Minister Richardson about financial restraints: “I am prepared to take a few years in prison for our country”POSTED: 08/14/15 9:51 AM
St. Maarten – “Benjamin was prepared to give his life for his country. I am prepared to take a few years in prison for our country,” an embittered Minister of Justice Dennis Richardson said yesterday at the end of a statement about the detrimental effect financial supervision has on St. Maarten’s ability to do what needs to be done.
The minister said that his ministry had spent 3 million guilders on measures for police personnel – money that was not budgeted but that was found by not filling in vacancies for which there was money in the budget.
“It is all nice and well to have financial supervision,” Richardson said. “And yes, we have to carry out proper financial management and expenditures have to be covered by income. The truth of the matter is that we did not start with the sound financial position that has been proclaimed we would have. On 10-10-10 we inherited a debt from the Netherlands Antilles that St. Maarten practically had no part of. It is as simple as that. But as loyal citizens we accepted that we were co-responsible for the debts of the Netherlands Antilles. We therefore inherited a debt we did not have before.”
The minister then outlined how St. Maarten had to build up its national services, while Curacao already had them. “The buildup of our national services did not happen, notwithstanding promises to assist us. We are experiencing the consequences of that debt. We had to build these institutions from scratch and we did not get an y compensation for it.”
Richardson also brought back the debt relief St. Maarten never received. “We should have received 180 million guilders, but we only got 60 million. The Dutch government one-sidedly scrapped the rest because we did not meet a deadline. Now they come and demand from country St. Maarten all kinds of things like compensation for losses within a limited period of time. They demand that we immediately solve our debts to Aps and SZV. We recommended not making anything public because we were in the process of negotiating. They ignored that and as a result the negotiations became a lot tougher.”
Overseeing all this, Minister Richardson seemed exasperated. “I am asking myself: what do you want us to do? Well, I have drawn my line in the sand,. This country has the right to defend its people, to protect them and to do whatever is necessary in that regard. I will do all that as the Minister of Justice. If that means transgressing Cft-norms, so be it. Then deal with it. You want to come and take me away? So be it.”