Cft: “Progreso stabil ta rekerí riba vários tereno”

Cft: “Progreso stabil ta rekerí riba vários tereno”

 

Philipsburg – Kolegio di supervishon finansiero di Kòrsou i Sint Maarten ta pidi e gobièrnu interino enfátikamente pa realisá progreso riba vários tereno. E presupuesto 2020 mester keda aprobá mas lihé posibel. Ademas mester tuma medida pa kontrolá gastunan i mehorá kobransa di impuesto, pa hasi posibel pa por kompensá défisitnan anterior entrante aña 2021. Tambe ta importante pa mehorá e siklo di presupuesto i responsabilisashon i eliminá e retrasonan grandi den trahamentu i aprobamentu di kuentanan anual.

 

Ehekushon presupuesto 2019

A base di e di tres reportahe di ehekushon di 2019, Cft ta konstatá ku te ku sèptèmber 2019, Sint Maarten a realisá un défisit mas abou ku loke tabata presupuestá. Ta ferwagt ku aña 2019 lo sera ku un défisit di 47 mion florin, na lugá di e défisit presupuestá di 71 mion florin. Sinembargo lo keda ketu bai nesesario pa tuma mas medida pa por subi entrada i baha gastu ku e meta pa logra realisá surplus entrante 2021.


Konsepto di presupuesto 2020

Riba 22 di yanüari 2020 Cft a risibí e konsepto di presupuesto 2020 revisá. Esaki tin un défisit presupuestario di 25 mion florin i invershon di kapital di mas o ménos 62 mion florin. Cft a manda su reakshon riba e konsepto di presupuesto aki riba 5 di febrüari i a konsehá konseho di Minister di Sint Maarten pa no permití e proseso presupuestario di 2020 haña mas retraso, i pa yega awor lihé na un presupuesto aprobá.

 

En bista di e défisit presupuestario di 2019 i e défisit premirá pa 2020, Cft a papia ku e Minister di Finansa i Konseho di Minister tokante di e posishon di likides di Sint Maarten. Ta na benefisio di Sint Maarten pa kambia e défisit mas lihé posibel den un surplus struktural. Subimentu di entrada, en partikular entradanan di impuesto, ta inevitabel den e kuadro aki. Cft ta enfatisá ku restrukturashon di e servisio di impuesto mester tuma lugá rápidamente i medidanan pa redusí gastu mester keda implementá rápidamente. 

 

Maneho finansiero

For di aña pasá Sint Maarten ta den poseshon di un Plan di Mehora di Maneho Finansiero, kual a keda aprobá pa konseho di Minister. Sinembargo, niun mehora konkreto riba e tereno aki no a tuma lugá den e último tempu aki. Komo motibu a keda menshoná falta di kapasidat pa ehekutá i finansiamentu. Konsekuensia di e situashon aki ta ku e palabrashon ku Sint Maarten a traha ku e Kolegio pa yega na un deklarashon aprobatorio di akountent pa e kuenta final di 2021, lo rekerí un esfuerso adishonal konsiderabel. Cft a pidi e Minister di Finansa di Sint Maarten pa no sigui warda ku ehekushon di e plan.

 

Kuentanan anual

Sint Maarten a kontratá asistensia eksterno pa traha e kuentanan anual di 2017 i 2018. Sinembargo, e retraso den finalisashon di e trayekto di responsabilisashon di e añanan 2013 te ku 2018 ta keda. Durante di su bishita  na Sint Maarten, Cft a enfatisá e nesesidat pa pronto eliminá e retraso aki. Esaki ta rekerí akshon di tantu Gobièrnu komo Parlamento. 

 

Progreso instrukshon 

A base di e instrukshon di Konseho di Minister di Reino di 2015, Sint Maarten mester kompensá e défisitnan di pasado, eliminá retraso den pago i hasi e sistema di kuido i e sistema di penshon di behes di e pais sostenibel. E défisitnan por keda kompensá solamente ora ku tin surplus riba e presupuesto. Den 2019 e retrasonan den pago a keda redusí ku mas o ménos 50 mion florin i ku vários kreditor a sera akuerdo. Sinembargo e sobrá retrasonan den pago ainda ta supstansial. Ainda no a manda e  proyekto di lei pa reforma di e sistema di kuido pa Parlamento. Meskos ta e kaso pa e proyekto di lei pa subi e edat di penshon di behes di 62 pa 65 aña. E revishon di e lei di penshon pa ámtenar a keda presentá na Parlamento, pero ainda eski no a keda aprobá. E revishon aki ta enserá kambio di un sistema basá riba sueldo final pa un sistema di sueldo medio i subimentu di edat di penshon di 61 aña pa 65 aña.

 

Otro tópiko

Cft a keda informá ku e akuerdonan pa finansiamentu di e trabounan di rekonstrukshon na aeropuerto a keda firmá. Awor ta esensial pa dal e siguiente pasonan ku ta nesesario pa yega na un aeropuerto ku ta funshoná bon i ku por kontribuí na mas rekuperashon ekonómiko.

 

Kolegio di supervishon finansiero Kòrsou i Sint Maarten a bishitá Sint Maarten di 17 pa 20 di febrüari i a reuní ku Gobernador, Minister di Finansa, Konseho di Minister, Representante interino di Hulanda na Sint Maarten, e órgano di ehekushon di Seguro Sosial di Kuido (SZV), Sint Maarten Medical Center (SMMC), St. Maarten Harbour Holding Company (SMHHC) i Princess Juliana International Airport (PJIA).


SPEECH PRESS CONFERENCE – 20 FEBRUARY 2020

 

Good morning members of the press, thank you for being here on the last day of the visit of Cft to Sint Maarten. 

 

As usual, during this visit we have spoken with the Governor of Sint Maarten, the minister of finance, the council of ministers and the Dutch representative on the island. In addition, we had a meeting with the management of the Social and Health Insurances organization (SZV) about the current state of the healthcare and social security costs. We have also received a presentation by representatives of the Sint Maarten Medical Center with regards to the construction of the new hospital. We have spoken with the airport management. It is now important to quickly take the necessary steps to ensure reconstruction of the airport, as a fully operational airport contributes to further economic recovery. Finally, we had a meeting with the harbor management and discussed among others the strategic plans of the company.

 

I will now give a state of affairs on the regular financial topics starting with the budget performance in 2019.

 

 

  • Budget performance 2019 

 

The fourth quarterly report for 2019 should have been submitted to the Cft by February the 15th. We have understood that this report will be available this week. Based on the monthly report of November, we expect that Sint Maarten will have a deficit of about 45 million guilders in 2019. The tax income estimated at around 350 million guilders, rose sooner than expected to almost the same level as before the 2017 hurricanes. For comparison: in 2016 the total tax income was around 365 million guilders. We see a strong recovery of the economy of Sint Maarten with an economic growth of 5,5% in 2019, also due to the resilience of Sint Maarten.

 

The need of liquidity support for 2019 and the conditions thereof have recently been discussed by the Kingdom Council of Ministers. The Cft had advised on the liquidity norm of two months reserves and is awaiting the decisions made by the Kingdom Council on this matter. 

 

 

  • The 2020 draft budget

 

I come to the 2020 draft budget. Recently, Sint Maarten submitted a revised version of the draft budget 2020 to the Cft. The original draft budget was reviewed in October 2019 and we have relayed our conclusions with respect to this during our previous visit to Sint Maarten. In the revised draft budget, both income and expenses have been decreased by about 4 million. The revised draft budget shows estimated income of 461 million guilders, expenses of 486 million guilders and a deficit of 25 million guilders. The Cft has advised on this revised draft budget on February 5th

 

Given that the draft budget still presents a deficit for 2020, Sint Maarten will need the approval of the Kingdom Council of ministers based on article 25 set in the Rft, for deviation from, in particular, the balanced budget norm set in article 15 of the Rft. We have urged government to take the necessary steps in ensuring an efficient and effective process for getting the 2020 budget adopted. In the budget also a loan of 31 million guilders for capital investments has been included. Importantly, if the budget is approved, Sint Maarten can eventually borrow against a low interest percentage from the Netherlands. So, also from this point of view we urged the government to speed up this process. 

 

 

  • Working towards a surplus budget 

 

It is also crucial that government explores all available options for income increasing and cost saving measures in order to achieve surpluses from 2021 onwards. This brings me to the tax system.

 

In 2019 Sint Maarten has drawn up a project plan for restructuring the tax authority. It is expected that this will lead to an improvement in tax compliance and will bring the tax revenues to a much-needed higher level. The Cft considers implementation of this plan, which was approved by the Council of Ministers of Sint Maarten in April 2019, absolutely necessary to achieve budget surpluses in the future so that the government can compensate past budget deficits and pay back accumulating  arrears, and more important for achieving sustainability in public finance. 

 

 Figures by the IMF shows that while in 2012 the tax to GDP ratio of Sint Maarten was at the same level to that of its regional peers at about 20 percent, this ratio for Sint Maarten has decreased to about 18 percent at the end of 2018 while the neighboring islands noticed an increase to about 23 percent. Therefore, we advise government to also look at the current tax system of Sint Maarten and identify areas where additional revenues can be generated in the most effective way. 

 

In addition to income- increasing measures, government has yet to implement any cost-saving measures. The passing of the pension reform in order to increase civil servant pension age from 62 to 65 years and change to an average wage salary pension as well as the collection of personal contributions to the healthcare costs of civil servants are measures which the Cft has come to stress in most of its correspondences. 

 

 

  • Financial management 

 

We are quite concerned with the lack of financial management improvements of Sint Maarten. We have noticed that to date little to no progress has been made with rolling out the plan which was approved in April last year. With the government of Sint Maarten, in October 2018, we agreed to work towards an unqualified audit opinion on the financial statements of 2021 and again we want to emphasize the importance of obtaining this result.

 

To stay on the topic, the quality and timeliness of financial statements has been repeatedly addressed by the Cft. However, we have noticed further delays regarding the financial statements of past reporting periods. Sint Maarten should at this time be working on closing its 2019 financial year also a building stone for the budget 2021. Instead, it is still working on the 2017 and 2018 financial statements in order for these to be audited. And the financial statements of 2013 and 2014 still must be send to the Governor and for the years 2015 and 2016 these statements have to be approved by Parliament. We have understood from the ministry of finance that external support has been hired to finalize the financial statements of 2017 and 2018. Nevertheless, more actions by the government and parliament are needed to speed up this process. 

 

 

  • Payment arrears

 

In accordance with the instruction, Sint Maarten did finalize agreements for debt settlement with the government companies GEBE and Telem and drew up a letter of intent with SZV. In addition, the arrears have been steadily decreasing in 2019. It is of utmost importance that further action is taken to ensure a continued reduction of these arrears. A debt settlement agreement with APS still has to be made.

 

Moreover, in a meeting with the SZV they have raised another concern about the rising amount of OZR costs that government owes to SZV. The sole purpose of OZR (‘0verheids Ziektekosten Regeling’) is the regulation of healthcare for government employees. This fund is solely funded by government contribution. In 2019 the OZR arrears have risen to 39 million guilders, marking a stark contrast in the contributions and the actual cost of healthcare for government employees. And this automatically brings me to the next topic.

 

 

  • Sustainable Healthcare and old-age pension

 

In many countries and in Curacao and Aruba ageing is on top of agenda as this threatens the sustainability of health care and old age pension. In Sint Maarten changes to the healthcare and old age pension system are part of the instruction given by the Kingdom Council of Ministers in 2015. I would like to mention a couple of things about this:

Affordable and sustainable healthcare

We strongly encourage Sint Maarten to reform the healthcare system quickly given the rising pressure the current system is putting on funds managed by SZV as well as on the Government budget. We have taken notice of an amount of approximately 200 million guilders in cumulative deficits of the sickness and accident insurance fund and the cost for the healthcare of government personnel. I want to give you an indication of how expensive this has become for the government of Sint Maarten. In 2012 costs were a total of 25 million guilders for the OZR and PP. In 2019 these costs have doubled to about 50 million guilders, more than 10 percent of the total government budget. 

We also must bear in mind the higher expense level the new hospital will bring. This week we also took notice of plans for the new hospital and it is good that a grant from the trust fund is used to make the current and new hospital more hurricane proof.

 

Sustainable old age pension

With respect to the old age pension system a distinction is drawn between the pension for civil servants and the AOV funds for the public. New legislation has been drafted for both pension systems to make them sustainable by increasing the AOV and pension age from 62 to 65. However, while the legislation for civil servant pension reform is with parliament since 2018 it is not yet approved, and the legislation for AOV still has to be presented to parliament. 

 

Remarkably, the pension scheme for civil servants is still based on final pay. I want to refer you to the analysis performed by the actuarial company Keesen, which was also presented to parliament. According to them, “no employer has such an expensive pension plan anymore”. Therefore, it is important that to replace final pay by average wage salary pension. To illustrate, the current pension premium for government employees in Sint Maarten is at 25 percent, of which government itself covers about 17 percent. In comparison, in Curacao the pension premium for government employees is set at 18 percent, with government contributing 12 percent. The pension legislation reform includes a lowering of the pension premium of Sint Maarten to the level of Curacao. This reform is beneficial for the government and the whole  Sint Maarten society from the viewpoint of a healthy and sustainable old-age pension system for its civil servants.

 

Government should take the necessary steps in order to ensure that these reform legislations are passed in a timely manner to ensure that everyone entitled to a pension will also receive it in the future. 

 

Closing remarks

Looking back at the targeted instruction of September 2015 and the press briefings in the past years, unfortunately it must be said that the Cft has been repeating the same advices over and over again, without significant results on behalf of the successive governments of Sint Maarten. All the topics mentioned today are on the table for too long now. It is of the upmost importance that Sint Maarten finalize the 2020 budget and makes clear decisions regarding, as an example, its healthcare and old age pension system, and therefore guarantee budget surpluses from 2021 onwards. 

 

I thank you for your time and attention.

 


Cft: “Stevige voortgang vereist op diverse gebieden”

 

Philipsburg – Het College financieel toezicht Curaçao en Sint Maarten (Cft) verzoekt de interim-regering met klem om voortgang te realiseren op diverse gebieden. De begroting 2020 moet zo snel als mogelijk worden vastgesteld. Verder moeten er maatregelen worden genomen om de kosten te beheersen en de belastinginning te verbeteren, zodat vanaf 2021 compensatie kan plaatsvinden van eerdere tekorten. Ook is het zaak om de begroting- en verantwoordingscyclus te verbeteren en de grote achterstanden met het opstellen en vaststellen van de jaarrekeningen in te lopen. 

 

Begrotingsuitvoering 2019

Op basis van de derde uitvoeringsrapportage 2019 constateert het Cft dat Sint Maarten tot en met september 2019 een lager tekort heeft gerealiseerd dan eerder begroot. De verwachting is dat het jaar 2019 afgesloten wordt met een tekort van ANG 47 miljoen ten opzichte van een begroot tekort van ANG 71 miljoen. Het blijft echter onverminderd noodzakelijk om meer maatregelen te nemen om de inkomsten te verhogen en te kosten te verlagen om vanaf 2021 begrotingsoverschotten te gaan realiseren. 


Ontwerpbegroting 2020

Het Cft heeft op 22 januari 2020 de herziene ontwerpbegroting 2020 ontvangen. Deze toont een begrotingstekort van ANG 25 miljoen en kapitaalinvesteringen van circa ANG 62 miljoen. Het Cft heeft op 5 februari haar reactie op deze ontwerpbegroting 2020 verstuurd en de Ministerraad van Sint Maarten geadviseerd om het begrotingsproces 2020 geen verdere vertraging te laten oplopen en nu snel te komen tot een vastgestelde begroting. 

 

Gezien het begrotingstekort in 2019 en het voorziene tekort in 2020 heeft het Cft de liquiditeitspositie van Sint Maarten met de Minister van Financiën en de Ministerraad besproken. Het is hierbij in het belang van Sint Maarten dat het tekort zo spoedig mogelijk wordt omgebogen in een structureel overschot. Onmisbaar hierbij is het verhogen van de inkomsten en met name de belastinginkomsten. Het Cft benadrukt dat de herstructurering van de belastingdienst snel moet plaatsvinden en dat kostenbesparende maatregelen moeten worden geïmplementeerd.

 

Financieel beheer

Sint Maarten beschikt sinds vorig jaar over een door de Ministerraad goedgekeurd Verbeterplan Financieel beheer. Concrete verbeteringen op dit gebied zijn de afgelopen periode echter uitgebleven. Als oorzaken worden aangegeven het gebrek aan uitvoeringscapaciteit en financiering. Deze situatie heeft tot consequentie dat de afspraak die Sint Maarten met het College heeft gemaakt voor een goedkeurende accountantsverklaring bij de jaarrekening 2021, een forse extra inspanning zal vergen. Het Cft heeft de Minister van Financiën van Sint Maarten opgeroepen niet langer te wachten met uitvoering van het plan.

 

Jaarrekeningen

Sint Maarten heeft externe ondersteuning ingehuurd voor het opstellen van de jaarrekeningen 2017 en 2018. Echter, de achterstand in het afronden van het verantwoordingstraject voor de jaren 2013 tot en met 2018 blijft aanwezig. Het Cft heeft tijdens zijn bezoek aan Sint Maarten de noodzaak benadrukt om deze achterstand spoedig in te lopen. Dit vergt actie van zowel de Regering als het Parlement.

 

Voortgang aanwijzing

Op basis van de aanwijzing van de Rijksministerraad uit 2015 dient Sint Maarten de tekorten uit het verleden te compenseren, betalingsachterstanden weg te werken en het zorgstelsel en de ouderdomsvoorziening van het land financieel te verduurzamen. De tekorten kunnen pas gecompenseerd worden indien er sprake is van een begrotingsoverschot. In 2019 zijn de betalingsachterstanden met circa ANG 50 miljoen afgenomen en zijn met diverse schuldeisers overeenkomsten gesloten. De resterende betalingsachterstanden zijn echter nog aanzienlijk. De conceptwetgeving voor de hervorming van het zorgstelstel is nog niet aan de Staten aangeboden. Hetzelfde geldt voor conceptwetgeving voor de verhoging van de AOV-leeftijd van 62 naar 65 jaar. De herziening van de ambtenarenpensioenwetgeving is in oktober 2018 aan de Staten aangeboden, maar nog niet goedgekeurd. Deze herziening houdt in overgaan van eindloon naar middelloon en verhogen van de pensioenleeftijd van 62 naar 65 jaar.

 

Overig

Het Cft heeft vernomen dat de overeenkomsten ter financiering van de herstelwerkzaamheden bij de luchthaven zijn getekend. Het gaat er nu om snel de verdere stappen te zetten die nodig zijn om te komen tot een goed functionerende luchthaven die bij kan dragen aan verder economisch herstel. 

 

Het College van financieel toezicht Curaçao en Sint Maarten bezocht Sint Maarten van 17 tot 20 februari en hield vergaderingen met de Gouverneur, de Minister van Financiën, de Ministerraad, de plaatsvervangende Nederlandse Vertegenwoordiger op Sint Maarten, het uitvoeringsorgaan Sociale Zorgverzekeringen (SZV), Sint Maarten Medical Center (SMMC), St. Maarten Harbour Holding Company (SMHHC) en de Princess Juliana International Airport (PJIA).

 

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