Shigemoto requests 78 million in debt relief payment arrears funds

POSTED: 03/14/11 11:47 AM

St. Maarten – Finance Minister Hiro Shigemoto forwarded a letter on March 10 to Dutch Minister of Interior Affairs and Kingdom Relations Piet Donner with respect to the Naf.78 million in debt relief payment arrears for St. Maarten. St. Maarten would like to have access to the remainder of the funds to go partly towards the 2011 budget and the rest socio-economic national development initiatives.
“The reason there is an amount of Naf.78 million left-over, Sint Maarten either paid off its debts by means of court cases or whereby creditors have left or have denied having any claims on government. It is a significant amount which can make a considerable contribution to the public finances of the country,” Shigemoto explained on Sunday.
Government already addressed the matter briefly with Minister Donner on January 8 during a brief visit to the island. Based on the Final Declaration of November 2, 2006, 183 million guilders was allocated by the Dutch Government to cover debts as part of the constitutional reform process of the Kingdom.
An amount of 78 million guilder is left as 65 million guilders of the available 183 million guilders to pay off St. Maarten’s debts to the Netherlands Antilles Pension Fund; Naf.40 million will go to the creditors which the St. Maarten Government owes money up to December 31, 2005. Shigemoto is looking forward to a favourable response and a quick release of the funds to country St. Maarten.
In his letter Shigemoto explains to Donner that St. Maarten started in an unequal position compared to Curacao in that for example, Curacao already had in place a number of facilities. The government in Philipsburg had to arrange service level agreements and buy the services from Curacao until those facilities can be established in the mid to long-term. Some of the facilities and certain departments should have been established by the former Federal Government. St. Maarten has also had to pay costs which were actually meant for the former Federal Government in order for civil servants that were employed by the former did not become victims of an impromptu separation without proper arrangements being in place.
“The emphasis by the previous administration was placed on meeting the special date of 10-10-10 rather than focus on how best to transfer the former Netherlands Antilles to the new entities. A considerable amount of investments need to be made in public infrastructure in order to have facilities that can address the social development needs of our country. For example, the country is in need of more affordable housing for its people, and land which is scarce need to be purchased in order for government to be able to build more homes. The landfill situation needs to be addressed as there are consequences if this is not addressed. This is an expensive project,” the Minister said.
“The debt regarding co-insurance (medical) of the Social Insurance Bank SVB of the insured persons needs to be paid off, and for the last several years Government has been requested to have a core task analysis carried out. Besides these projects, there are also facilities which either need to be refurbished or need to be built from scratch such as a youth detention and rehabilitation center. Curacao has such a facility and under the constellation of the former Netherlands Antilles, we made use of their facility, but nothing was ever built during the past eight years in order to prepare the island for country status.”
“Today, we are a country and we need the necessary facilities to cope with our own national development for the people of St. Maarten. We need to manage our development as well. I do believe that Hon. Minister Donner would also be of the same opinion. Country St. Maarten is growing and we need the facilities to cope with this growth,” Shigemoto concluded.

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