The Parliament of St. Maarten approved the country’s National Budget for 2022, on Monday, January 24, with nine MPs ‘for’ and four MPs ‘against’ as government awaits the deviation approval by the Kingdom Council of Ministers (RMR). In her opening remarks to Parliament, during the start of the budget debate, Prime Minister Jacobs addressed the concerns of several Members of Parliament about the handling of the budget without having the deviation from article 25 granted by the RMR.
Prime Minister Jacobs stated, “Government has a legal obligation to submit the budget to the Parliament. Government has a legal obligation to request deviation based on the deficit because of the disasters we have been facing from 2017 until present. The Committee of Financial Supervision (CFT) has advised positively since November 30, 2021, and the RMR should have already approved such as per law, however, they remain in default. No conditions other than the provision in the Kingdom Act Financial Supervision can be added to be able to deviate.”
St. Maarten received official confirmation from State Secretary Alexandra van Huffelen to have the deviation of article 25 handled as an agenda point in the next RMR meeting scheduled for February 4. State Secretary Van Huffelen has confirmed that this request would be heading to the RMR with a positive advice from the Ministry of the Interior and Kingdom Relations (BZK) as per the CFT’s advice.
“Once the Parliament has sent government the final report of the approved legislation related to the budget, the Ministry of Finance will then incorporate all approved amendments brought in by government and parliament. When the approval for deviation from the budget norms is granted by the RMR, the legislation to establish the budget will be enacted. Based on our preparations, this can be finalized by mid-February. These are the political and legal realities we are facing. Despite this, based on the positive dialogue held with the new State Secretary, I have high expectations of improved relations with our Dutch kingdom partners,” stated Prime Minister Jacobs.
The Council of Ministers have deliberated and presented the many improvements required to ensure the country is running optimally, as such, patience is warranted. All civil servants and employees of government owned companies are commended for their hard work and support throughout the pandemic encompassed with the temporary austerity measures.
“The government of St. Maarten will endeavour to ensure there is consistent application of our existing policies and procedures. Monitoring and evaluation will continue to aid in identifying the most valuable and efficient use of the resources at our disposal and we will continue to explore all possible options to remedy this temporary situation which we find ourselves in,” concluded Prime Minister Jacobs.