Letter to the Editor: Let’s talk 

Member of Parliament Hon. George Pantophlet


No Coho like Coho. Let me explain what I mean. There is some kind of entity that might be established, but the Coho will not be that entity. The new entity will and must have the input of the countries Curacao, Aruba and St. Maarten (CAS) because the Coho does not. And it must not as it now does, infringe on National, Kingdom and International Laws.

The State Secretary should not have the final authority when it comes to the process or execution of the packages in other words he should not be placed as judge, jury and executioner. What must be reviewed is the authority the new entity will have when it comes to the tasks that lies ahead. Advice, support, assistance is very much accepted, appreciated and needed but no infringement will be allowed as it regards the responsibilities of the countries.

As many of us know by now the department of the Council of State has rendered a negative advice on various points mentioned in the Kingdom Consensus Law to establish the Coho which has been widely elaborated upon. The words assistance and support as mentioned in article 36 of the Kingdom Charter are very important.

(I am still disappointed that this article has no explanatory notes, which leaves room for the Dutch government’s interpretation of issuing loans instead of grants still worries me). I am extremely concerned by the excessive amounts of loans that are being given to the tax payers of St Maarten. The International Monetary Fund (IMF) and even the Committee of Finance (CFT)mentioned this but to no avail. My serious concern is the amount of some Ang. 1 billion that is owed to the Dutch government and increasing. We are or supposed to be paying Ang. 12.7 million annually.

At this rate it will take us more than 100 years to repay these loans. And the Dutch government continues to issue more loans interest free or not. This is the reason that on numerous occasions I have called for debt cancellation. I know that there are some persons who might not like this phrase but “the borrower is slave to the lender”. If we want to grow this economy to become financially independent, it is not only sound financial management that will help us to accomplish this but debt cancellation.

When the final report to revise the advice of the department of Advice of the Kingdom Council of State and our Council of Advice on the Coho Law comes to Parliament, I will again ask for debt cancellation. Germany who destroyed Europe during two World Wars was given debt cancellation on February 27, 1953 when an agreement was signed in London which resulted in half of Germany’s (then West Germany’s) debt 15 billion out of 30 billion German Marks. Today Germany is the richest country in Europe.

What has a little 16 square mile island (St Maarten South) with a population of some maybe 50 to 60 thousand done that our debt cannot be cancelled? Continued work on the execution of the country packages are warranted, however the law in its present form is in violation of the Kingdom Charter a fact that the State Secretary Knops seems to overlook. Discussions going forward must take into account the preamble of the Charter which has stipulated in it words such as own affairs and equality.

The Coho was definitely does not reflect such which lead to the negative advice of the Council of State and subsequently the St Maarten’s Council of Advice. I agree with the State Secretary and I quote: “In the meantime, we have been working with Curacao, Aruba and St. Maarten to give content to the execution agendas based on the country packages end of quote. This means that the liquidity support (my preference is grants and not loans) as agreed to is not in jeopardy because the countries are carrying our part of those agreements.

MP George Pantophlet