PHILIPSBURG, WILLEMSTAD - It is “not a good idea to adjust the foreign exchange fee to rescue a Curaçao bank and expect St. Maarten to do the same, with total disregard for the economic consequences for St. Maarten.”
This is the firm view of United Democrats (UD) leader Member of Parliament (MP) Sarah Wescot-Williams on the proposal by Curaçao to increase the foreign exchange fee via the Central Bank for Curaçao and St. Maarten (CBCS) to rescue the ailing Girobank, which is based solely in Curaçao.
One of the proposals by the Curaçao government to solve the ailing Girobank is an increase in the foreign exchange fee, charged by banks in Curaçao and St. Maarten to their customers, when making payments in US currency, or when purchasing dollars, etc.
“The first question that comes to mind is whether the CBCS Curaçao Minister has consulted with his counterpart on St. Maarten before going public and creating panic regarding this proposed increase. Yes, this increase will be detrimental to the economy of St. Maarten, an economy that is de facto dollarized and still hurting from the effects of the 2017 hurricanes. The foreign exchange fee is a fee that is payable to the governments of Curaçao and St. Maarten, respectively. It nets about 26 million for the government coffers of St. Maarten and approximately twice that amount for Curaçao,” Wescot-Williams said in an invited comment on the matter.
“It would appear that Curaçao needs quite a sum of money to salvage the Girobank, but in my opinion (they) should seek that elsewhere,” she added.
“While this announcement should not create a knee-jerk reaction on St. Maarten’s side, it does again put the inequalities in the CBCS monetary union squarely on the table. We should therefore add to the priorities of financial reform and economic reform (that includes tax reform as well), the matters of the monetary union between St. Maarten and Curaçao and dollarization. It surely will be championed by the United Democratic faction as a matter of urgency,” Wescot-Williams assured.