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Suriname still needs help to continue on its path

Article - January 26, 2012
The government of Suriname recognises the need for further foreign investment, and the development of public-private partnerships
Building on the results of a decade of accelerated growth, Suriname’s government is now embarking on a fully-fledged modernization of the public sector, leaving no stone unturned in its efforts to build a public administration that is efficient and responsive to the needs of private sector partners and foreign investors. Over the past decade, macroeconomic policies initiated by the Ministry of Finance and the Central Bank have stabilized the economy and helped secure a firmer growth path with a more diversified economic base.

When the new government took office in 2010,  the reform process was accelerated. Financial sector reforms and improvements to key legislation and regulations, the development of medium-term financial planning tools, and enhanced transparency and efficiency are a few of the reforms that have already completed, but much remains to be done  – and many reforms are currently in the design and consultation phase.

“We cannot do it alone, so we need to find partners to come and support and join us.”

Dr. Adelien Wijnerman, Minister of Finance

“We need to have a good public finance management system within the government in order to manage our expenditures, our income, and our debt,” says Minister of Finance Dr. Adelien Wijnerman. “Building on our close relationship with the Central Bank and with the support of our foreign partners, we are not only coordinating fiscal and monetary policies, but putting in place a large number of reform projects.”

The reform projects include a new integrated financial management and information system, reforms of the laws covering the gold sector and the budget and pubic financial management, and the establishment of a Sovereign Wealth Fund.

“We are also overhauling the tax regime and expect to introduce a modern value-added tax to replace the sales tax; and introduce a flat tax to replace the complicated and onerous direct tax that is hindering private sector investment,” says Dr. Wijnerman. “At the same time, we will eliminate a large number of small nuisance taxes that are an administrative burden for the Ministry, and a burden for our tax payers.”

To help meet the costs of various investment projects, which include developing the country’s roads, bridges with neighboring nations, hospitals, schools and housing infrastructure, the government is also keen to involve the private sector through public-private partnerships (PPPs). “That is another new instrument that we have introduced in Suriname to help boost our economy,” says Dr. Wijnerman.

The Ministry of Finance also intends to set up an investment unit that will coordinate and facilitate investments coming into the country, as well as grants and project loans received from international organizations or bilateral partners and donors.

According to the Finance Minister, the government is highly receptive to foreign involvement in developing Suriname’s potential, not only in its dominant mining sector, but also in other areas such as agriculture, forestry, water, and tourism. “We want the private sector to be the driving force in the development of our country, and we need to find international partners to support our efforts and invest in our economy,” says Dr. Wijnerman.