St. Maarten did not break the agreement

Member of Parliament Hon. George Pantophlet


On December 22, 2020 “The government of St. Maarten, duly represented by the Prime Minister of St. Maarten, Mrs. S.E. Jacobs hereinafter referred to as: St. Maarten and
The Government of the Netherlands, duly represented by the State Secretary for the interior Ministry and Relations, Mr. R.W. Knops, hereinafter referred to as: The Netherlands;
The aforementioned is the beginning statements of an agreement signed between the St Maarten and Dutch government.

The agreement entails the aim for both parties to establish in a Kingdom Act based on Article 38, second paragraph of the Charter for the Kingdom of the Netherlands a Caribbean body for reform and development (hereinafter: COHO), which in view of the wellbeing of the St. Maarten population, will further reforms of an administrative nature being implemented, sustainable public finances being achieved and the resilience of the economy being strengthened, including embedding the legal framework to do so. Let me be quite clear.

Is the Parliament of St. Maarten mentioned anywhere as signatories to this agreement? It states clearly in this agreement that the Prime Minister in hereinafter referred to as St Maarten and not the Parliament. Already we see the separation of powers the Trias Politica. We are all well aware by now what the COHO is all about. It mentions again in the agreement, that this country package is a mutual agreement between the Netherlands (Let me be specific, State Secretary Knops) and St. Maarten (Let me be specific again Prime Minister Sylveria Jacobs).

I am still trying to find the Parliament in this agreement. What we know for a fact is that the Prime Minister was told that she should do whatever it takes to feed our people. It is known fact that had our backs not been against the wall where there were no funds to pay anyone, St. Maarten would not have signed the agreement.

An important aspect of this agreement is the following: and I quote: “However, this country package cannot continue to exist as an independent regulation if the Kingdom Act COHO is not enacted” end of quote.

What I want to make clear again is that the State Secretary Knops himself stated in the daily herald of Thursday March 25th and I quote: “The State Secretary confirmed the earlier statements of the prime Ministers of the three countries that the process is taking place in good cooperation” end of quote.

What was the State Secretary in his statements referring to? Is it not the process to have the country packages completed and carry out the reforms? The process to have the country packages put in place are still ongoing. It is the Council of State that concluded that determined and I quote; “The Council of State has severe objections to the Kingdom Law proposal to establish the Caribbean Body for reform and Development COHO” end of quote. And it goes on to highlight the reasons it came to this conclusion.

Let me again remind the people of St. Maarten that the process continues, however discussions must again be had as to the way forward based on the findings of the Council of State. That Mr. Knops two weeks later wants to use the petition to punish the people is vindictive indeed. The petition is a plea from the Parliament of St Maarten to deal with the inequality that exists in the Kingdom.

I have some questions for the State Secretary.
1. Did the government of St. Maarten stop the process embarked upon to have the country packages in place?
2. Did the government send a letter telling the State Secretary that it no longer wants to continue with the temporary work group?
3. Are there meetings taking place to date between persons of his department and the members of the cabinet of the Ministers concerning the implementation plans?
4. What will be the ruling if this matter is taken to courts? I can continue with many more questions but these will suffice for now.

The behavior displayed by State Secretary Knops and his government shows the need for us to have a dispute regulation in place. And it should be in the hands of an independent body with a binding advice. Because it is clearly seen that State Secretary Knops and the Dutch government is ignoring said advice by insisting that we continue with the COHO in its present form.

As I stated before, new discussions must be held because of the Advice of the Council of State. The petition and the agreement are two different subjects. The petition is signed by Parliament and the agreement is signed by government.

I repeat that It is time to revisit the Dispute Regulation. Afspraak is afspraak.

MP George Pantophlet