THE HAGUE – There is a new élan in the relationship between the Netherlands and St. Maarten after the visit of Finance Minister Richard Gibson Sr. to The Hague. The minister committed “to do everything possible to comply fully with the instruction issued by the Kingdom Council of Ministers” and to present a balanced 2016 budget “to the full satisfaction of the Cft.”
“It is time to turn the page,” the minister said yesterday afternoon during a teleconference press conference from The Hague.
Minister Gibson said that new or higher taxes is not part of the approach to create a balanced budget. “Taxes are already too high,” he said, adding that something must be done about tax compliance. He also said that the government “should not spend more than it takes in.”
In the week of December 6, Minister Gibson will discuss the 2016 budget with financial supervisor Cft.
The minister described his meetings in The Hague as “pleasant and fruitful.”
“Everything I set out to accomplish on this trip has been accomplished. It was time to turn the page and to change the dynamics of the present dialogue between St. Maarten and The Hague. Too much time and energy was being spent on both sides of the Atlantic Ocean on negative and unproductive issues without any concrete results.”
Minister Gibson went into his meeting with Minister Plasterk last Tuesday, sharing his “sincere desire to have a different dialogue moving forward based on mutual respect, due observation of existing laws and regulations and no loss of face for anyone.”
“Who is to be blamed for the existing irritations and frustrations should no longer be part of the conversation,” Minister Gibson said, “because there is a lot of blame to go around. The only issue moving forward should be how we can attain together the goals and aspirations of the people of St. Maarten and the people of the Kingdom.”
Minister Gibson met in The Hague with Kingdom Relations Minister Ronald Plasterk, Safety and Justice Minister Ard van der Steur and the Vice-President of the Council of State (and former Minister of Kingdom Relations) Piet Hein Donner.
The practical results of Gibson’s trip to the Netherlands are manifold. With Minister Plasterk, he agreed that the latter’s Secretary-General Richard van Zwol will travel to St. Maarten in three weeks time for discussions aimed at eliminating existing bottlenecks.
Those bottlenecks, Gibson said, “prevent us from moving forward in a constructive manner and to seek solutions on the basis of mutual respect, due observance of existing laws and regulations and without loss of face for anyone.”
With Minister van der Steur, Minister Gibson reached an agreement about “the pending request made by St. Maarten to make specialists available for a period of three months to assist our local police force in combating the spate of robberies and shooting that have plagued St. Maarten the last couple of months.”
Minister Van der Steur presented Minister Gibson with a Delft Blue tile, depicting the Lady of Justice. “I will cherish this gift and I want to thank the ministers and the Secretary-General for the excellent reception I received during my stay in the Netherlands,” Minister Gibson said.
The summary proceedings before the Kingdom Council of State to temporarily set aside the instruction from the Kingdom Council of Ministers has been canceled, Minister Gibson said. “The principal litigation before the Council of State to cancel the instruction altogether will in all probability also be canceled,” he said.
Minister Gibson paid a courtesy visit to the Vice-president of the Council of State, Piet Hein Donner and discussed with him the present state of affairs of the cases St. Maarten has brought before the council.