PHILIPSBURG, Sint Maarten — During Monday’s central committee meeting of parliament, independent member of Parliament, Claudius “Toontje” Buncamper fired off a number of questions to the minister of general affairs, Prime Minister Silveria Jacobs.
MP Buncamper claimed that he understands that Aruba will be phasing out the 12.5% deduction from civil servants income by 6.25% in 2022 followed by another 6.25% in 2023, and asked the prime minister if she can indicate to parliament when St. Maarten will be able reverse the three laws on the 12.5% cuts from the income of the various groups of workers who were affected by the laws.
The MP asked the minister what government’s policies are in regards to the dismissal of persons under investigation, or in court of first instance, or in court of appeal for an alleged crime or crimes that they are accused of. He asked the prime minister to explain why there is a difference between the dismissal of the COO as statutory director of PJIA and the dismissal of the former CEO of the harbor, as the COO is being dismissed even before formal charges are brought against him. The MP asked if this is going to be the norm
for all those involved in the investigations at the airport and all government owned companies. The MP also questioned the stance of corporate governance in this case as the harbor was in full compliance with good corporate governance during the court case of the previous CEO.
With regards to the illegal use of the country’s flag and a contestant who is not sanctioned by the country, participating in an international pageant, Miss World 2021, MP Buncamper inquired if government will be pressing formal charges against the culprit(s), and if the contestant will be allowed on stage as a representative of the island.
MP Buncamper further outlined that that based on the report from Mr. Terrance Jandroep, who is well known and respected in the field of finance, we see that St. Maarten has the lowest minimum wage in the kingdom and the highest inflation rate between 2017 to 2020 and yet we see no signs of any form of relief. The MP asked the prime minister how government intends handle the rise in inflation and the low minimum wage moving into 2022. The MP went on to question if funding had been allocated for such adjustments, while he noted that the SER is in the process of conducting a Cost-Of-Living study.
MP Buncamper expressed his concerns about the negative image of St. Maarten being portrayed to the outer world, and our kingdom partners in particular, and questioned why we are not making the effort to correct this. “Everyone is paying for the negative press because it is circulated all around the world” MP Buncamper stated. The MP insisted that we need to hire a profession PR firm to handle the exposure of our image in the Netherlands and throughout Europe. The MP asked if there is funding for the St. Maarten House in the Netherlands to ensure that we can hire a PR firm to express the true St. Maarten story instead of the often bias and untruthful stories put out by others. This can not be left up to DComm.
MP Buncamper wants to know if St. Maarten has a working agreement for assistance with any cities or provinces in the Netherlands.
The MP also questioned the reason for the resignation of 21 civil servants. The MP wants to know if this has anything to do with their opportunity for career growth, unpleasant working conditions, or their renumerations.
The MP inquired if PJIA intends to refinance the 2012 loan and if local funding entities would be excluded from providing the financing.
MP Buncamper enquired if government has any intentions to ensure that starting 2022 no more mutual arrangement (onderlinge regelingen) are allowed to be signed off and approved by the Ministers and /or Council Of Ministers (COM) with other countries in the Kingdom that amend laws and cost allocations and amendments to our budget as this undermines the role of Parliament.