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DH | St. Maarten must implement law to regulate top incomes

State Secretary of Kingdom Relations and Digitisation Alexandra van Huffelen. (File photo)

THE HAGUE–St. Maarten needs to make haste with the implementation of the Dutch condition to regulate top incomes in the (semi) public sector, and fix the law that secures this before May 1.

Dutch State Secretary of Kingdom Relations and Digitisation Alexandra van Huffelen made this clear in a letter she sent to the Second Chamber of the Dutch Parliament on Wednesday about the decision-taking of the Kingdom Council of Ministers on February 25, with regard to the liquidity support for the Dutch Caribbean countries and the progress of the reforms.

Van Huffelen wrote that in 2020, the Kingdom Council of Ministers set the regulating of top incomes in the (semi) public sector in Aruba, Curaçao and St. Maarten as a condition in order for the countries to receive liquidity support during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The capping of the incomes to the amount of a prime minister’s salary served to avoid excessive renumeration in government, government entities and at government-owned companies. The three countries were told by the Kingdom government on September 24, 2021, to have this implemented before November 1, 2021.

While Aruba and Curaçao have complied, St. Maarten is running behind in implementing this condition. The state secretary explained that the delay was caused by a procedure at the St. Maarten Constitutional Court, but that in the meantime, the National Ordinance had gone into effect.

“However, content-wise, the National Ordinance is still not in line with the September 24, 2021, decision of the Kingdom Council of Ministers, and as a result has little effect in maximising the top income,” stated Van Huffelen.

Therefore, the Kingdom Council of Ministers during its most recent meeting on February 25, ordered St. Maarten to get the text of the National Ordinance content-wise in line with the decisions of the Kingdom government on this matter before May 1, and to send the National Ordinance to the Advisory Council for advice.

In her letter to the Dutch Parliament, the state secretary also addressed the progress in the execution of the “country packages” of Aruba, Curaçao and St. Maarten, the financing to implement the country packages, liquidity support and curbing healthcare cost.

While the countries and the Caribbean Body for Reform and Development COHO have been working on giving content to the country packages, there is still “insufficient sight” on the financial courses in this big reform trajectory, Van Huffelen noted.

“In order to attain a view on financing need stemming from the country packages, the countries have been requested to incorporate this in the budget for 2022, and to add a multi-annual financial overview with revenues and expenditures for the years thereafter, in the budget,” she stated.

The high healthcare costs in the countries are very worrisome and the Committees for Financial Supervision of Aruba CAFT and of Curaçao and St. Maarten CFT have asked the Kingdom Council of Ministers to give attention to this.

For St. Maarten, it concerns the increasing deficits at the care insurance funds, which require urgent measures, in the opinion of the CFT. Aruba needs to cut 60 million Aruban florins per year in healthcare cost at General Health Insurance AZV, and there are great concerns about the problematic financial situation at Curaçao Medical Center (CMC).

According to Van Huffelen, the increasing healthcare cost is putting pressure on other important policy areas such as education and social security. She stated that the Kingdom Council of Ministers shared the concerns and advice of CFT and CAFT, and has ordered the countries to deal with this matter right away.

In its meeting of February 25, the Kingdom Council of Ministers, based on the progress information and the advice of CAFT, approved the first quarter liquidity support for Aruba in an amount of 12 million florins.

No financial support was needed for Curaçao and St. Maarten for the first quarter because of the positive liquidity balance that these countries still had. So far, the Netherlands has provided one billion euros in liquidity support to the three Dutch Caribbean countries.

The countries and the COHO keep working on giving content to the country packages with the concrete agreements being set in the Execution Agendas. These agreements indicate which results have to be realised at what time, and are leading in developing the activities.
Bron: Daily Herald

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