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Suriname’s Finance Minister fired

Adelien Wijnerman

by Ivan Cairo

PARAMARIBO, Suriname; President Desi Bouterse has dismissed Finance Minister Adelien Wijnerman the Office of the President announced in a press statement Wednesday.

The minister has been requested to offer her resignation due to the slow pace in which contractors and other service providers to the government are being paid for their services, according to the statement signed by Cliff Limburg, the spokesman of the president. Wijnerman is the second Finance Minister and the tenth so far to be dismissed since Bouterse came into office in august 2010.

In his budget address in parliament on September 30th the Head of State hinted already that some changes in the financial administration could be expected while he voiced his frustration over the paralyzing backlog, bureaucracy and red tape to pay for goods and services provided to the government. For months entrepreneurs, contractors and civil servants including teachers involved in extra-curricular activities to improve learning capacities of slower students are complaining of serious backlog in payment.

In parliament Bouterse complained that the government’s financial management procedures and administration were not transparent which has led to fierce and constant attacks and criticism in parliament and especially from the opposition. While there were numerous complaints in the media that the government ran out of money due to excessive spending by his administration, minister Wijnerman on numerous occasions has insisted that all was well with the state’s finances. At the time she argued that in the first quarter of 2013 the government was indeed cash strapped due to a declining income from the gold sector as a consequence of the declining gold prices on the international market. Also a retroactive payment of increased salaries for civil servant has added to the financial problems, the Finance Minister said.

Due to some discomfort in the financial sector and the public in general the exchange rate for the US dollar and euro which were in check since the devaluation of the Surinamese dollar in January 2011, started to rise in recent months. Meanwhile the president’s office has announced the establishment of a commission to look into the financial position of the state. So far no candidates has been named to replace former minister Wijnerman.