“This is nothing more than distraction at the expense of the people”, commented MP Wescot over the weekend.
PHILIPSBURG, Sint Maarten — The MP went on to state that she can’t believe that the Prime Minister is serious about her remark that the cost-cutting measures can not remain while apology is being given.
“Firstly it should be noted that from media reports it appears unlikely that the apology program for December 19th will take place as intended”, MP wescot stated.
The Dutch government has encountered some stiff opposition to its plan of a kingdom-wide slavery apology program on December 19th. Be that as it may, St. Maarten is a long way from articulating its position on the issue of a Dutch apology for its slavery atrocities, or on the issue of admittance and compensation.
A paradox of the Kingdom’s constitutional status, is the fact that the St. Maarten government is part of these discussion in the person of the minister plenipotentiary.
“So as much as the prime minister wishes to wash her hands from the document of the Dialogue Group Slavery, this train has already left the station and the St. Maarten government would do well to take a formal position and have its plans ready for when, not if, the topics of the dialogue group, namely accepting the travesties committed, apologies to the descendants and corrective (financial) measures are put on the table”, according to MP Wescot.
The government of Sint Maarten hides behind the fact that they had no formal representation in the Dialogue Group; then it was the State Secretary who came to Sint Maarten, but did not give enough time for an official response. In the view of the Prime Minister, that fact-finding trip by the State Secretary had no status, commented the MP.
It must again be recalled that as far as the 12.5% cut in salary benefits across the board is concerned, it is the government’s competency to annul both laws that regulate the salary cuts. The laws passed by parliament to institute these cuts in the public and semi public sectors, regulated that the government may annul these laws by national decree, MP Wescot again explained.
“If the government is so sure of its case as it professes, it should annul the laws and undo the cuts. It has the authority to do so.”
The government should stop the cat-and mouse game with the Dutch government and the Dutch State Secretary. The task St. Maarten faces is much bigger.
“ As I have asked before, why not make a financial plan that takes into account the impossibility of a balanced budget anytime soon, and the strangling debt situation of the country due to 1) an inherited debt and 2) loans for liquidity assistance”.
The government brags about bringing the annual accounts up to date, granted, which is an important part of the financial cycle.
“They finally completed the 2022 national budget, in the last quarter of the year. Their braggadocio did not extend to the fact that cuts in the 2022 budget limited the marketing of the island, closed afternoon school programs and much more”.
Unlike the other governments in the Kingdom, the St. Maarten coalition in its governing program ties the development of the country to achieving full decolonization. In the same breath however, it speaks of “…the fact that Sint Maarten has not been granted a full measure of self-government based on absolute equality with the Netherlands under the UN Charter and relevant resolutions, has been by far the most important reason for the island not developing to its full potential since the inception of the UN and Kingdom Charters.”
This is a loaded statement for a government to make and should be backed up with sound data, in the opinion of MP Wescot.
“Leaving aside the semantics, the question begs what this government has undertaken to secure this development, which in its view is “completing decolonization, and in the view of most others is just a call to amend the Kingdom charter. Again, where is the plan?”, MP Wescot queries.
Maybe if the government itself understood what it is advocating under so-called decolonization, invoking the rights to development under article 73 of the UN charter could be part of the discussion regarding slavery reparations.
“To know where we should’ve been, we must know where we are. So again I ask the question, whether for slavery reparations/compensations, or unfulfilled decolonization standards in the view of the UP/NA coalition, where is the plan?”, the MP concluded her statement.