PHILIPSBURG, Sint Maarten — “I am not at all surprised,” says MP Christophe Emmanuel in reaction to the CFT’s statement that lower personnel costs have not been realized after government implemented a 12.5% cut in income and benefits of civil servants. The CFT stated that personnel costs remain the same as 2020. “This government cut the income and benefits of civil servants and forced suffering on the people to please people 5,000 miles away in Holland,” he said.
The MP said that any economist or financial expert could have told the government that those cuts could not result in any significant savings for government. In fact, the MP pointed out that the Minister of Finance could not definitively say how much would be saved by implementing the cuts. “At one point it was Naf 15 million, then in other meetings the numbers would change, until we got to the point where we stopped getting information all together,” Emmanuel said.
He said that the government proved that it had no real reason to implement the cuts when it persisted in hiring new civil servants from January 2021 up to present. If the government was serious about cutting costs, Emmanuel said, why would it continue to hire new workers thereby erasing any savings it thought it would have had with cutting income and benefits?
“Because the government, despite knowing their own people and knowing where there is significant financial waste in the government apparatus, chose to listen to people 5,000 miles away who have no clue about our way of life here. The government chose to make people’s lives harder and more complicated in difficult times when it could have probably gained more savings by addressing government waste and vanity projects that are not a priority,” MP Emmanuel said.
He reminded that he, as well as all the unions, provided the government with a list of possible government actions to cut cost. “The government dismissed these as unrealistic and to date cannot say what it has done to cut significant cost on its end other than infringing on civil servants rights. Government as usual leaves the door open for the Dutch to interfere and identify how and what it should cut, without attempting to take the initiative and address its own financial waste problem. I have said it over and over, it is a failure of weak leadership,” the MP said.
MP Emmanuel also took note of the CFT’s statement that only US $5 million was spent on corona-related support measures while US $70.9 million was stipulated in the 2021 budget. “It would be good to know what government spent 5 million on in 2021 and what exactly the remaining projected US $65.9 million will be spent on for the last three months of the year. Perhaps the Minister of VSA can explain that while ducking from explaining why Lotus Night Club was not fined or its owners imprisoned for violating existing COVID protocols,” he concluded.