Cft Chairman Age Bakker: “Curaçao budget in order”
WILLEMSTAD - The budget for the 2016 Curaçao budget as it is currently being discussed, will receive a positive advice of the Cft, seeing that the government has taken the previous recommendations of the Cft into account. The budget is therefore in order. In the event the new coalition agreement leads to adaptations in the 2016 budget, additional advice by the Cft will follow, should these adaptations not be processed in a budgetary neutral way.
The Board of financial supervision for Curaçao and Sint Maarten (Cft) visited Curaçao in the first half of December. The Board met with the Governor, the Council of Ministers and the Minister of Finance. The Board was further briefed on the state of affairs regarding the construction of the new hospital.
The Cft has been introduced to the two new ministers, being Mr. Siegfried Victorina as the Minister of Health, Environment and Nature and Mr. Eugene Rhuggenaath as the Minister of Economic Affairs. The Cft has taken note of the coalition agreement and it endorses the continuation of the pursuit of a sound fiscal policy, the commitment to create the conditions to strengthen the confidence in the economy and the renewed attention to the implementation of investment projects. The strengthening of implementation capacity could lead to more rapid implementation of government investments as proposed in the capital budget. If the intensification as mentioned in the coalition agreement - for example for extra efforts in education – has financial consequences, Cft would appreciate learning whether these will be budget-neutral or not.
The Cft has reviewed the implementation report for the first nine months of 2015. The picture still looks positive. A large part of the expected positive balance has been used to settle the swing fund (schommelfonds) in order to cover the persistent shortages in the disability insurance fund and to absorb operating losses at Sehos. This is reflected in the budget amendment that was adopted by Parliament on December 8th.
The deliberations on the 2016 budget took place from December 9th to 15th. At present a number of policy issues in the new coalition agreement have not been elaborated sufficiently, so as to determine to what extent this may affect the budget at a later stage. Cft therefore expects that it will be made as soon as possible clear which budgetary effects there are and, if so, how they will be processed in a subsequent budget amendment. In addition, a number of measures that have already been incorporated in the budget - such as the reform of the pension scheme for civil servants and the reduction in disability benefits from non-residents - should actually be implemented shortly in order to prevent future shortages in the funds. Cft will therefore continue to monitor these developments closely.
The Cft has received a presentation on the progress of the construction of the new hospital. This made clear that a number of risks can be identified with regard to the construction of the hospital. Cft urges the Government to quantify these risks as quickly as possible and to come up with solutions in consultation with the operator of the project, so that the progress will not be further hampered. An adequate decision-making and information structure between the Government as the principal and the executive organization as the contractor will help in identifying the risks early on and taking mitigating measures to this end.