Published On: Wed, Jun 30th, 2021

Subsidies take up one third of 2021 budget

PHILIPSBURG — A third of the expenditures listed in the draft 2021 budget is earmarked for “subsidies, contributions and income transfers.” Out of the budget’s total of 613.1 million guilders ($342.5 million), 204,579,785 ($114,3 million) falls into this category. Most of this money, 103.5 million ($57.8 million) is for the support of Social and Health Insurance SZV and the St. Maarten Medical Center. These contributions are split between “support” (63 million) and “fixed charges support” (40.5 million guilders).

Expenditures for the Directory Safety (formerly the Security Service St. Maarten, VDSM) increase by 428,400 guilders (28.2 percent) to 1,947,618 guilders ($1.1 million). Expenditures for the so-called Executive Protection Unit remain unchanged at 664,870 guilders ($371,435).

The budget for the local public prosecutor’s office decreases dramatically by 43.1 percent to 1,139,613 guilders ($636,655). St. Maarten’s contribution to the Common Court of Justice is projected to be 14.8 percent lower at 4,481,000 guilders (a bit over $2.5 million). The contribution to the office of the attorney-general skyrockets almost 125 percent to 1,555,049 guilders ($868.742). The combined contribution to these three institutions goes from close to 8 million to just over 7.1 million guilders, a decrease of 780,000 guilders, or 9.8 percent.

The budget also lists an amount of 250,000 guilders for the Gaming Control Board, just like it did in 2020. That’s remarkable because up to now there is no Gaming Control Board.

The Heineken Regatta is listed with a subsidy of 350,000 guilders, the same amount as in 2020. The Carnival Foundation received the same subsidy in 2019 for the last time. In 2020 and 2021 the event was canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic; reason for the government to eliminate this subsidy from the list.

Other numbers from the draft budget show that the government has almost three thousand (2,992 to be exact) long lease contracts for which it receives (or should receive) a canon of 5.9 million guilders up from 5.8 million in 2020. The long leases cover 4,893,370 square meters, which represents 13.2 percent of St Maarten’s and mass. The average square meter price is 1.23 guilders, up one penny from 2020. The cash value of the leased land is (at 5 percent) 68.9 million guilders ($38.5 million) and at 7.44 percent 52.2 million ($29.2 million).

The government spends 14.1 million guilders ($7.6 million) on rent per year. It pays 461,935 guilders ($256,630) each month to SZV in rent for the government administration building – bringing the annual cost to just over $3 million. The annual rent for the parliament building is 1.7 million guilders ($953,296). Together the two buildings take up 53 percent of all rental costs.

The government still owes 7.08 percent of the Development Bank of the Netherlands Antilles (OBNA). From the budget, it appears that the process of dissolving this bank is a work in progress.

Lastly, the draft budget lists the value of its concessions: GEBE (6.5 million), the harbor (4 million) and Bureau Telecommunication and Post (1.5 million). The airport does not pay any concession fees.

It is unclear how much BTP contributes to the treasury apart from the concession fee. Based on the law, BTP has to transfer all of its revenue on a quarterly basis to the treasury, minus its operational costs.


Related articles and links:
Finance ministry focuses on cost-cutting measures
Download the presentation of the draft 2021 budget to Parliament here>>>