PHILIPSBURG, Sint Maarten — “ They are in serious contravention of several laws, but obviously see nothing wrong with such.”
During the first meeting of parliament following the recess, MP Wescot again denounced the government’s indifferent attitude towards the parliament and the population at large.
I had expected, after not having MPs in their hair for the entire parliamentary recess, that the government would have taken the time to address some of the burning issues that continue to hold our community in their grip, the MP explained.
“Moreover, that the government sees no urgency in getting the amended budget 2022 to parliament to cover government’s financial actions that do not have parliamentary approval by means of an amended budget, is outright illegal.”
MP Wescot: “Imagine that it was said to parliament by government that they had the CFT’s blessing to pay out vacation allowance to civil servants, only to see this being contradicted by the State Secretary for Kingdom Relations, Mrs. Van Huffelen in her reporting on the withholding of approval for liquidity assistance for the 3rd quarter 2022.”
In the view of the MP, it remains unclear how the government maneuvered the vacation allowance payout without the retraction of the law, that the government itself initiated to cut civil servants and other categories of workers’ benefits with 12.5%, but on the other hand refuses to liaise with the subsidized entities about how these entities can also provide partial relief to their workers.
To add insult to injury, the change that the government submitted to parliament, to undo the suspension of the vacation allowance, has raised the question of equality towards all those, such as school teachers in the employ of subsidized school boards, whose benefits have also been cut and government has not undertaken any steps to undo this law, even in part to allow the school boards, if they did not pay out vacation allowance, based on the 12.5% cut, to also pay vacation allowance.
While I have questioned in detail this show of blatant inequality between workers, these answers are yet to be provided, stated MP Wescot.
“The latest public statement, coming from the Deputy Prime Minister in this context, is that he, along with the Minister of Finance have a solution, to be divulged soon.”
Hence my statement at the opening of the meeting on Monday: “Does the government not consider that the Members of Parliament, like myself, who have raised this matter over and over again, deserve straightforward answers?
Does the government that prides itself on transparency and openness not consider the seriousness of flaunting the budget right of parliament?
The National Accountability Ordinance is clear: “Expenditures outside of the approved budget only are allowed in extreme cases, and even if so, must get parliamentary approval as soon as possible”, MP Wescot concluded.