- Written by JASON SMITH
- Published: 04 March 2015
Despite making some progress to get their public finances in order in recent years, the governments of some Dutch Caribbean territories are facing continued scrutiny from an independent fiscal watchdog.
The agency, known by its Dutch acronym CFT, recently made visits to Curacao and St. Maarten, which are both “constituent countries” of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, as well as St. Eustatius, a “special municipality” of the country.
All three islands have lengthy histories of troubled finances, and politicians have faced repeated corruption allegations.
The CFT, which is made up of representatives from the islands and the Netherlands, sees progress despite fiscal challenges in all three island groups, it announced in February.
In St. Maarten, for example, the watchdog has signed off on a $237 million budget for 2015. However, it expressed concern that the government is relying on revenue estimates of $248 million, which is more optimistic than previous years.
Additionally, the government needs to find a way to make up for a $111 million shortfall in the funding for the country’s public insurance and pension funds, as well as plugging a $30 million deficit that has accumulated since the dissolution of the Netherland Antilles in 2010.
In Curacao, where the 2014 budget is expected to end with a $20 million surplus, there is cause for more optimism, according to CFT Chairman Abu Age Bakker.
“2014 is expected to close with a positive result,” Mr. Bakker said. “That is a nice performance. 2015 will have to be dedicated to the managing of the financial risks the social funds and the governmental companies impose.”
The CFT made a grimmer financial forecast for St. Eustatius, where it said financial management “remains weak.” The 2014 budget is late but could end with a $200,000 deficit, according to the agency.