PHILIPSBURG–United St. Maarten Party (US Party) Member of Parliament (MP) Frans Richardson on Wednesday presented a motion to send Finance Minister Perry Geerlings home.
The motion was presented at the end of Richardson’s presentation in the first round of the budget debate. In the motion, Richardson said Geerlings no longer enjoys the confidence of the Parliament of Sint Maarten, and seeks “his immediate discharge” as Minister of Finance. According to the motion, Geerlings continues to engage in policies that will eventually bankrupt Sint Maarten, cause the island’s total dependency on the Netherlands and further delay the rebuilding of Sint Maarten. Richardson said the Finance Minister has compromised the integrity of his office by failing to observe the cardinal principles of good governance, as he failed to refrain from creating the appearance of a conflict of interest in a matter that involved a former member of his staff, whom Richardson suggested won a bid for a project from the ministry.
The considerations of the motion, focused on, amongst other things, the lateness of the draft budget. It stated that the draft budget by law must be submitted to Parliament no later than September 1, of the previous fiscal year, and MPs are required to adopt the budget for the coming year no later than December 15, of the previous year. The motion said that despite public statements by Geerlings regarding submitting the 2019 budget within a timely fashion to Parliament, the preparation of the budget “leaves much to be desired and has resulted in a delay of close to 10 months.”
The motion said also that the number and severity of the recommendations from the Committee of Financial Supervision CFT and from the Council of Advice further underscores the poor budgetary preparations by the Minister.
Richardson said in the motion the devastating financial policies of the minister include continuous borrowing to pay for, in particular, government’s daily operations; the lack of investment in activities to generate more revenue for government and the lack of policies to improve the investment climate needed to stimulate the economy, generate government revenue, create stable employment and give support and relief where necessary. Also mentioned was the bidding process for the implementation of a new tax system for the government during which two finalists emerged, “but it appears a conflict of interest with the Minister and a former cabinet staffer/associate has led to Bearing Point being considered instead.”
“The Minister of Finance has placed the majority of the capital expenditures on revenue collection (tax collection) and almost nothing in economic development, as is reflected in NAf. 1.7 million in investments for TEATT (Tourism, Economic Affairs, Transport and Telecommunications) as opposed to NAf. 32 million in tax collection investments.”
The Minister of Finance has still not lived up to motions passed on May 8, by MPs that require his attention related to tax reform and Air BnB Tax Collection agreement, the motion read. He also “wasted” much-needed capital and human resources in preparing a 2018 budget amendment that was more than 280 pages long, but was never even handled in the Central Committee of parliament as he brought it too late to parliament.”
Geerlings, who is a co-signatory to the governing programme 2018-2022, has not adhered to the governing programme which states: “A coherent, well-coordinated and transparent prioritization plan and a sequencing process are necessary, and it is essential that the vision for the funding allocation is timely and well documented,” the motion, which was signed by seven MPs, read. The motion will be voted on towards the end of the budget debate.
Source: The Daily Herald https://www.thedailyherald.sx/islands/88654-frans-presents-motion-to-send-geerlings-home