MP Wescot-Williams tears into the 2022 budget and government’s refusal to eliminate the 12.5% cut in benefits from (semi) public entities

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MP Sarah Wescot-Williams

 

“Can’t believe I actually heard the minister being applauded.”

PHILIPSBURG, Sint Maarten — The Minister of Finance and his coalition members in parliament must have  breathed a sigh of relief, when the gavel was brought down on the amended budget 2022 late Tuesday evening, is the opinion of MP Wescot.

“Luckily for the coalition, they were able to muster at the eleventh hour, the minimum of members required to pass the budget law. Luckily, because by the following day, at least 2 coalition members were slated to travel for parliament’s account.”

And to prove her point that the government ministers have no regard for parliament or the people, the MP added,  “the only minister who showed up for these budget discussions was the Minister of Finance himself,  and the answers regarding the other ministries were nothing short of a joke.”

In an obvious reference to the refusal by the chair of parliament to act impartial, the MP minced no words when she stated that the meetings regarding the draft budget 2022 were nothing but drama for the biggest part, drama that “I refused to be part of eventually, even knowing  that without the opposition and no roll call, the budget would be adopted ‘unanimously’.”

“Better that than to be an active participant in what can only be labeled a circus show”.

The MP referred back to  the draft law amending the top-income ordinance (top income law) which the government proposed to parliament,  as when in her view the circus started.

“With all of that, the government continues to bungle the cuts in the salary benefits of the (semi) public entities”.

MP Wescot had proposed an  amendment  to eliminate these salary cuts from the law that regulates the top incomes,  that unfortunately could not muster enough support to pass.

“How ironic, that in a law that ensures that the highest incomes in the (semi)public sector do not surpass the PM’s salary plus, the 12.5% salary cuts etc. from workers remain unchanged.”

And why? “Because the government again bamboozled a majority in parliament with the promise that this issue with school boards etc. will be fixed. Fix it, they did, after teachers at an affected school staged a walkout”, the MP stated.

The promise that the 12.5% salary cuts will be eliminated once the top income law is adjusted and ratified is another “can down the road”.

“But the bamboozling is not only by members of government. In the parliament we witness the same thing.”

Case in point, the request made by MP Wescot to have the inquiry committee ‘Giving Mullet Back to The People’ give account of its (in)actions. 3 years later and not a word!

“Suddenly this was in the process of happening, according to the Chairperson, MP Brison.”

“The performance by the second vice chair of parliament, I will leave for what it is or rather is not.”

During the budget 2022 debates, the minister, cheered on by his coalition members in parliament danced around the issues that affect the people of St. Maarten, such as the tourism budget, which was slashed. And the answer given to this travesty was that the tourist office did not use the funds it had on the budget. And that is ok with the minister of TEATT?, MP Wescot queried.

“We heard the minister of finance list a plethora of projects that the tourist office wishes to do, but does not have the necessary funding for. And that is ok with the minister of TEATT?, the MP asked again.

On to the Integrity chamber (IC); “to ‘keep the peace in the camp’, the government in the initial 2022 budget allowed and supported a cut of approximately 700.000 guilders by an amendment brought by one of its coalition MPs (Brison), only to sneakily increase the IC’s budget back to 2m. guilders.

“The government refuses to “come clean” with its agreements with casino and lottery establishments, that in the words of the very minister of finance, could net 10m guilders.”

“And I could go on and on, but the straw that broke the camel’s back was the answer to my question about the funding of the so-called community schools, where our youngsters at most schools are provided with afternoon classes and activities. The budget for this has been drastically slashed and the minister of finance starts his reply with an explanation of how many schools provide this service, and closes off with saying that since august 2022, afternoon school could not be provided due to lack of FUNDS!!”

“And this government and its support in parliament expect me to sit here and accept this rhetoric, and worse, support what was called the amended budget 2022, 6 weeks before the end of the budget year,  with the type of cuts mentioned before that the government already executed and then wanted parliament support.”

“Did I actually hear kudos being given to the minister on the budget 2022?”, the MP concludes.