November 8, 2023 –THE HAGUE – Curaçao, Aruba, and Sint Maarten are not investing enough. This is emphasized by State Secretary Van Huffelen in her submission letter to the Dutch House of Representatives in the latest semi-annual report from the College of Financial Supervision.
Letter to Parliament by Van Huffelen
The College of Financial Supervision for Aruba (CAft), the College of Financial Supervision for Bonaire, Sint Eustatius, and Saba (Cft BES), and the College of Financial Supervision for Curaçao and Sint Maarten (Cft) submit a written report of their activities and major advisory points every six months.
Enclosed is the report covering the period from January to June of 2023. The report was approved in the Kingdom Council of Ministers on October 27, 2023.
This report provides insights into the financial situation and policy developments of the countries and public entities within our Kingdom. It is important that we collectively address the challenges and opportunities presented in this report.
Although the budget appears to be balanced until 2026, the Cft advises a more nuanced approach, especially regarding tax revenue estimates and budget risks. The country has taken positive steps in tax collection, but there are concerns about the impact of a shrinking and aging population on future tax revenues.
Aruba, as per the CAft, shows positive developments such as a financing surplus and timely budget submissions. However, the quality of accountability information remains an area of concern. Structural measures are needed, especially in controlling healthcare costs.
The Cft provides feedback on Sint Maarten’s budget for the year 2023. Recommendations are focused on including surpluses in the regular service starting from 2024 and implementing further reforms to ensure the financial sustainability of healthcare funds.
In the first half of 2023, Bonaire continued to improve financial management, including conducting interim audits. The Cft BES emphasizes the need for Bonaire to create a balanced and realistic budget. Discrepancies between estimates and actual revenue and expenses pose a risk to the budget’s effectiveness as a control instrument. Additionally, there are concerns about information provision to the island council and the Cft BES.
With the implementation of Article 15 of the Recovery of Statia Legal Entities Act on June 20, the Island Council regained budgetary powers. From that date, the Financial Regulations for the Public Bodies of Bonaire, Sint Eustatius, and Saba (FinBES) are applicable again, and the Cft BES has fully resumed its statutory advisory duties. The Cft BES highlights the importance of correctly applying the FinBES. It also emphasizes the need for an up-to-date budget and advises Sint Eustatius to adjust the budget promptly if circumstances require it.
Saba demonstrates positive financial results and has received an approving audit statement for its annual report. Additionally, Saba has acted upon the recommendations of the Cft BES and further improved accountability information. Maintaining the quality of financial management remains a priority. In the first half of 2023, Saba dedicated considerable attention to recruiting and training (new) personnel.
Regarding investments, the Colleges refer to an IMF report from the previous year, which indicates that public investment levels in Curaçao and Sint Maarten are relatively low compared to the Caribbean region. The CAft notes the same for Aruba. It is an area of concern for Aruba, Curaçao, and Sint Maarten to develop concrete investment programs and include them in their multi-year budgets.
The semi-annual report reveals several positive steps taken in the realm of financial management and policies within the Countries and public bodies of the Kingdom. However, there are various areas where ongoing commitment and reforms are required to ensure financial sustainability. It is crucial for these themes to continue to receive attention in future discussions and policymaking.