“Together towards better times”
STATEMENT OF GOVERNMENT POLICY 2010 - 2015 DELIVERED IN THE NATIONAL ASSEMBLY
ON FRIDAY 1 OCTOBER 2010
EXCELLENCY D.D BOUTERSE
OF THE REPUBLIC OF SURINAME
Madame Speaker, Members of The National Assembly, The world of the 21 st century fundamentally differs from the one of the preceding century. One of the striking phenomena that presents itself, is that globally the expectations of citizens are quite different compared to previously. The mere fact that this new Government that took office feels the need to offer a broader, more future-oriented policy perspective to the community as I expressed during my Inauguration on 12 August, demonstrates one thing and the other. In derogation of the previous administrations, the acts of this Government ensue from the awareness of the changed expectations. Ever since our first government as a more or less autonomous state in 1949 under the leadership of dr. J. C. de Miranda, LL.M., all administrations chose the development of the country as a key policy point of departure. This administration does so as well: development is the key word. Yet this government adds the fundamental supplement that development is concerned on behalf of the freedom of the citizen. Freedom is the fundamental ultimate goal and at the same time the most effective tool to enhance sustainable economic life and to combat poverty and insecurities in our quickly changing world. The quality of our life should not only be determined by our level of prosperity in a material sense, but by our freedom. Characteristic of development on behalf of freedom is an increasing elimination of sources of lack of freedom; in this respect I would like to mention poverty, oppression, poor economic development opportunities, neglect of public facilities and systematic discrimination of the utilization of talents people have at their disposal. The situation whereby one is aware of the fact that living conditions are such that the individual can lead the life he desires, is the ultimate goal that we advocate. In addition to the pure appreciation of freedom, the connection should be fundamentally recognized and acknowledged that exists between the various forms of freedom. For example political freedom will promote economic development; social provisions such as efficient education and efficient health care will strengthen the economic participation in the community; the supply of economic facilities will not only increase the rise of material wealth of the citizens, but also benefit the effectiveness in performing the various public duties. Freedoms of a different nature thus have the capacity to strengthen each other the more their capacity is enhanced. But at the same time adequate social security benefits will give individuals the opportunity to better couch and substantiate their own destiny and to assist others in their pursuit of the same. As a result of this situation one would not have to regard oneself as mainly recipients of alms due to smartly devised social safety nets. On the contrary, the whole of these provisions will move people to consider themselves as well-equipped creatures who have at their disposal the required characteristics to develop their talents. The coalition that constitutes the basis for this government has laid down in a document – the coalition agreement – the elaboration of the objectives for development described above in 21 police principles. In this statement several of these policy principles are outlined in substance; others are not quite appropriate to be contemplated on this occasion and will be further worked out in relevant policy documents and policy white papers and be submitted to The National Assembly for the purpose of legal and contractual documents. Summarizing we may state that the development policy will be substantiated in five aspects of consultation and decision-making concerning the political freedoms, the economic facilities, the social provisions, the public nature and transparency of governance and integration in the community as well as security of existence. It may be stated that the population is the most precious property of this country. It is mainly the product of immigrations, in course of which with a few exceptions, nobody came to Suriname entirely out of his or her own free will. There was at all times some form of external coercion or dominance for new groups to settle here in Suriname. Partly as a result of this coercion and dominance they experienced, all groups suffered a lot and our ancestors had to undergo drastic forms of oppression, degradation and humiliation. The fact that of all of these groups relatively large numbers of descendants still live here and jointly constitute the population of Suriname, gives special meaning to this background of suffering and grief. Because, if the Suriname saying “wan ogri e tjari wan boen” or in other words “everything that happens, happens for the best” means something, it refers to this aspect that these population groups know what it means to work, to be oppressed and suffer grief, and yet persevere. The colonizer was always powerless in the face of this combination of experiences and he was terrified that these groups would join forces to form one nation with a common identity. When it seemed that the colonizer would no longer be able to continue treating several immigrant groups as slaves, he used the ethnic dividedness as a weapon to prevent these groups from forming a nation. Almost all social actions in the Suriname community are ethnically indicated: there is nothing in which all groups are equally involved or equally enthusiastic to participate in. It is therefore a big mistake to continue this dividedness and to accentuate the ethnic separations taught by the colonizer. The Government wishes to emphasize that in its opinion the Suriname people constitute a high human capital if the aforementioned chains are broken and the formation of the nation becomes a common pursuit of the population in all its layers. The absorption capacity that each of the group referred to here was able to express, the ability to adjust to the strongly shifting living conditions with a very high degree of uncertainty that still characterizes this society; the intelligence that is demonstrated by the almost perfect mastering by the greatest majority of the population of such a foreign language as Dutch that apart from that country is used hardly anywhere else; the realization of a reasonable level of prosperity on the South American continent: all this is evidence of a population that with the right input of its spiritual and natural resources is able to achieve a lot more than has been materialized up to now. Each Surinamese must realize that ethnic facts are not relevant in the pursuit to enhance this country and jointly buckle down to perform the tasks required to that effect. Everywhere, where development potential is present, this should be initiated in the appropriate manner, controlled by economically rational preferences and not by local prejudices.
In the end also the problem of the dark past and its mental inhibitions will be lifted by the perspective of fundamentally changed approaches of everything that has been performed as regards political government. All that happened in the past will be maintained if it is positive. Certain things that happened in the past will have to disappear if these do not fit in with the new developments. The elimination of the one always pertains that the other changes as well: that the society becomes steeped in the awareness of the possibilities of its own efforts, creativity and resilience, in the process of which the future is faced with optimism and enthusiasm. As a result hereof we will at all times be able to find solutions for the many challenges that lie ahead of us. Within the social and economic relations, the Government applies the concept of sustainable employment for the central approach of these issues. Sustainable employment is to the Government the decisive factor in the various initiatives that it wishes to propose for deliberations or decision-making in the relations with your Parliament in particular and with the community in general. The Government deems emphasis of sustainable employment essential to the economic development, in course of which not only the growth of the economy, yet especially the all-embracing participation of all that have the skills to that effect should be central. In doing so it emphasizes the sequence of opportunities that faces both the decreasing job security due to technological progress, required organizational changes, increasing competition and the declining rotation time of products and services in an efficient manner. In this framework within the meaning of the spin-off effect of the factor labour in addition to investments, education and innovation, sustainable employment constitutes one of the spearheads of the policy to be pursued by the Government. Accordingly in its programs, the Government will emphasize these four fields and give priority to these aspects in outlining the different roadmaps concerning education, development, innovation, infrastructure, food supply, industrial production, foreign trade and national security. Within the scope of sustainable employment it is more efficient to pay attention to the areas of life-long learning, dissemination of knowledge, strengthening of reintegration possibilities and diversification of the usability of individual employees. In this respect it should be kind of emphasized that sustainable employment requires investments that strengthen the possibilities to gain new skills that apply both when existing skills become outdated and when available fundamental skills are insufficient as regards the productivity required in society. A key goal in this respect is that investments are made in the skills of people with elementary education across the country as that will substantially increase their participation in the labour process. A prerequisite to that effect is for the government to come up with conditions that in cooperation with the business community and in close consultation with the trade unions lead to the creation of structural employment. The level of the labour participation is decisive partly due to the ability that the labour productivity will better develop as both the actual work force and the potential work force are geared to flexible labour market situations. This flexibility may, however, never be a goal in itself or be at the expense of universal participation. The realization of the national development goals will be central in our interactions with other countries and international organizations, mindful of the policy principle that foreign policy must contribute to national development. The foreign policy will serve to support sectors that are essential to the national development such as agriculture and mining, education, health care, rural development, poverty alleviation and environmental protection. With regard to Suriname this implies a reorientation of the regular diplomacy to a development-oriented diplomacy with more attention being paid to new subjects such as poverty alleviation, food security, the protection of upcoming businesses and industries, and the impact of climate change. In this concept the contribution of recognized NGOs and Surinamese will be of great value in the Diaspora. This development diplomacy will be aimed at optimizing effectiveness and productivity of international cooperation on behalf of national development. On the basis of a strengths/weaknesses assessment, the international cooperation will be intensified on a sector-wide level. For example we will in substance work together with Brazil that has a big agricultural tradition, in developing the agricultural sector Suriname, partly against the background of the aim to serve as the food barn for the Caribbean. Our foreign policy will be aimed at Suriname agricultural produce gaining access to Caribbean markets. We will pursue a more intensive cooperation with Cuba in educating doctors, in order to bring health care within reach of each Surinamese. We will work more closely with Venezuela as regards the further development of our oil sector, with Japan and Korea on the fisheries sector, with the USA and Canada in the mining sector and with India in the area of ICT. Cooperation with the Organization of Islamic Conference (OIC) on financing projects, while our participation in the organization of the Amazon Cooperation Treaty (ACTO) will aim at more prosperity and wellbeing of the people in the interior. Both as far as its territory and its population size are concerned, Suriname is one of the smallest sovereign countries of South America. It has been only the last 30 to 40 years that science has been trying to find a workable explanation for the phenomenon that small countries such as Luxembourg and Singapore are very rich countries. The explanations have by far not been completed. In general it will boil down to the fact that the same requirements to fully utilize the Suriname human capital are necessary to formulate and successfully implement an economic development plan that aims at turning Suriname into a prosperous country, inhabited by happy people. An imbalanced relationship between rich and poor is the oldest and most fatal disease that threatens a state. This situation has worsened during the past few years. The year 2010 needs to kick-start a principal turning point in the policy pattern in which 1% of the population possesses more assets than the lower 90% combined. We may not leave this legacy to our children. In 1975 Surinamese chose for our State to be a Republic. This choice led to a situation in which community spirit and the promotion of the general interest form the first drivers in public acts and corruption is considered a grave evil. We Surinamese have chosen democracy as a regime for all our policy initiatives, a culture and a social organization in which as far as possible we make common decisions and codes of conduct. Only authentic politicians and administrators who are willing to open up to discussion on an ongoing basis, their policy and explain the results achieved, can be used for the innovation of the society.
For this Government, democracy is characterised by the rule of law, the power to elect the own leaders and to be governed directly by self-elected authorities as well as an accessible and fair legal system. In view of this approach, within short the evaluation and adjustment of our form of government as expressed by the Constitution of 1987, as well as the limited scope of our legislation with regard to Interior Administration will be communicated. The Government expects within short to submit to The National Assembly a memorandum setting forth the most important conclusions of the evaluation and the revision, if necessary of less satisfactory constitutional provisions. The Government definitively intends to settle this important matter within this session year. After all, it holds the opinion that the internal organization of the State should be structured in a well-balanced, efficient, effective and transparent manner with proper accountability in order to successfully enable a policy aimed at the establishment of a development process as outlined above. The Crusade against corruption constitutes an essential part thereof. With regard to the combat against criminality, the approach is integral and preventive. The repressive approach thereof implies an intensifying of the cooperation among the various services. In addition the defence organization will have to work on strengthening the national and international cooperation within the framework of safety and development. The Government will see to it that in the Republic of Suriname a good administration of justice is provided that also conditions the functioning of the rule of law. Acts and statements on the part of the Judiciary need to be steeped in the principles of justice, independence, impartiality, integrity, moderation and wisdom. Education constitutes the foundation for the democratic development of the Suriname society. Accordingly education should equally emphasize the importance of democracy and pursuing excellent skills. By highlighting education in life, the youth will just as the adults go through training and experience in freedom. This leads to a commitment to willingness to contribute to the development of the community. The basis will have to be laid herein for the vitality of this society. That vitality must be the dominant theme for the national character that ensures that a decent society functions, which possesses the resilience to hold its ground and to be applicable to democratic institutions in all sectors of state and society. Education consists of constantly looking for answers to questions that emerge. All useful insights start with the acceptance of preliminary answers to these questions. That is why education needs to comprise dialectics of moderation in course of which furnishing proof and acceptance, questions and answers present an ongoing vulnerable equilibrium. The inventory of reality must still be presented, yet that presentation entails question marks, repetitions, adjustments, new question marks and new adjustments, again and again without the stone of wisdom ever having been found. Yet all sides should be willing for now to start with the provisional results and to have an open mind to adjustments, without scepticism getting the chance to throw away the baby with the bathwater and condition stagnation. In view of the above, a through evaluation of the total system of primary education up to higher and university education will be indispensable. The Government expects within the foreseeable to present a policy white paper setting forth the restructure and the innovation of the educational system. The government is devoted to protecting the youth. It will thus pursue a policy aimed at offering opportunities to youngsters so that they are able to participate in the labour process and in the policy and governance of our country. The Government believes that sports are a substantial part of our life, education and public health. Accordingly it will pursue a policy aimed at a renewed approach of practicing and developing sports. In doing so the government will give priority to creating conditions and preconditions as a result of which Suriname can participate in sports at an as high as possible level in the region and in the world. The Government believes that the great significance the society attaches to both medical care and technology should be taken very seriously. In particular education and the special place and meaning of science and technology in the government policy to be developed and pursued, are deemed of vital importance. The Government is determined to work expeditiously in order to address these issues. Accordingly, in this government’s term of office, a number of institutes will be realized within the framework of an integral national and international policy on science and technology. In the first place a highly specialized National Council for Science and Technology will be established. Just as in countries like Brazil, France, Ghana, Trinidad & Tobago, this National Council for Science and Technology will be in place as a body independent of the ministries and directly advise to the President of the Republic of Suriname. The National Council for Science and Technology will within the context of all three stages of the government policy (the preparation, the implementation and the after-monitoring of the implementation of the policy) contribute in a critical, constructive and solid manner to support or improve (as the case may be) the government policy, on the basis of the issues and solution models of science and technology by giving the relevant advices, drawing up annual reports and theme documentations. As a differentiation of the National Council for Science and Technology, further steps will be taken to establish in this government’s term of office a General Medical Centre Wanica and an Open University in Wanica. The General Medical Centre will as far as structure, setup and procedures are concerned, to a high extent meet the demands set to a modern, efficiently and effectively operating medical centre of international substance. Accordingly from the start, the centre will be affiliated to the most important medical scientific faculties and institutions in the world. The Open University in Wanica will have a unique and innovative structure, setup and mode of operation that perfectly links up with the economic and social needs of our society and as such will fundamentally contribute to the economic and social ‘take off’ in the context of the innovation policy. The Government expects within the foreseeable to present to Your Assembly an elaborate memorandum regarding this issue. I quote the words from the prominent American political columnist, Richard
D. Mohr, “The ability to serve in the armed forces has been a defining characteristic of full citizenship”. This concept constitutes the point of departure in approaching the issue of compulsory military service. A proposal will be brought up, as of the middle of 2011, to introduce compulsory military service for young men and women from the age of 17 to 26. In practice during the compulsory service, military skills and security skills will be offered. In addition each of them will get the opportunity to follow a technical or technological training. Apart from the opinion of the Government, the structure of the country in local constituencies (so-called ‘ressorten’) constitutes a solid basis to do justice to the democratic nature of the Suriname State. For economic and regulatory reasons of efficiency, the local constituencies will be coordinated in district bodies. The local constituency constitutes the appropriate forum in which in a purposeful manner, we can aim at preventing the general interests from being subordinate to self-interests or group interests. The local constituency opens the possibility to direct involvement of citizens across the country in the public elementary education and the specific citizen accommodations to be able to provide from that education in an optimal manner, such as day-care centres and boarding schools, just as the social care for the poor and the needy as well as the maintenance of a suitable living environment including the secondary infrastructure. As described above, in order to develop a community, the Government deems it important that in designing the economic policy, an approach of a combination of controlled pluralism, innovative attitude and building blocks within modern democratic governance is in place. The government regards the following components the key points for the economic policy: full and full-time employment; anti-inflationary budgetary equilibrium for the government at all levels; efficient taxes; very high savings and investment level; strict monetary regime; balanced social and economic relations between prices and salaries; positive, structural mobility of the factor labour. A necessary connection needs to be made between an ongoing economic growth and social redistribution. As such the economic policy needs to be aimed at strengthening social solidarity. In summary the economic policy of the Government will boil down to the fact that a high production level is achieved, partly on the basis of extensive private investments and ongoing modernisation and quality improvement of the factor labour. The Government gives high priority to a series of programmes aimed at the food production for about 85% of the Suriname food demand and at least 40% intended for export. This food production will be organized in the form of several so-called leading corporations that together with a big number of farm cooperatives and supporting organizations will take care of the production on the basis of the principle of small growers and out growers. For now the rice production for the coming ten years has been quantified on a desired crop volume aimed at no less than 150,000 ha in 2020. In the course of this session year, the Government will present to The National Assembly a policy white paper on Food Production, with respect to the other production components. In this white paper the quantified goals will be set forth for Dairy Products, Beef, Pork, Chicken and Vegetables; these will mainly be realized everywhere, where necessary. The management as well as the policy to strengthen the Suriname dollar should pre-eminently be assigned to the Governor of the Central Bank of Suriname, assisted by a competent Government supervisory director and an expert, highly qualified supporting staff. In addition the Central Bank of Suriname will take care of a regulated forex market and financial system. The Government gives high priority to the legislation for consumer protection. The trade liberalization and a simplification of the licensing system that was kick-started ten years ago imply that consumer protection must be raised to a higher level. In this respect consumer awareness to make well-informed choices is a key aspect. For these purposes, the necessary consumer information systems will be set up in a sustainable manner. In order to make this policy dynamic, the Government will encourage that annually the Social and Economic Council advises The National Assembly to that effect, which may give reason to adjust the rules and regulations. The Government believes that the less distorted the distribution of income, the harder the national income of a country grows. The Government considers the current Suriname distribution of income distorted. The Social and Economic Council will be asked for the relevant advice in order to enhance a shift in this respect. The macro-economic stability will be aimed at an inflation rate of basically no more than 2.5% annually to be applied by the Governor of the Central Bank. All wage and price movements must be aimed at maintaining this target. It is desirable that all this is initially agreed in a long-term covenant between the trade union representatives, the business community and the government in the Social and Economic Council. Applications for licenses and registrations in connection with the formation of businesses need to be processed within ten workable days by the competent authorities. The government considers this a starting point for the so-called E-Government. The Government greatly values strong families for the society. It recognizes that worldwide families and family formation are under pressure, yet does not believe that the alternative will be able to fulfil the same roles in society as a stable family. Within the family, parents and educators bear the responsibility for the transfer of norms and values to their children and teach them the exhaustive influence of love of one’s fellow-man and brotherhood, which constitutes a crucial foundation for the development of the community. Parents and educators that raise their children to become balanced and independent adults, contribute in a positive manner to society as a whole. It is unacceptable that a substantial part of the population does not have housing at the level that creates good conditions for a caring and balanced family life. It is not only a matter of a lack of houses, but a very big part of the existing houses does not meet the demands. The solution is not only building a big number of cheap houses that are made available to the population on special conditions. Up to now it has turned out that such houses within a short period of time do not meet the requirements of proper housing anymore and promote slums and decline of the neighbourhood. That is why outlining the provisions for houses should be accompanied by considering other policy objectives aimed at a substantial increase of a middle class standard of living for the community, in course of which the so-called ‘growth’ houses come to mind. Families that belong to such a Group assess the quality of life mainly on the basis of the living conditions, including appropriate social participation. The Government wishes to encourage the middle class to modify its priorities insofar that its wealth creation does not only appear from the possession of a house, but also by participating in the share capital of companies, or other modern forms of property formation. The Government intends in the coming five years to have built 8 flat buildings of 250 units each with extensive, modern facilities and this in different local constituencies within the agglomeration of Paramaribo. If the new houses are occupied by groups that have a better position economically, there will be a shift in favour of the cheaper housing sectors. In addition 18,000 houses will be built across the country. Pursuing a transparent and fair land policy is a conditio sine qua non for security, peace, stability and production. Quality of life concerns a body that is well taken care of and absorbs the concerns over mind and old age. We often ignore the fact that the frame of reference of senior citizens in a home for the elderly or with their children, forms the quality of their own existence. For a considerable part of the senior citizens, that existence is absolutely bad. In many cases health care is insufficient or there is not enough income to provide for oneself in a decent manner. The care by children or others who are related to them by blood, sometimes leaves much to be desired. Taking good care of the senior citizens is an important issue to the Government. Even though money is not everything, providing a reasonable level of financial security for these citizens is an absolute requirement set by a decent and fair society. That is why the Government holds the opinion that a substantial increase of the General Old Age Pension (AOV) is necessary. The government intends prior to the end of 2010, to start increasing these payments substantially and in a number of phases and to introduce changes to the system that are considered fair. Health is the most important wealth in life. There is a lot of criticism on both the availability of medical facilities for and the accessibility thereof to the citizens. Nevertheless during the past 30 years, ever since the formation of the National Health Fund in 1980, we may observe considerable progress in this area. Still the government deems it imperative that the provisions/facilities are increased in particular where health threats such as dengue, HIV/AIDS and traditional public diseases as diabetes mellitus and high blood pressure are concerned. In addition the Government is serious about establishing a general health insurance via an organizational structure at local constituency level, which can be implemented in a financially sustainable manner and can be maintained through the input of the insured. Distribution of efficient facilities to accommodate the sick within the framework of that national insurance will constitute an element that will certainly complicate that cost aspect of this issue. Within the framework of the ambitious setup of the Suriname food supply and with the policy on production increase that needs to be indicated as yet, Development Centres will be set up across the country in which technical training will be given to participants in these sectors as well as innovation-oriented research of production methods. The activities of these Development Centres will be coordinated by the National Council for Science and Technology mentioned above. In the coming thirty years these Development Centres will grow into very extensive modern residential areas. Within the framework of production increase, the Government wishes to focus on several sectors, including Forestry, Mining, Construction, Water and Energy. The production of almost the entire package of building materials is considered possible from raw materials that occur in Suriname in significant quantities. In this respect we may expect studies on at least four projected new enterprises to be based in Brokopondo, Commewijne, Marowijne and Para, that will have to play a very important role in the housing policy. In addition, a considerable number of small private production Enterprises will establish themselves in the southern area around the Brokopondo reservoir and in the areas around Albina and Nieuw Amsterdam. On these locations free trade zones will be established that will be of a cooperative nature between small and medium-sized Suriname and foreign entrepreneurs. As regards Water, a system of efficient and effective treatment of the Suriname fresh water reserves is imperative. In addition, a clustering will be developed between companies that currently produce bottled water so that their number remains restricted in order to achieve an absolute top quality and to have these jointly aim at intending at least 60% of their production for export. There will be a policy white paper as regards Energy, in which the Government will indicate in substance, its policy concepts on the power production with the production mix to be applied to that effect and one thing and the other will result in a reform of the Energy sector. Furthermore the Government wishes to enhance the realization of production in the area of biologically obtained sources of energy such as sugarcane, palm products and soy. As regards infrastructure, the government will pay special attention to the Puert’America project at the estuary of the Surinamerivier and the Commewijnerivier. This multi-purpose project will have to provide for a spacious seaport of internationally acceptable size and draught, with and/or adjoining a new international airport for the transport of goods and for passenger travel. In mutual connection both port facilities will give reason for new road and shore connections of Nw.Amsterdam, Marienburg and Meerzorg with Paramaribo. Greater Paramaribo will undergo a substantial upgrading of the road network. It is expected that at the end of 2020 the connections between Paramaribo, Commewijne, Para and Wanica will be at a much higher level. Several roads will be built between Apoera and Stoelmanseiland. The drainage of Greater Paramaribo will be further worked on as well as the drainage of production areas across the country. In order to promote an efficient passenger travel and transport of goods, the infrastructure of land, air and water transport will be thoroughly adjusted. The Government will also approach tourism from the perspective of export promotion. In addition to the Central Suriname Nature Reserve, tourist parks have been planned in a number of areas of the interior. For example, four parks in Sipaliwini will be planned of which one for health tourism for non-western medical treatments. In Brokopondo, Para and Nickerie new tourist resorts will be set up as well. These resorts will be equipped in such manner that they fit in with eco-tourism and at the same time are aimed at luxury tourists who are looking for possibilities to study nature, sports and relaxation. Governing means taking care of a balanced policy and continuation of a desired status of the state finances. Budget deficits that are the result of structurally increased expenses and dropping income, will on the long run appear to be unbearable and need to be avoided. If as a result of extraordinary circumstances it is unavoidable for such deficits to occur, then we should see to it that they are reduced to a controllable level and are financed in a sustainable manner. The financing of the various programmes and initiatives will be a heavy task for the Government. For these purposes it is necessary to regulate the government internal affairs and that no budget deficits are allowed that are overstepping the standards. The general picture of the finances of the State has for some time now been characterized by the fact that the revenues are insufficient to cover the expenses. Before and during the takeover of the government we learned that with regard to the state finances it has always been a process of ‘turning this way and that’, but the nature and the exact size of the problem were not clear then. In the last few months of the previous administration, the state expenses substantially increased compared to the same period of the preceding year. Simultaneously with this development, a process was started where the income dropped substantially as a result of the international recession. It is an established fact that the fragile financial condition of the State is further impacted by among other things the FISO measures that were introduced as yet in the build-up to the elections. This decision that essentially created a structural increase for the State has meanwhile proven to adversely impact the general price level and the exchange rate. Due to the effects on the price level, the goal of strengthening the purchasing power aimed at, was consequently gravely countered. The manner in which in a totally unprepared manner and by ignoring the advices of the Central Bank of Suriname and the IMF, in July 2010 the FISO 2 was commenced, has already during the past 2 months resulted in substantially adverse effects on the cash flow of the State and has led to an increased pressure on the exchange rate. On 12 August last we took over a financial situation with the current account of the state showing a negative balance of about 590 million SRD, while about 250 million for outstanding accounts were know to the Ministry of Finance. We have also taken over a monetary reserve, which denominated in a number of months of import is high compared to international standards, but in this respect it is important to mention that not money is concerned and it can therefore not be used to pay the enormous amount of outstanding accounts. The Monetary Reserve is to cover the Suriname currency and that will not be tampered with. The current awkward circumstances of the state finances on the one hand impel careful management on a daily basis to keep the State apparatus running and on the other hand force us to take measures on both the income and expenses side to arrive at responsible and sustainable management. On the expenditure side we will have to take spending-cut measures and set a time schedule for among other things the implementation of FISO-2. It appears to the government that jointly with the trade unions a formula must be found on the basis of which the implementation of FISO-2 is effectuated in the future, without this having a disturbing effect on the macro economic condition of our national internal affairs. If the choice had been made to implement the FISO 2 in phases then we would have fewer of the aforementioned adverse effects. As regards the big number of unpaid accounts of mainly the first half of this year, the introduction of an efficient payment schedule will ensure the settlement of debts to creditors. In addition the government wishes to save substantially on the expenses of goods and services by thoroughly evaluating all signed contracts and eliminate all over-invoicing. Bringing a balance between income and expenditure is a precondition for the credibility of the policy on the one hand but more importantly to establish an economic climate that encourages investments and gives the State the opportunity to attract funds on the domestic and the foreign capital market in order to finance development expenses. With regard to the income side various measures are taken into consideration both in the sense of direct and indirect taxes. But in doing so, we will have to be careful that the tax burden becomes such that this discourages economic activities. The measures that are taken into consideration mainly concern increasing the efficiency in collecting the monies. The commissioning of a scanner at the Nieuwe Haven will not only have to substantially increase the income from import, but will also lead to such efficiency that the phenomenon of over-invoicing and thus evading indirect taxes is eliminated. The government will not hesitate to take tough actions against both the officers and the importers who are guilty hereof. In addition to these efficiency measures for the collection of the existing taxes, the government will also work on the basis of our taxation system. Taxes must be used as an instrument for development. The shift of the current system of taxes on income (wages and profit) to a system of taxes on consumption will be realized in this government’s term of office. The existing system of the turnover tax will be replaced by an efficient system of “Value Added Tax”, the VAT, as regards to which the Government aims at this tax coming into force at the end of 2012. The specific support of the production sectors by applying zero rates and VAT exemptions, special tax incentives to identified production sectors and the coming into force of the Investment Act, will be part of the total tax reform. The Government is taking into consideration to introduce a flat tax system for all employees’ income and businesses. Such a system will substantially improve the tax organization and will enable the overall tax revenues of the State to increase. Another aspect concerns portraying sectors that up to now remained beyond the radar of the tax authorities such as the informal gold mining sector, the informal capital market, etc. Issues such as timely collection of income tax facilitate the procedure to pay ground rent, to adjust casino tax, effectuating wealth tax, extra immovable property tax on land and plots that are overgrown or have not been taken into use, especially in areas where the State has already provided utilities, adjustment of levies on the import of luxury goods are some examples of issues that are currently being examined in order to become effective in 2011 in order to increase the State revenues. The Government will support the production potential of the local medium-sized and small enterprises. In order to realize this, the Landbouwbank N.V. and the Nationale Ontwikkelingsbank N.V. will be merged to one strong bank. As a result of the input of several financial facilities this new organization will be able to take strong responsive actions to the financial needs of small entrepreneurs, which will be its core business. The guarantee fund for business credits will through this institute ensure that financing conditions for small and medium-sized enterprises is eased and that these enterprises get bigger support as regards business risks especially during the start-up years with both new investments and expansion investments. Especially to enable these big investments, the Suriname Investment Corporation N.V. will be established. The preparations to that effect are already in full swing. This enterprise will at the international commodity market systematically seek partners for large-scale production of goods that can be sold at an international level. They will also at the international capital market try to acquire funds for the co-financing of various programmes with a short payback capacity, in especially the sectors agriculture, industrial production and transport. Stable prices are important for all actors in the economy and play a big role in the social and economic policy. Particularly the wage earners and recipients of social benefits are the ones who pay the full increase of prices because they cannot pass it on to others. Monitoring the stability of the currency is therefore also a spearhead of the social and economic policy. In addition to promoting stable prices, the social contract with the community will be reflected in the support of the most vulnerable groups in our society, namely the senior citizens, citizens with a mental or physical disability, children and single mothers. The policy will be aimed at ensuring in close cooperation between government institutions and NGOs that are engaged in the social area, that the most needy are provided in such manner to meet their basic necessities. Social support will be aimed at the groups who are eligible to that effect. With the choice for various forms of support, efficiency and effectiveness will be the most important criteria. Foregoing gives an outline of the issues that this Government wishes to address in cooperation with your Assembly and with the social groups and actors. Fundamental issues such as the form of government, the Anticorruption Act, the Credit System Supervision Act, the Insurance Sector Act, the Act on Regulation Foreign Currency Transactions, the Investment Act, the Mining Act, the Annual Accounts Act, the Revision Tax Regime, the Housing Framework Act and an Act to protect children will be brought up for discussion within short in consultation with your Assembly. In the somewhat longer term complicated issues such as Educational Reform, Infrastructure, Exploitation of Natural Resources, National Insurance Health Care, National Security and other sensitive issues as land rights and non-government authorities will be brought up for discussion. At a later stage the issues such as our development perspectives at a global level, including the Suriname participation in the international system, will be addressed and furthermore the policy on integration at the South American continent. The challenges will be huge for all parties. With the grace of our Creator and our Leader we will contribute to arriving at the best decision-makings and direction-determining statements, at all times aimed at what unites us and not at what divides us. God bless Suriname Thank you. Translation: Drs. P.v. Aerde-Milzink (sworn translator – conference interpreter) Tel. 497638/438692/0880 0610 fax. 497638 e-mail: email@example.com