PFP: Walkouts Becoming the Norm to Keep Accountability in the Dark

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PHILIPSBURG – Members of Parliament (MPs) Rolando Brison of United People’s Party (UP) and Hyacinth Richardson of National Alliance (NA) walked out of Wednesday’s parliament meeting because Party for Progress (PFP) MP Raeyhon Peterson introduced an additional agenda point to discuss the parliament’s confidence in Minister of Public Housing, Spatial Planning, Environment and Infrastructure (VROMI) Egbert J. Doran. This move left the meeting without the required quorum of 8 MPs, further demonstrating the lengths to which some coalition MPs will go to prevent Minister Doran from being held accountable to the people of Sint Maarten because of a long history of questionable decision making.

“It is not a surprise that the PFP faction in parliament is presenting a motion of no confidence against this Minister. We were transparent in making it known at the urgent Parliament meeting to discuss the matter at the end of June. At the time, Minister Doran said he would need at least two weeks to answer the 21 questions posed to him by Parliament, due to the delay tactics by some coalition MPs. Well, two weeks have passed and the Minister has not indicated when he will be ready to return, nor has he submitted the answers in writing to Parliament,” said MP Peterson on Wednesday afternoon.

“One MP spoke of political shenanigans being played, but there is no game being played here. I, along with the rest of the MPs, were promised answers within a given timeframe. Given the seriousness of the Ombudsman’s damning report, one would think that this would have his utmost priority, as the report alludes to creating the conditions for nepotism and the mismanagement of the people’s hard-earned tax guilders. The real shenanigan is thus the blatant stalling tactics being displayed by the coalition MPs in order to protect the VROMI Minister, who refuses to be held accountable in this matter, just as he avoids dealing with the missteps he made in Vineyard Heights and in handling the management and operational issues at NV GEBE,” added MP Peterson.

Wednesday’s meeting was also set to discuss suspended MP Buncamper’s letter to Parliament, with a potential vote to forward the letter to the Council of Advice. With MPs Brison and Richardson’s swift exit from the hall, this agenda point could not be deliberated. In his point of order, MP Brison made a comment that implied that the public meeting was called by the President of Parliament as a “surprise” in the second week of Parliament’s official recess.

“There was a central committee meeting last week where it was agreed that MP Buncamper’s letter would be sent to the Council of Advice,” said MP Gumbs. “In fact, the same MP suggested even sending it to the Council of State. Those present were informed that the public meeting would be called this week, so it’s interesting that this is the route the MP took in justifying his walkout.”

“This motion stems from two years of the Minister’s poor performance, and it is based on evidence, including the most recent report from one of the country’s High Council of State. There are some who still want to believe that this is a witch-hunt, that the PFP faction is out to topple a Minister because we supposedly don’t like his last name or his party. But this faction stands for accountability and transparency and putting the proper procedures in place. Sint Maarten has a long history of certain people getting land, permits, and positions because of who they kept close to them, and others being left in the dark. In this week’s Council of Minister’s press briefing, the Minister implied that his policies are seeking to break this cycle and create an objective and progressive path forward. But how can anyone believe this when the names of his close relatives keep appearing in virtually everything that his Ministry does? It’s like when you tell a kid to clean their room and they just put the toys and clothes in the closet and say ‘but look, I cleaned’,” added MP Gumbs.

The faction, which is still awaiting responses to questions they have asked the Minister in writing, says that it will wait to see if the walk-out trend will continue after Parliament’s recess concludes in August. This, they say, would further cement the already-obvious ploy to help the Minister avoid being held accountable to the Parliament and the people of St. Maarten.