Published On: Mon, Jan 30th, 2023

Kingdom Council drops demand for salary cuts

THE HAGUE – The Kingdom Council of Ministers has asked St. Maarten to establish the 2023 budget by March 31 and to make sure that it meets the requirements from the kingdom law financial supervision. This means that the budget must be balanced.

State Secretary Alexandra van Huffelen writes in a letter to the Dutch parliament, dated January 27, that the kingdom has withdrawn the salary cuts that were a condition for receiving liquidity support. These conditions were put in place on May 15, 2020: a 12.5 percent cut in the labor conditions for workers in the (semi) public sector and a 25 percent cut for ministers and members of parliament.

“These cuts have contributed significantly to decreasing the deficit,” Van Huffelen wrote. “This way, the public sector also showed solidarity with the private sector that suffered from the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.”

The pandemic now seems to be past its peak and the economy is showing a strong recovery, the state secretary wrote. “The government revenue in 20203 can therefore reach pre-Covid levels in 2023.”

The financial supervisor for Aruba Cft(A) had indicated that Aruba, Curacao and St. Maarten will be able to meet the budget-requirements established in the kingdom law supervision and that the countries will not need any more liquidity support this year.

All three counties now have laws in place that regulate the salaries for top earners in the (semi) public sector.

“I am glad that the countries have created space for phasing out the salary cuts. They can now again deal on their own with the labor conditions,” Van Huffelen wrote.

The state secretary is however critical of St. Maarten: “St. Maarten has not managed to establish the 2023 budget by the deadline of  December 15, 2022. The Kingdom Council of Ministers requests that St. Maarten establishes a budget that meets the requirements of the kingdom law financial supervision by March 31. The Council also asked for a planning for the timely establishment of the 2024 budget. “St. Maarten can use the recommendations from the assessment of the budget-process. Agreements about this from the country package are already being implemented.”