PHILIPSBURG, Sint Maarten — Independent Member of Parliament Christophe Emmanuel on Monday said he would not support the establishment of the so-called COHO (Caribbean Organization for Development and Reform) dubbing Prime Minister Silveria Jacobs as leader of a “government of weakness” that has set St. Maarten up for a complete Dutch takeover that will attack the very way of life on the island. “It is shocking to me that the PM can see this as the way to fix our issues, but we will not surrender,” the MP said.
Emmanuel was speaking during the urgent Central Committee meeting called on Monday to receive an update from the Prime Minister about the negotiations with the Dutch Government for liquidity support. He was the only MP to unequivocally say that the COHO has not and will not get his support. “I am not entertaining any type of discussion that renders another entity in this country,” he said. The MP said the PM and the government of St. Maarten simply gave State Secretary Knops what he wants, continuing the trend of St. Maarten always having to give more and more of itself.
He said it was “deja vu all over again” referencing the same Dutch attitude, demands and blackmail of St. Maarten in her time of need and St. Maarten having to give up border control and establish an integrity chamber. “Haven’t we learned to stand firm?” the MP asked. “Back then when it was asked by former Prime Minister William Marlin what entity would be used to help St. Maarten we were told not to worry. And what did we get? The World Bank, NRPB and all sorts of different entities and nothing from them. We have received absolutely nothing,” MP Emmanuel said.
MP Emmanuel also used his opportunity to point out that the Dutch will attack the very way of life of the people of St. Maarten when they assume control of, for example, tax authorities. “When that entity has planted roots in this country, all of a sudden things will start to change. They will look at that big house you have, not knowing you have 20 years building that house with help from family and others and they will say that is luxury. They will question how is it possible that you own such a home and you are a casino dealer. Taxes will come. All undivided property that is not dealt with, taxes will come. How are you able to drive such a vehicle and you are a grocery store attendant? Taxes will come. They will tax this country like we have never seen before,” the MP said.
“You cannot tell me it’s good for the country when you have to cut civil servants salaries and that of the semi-private sector. That is less spending power that benefits the economy of this country. You cannot tell me this is good for the country,” he said. He continued: “What did St. Maarten bargain with? What necessary cuts did we decide to make? Recruitment are still being asked for, what are we doing from our end? I haven’t seen anything, I haven’t heard anything.
Despite the Prime Minister’s presentation to Parliament, MP Emmanuel noted that details were still not provided about what exactly St. Maarten negotiated and who the ultimate authority will be in any aspect. The Prime Minister pointed out that Parliament will be consulted and autonomy not superseded, but did not say what happens after that. If for example Parliament says no to whatever the COHO wants, the MP noted, what happens then? What can residents expect? What role will COM play? Where does authority start and end? MP Emmanuel pointed out.
MP Emmanuel also stressed that the world is on the last leg of the COVID-19 pandemic due to vaccines being distributed which should being the world to a better place in short time. “And we give up now? Now that we are at the last leg of the relay? When our economy can be opened soon? And what happens then? Why would you commit the government and people of St. Maarten to seven years of this entity and supervision at this stage after we have held on for so long and done everything ourselves? It is unacceptable that we will be forced to crawl on our knees and pennies and peanuts and give up what our ancestors have fought for and built in this country and I will never stand for it,” the MP stressed.