POND ISLAND–It has been left up to the Central Bank of Curaçao and St. Maarten (CBCS) to warn government about any threats to the local economy should Curaçao’s economic situation worsen due to ongoing issues with the Isla oil refinery.
While the issues at the refinery are not new, the still fragile state of St. Maarten’s economy calls for extra attention on what is happening with its monetary union partner Curaçao. The two countries within the Dutch Kingdom share a currency – the Netherlands Antilles guilder – and are financially supervised by a joint central bank.
The Daily Herald recently asked St. Maarten Finance Minister Perry Geerlings whether government was monitoring the economic forecast for Curaçao and whether there are plans to combat any fallout in the near future.
Geerlings did not like the description of St. Maarten and Curaçao being like Siamese twins in spite of the two sharing a currency and central bank. However, he did acknowledge there could be an impact.
“The economic situation in Curaçao can have an impact on the reserves we share at the Central Bank of Curaçao and St. Maarten,” Geerlings said. However, he did not give any plan government may have, other than awaiting any signal from the Central Bank.
Asked whether he feared any strong shock might affect the value of the guilder, Geerlings said the Antillean guilder is tied to the United States dollar and that keeps it stable.
“The Central Bank is the one monitoring the situation. By monitoring it, the Central Bank will issue notices to both governments on the status and situation,” said Geerlings. The Central Bank will also “give recommendations” about what the governments need to pay attention to as time progresses.
“At the end of the day, each one of the governments, and the St. Maarten government in particular, has to continue with strengthening their financial households,” Geerlings said. “The income of a country, in this case our country, will prevent us from being sucked into that slipstream at the end of the tunnel.”
Government has to do all it can “to make sure the income generated continues to get to a higher level per month,” Geerlings continued.
Taxpayers also have a role to fend off economic decline. “There is also a responsibility for the people of St. Maarten. In short terms, you have to pay your dues where necessary, as that is also a way to help the government to help you,” Geerlings said.