Gibson Sr. expects CFT ‘green light’ for budget

PHILIPSBURG–Finance Minister Richard Gibson Sr. said Wednesday he expects the Committee of Financial Supervision CFT to give its final “green light” for the 2017 Budget any time after January 10, 2017.

The budget is “balanced” and has reinstituted full subsidies for all non-governmental organisations, Gibson Sr. said at the Council of Ministers’ Press Briefing on Wednesday.

Government has also made an amendment to the budget based on recommendations of CFT to bring it in line with the instruction from the Kingdom Council of Ministers.

“This sends a message that St. Maarten is getting its financial house in order,” Gibson Sr. said.

The Finance Ministry plans to starts “immediately” with the drafting of the 2018 budget. The aim is to get draft 2018 budget to the Council of Ministers by August 2017.

“That will be a major accomplishment if that can be done, because normally on September 2 is when the budget should have been passed by Parliament. It happens in the Netherlands and there is no reason, in my view, why we cannot clear that hurdle and make sure that the budget for 2018 is submitted as the law stipulates,” Gibson Sr. said.

The Minister is also hopeful that 2018 will end with a large surplus and not a small one. He is “very hopeful” of a surplus as the aim is to clear off the remaining pending old debts in 2017.

Prime Minister William Marlin and new Environment and Infrastructure VROMI Minister Christophe Emmanuel both spoke about Government looking into ways to alleviate the traffic congestion, including opening the ring road. However, this idea is on hold due to the continuous rainfall that requires the floodgates to be periodically opened.

Emmanuel, who was attending his first ever Council of Ministers’ press conference as he took the oath of office on Tuesday, said tough and at times not popular decisions will have to be made on tackling the garbage situation and the traffic. One of focal points of his tenure will be on the provision of affordable housing.

The new Minister intends to meet with all of the department heads within his Ministry to get an overview of the work in progress and what is to be tackled in the coming months.

Source: The Daily Herald