PHILIPSBURG, Sint Maarten — “The acceptance of the initial national budget 2022 included an amendment, initiated by coalition MP Brison that reduced the budget of the Integrity Chamber with approximately 700.000 guilders, without an utterance by the minister involved, in this case the Prime Minister. This money was so-called redistributed to the island’s promotion. Only to learn later that this money could not be spent on promotion”, the MP explained.
In the meantime, the government was confronted with a disappointed Integrity Chamber, unable to fulfill (all of) its plans.
“Aware of this dilemma, I questioned the Prime Minister about her acceptance of the reduction without ascertaining if the work of the Integrity Chamber would be compromised”.
By letter, the PM acknowledged the challenges faced by the Integrity Chamber due to the unilateral cut in its budget and assured me that the budget of the Integrity Chamber would be amended in the amended budget 2022. Furthermore the PM stated that this amendment would increase the Integrity Chamber’s budget with f. 300.000,—.
See the PM’s letter to parliament attached.
“Lo and behold, the amended budget arrives at parliament, is passed by a majority in parliament, and nowhere is a correction of f. 300.000 to the budget of the Integrity Chamber evident”.
Hence, I submitted the following to the Prime Minister based on her letter to parliament:
In your letter of October 31, 2022 in response to my queries regarding the amended budget of the Integrity Chamber (IC), you stated and I quote “…that internally it was decided to increase the budget of the integrity chamber with 300,000 guilders and that this would be done in the amended budget 2022.
In the meantime, the amended budget 2022 was passed by parliament. The item number 2100.44102 amounts to the same amount of the original budget 2022, as initially passed by parliament namely, 1.772.932 million guilders, due to the Brison amendment.
Kindly respond to the following questions.
- Is my comprehension correct that the budget was to include an increase for the IC?
- if so, where in the budget is this increase for the Integrity Chamber manifested?
In your letter you indicated that it was part of the budget to be sent to parliament. Was that done?
- if not, why not?
- If yes, is it still to be done?
- Would the Prime Minister agree that what has been stated in the letter of October the 31st to the parliament is misleading?
- Was the Prime Minister ever made aware of this ? If so, when and by whom?
- Why is this issue so important? “Like it or not, the integrity chamber is here with its tasks according to law. Citizens have an avenue for redress of integrity issues. We either count this institution to our checks and balances or we do not”, the MP added.
We do not willfully frustrate its operations.