PHILIPSBURG–Finance Minister Richard Gibson Sr. was back in Parliament on Thursday morning to wrap up a session of Parliament on the country’s financial status and the half-year financial reports. The Central Committee sitting had started on Monday and was suspended to give the Minister time to gather answers to queries from Members of Parliament (MPs).
One of the topics raised by MPs on Monday was the status of a dividends policy for government-owned companies. Gibson Sr. said that Government’s Accountant Bureau SOAB was in the process of drafting the policy.
Government’s lagging information and communication technology (ICT) in general and that of the Tax Administration in particular were a concern for MPs as well as the minister. He informed the legislators that several companies have submitted bids for the upgrade of the tax administration’s ICT platform.
Gibson Sr. also explained to MPs that Government is currently in a dispute with the Bureau Telecommunications BTP that has led to the delay in payment of fees. The dispute revolves around the leasing of space in the BTP building on Cannegieter Street and the payment of the Bureau’s mortgage.
The Ministry of Tourism and Economic Affairs, Transportation and Telecommunication (TEATT), headed by Minister Mellissa Arrindell-Doncher is working on a solution to the impasse with the Bureau, Gibson Sr. said.
Looking ahead, MPs can expect an amendment to the 2017 budget to be tabled in the legislature in the coming days. Gibson Sr. said the Council of Advice has already given its input in the draft amendment and the Finance Department was now working on its follow up report. The Council of Ministers are expected to handle the draft in one of its sittings next week.
MPs Sarah Wescot-Williams (Democratic Party), Romeo Pantophlet (National Alliance) and Franklin Meyers on Thursday raised the issue of utilities company GEBE paying the water production plant for more water than the country needs. This is based on a contract made between the companies with the view that the French side would purchase the additional water produced from the Dutch side. This purchase never materialised.
The MPs queried whether the agreement could be adjusted to count down on water cost and whether there was proof that the company was actually producing the amount of water it is contracted [to produce – Ed.]in totality. Gibson Sr. said he would refer the questions to the Minister responsible for GEBE Christophe Emmanuel for follow up with Parliament.
Source: The Daily Herald https://www.thedailyherald.sx/islands/68650-gibson-sr-mps-wrap-up-meeting-on-finances