Island Financial

Island Financial (1546)

PHILIPSBURG, St. Maarten - The Council of Ministers received a presentation by representatives of the Department of Economy, Transportation & Telecommunication, in the person of Ms. Lucy Gibbes, Department Head, Ms. Makhicia Brooks & Mr. Jude Houston, the Department’s two Senior Policy advisors and the Director of Qredits Mr. Elwin Groenvelt. The functioning and sustainability of the program Qredits was explained to the Council.

Based on the Ministry’s Economic Development Plan, the Department of Economy, Transportation & Telecommunication, identified two key pillars to focus their immediate attention on, namely to increase Foreign Direct Invest (FDI) and to stimulate Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSME’s). With the FDI, the focus was on the development of a package of digital promotional tools including a website (www.investmentguide.sx) and material that can easily be distributed.

The second pillar was the empowerment of Sint Maarten’s SME’s, especially considering that these enterprises account for 80% of all businesses on the island. Research showed that two constant issues kept arising among these enterprises. First of all, access to affordable and to reliable information/knowledge, which was addressed by the Department via providing free classes and workshops with funding from COSME, the EU programme for the Competitiveness of SME’s. The second challenge was access to microfinancing.

PHILIPSBURG, St. Maarten - During the National Health Week, several meetings with various stakeholders have been scheduled by the Ministry of Public Health, Social Development and Labour. This included sessions with the Social Economic Council (SER), the Council of Advice, the Council of Health, Parliament as well as two-day session for invited stakeholders.

On Tuesday January 24, the Council of Ministers was briefed on the matter of National Health Insurance. To learn from others countries’ experiences, Minister Lee invited several experts in the field to discuss the topic at hand from different angles. After the introductory remarks of both the Minister and Ms. Fenna Arnell, Department Head of Public Health, the experts which included Professor Wynand van de Ven, Professor of Health Insurance at the Erasmus University, Researcher Stanley Lalta from the University of the West Indies and Mr. Anco Ringeling of AZV Aruba, each gave their point of view on National Health Insurance and the process leading up to it. The meeting resulted in an interactive and informative session with the ministers present.

CARIBBEAN NETHERLANDS  -  Statistics Netherlands (CBS) reports inflation rates remained low on the three islands of the Caribbean Netherlands over Q4 2016, based on the consumer price index (CPI). Inflation on Bonaire, St Eustatius and Saba has hovered around 0 percent for nearly two consecutive years.

Inflation on Bonaire stable for one year already

Consumer prices on Bonaire increased by 0.5 percent in Q4 relative to one year previously. Since Q1 2016, Bonaire’s inflation rate has remained at more or less the same level. Inflation was kept low due to the price development of electricity over the past quarter, a decline by over 6 percent. The price development of petrol on the other hand had an upward effect on inflation; although more or less equal to Q3, the price of petrol did rise considerably less year-on-year than was the case in the previous quarter.

Inflation on St Eustatius was 0.2 percent in Q4. This represented a rise compared to Q3, when consumer prices declined by 0.9 percent year-on-year. The rising inflation rate was mainly due to price developments of petrol and food products. Petrol went up in price by 5.7 percent over the last quarter. In addition, food products including fresh vegetables, cheese and cornflakes became more expensive.

PHILIPSBURG, St. Maarten — The Audit Team Sint Maarten (ATS), established by the Social & Health Insurances SZV since January 2016, has helped SZV to collect over 28 million NAf extra in social premiums over the year 2016 for the different Social Security Funds managed by the SZV.

The increase in premium collections for the Sickness and Accident Funds for example has been 21.1 % over 2016 since the Audit Team Sint Maarten (ATS) started its activities to increase compliance of all Companies with employees who by law are obliged to pay the legally indebted social premiums to the SZV. These high collection numbers and are a direct result of the restructuring of the SZV and of the close and structured collaboration between the employees of the SZV, ATS and SBAB.

The main objective of the Audit Team Sint Maarten (ATS) is to increase compliance in and to promote the regular payment of the legally indebted social security premiums ensuring in this way that all Companies pay their fair share in accordance to the Social Security Ordinances.

The goal set by the Audit Team Sint Maarten (ATS) for 2016 was not only to increase the collection of social premiums but to heighten awareness in complying with all the stipulations of the Social Security Ordinances and to offer all companies support with administrative overviews of the different premium payments and with correct and complete registration of the Company. This support service of the Audit Team Sint Maarten (ATS) entails detailed reporting and correct processing of the administrative mutations both at the SZV and at the Companies.

PHILIPSBURG, St. Maarten – On January 5th, 2017, the General Audit Chamber presented its report to Parliament regarding the Compliance Audit of the 2015 Financial Statement of the Government of Sint Maarten.

The 2015 Financial Statement was formally submitted to the Audit Chamber and the SOAB on November 4th, 2016. As such, the auditing activities of both entities started very late in the year. Normally, the financial statements are expected in September.

Despite taking additional time for drafting and presenting the 2015 Financial Statement, Government has once again failed to present a solid and auditable financial statement. “We find this particularly regrettable in light of the improvements that were promised after the audit of the last set of financial statements. More diligence in achieving improvement is expected from a Country that has previously produced five financial statements”.

Besides the lack of progress in dealing with the shortcomings of government’s financial management, the report details government’s failure to adhere to legal requirements when reporting and giving account in the financial statement. This is a reason for concern, according to the Audit Chamber. Based on the response received from the Minister of Finance regarding the Audit Chamber’s report, a financial statement that is in compliance with the National Accountability Ordinance is not expected prior to 2019. “We find this unfortunate”.

“We note a slight improvement in the explanation provided with the 2015 Budget. However, the account presented in the financial statement does not correspond with that of the budget”, according to the Audit Chamber. As a result of this inadequate accountability, proper insight about how public funds were used is missing.

CARIBBEAN NETHERLANDS - The Authority for Consumers and Markets (ACM) stipulated the production prices of electricity and drinking water in the Caribbean Netherlands. These prices apply as of January 1st , 2017. The production rate is determined by calculating what it costs to produce one cubic meter of drinking water or one kilowatt hour of electricity.

Consumers and businesses in Bonaire, Sint Eustatius and Saba will not notice any change yet in the rates they pay for electricity and drinking water until ACM also stipulates the distribution rates. ACM strives to do that by the summer of 2017. The production prices are a part of this distribution rates.

The distribution rates are the rates that customers (consumers and businesses) pay to distribution companies like WEB, STUCO or Saba Electric. ACM is currently consulting with the Ministry of Economic Affairs (electricity) and the Ministry of Infrastructure and Environment (drinking water) on the determination of the distribution rates, the amount of resources and the impact of the new rates on the consumer.

How are the rates determined?

{Traducida al español}

PHILIPSBURG, St. Maarten - Prices have increased compared to August 2016, the Consumer Price Index for Sint Maarten has increased in the month of October 2016 by 0.3 percent compared to that of August 2016.

When comparing average consumer prices over a twelve month period (October 2015 to October 2016), a decrease of 120.9 percent was recorded compared to the same period one year earlier. The current level of deflation (-0.1%) is comparable to that recorded in Feburary1986 (-0.1%).

This is evident from the data released by the Department of Statistics (STAT) today.

GEORGETOWN, Guyana — The South American country of Guyana is investing $12 million to help revitalize coastal villages founded by freed slaves after emancipation in the 1830s.

Finance Minister Winston Jordan says the money will be used to clear land for crops, improve drainage and irrigation and dig more than 150 kilometers (about 90 miles) of new canals to provide water for farms.

PHILIPSBURG, St. Maarten -The Board of financial supervision Curaçao and Sint Maarten (Cft) discussed the budgetary outcome for 2016 and the budget for 2017 with government officials. Cft has not yet formally received the adjusted budget for advice. Based on the discussions it seems that the budget will be amended and sufficiently substantiated to be on the right track for 2017. However, progress still has to be made to keep the budget sustainable for the future. Compared to 2016, the budget 2017 relies more on incidental income, such as contributions from government-owned entities. However, realizing additional and incidental income has proven to be quite a challenge in 2016 and therefore relying on this source of income poses a risk for the budget 2017. Sint Maarten should therefore carefully monitor the execution of the budget so adjustments can be made during 2017 if necessary. Cft will give its final conclusions on the budget 2017 after receiving and analyzing the approved budget.  

WASHINGTON, Dec 12 2016 – Latin American and Caribbean exports are expected to fall approximately $50 billion, or 6 percent, in 2016, a lower contraction rate than the 15 percent observed in 2015. This relative improvement was mainly due to a rebound of commodity prices, according to a report conducted by the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) using detailed data for 24 countries in the region. The value of total exports should reach $850 billion in 2016.

The annual report “Trade Trend Estimates – Latin America and the Caribbean” argues that export volumes did not display sufficiently high growth rates to give a significant boost to the region’s export performance, which registered a contraction for the fourth consecutive year.

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