Council of Advice and at financial supervisor Cft.
The follow-up report based on these advices has been incorporated in the draft budget for perusal and debate by the Parliament.
“The timely submission of the budget gives me great pleasure,” Minister Gibson said. “This is a major accomplishment that should be celebrated. Not too long ago, in 2015, there was such a financial mess that the government was unable to present a budget.”
The draft 2018 budget is the third consecutive balanced budget produced by the current government, Minister Gibson pointed out. “In the 2018 budget the last tranche of the deficit that was built up since 10-10-10 will be paid off. This was not easy. It took sacrifice, dedication and hard work. It could not have been done accomplished without the full cooperation of the prime minister, all other ministers and the dedicated service of civil servants of all the ministries. I don’t want to single anyone out but I will mention the ministry of finance where the staff has had to endure my persistent demands for fiscal discipline, timelines and professionalism.”
Minister Gibson noted that a balanced budget has its advantages. “There are benefits associated with doing things the right way.”
As an example the minister mentioned the 21.7 million guilders bond issue that carries an interest rate of just 0.83 percent. “If you are in a financial mess you won’t get loans at such low interest rates,” he said. We have a balanced budget that can withstand the scrutiny of the Council of Advice and the Cft.”
Minister Gibson said that a 40-million guilders loan for the upgrade of the tax inspectorate is in the pipeline.
Parliament has already scheduled September 13 as the first day for Minister Gibson to outline his budget to Parliament. The budget debate has been scheduled for the week of September 29.