PHILIPSBURG–Finance Minister Richard Gibson Sr. says his “confusion had no bounds” when he saw a letter directed to Parliament by the Committee for Financial Supervision CFT on its advice to the Kingdom Council of Ministers to issue an instruction to Government about its 2018 Budget.
Gibson Sr. told Parliament Wednesday that Government had received no official communication from CFT regarding the advice.
“When I saw a copy of letter, my confusion had no bounds,” he said, adding it has become standard practice to officially or unofficially contact the local Government ahead of any action. “It is confusing to note that this advice was sent to Parliament and not to Government.”
The law on temporary financial supervision stipulates if there is no approved budget for the coming year by December 15 of the current year, the CFT can advise the Kingdom Council to issue an instruction based on “a well-motivated” advice, he said.
The call for an instruction was described by Gibson Sr. as “unconscionable” considering a draft 2018 budget was prepared and delivered to Parliament in August, far ahead of the legal deadlines. That budget was blown out of the window when Hurricane Irma struck the country on September 6.
Government’s withdrawal of the pre-hurricane budget from Parliament was carried out “in consultation” with CFT “because the points of departure no longer made sense due to Irma. Same with 2017 [budget – Ed.],” said Gibson Sr.
He noted that following the hurricane focus was placed on revising the 2017 budget to reflect the norm of the day and the updating of the draft 2018 budget was left on the shelf for the incoming interim Government. “There is no urgency for a budget 2018” under the current circumstances.
Additionally, the urgency for an instruction is “totally unnecessary,” a stance about which Gibson Sr. has written to the Kingdom Council.
However, he is leaving nothing to chance and has instructed the Finance Ministry staff to prepare a draft 2018 budget. That draft is expected to be tabled in the Council of Ministers for approval next week, he said, adding “if we are still there.” His latter comment relates to whether the incoming Government finally takes its seat.
While there will be a draft budget for Parliament to peruse in the coming weeks, Gibson Sr. warned it will be “a deficit budget” that will have to be amended based on still-to-be-formulated policies and plans related to the promised 550 million euros from the Dutch Government in hurricane recovery aid.
The country is not in financial jeopardy without an established budget for 2018 come January 1. The budgetary rules stipulate the conditions under which the 2017 budget can continue to guide Government’s financial operations.
Source: The Daily Herald https://www.thedailyherald.sx/islands/72227-gibson-sr-cft-did-not-communicate-with-govt