PHILIPSBURG, Sint Maarten — In a letter to the First Vice-Chair of the Parliament of Sint Maarten, Hon. William V. Marlin, MP Grisha Heyliger-Marten requested a meeting of all Faction Leaders in Parliament to discuss and approve a “Legal and other Expert Advice Policy”. This policy is aimed at allotting funding in Parliament’s budget for hiring external legal and other experts for individual factions.
“Since 10-10-10, the Parliament of St. Maarten has faced the challenge of limited external legal and other advice as it carries out its responsibilities as legislative body. This issue has been raised by a number of current and former Parliamentarians, and rightfully so”, according to Heyliger-Marten in a press release issued on Tuesday.
“Within Government, ministries have their separate budgets for hiring external legal and other expert advice. In contrast, Parliament has one overall budget for the entire organization. I stand to be corrected, but as a result, no more than five laws have been initiated by individual MP’s and/or factions, passed by Parliament, and implemented, if that.
My faction currently has two draft initiative laws pending to be drafted. One is to legislate residency for persons born in Sint Maarten without the Dutch Nationality, and the second one is to legislate preferential treatment for senior citizens through a certification and incentive system for corporate compliance.
Without a policy in place, and unless you have the legal training as MP or expertise within your fraction, it is impossible to initiate quality laws that meet all legal requirements and have them passed without paying an external law firm from your own pocket.
That is why during my tenure as President of Parliament, I requested the Secretary-General of Parliament to prepare a draft policy for providing support to Parliamentary factions, based on what is regulated in Aruba and the Netherlands”, according to Heyliger-Marten.
She stated that a draft policy was prepared by the Secretariat of Parliament in July 2022 and sent to the faction leaders for review.
“Unfortunately, due to a number of distractions and other pressing issues, the faction leaders never met to discuss the draft. Now, one year later and as Parliament starts its next and last year of this term, I hope that we can approve a draft policy that will put the factions in the position to initiate quality draft laws to Parliament that meet all legal requirements for handling, approval, and implementation”, Heyliger-Marten concluded.