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Netherlands: Agreement Reached on Government Finances of Future Countries of Curacao and Sint Maarten

(Feb. 2, 2008) It was reported on January 23, 2008, that the Netherlands, the Netherlands Antilles, Curacao, and Sint Maarten had reached agreement on supervision of the government finances of the future countries of Curacao and Sint Maarten, both of which will gain independent country status within the Kingdom of the Netherlands after the Antillean state association is eliminated in mid-December 2008. Nevertheless, the feasibility of a December 15 initiation of the new political structure is still being discussed, with the Netherlands of the view that "too much work must still be done" and the islands urging that the negotiating process be accelerated. (Agreement Reached on Netherlands Supervision of Netherlands Antilles Finances, NRC HANDELSBLAD, Jan. 23, 2008, at 2, Open Source Center No. EUP20080124043002.)

The General Kingdom Measure for Temporary Financial Oversight stipulates that the recently created "financial oversight board," comprising representatives of the Dutch and Antillean governments and the islands, is charged with the supervision of the new countries' budget and borrowing authority. The budget will have to be balanced and money can only be borrowed by the countries for investments, not, as previously, to cover operational costs. The new board will not oversee sound management. The new countries have until August 2008 "to produce their own rules on political appointments to public enterprises and on their dividend payments. If this deadline is not met, the Netherlands can exert influence here." (Id.<)

The Netherlands is restructuring the Antillean state debt of €2.2 billion (about US$3.2 billion) on two conditions. First, there must be financial oversight. The restructuring is slated to begin in July, after the measure has been approved by the Council of State and the Dutch Council of Ministers, as well as by the Dutch and Antillean Parliaments and the Curacao and Sint Maarten island councils. Second, it must be possible for the Dutch Minister of Justice to intervene in the two countries' law enforcement, a subject that was scheduled for political consultation in February. (Id.)