THE HAGUE–Member of the Second Chamber of the Dutch Parliament André Bosman of the liberal democratic VVD party has no problem with Dutch technical assistance going to St. Maarten to help collect taxes, but says these civil servants should be able to report directly to The Hague.
“Assistance for St. Maarten is a must. It is important. But it is equally important that this takes place in a transparent, careful manner,” Bosman told The Daily Herald on Thursday in relation to the decision of the Kingdom Council of Ministers last Friday to give St. Maarten an instruction to get its finances in order.
St. Maarten has indicated several times in discussions with the Dutch Government that the local government needs assistance to tackle the lack of capacity at a number of key financial departments such as the Tax Office and the Ministry of Finance.
The St. Maarten Government wants and needs to levy and collect more taxes to improve government’s financial situation and to render the necessary services to the people. Expert assistance from the Netherlands would be of great use in this process, but so far The Hague is not cooperating.
Bosman said it should be made clear that when Dutch civil servants are dispatched to assist St. Maarten, they should be able to report possible wrongdoings and dilemmas directly to the Netherlands. “I don’t want them to end up in a situation where they have to cooperate with things that are not correct,” he said.
He said there was no system currently in place whereby wrongdoings could be reported. This will be the case when an independent Integrity Chamber is established for St. Maarten.
Asked about the recent instruction that the Kingdom Government issued ordering the St. Maarten Government to get its 2015 budget and the multi-annual perspectives in order, Bosman said this measure clearly had been inevitable.
“St. Maarten didn’t stick to the agreements that were made regarding the pension and health insurance system. Every time St. Maarten promised to give follow-up, but that didn’t materialise,” he said.
“The 2015 budget is simply not in order, so an instruction was needed. This instruction didn’t just fall from the sky. The instruction is actually an indication that there was insufficient willingness to address the financial situation,” said Bosman. He showed comprehension for the difficult position which St. Maarten Finance Minister Martin Hassink was in.
Bosman said that, in his opinion, a few things were crucial in the process to get the budget balanced and St. Maarten’s overall financial position more sustainable. “The cost of personnel amounts to some 50 per cent of the expenditures. That is bizarre. A lot of money is spent on overtime. That is a strange situation. Is it that people are in the wrong positions?”
Another key area is the tax collection, which is highly inadequate. “Levying and collecting taxes should be a top priority. St. Maarten should get to work where that is concerned,” he said.
And then there are the government-owned companies which in Bosman’s opinion are not sufficiently transparent. “We are talking large figures. It is incomprehensible that Government is insufficiently informed.”
Bron: Daily Herald