PHILIPSBURG–St. Maarten offered a counterproposal to the Caribbean Reform Entity in a letter to Dutch State Secretary of Home Affairs and Kingdom Relations Raymond Knops on Friday, July 31. The three-tiered scheme separates the financial, supervisory and executing aspects of the proposed structural reforms.
The first tier guarantees the finances for structural reform, which government proposes to take the shape of a Consensus Kingdom Law. “In this structure, the frameworks are formulated to anchor the finances and the degree of control is assigned regarding the financial flow. This is laid on a sound administrative foundation within which continuity is safeguarded despite any changes in government,” said government in the letter.
However, government proposes that funds for reforms should remain strictly separate from budgetary support. Money for budgetary support should thus be out of the purview of the consensus law.
“St. Maarten also agrees with the other countries [Aruba and Curaçao – Ed.] that the separation of financial resources for budget support and reforms are essential for the societal peace that is currently urgently needed,” said government in the letter.
The funds will come from the Dutch government and will be disbursed by the implementing agency (layer three). The funds will be used to execute the reforms and maintain the institutional apparatus. While supervision of the funds will be carried out by an undisclosed supervisory body, government proposes that the country’s financial supervision remain with the Committee for Financial Supervision CFT.
The second tier is an entity that will monitor the implementation of the reforms in the individual country packages, which government terms the Reform Support Committee (in Dutch, “College Ondersteuning Hervormingen”).
“The efficiency and effectiveness of the reform process is hereby monitored. Supervision involves monitoring the country packages so that they are completed within the set deadlines, the goals are achieved, and the processes are completed, as agreed in the mutual arrangements, being the country packages, with the countries,” said government.
St. Maarten proposes that the Reform Support Committee should comprise five members: one appointed by each of the four kingdom countries and an independent chairperson appointed with the countries’ mutual consent.
The third and last tier is the executing agency, which government terms the Reform Entity (in Dutch, “De Hervormingsentiteit”). It is to be made up of a Dutch management group, but with representatives of the Dutch Caribbean countries. In the letter, government did not specify the number of representatives each country should have.
St. Maarten wishes this entity to function as a “support service institution” that will “assist and advise the countries with financial resources and know-how in developing and implementing the country-specific reform programmes agreed between the Netherlands and the countries in the Caribbean, as laid down in the so-called country packages.”
The reform entity will be located in the Netherlands or in one of the Dutch Caribbean countries. Despite the location of its headquarters, the entity will have offices in all the other kingdom countries. Financial audits of the entity will be conducted annually, with the results being shared with the kingdom governments.
St. Maarten proposes that the entity’s staff be recruited from the Dutch Caribbean countries, and it should include arrangements for capacity-building. “This can be understood to mean an exchange of knowledge and capacity, training and traineeships,” said government. In the letter government did not specify the reforms to be taken, nor did it object to any of the earlier reforms presented by the Dutch government. However, government did hint at using its National Development Vision as a blueprint for the reforms that will be agreed on under a Consensus Kingdom Law.
“On the basis of our National Development Vision in order to shape the reform process, St. Maarten wants to participate in the goals you have set for structural reforms. In this way, support can be created within the political climate and among the population,” said government.
During the live virtual Council of Ministers press briefing on Wednesday morning, Prime Minister Silveria Jacobs said the National Development Vision is a “strong tool” to compare to the country packages presented by the Netherlands.
She said the Netherlands had proposed 43 reform measures to government. “Our analysis shows that 13 are in line with our National Development Vision, 14 are in line with our governing programme and … others that overlap completely. … So, moving forward, the discussions for the ‘onderlingen regeling’ [mutual agreements] would be, then, what reforms we see should be prioritised and how we think they should be executed,” said Jacobs.