~ Questions if laws and rights don’t matter ~
PHILIPSBURG, Sint Maarten — Independent Member of Parliament Christophe Emmanuel called the decisions by the Constitutional Court to uphold the three ordinances that in part deprive workers of St. Maarten, civil servants in particular, to income and rights that they are entitled to by law, “a monument to the suffering imposed on our people by the National Alliance led government.”
MP Emmanuel was the only MP who voted against the ordinances to cut the income and benefits of civil servants and workers of semi-government entities. He only voted for the ordinance to cut his own salary and warned at the time that a 12.5% cut would not yield government any significant savings but instead would increase poverty and hardship on workers.
Following the ruling on Monday, Emmanuel said it was shocking that the Constitutional Court would base its decision not on merit of law or what the people are entitled to, rather on the fact that the government needed money. In the same breath, he continued, the court made mention of the negative affect the laws could have on those who would be directly affected.
“The court acknowledged the hardships that could fall on people, but still upheld the laws based on the notion that government needed money. I say notion because this is the same government that to date cannot tell us how it cut costs from within to generate savings. This is the same government that cannot present a post-COVID plan to improve the economy only counting on the high season. This is the same government that continues to hire new civil servants while taking income and benefits from those that are there now. This is the same government who cannot say how or what they negotiated with the Dutch, but screaming there’s a gun to my head. Today, the roosters are home and all hardships should be laid at the feet of this current government,” MP Emmanuel said.
He is also concerned that the ruling set a precedent for government to do as it wants, despite the relevant laws and rights that are being trampled. “So whenever government feels it has a need, such as money, nothing else matters? People don’t matter? Rights don’t matter? Next we will be told land tax will be imposed because government needs money. This ruling sets a dangerous precedent and is especially scary since during the hearing government could not answer relevant questions and provide relevant information and still cannot,” the MP said.
He continued: “We live here. We don’t need data to tell us how taking people income would affect them. We know our people and what they use vacation pay, bonuses and incremental salary increases for. The Council of Ministers definitely knows. Even the CFT reported that lower personnel costs have not been realized after government implemented a 12.5% cut in income and benefits of civil servants. But it did hurt our people and is still hurting them.”
MP Emmanuel said he sympathizes with civil servants and workers of semi government related entities who now have no indication when or how they will be able to get what’s due to them by law. “I stood alone in my fight against these laws. I’m the only MP to vote against,” he said.
“Today parents owe schools, cost of living seem three times higher because that little extra income isn’t there, small loans to loan-sharks are on the rise and these so called temporary laws seems to be now permanent. Judge Bob Wit doesn’t have to wonder how the laws would affect people long term. We already know. People are suffering and it was made possible by Prime Minister Silveria Jacobs and the Council of Ministers she does not control,” the MP concluded.