POND ISLAND–Finance Minister Perry Geerlings, two days after issuing a statement that he would request an extension for the delivery of the 2019 budget, has now said via another statement from his cabinet that he has “every intention” to deliver the budget to Parliament before the December 15 deadline, but will “take the time necessary to fine-tune the budget.”
The earlier statement, issued by Geerlings’ cabinet about his address to Finance Ministry, read: “Geerlings made it clear he will be requesting an extension for the delivery of the 2019 budget, as he is not intent on competing to bring out a swiftly-generated budget with no real reflection of the island’s financial reality.”
According to the statement, Geerlings told the gathering he wanted “additional time to prepare the 2019 budget because he felt it was more prudent to deliver a realistic budget.”
The statement issued late last night was tagged as the minister’s “reaction to media reports on Monday that the 2019 budget will not be ready for the December 2018 legal deadline.”
The draft budgets, by law, must be delivered to Parliament by September 1. Members of Parliament are required, also by law, to adopt a budget for the coming year by December 15. Any deviation from that timeline requires permission from the Dutch Government.
Article 14 of the Kingdom Financial Supervision Law specifically deals with the absence of an adopted budget. According to the Kingdom Law, the Committee for Financial Supervision CFT notifies the Kingdom Council of Ministers when it has not yet received an adopted budget by December 15 and, in its opinion, there is no prospect of a draft budget or adopted budget being submitted within any reasonable period of time.
The law states that the CFT may include a well-founded recommendation in its advice to the Kingdom Government to issue an instruction. The law also requires that the Parliament of the country in question is informed of the CFT advice.
Considering that the Leona Romeo-Marlin Cabinet II took office on June 25, Geerlings said the 2019 budget “will have to be aligned” with the United Democrats/St. Maarten Christian Party’s 2018-2022 governing programme. The ministers, who are still in their first month in office, will also have to review the budget to ensure that it matches with the vision for the governing programme, he said.
The additional time taken to review the budget will also be used to secure positive advice from CFT for government “to submit its budget with a deficit.”
Article 25 of the Kingdom Law on Financial Supervision allows countries within the Dutch Kingdom to seek permission to have an unbalanced budget under exceptional circumstances. The Kingdom Council has in the past given its approval for the 2017 and 2018 budgets via Article 25 due to the devastation of Hurricanes Irma and Maria in September 2017.
The Finance Ministry is in discussions with the CFT and the Dutch Kingdom government “in a bid to find an amicable solution to the approval process for submitting a deficit budget, which reduces the time for approvals.”
However, “the time for receiving the approval is not set in stone and can affect the timing for submitting budgets,” according to Geerlings’ statement.