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Antilles Government Re-Forms but Financial Crisis Still Looms

08 November 1999

The Governor of the Netherlands Antilles, Jaime Saleh, has asked two-time Prime Minister Miguel Pourier, to form a new Cabinet with broad representation of political parties.

The first task of the new Cabinet will be to implement an emergency social and economic program to address the Government's financial crisis, based on the recommendations of the National Recovery Plan published earlier this year. The Cabinet will also need to push the Island Governments to implement similarly strict measures and to re-shape the political and financial relationship between Central and Island Governments and the Dutch Government by the middle of next year.

However, the task of putting together a new cabinet will not be easy for Mr Pourier with serious political infighting between parties over ministerial portfolios expected. Some parties have even refused to attend meetings because of the participation of their opposing parties.

The seriousness of the Government's financial crisis was once again highlighted this week by the Netherlands Antilles Central Bank which stated that it would limit the amount the Government can borrow from banks to 15 million guilders - well short of the 100 million guilders plus required by the Government to survive until the end of this year. Central Bank spokesman Jerry Hasselmeyer said that: "It wouldn't be advisable to finance the Government due to the present situation. Doing so would put a dent in the foreign currency reserves."

Meanwhile the Bonaire government has announced its 4 year-plan for the economic growth and social development of Bonaire. The plan includes measures to improve the quality of life for Bonaire's residents, streamline government operations and the need for outside investment to secure Bonaire's future. The plan also focuses on ways to improve Bonaire's relationship with Holland, particularly in the light of a referendum vote on autonomy planned for December.

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