By Ivan Cairo
Caribbean News Now contributor
PARAMARIBO, Suriname - President Desi Bouterse has dismissed Suriname’s Finance Minister Adelien Wijnerman, the Office of the President announced in a press statement on Wednesday. The minister has been requested to offer her resignation due to the slow pace at which contractors and other service providers to the government are being paid for their services, the statement signed by Cliff Limburg, the spokesman of the president, said.
Wijnerman is the second finance minister and the tenth minister so far to be dismissed since Bouterse came into office in august 2010.
In his budget address in parliament on September 30, the head of state hinted that some changes in the financial administrated 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, have been complaining of a serious backlog in payments.
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, especially from the opposition. While there have been numerous suggestions in the media that the government had run out of money due to excessive spending by the administration, Wijnerman on several occasions insisted that all was well with the state 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 declining gold prices on the international market. Also a retroactive payment of increased salaries for civil servants 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 had been 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 candidate has been named to replace former minister Wijnerman.