PHILIPSBURG, Sint Maarten — Today is September 1, 2023, the day by which constitutionally the country’s budget 2024 should be at the Parliament. In the next few days on September 12th, a new parliamentary year will be upon us with the constitutional obligation for the Governor or someone designated by him to present the government’s intentions for the year 2024, the DP leader stated in a release issued on September 1st.
“This crop of ministers is famous for scorning our high councils of state on numerous occasions, and they continue to thumb their noses at the parliament. While on our sister island of Curacao, the debate is raging about the authority of that parliament to defer the presentation of the budget until a later date, in St. Maarten, the Finance minister does not even care to inform parliament that the budget will not be on time. The same minister, it must again be said, who on June 25, 2019 stood in line to support a motion that expressed no confidence in former Finance Minister P. Geerlings, due to amongst other things the late submission of the country’s budget.”
MP Wescot continued, “I wonder if the government is even cognizant of the cornerstones of our democracy: oversight and the budget right of those elected by the people, the members of parliament, to oversee the actions government. With this kind of shenanigans by the council of ministers, no wonder the government is still intact. No one dares to admonish the other and there is no leadership, except for every minister protecting his/her own hide.”
The Accountability Ordinance, a lower law, allows for the budget of the previous year to be used as the basis for government’s management, if there is no approved yearly budget. This however does not supersede the constitutional obligation to present a budget by September 1st of the preceding year, MP Wescot explained.
“The parliament is being consistently sidelined and the government seems undaunted by what its actions are doing to our fragile democracy. Democracy is the right of the people to have a say in government affairs through the persons elected by them to parliament. The parliament has the obligation to scrutinize the government’s action and set their budget.”
The 2023 budget that needs to be amended is another blatant disregard for parliament, the MP continued.
“The government is happily educating the populace about electoral matters, but they forget the most sacred one, namely government of the people and I haste to add ‘all of the people’.”
“This government is one of “do as I say and not as I do”. They turn a blind eye to the infractions all over the island, as long as they can enjoy a photo op and long self-praising press releases.