Published On: Thu, Aug 18th, 2022

Finance Minister Ardwell Irion successfully tackles backlog of financial statements

PHILIPSBURG — Finance Minister Ardwell Irion is diligently working on the backlog of annual financial statements. On Wednesday, he presented these statements for the years 2019 and 2020, accompanied by an announcement that the first draft of the annual financial account for 2021 is ready and that the deadline for handling it in the Council of Ministers is September 1.

“After 2021 we will keep complying with the consensus kingdom law financial supervision,” the minister said. This means that, based on article 18, paragraph 4 of this law, St. Maarten will provide the annual financial report of a previous year before August 31 to financial supervisor CFT.

In the period 2020-2022 the government completed the annual financial reports for the years 2013-2020. Minister Irion notes that the timely reporting will also improve timely accountability.

The overview the minister presented shows that in 2019 and in 2020 government revenue was above budget by respectively 40 and 51.1 million guilders ($22.3 and $28.5 million).

However, expenditures increased during these two years by almost 100 million guilders ($55.9 million). Deficits caused by a drop in revenue and an increase in expenditures amounted to 200.8 million guilders ($112.2 million). Underlying causes are Hurricane Irma in 2017 and the COVID-19 pandemic.

For both budget years article 25 of the kingdom law financial supervision applied, meaning that St. Maarten was allowed to deviate to a certain degree from the requirement of having a balanced budget.

An overview of the budget years 2010-2020 shows that there were only three years (2012, 2013, and 2016) with a modest surplus. All other years showed deficits, totaling 538.4 million guilders ($300.8 million).

Between 2019 and 2020 tax revenue dropped by 49 million guilders to 304.4 million ($170 million) and total government revenue fell by 64.8 million to 388 million guilders ($216.7 million). Expenditures over the same period increased by 95.8 million ($53.5 million) from 473 to 568.8 million ($317.7 million). Subsidies increased the most: by 81.1 million to 176.3 million guilders ($98.5 million).

The debt to gross domestic product (GDP) ratio increased to 60 percent by the end of 2021.

Photo caption: From L to R: Roxanne Powel (Concern Controller), Arno Peels (Secretary General) and Finance Minister Ardwell Irion in Parliament on Wednesday, August 17, 2022, to present the annual accounts for 2019 and 2020.

Minister Irion noted that the financial statements are not where they need to be yet in terms of quality. “However, we have made a lot of improvements,” he stated.

These improvements include the provision of more audit evidence and more updated financials from subsidiaries.

Auditors now also have a contact person at their disposal with technical and operational knowledge. The financial statements further improved due to the positive effect of a cleanup project.


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