PHILIPSBURG, Sint Maarten — On January 24th, 2022 the national budget was passed by a majority in Parliament. The Government via a note of amendment labeled the budget as urgent and in doing so eliminated the 6-week period afforded to the Ombudsman to examine any ordinance passed by parliament. Five weeks have since passed.
“Reflecting on the budget’s handling, it must be recalled that the handling turned into a totally unnecessary disputation, because the government, aided by a majority in parliament defied all rules and worse yet defended their actions with frivolous arguments”, MP Wescot stated in a recent release.
First we had the debacle with the legal advice sought by the very same parliament, which was clear; parliament should not approve a budget with a deficit without the approval by the Kingdom government to have a deficit budget.
Then we had the ramming through of the budget and adding insult to injury, the coalition MPs came with amendments to a budget that was at the time not legitimized. And the government to keep the coalition intact, accepts this.
“Some MPs then wanted to make believe that passing the budget was necessary in order to guarantee government’s operations, conveniently forgetting that we were half way through 2021 before there was an approved budget. How did we survive then?” MP Wescot asked.
“On February 4, we learned via the media that the request by the Government of St. Maarten for a deviation from the budget norms was approved by the Kingdom Council of Ministers, which in the view of the government and its parliamentary support was a major victory. At what cost?”
“It did not take long to find out that what the St. Maarten government had so vehemently rejected under Knops’ rule as the financial supervision of the COHO organization, had now been accepted without any further explanation.”
That approval entails financial supervision by and on behalf of an organization that in itself gives no hard commitment for any financial input, except in the 2 instances already dictated by the Netherlands, namely the prison and tax reform. In an ironic way, this is a form of taxation without representation; the control exercised by a non-political body over the actions of a government. The government of St. Maarten is painting a picture of it being in control. Nothing is further from the truth.
“What is true is that government has no alternative to the current situation, yet they are expecting parliament to relay their concerns to the other parliaments in the Dutch Kingdom”, MP Wescot further elaborated.
MP Wescot has therefore asked the Prime Minister whether the budget 2022 been ratified by the Government of St. Maarten and if not, why not? Furthermore, the MP wants to know if the Government still considers the completion of the 2022 budget process urgent, if so why is the ratification process so slow; what was the FORMAL response by the Kingdom Council of Ministers regarding the request for the deviation? What is the amount of the allowed budget deficit for 2022?
On a final note, the MP said she is looking forward to receiving the formal communication between the Kingdom government and the Council of Ministers of St. Maarten.