PHILIPSBURG–Finance Minister Richard Gibson Sr. said on Wednesday that “there is no reason to panic” when it comes to the country’s finances.
He said he had received “quite some calls” regarding media reports about correspondence regarding finances from the Committee for Financial Supervision CFT which “caused quite some alarm and the alarm is unfounded.” He said the CFT correspondence has nothing to do with recent events.
In an effort to reassure the community, Gibson said that as of Tuesday of this week Government had NAf. 26 million in the bank in available funds for expenditures. Government also has funds in reserves, including payment that has to be made to the General Pension Fund Administration APS amounting to NAf. 20 million, also in the bank. In addition, NAf. 21 million is available for capital expenditures.
“We had a choice to rush and spend capital expenditures, because they are all approved. Nothing is holding us back from executing capital expenditure projects for which we had NAf. 21 million additional in the bank. … We could have gone out and spent it, but we have not. Given the situation that occurred with Irma, we want to be cautious and want to ensure that we have sufficient funds in case Government runs out of money.”
In addition to funds in the bank, he said St. Maarten also has wealth that can be used to acquire funds for expenses Government may have.
“We own several different companies and we own all of the shares in all those companies. If it comes to a crisis point, we can sell some of the shares to partners to attract funds. It’s not the ideal way and I am not advocating and propagating this, I am just sharing that the end of the road is not the NAf. 26 million, but we have wealth that we can throw into the field if it’s necessary.
“From all promises and from all indications and all discussions we have had so far, all of that is not going to be necessary, because the Netherlands has already expressed their preparedness to provide us with budget assistance – they have mentioned an amount that is not cast in stone, but an amount for 2017, which is 42 million euros.”
He stressed that “there is no reason to panic at this point that is justified.” However, he said that eventually St. Maarten could reach that point of panic.
Asked when he predicts St. Maarten will reach the stage where it has exhausted all of its available funds, Gibson said that, while he does not like to speculate, “If nothing else happens. If income does not improve, if expenditure remains the same and exempting the sale of shares that we own in companies to generate income – leaving that out – I would guess – and I hate to guess, it really means nothing – but I would think that next three months.”
Bron: Daily Herlad