Published On: Fri, May 4th, 2018

Government turns to EU for additional funding

New Government Administration Building

PHILIPSBURG – The Central Committee of Parliament continued on Thursday with the handling of the 2018 budget in a setting that began in the morning, continued into the afternoon and, after an adjournment trundled on towards the end of the afternoon and into the early evening.

Members of the Council of Ministers were present to answer questions, MPs asked for clarifications and later on they peppered the ministers with yet more questions about a myriad of subjects. The parliamentarians stayed on topic and from their attitude it seems that there is little objection against the budget, even though there are many questions.

Mike Ferrier 20180115 - HHFinance Minister Mike Ferrier opened the proceedings by answering questions from opposition leader Silveria Jacobs about the government’s revenue streams. Wage and turnover taxes are both down, due to the many people who lost their jobs and their income in the wake of Hurricane Irma; turnover taxes are down due to the closure of businesses. “All tourist-related taxes, including car rental and timeshare fees are drastically reduced for obvious reasons,” the minister said. “Most of our hotels were severely damaged and some were completely destroyed. Ferrier said that the government is looking for several funding options outside of the World Bank trust fund. “we are looking at the European Union for funding of projects we could do together with the French side. We are also considering floating a bond through the Central bank and of course we keep our lines of communication open with our kingdom partners, especially the Netherlands. There we will also be looking for solutions and help.

Ferrier warned that the 2017 deficit – currently set at 77 million guilders – could still grow due to a drop in value of government assets; hurricane damages are still being assessed.

Minister Emil Lee (Public Health) presented an extensive explanation about healthcare-related issues – like the new hospital and the National Health Insurance – though all that information has already been previously published by stmaartennews.com

Cornelius de Weever - 20180223 HHMinister Cornelius de Weever (Justice) told MPs that the surveillance camera project will cost 8 million guilders; half of that amount was already budgeted in 2016, another 2 million in 2018 and the remaining 2 million will appear in the 2019 budget. so far, the government has spent half a million on the project. Ten people have been hired for the surveillance of camera footage; they will fall under the responsibility of the police force, the minister said.

The parliament will handle the budget in a public meeting next week. The deadline for approval, set by the kingdom, is next Tuesday at midnight.