PHILIPSBURG, WILLEMSTAD – It is time for St. Maarten’s Parliament and government to have a discussion about the structure of the Committee for Financial Supervision CFT, the imposition of conditions by the Kingdom Council of Ministers and the country’s financial management in general, says United Democrats Member of Parliament (MP) Sarah Wescot-Williams.
Her statement follows comments from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) that austerity measures imposed by the Kingdom Council are counterproductive. The IMF warned in a report this week that the advice for imposition of conditions on Curaçao will cause major damage to the economy and put the goal of restoring public finances further out of reach.
St. Maarten, too, is under the CFT spectrum. It is with that in mind, that Wescot-Williams has sounded her own alarm.
A rather conservative institution like the IMF criticising the workings of the CFT in such a firm manner, especially the imposition of these conditions that, if not followed voluntarily, can be imposed via an instruction, calls for the situation with the CFT “to need to be carefully evaluated and looked at,” Wescot-Williams said on Wednesday.
“It behoves St. Maarten, Parliament and government to carefully analyse the statement and comments coming from the IMF regarding Curaçao and its financial management. … St. Maarten needs to take up this ball and make it a point of discussion,” Wescot-Williams said.
When “a conservative organisation” such as IMF “comes with such an opinion, then we have pay heed,” Wescot-Williams said. IMF, as the institution dealing with the country’s financial recovery, “oftentimes recommends some very bitter pills for countries to swallow.” It is from that perspective she has also called for attention to the CFT’s structure.
The CFT is governed by a kingdom law and was birthed from conditions agreed to at the dissolution for the Netherlands Antilles. The Netherlands agreed to clear the hefty debt of the Antilles in return for temporary kingdom supervision of Curaçao and St. Maarten.
Wescot-Williams said that what St. Maarten got out the debt relief “was negligible” because St. Maarten’s portion of the debt “was practically nil.” As an island territory prior to October 10, 2010, St. Maarten could not contract loans on the capital market.
“Nevertheless, St. Maarten fell and falls under the scope and supervision via the CFT. For us, this entire debt situation and debt clearance situation was a double whammy. Many have been the criticisms regarding the CFT and fact that they only look at the law that governs them without any consideration for any other economic and financial consequences. … This is something the country needed to evaluate,” Wescot-Williams said.
“I believe we are strengthened by the statement of the IMF. It is time we need to enter into the discussion about this kind of financial management. The kingdom law has been evaluated, but even in the law itself there are conditions in terms of the termination of that law. If we can’t comply with the very same law, this type of supervision will not be terminated,” Wescot-Williams said. This working of the law “gives us even more material to have a serious discussion.”
Another aspect that must be tackled is the unilateral discussions by the kingdom government that can be taken regarding any of the countries within the Dutch Kingdom, she said. “Nowhere is there a possibility to table a disagreement, especially on the imposition of unilateral decisions of the kingdom council.”
She calls on fellow MPs or factions in Parliament to make a proposal for the matter to be handled. She will also look into tabling the matter in her role as parliament chairwoman.
“I think it is extremely important and that we don’t want to wait too long,” she said.