PHILIPSBURG, Sint Maarten — Independent Member of Parliament Christophe Emmanuel on Monday said that if the Prime Minister and her government were truly serious about cutting costs, they perhaps could have shown some empathy and act in good conscience and paid civil servants a small percentage of their vacation allowance “instead of telling them they are getting nothing at all.”
The MP was reacting to the Prime Ministers online group call with civil servants on Monday in which she finally brought some clarity to the government workers who have been asking for weeks whether parts or all of their due vacation pay would be paid. Government also owes its workers 50% of this allowance from 2020. The clarity the PM brought, the MP said, was to inform the workers that they will not be getting the allowance at all this year.
The MP said he finds it astonishing that government can so casually announce that civil servants are not getting any percentage of the allowance considering government’s gross bad and over-spending when it is supposedly cutting costs to make ends meet. “I do not believe this government thinks it is speaking to real people, with real problems and real common sense,” the MP said.
He explained that government continues to make its apparatus bigger and more expensive by hiring new workers every week. “You can barely pay the workers you have and are denying them benefits that are due, but every week you are hiring people. Why are you hiring under the current financial crisis? How does this make any sense?” The MP asked, adding that the financial cost for new employees hired since the beginning of 2020 is reportedly in the range of Naf. 360,000 per year.
He went on to re-iterate that government also somehow found an extra two million guilders for garbage contracts for the next five years totaling Naf 6 million for the last nine months of 2021. “So are you saying that garbage is worth more than people? Two million more for garbage, but zero for workers. It’s a shame,” he stressed.
“These are not normal times,” the MP said, further suggesting that management and workers with government issued cellphones should use their office phones and government WIFI while on the job. He reminded that phone usage cost government some Naf. 19 million over the past 5 to 6 years and a serious effort to limit the usage overall could save some Naf. 2 million. He said in times of emergencies such as the aftermath of a hurricane, emergency cell-phone services could be activated.
Additionally, he pointed out that the 34 SUVs, 17 pick-up trucks received from via the Trust Fund also comes with a cost. “The government could have realized that only one school has been repaired and handed over since 2018 and could have said to the NRPB to direct the funds for those vehicles to the schools. But no, government took on extra cost again,” the MP said.
He said those vehicles will have to be insured with the minimum third-party coverage (but probably more comprehensive) which could total Naf 950,000 per year considering the standard coverage for brand new SUV’s and pick-ups. They will also have to be serviced and maintained, fueled to the tune of approximately Naf 50 per week, which amounts to approximately Naf 133,000 per year. Moreover, inspections for the vehicles, road tax, number plates are all services that government actually has to pay for.
The MP also mentioned that Ministers are still travelling first class through Miami to other destinations and to Holland “to talk about nothing and bring home nothing.” Taking these examples alone, the government is spending almost Naf 10 million when it didn’t have to or money that could have gone towards paying at least a percentage of the vacation allowance for civil servants.
“As usual, the Prime Minister and this government shoed no empathy at all and told civil servants that nothing is forthcoming to help them with school fees, school uniforms, hurricane preparedness, insurance, nothing. Not 10%, not 15%, nothing from the allowance. And as expected, when asked by civil servants when they will get their money, the Prime Minister had no answer to provide just like she has no Plan B for the country. At this point is should be painfully clear to everyone that this government is 100% dependent on Dutch aid as a result of its lack of ideas and solutions to solve the country’s problems,” the MP concluded.