Financial reports catch up
GREAT BAY – The Central Committee of Parliament met yesterday afternoon under peculiar circumstances. Prime Minister Sarah Wescot-Williams, the former president of parliament and now sitting on her chair as an elected MP for the Democratic Party quizzed Finance Minister Martin Hassink – member of the outgoing cabinet – about the 2011 financial statement. “Normally I would ask these questions behind closed doors,” she said. I understand that people are confused about my switching roles.”
The Central Committee meeting was at best a 20-minute affair, as only Wescot-Williams, appropriately dressed in a red jacket, and UP’s Tamara Leonard posed a couple of questions to Finance Minister Hassink. Leona Marlin-Romeo chaired the meeting.
The minister said that the process of timely reporting is underway. While the Central Committee dealt with the financial statement of 2011 yesterday, Hassink said that the 2012 statement is ready and currently at the council of Advice, and that the 2013 financial statement was prepared and ready before September 1. It is currently for scrutiny at the General Audit Chamber.
Furthermore, Hassink said, his ministry is preparing quarterly reports. “This morning the report for the third quarter of 2014 has been completed. That will give you more up to date information.”
Hassink said that his ministry has received most of the annual financial reports from government owned companies like the Harbor Group of Companies, TelEm and Gebe. “They will be sent to Parliament,” he added.
The division of assets of the former Netherlands Antilles is taking longer than expected. Hassink said that initially the final report from the committee that deals with this issue was scheduled to be ready in June. “That was not the case. There will now be a meeting on Friday to discuss the final report. There is a surplus for St. Maarten, but I do not know the exact figures yet.”
Minister Hassink said that the government has followed up some of the recommendations from the General Audit Chamber and the government accountant bureau Soab after the 2011 financial report. “We were able to deal with some of the recommendations, but not with all of them.”
Hassink repeated that the 2013 financial statement is much more up to date and that information will be more useful.
“We continue to work on our internal accounting procedures,” he said.
This is good news for a change. Why is the public not being briefed about these positive developments? We need some positive news to counteract all the negative news that are being portrayed about the island.