THE HAGUE–The Second Chamber of the Dutch Parliament will be calling State Secretary of Home Affairs and Kingdom Relations Raymond Knops to Parliament in January 2018 to discuss the financial aspects of the Reconstruction Fund and the budget support for the Country St. Maarten.
Parliament’s Permanent Committee for Kingdom Relations gave its consent on Friday to a proposal of Member of Parliament (MP) André Bosman of the liberal democratic VVD party to have a general debate with the State Secretary in January after the Christmas recess.
The main agenda point of that meeting will be the St. Maarten Reconstruction Fund and the associated financial aspects. Bosman asked the Committee on Thursday for a meeting with Knops immediately following a technical briefing with representatives of the Ministry of Home Affairs and Kingdom Relations BZK and a representative of the World Bank.
Bosman wants to have a discussion on political level about the Reconstruction Fund, the allocation of funds and the supervision thereof. In his opinion, the budget support for the St. Maarten Government, the 41 million euros pledged by The Hague to help cover the budget deficit, should be a separate issue. It should not be part of the 550-million-euro Reconstruction Fund.
“I want clarity and I want a political decision that the budget support from the Netherlands and the reconstruction aid that will be distributed via the World Bank will not be mixed,” Bosman told The Daily Herald on Friday. He said he wants to know the details of the anticipated 2017 budget deficit and the factors that cause this financial shortfall.
“What are the exact reasons and what does the deficit consist of? Is the shortfall caused by a steep decline in tax revenues? Is it due to non-payment of taxes? Is it the sluggish economy? Increased expenditures? It is clear that St. Maarten has a financial gap, and I am not against financial assistance, but I need total clarity and transparency. We cannot simply wire the money and that’s it,” Bosman said.
In his opinion, the St. Maarten Government should make every effort to limit the budget deficit and should show that it has made the right financial choices in these hard times. The budget deficit needs to be well-substantiated. Bosman said he also wanted to know whether the budgetary assistance for St. Maarten would be a grant or a loan, and for what exactly it would be used.
The debate Bosman has requested and which received the Committee’s approval will take place in the latter part of January. Dutch MPs will be visiting Bonaire and Aruba respectively January 7-11.
In Aruba, the MPs will participate in the Inter-Parliamentary Consultation of the Kingdom IPKO with their colleagues from Aruba, Curaçao and St. Maarten. State Secretary Knops will be visiting Aruba, Bonaire and Curaçao in that same period, January 8-14 to be exact.