MP Wescot calls on the Ministers of Justice and Finance respectively to pay Justice workers

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PHILIPSBURG, Sint Maarten — In a post on social media on Tuesday, MP Wescot calls on the Ministers of Justice and Finance respectively to pay Justice workers at least  the amount allocated for retroactive payments to the  workers in the 2023 budget.

“This is not a new call. Several members of parliament, including myself asked repeatedly if the budgeted amount could be paid to Justice workers, once the budget was approved, MP Wescot stated.

The Justice minister at the time was resolute. Even with approved budget funding for payments, the  legal basis was yet to be established via a decree containing general measures (LBHAM) and the individual decrees, was her opinion.

The minister, when the 2020 payout to Justice workers was referenced was also resolute in her response, “There was no legal basis then either”.

“My social media post  was a simple question, stated MP Wescot. Because while I  understand the LBHAM  saga for the legal positioning and function book of the justice ministry and I understand the tedious calculations and placement offers, I also understand that in January 2020, being no where close to where we are today, workers received a pay-out.”

While we can continue to debate the legalities of the 2020 payouts and the politics of that time,  what is being  overlooked is the role of the Finance Ministry. The Ministry of Justice did not execute the payments in 2020, that was the purview of the Finance ministry. The latter must have had some level of comfort that the payment request was doable and thus this ministry executed.

“It was never made clear whether there was a national decree, a ministerial decree or a COM decision underpinning the 2020 payments”, the MP continued. Or if any of these required the co-signature of the Governor.

“Today I therefore question why the 2 ministries can not  find a  common basis for a payout. We have an approved budget with  over 2 m. guilders budgeted, just like we had in 2022. We have a parliament motion instructing a payout. Still we hear from the minister of Justice in her most recent parliament debate that she “ will  have to consult with legal”.

And then we read on Tuesday from the workers’ legal counsel, Cor Merx that “another MP has become involved in the matter with a number of proposals on Saturday”. What does this say of the minister of Justice and her legal counsel? Were they even present in these negotiations?

To the minister I therefore ask, “How much further will we allow this to escalate? What more legal research is necessary to pay a part (up to the budgeted amount) of what is owed to the Justice workers? Union officials are being accused of playing politics. So what would we call these latest political shenanigans?