MP Heyliger-Marten sums up 2020-2024 Governmental term: lack of vision and execution, and gross incompetence

Member of Parliament Grisha Heyliger-Marten


PHILIPSBURG, Sint Maarten — As the parliamentary term of 2020-2024 concludes, Member of Parliament Grisha Heyliger-Marten characterized the current NA-UP coalition government as one lacking vision and being grossly incompetent.

In a press statement released on Wednesday afternoon, Heyliger-Marten provided an overview of the Parliamentary initiatives she took during her first term in office, and how they were dealt with by the NA-UP coalition Government.

“Throughout my term as MP, I took my main responsibilities of supervising the government, ensuring accountability, and actively participating in legislation seriously.

As pledged during the last election campaign, I addressed issues such as safeguarding our democracy and international rights, ending the inhumane treatment of prisoners, electoral reforms, providing relief for senior, and combating injustices within the community”, Heyliger-Marten said.

“The most important issue that we as a nation faced in the aftermath of the Covid-19 crisis was the attempt by the Dutch Government to victimize the people of St. Martin by the conditions for financial support. In order to safeguard our democracy, I initiated the process of finalizing the decolonization of all Dutch colonies, including St. Martin”, according to Heyliger-Marten.

She stated that despite this process being mentioned in the Governing program and the Parliament passing her motion to support the Government accordingly, the Council of Ministers refused to defend St. Martin’s rights based on international law. “Under the threat of not receiving liquidity support, the Government submitted to the Dutch extortion, and now, almost four years later, our country and people owe the Dutch Government three times or national budget. All because the Government lacked the knowledge and testicular fortitude to protect the paramount interest of our people”, Heyliger-Marten stated.

With respect to the Ministry of Justice, and in her role as Chairlady of the Justice Committee, Heyliger-Marten addressed the reported inhumane treatment and living conditions in prisons. Upon her request to the Minister of Justice, the latter organized a tour of the Point Blanche prison for MP’s almost a year after taking office.

“This visit prompted the Minister to finally address the longstanding complaints about the substandard living conditions of the inmates, and improve the level of useful activities available to them. She then also started working on amending the Penal Procedure code by hiring a law firm to make the required changes. Unfortunately in the end, as the Minister so eloquently does, it all turned out to be window-dressing and hype. To this day, the inmates are still faced with a lack of activities in the prison, with the sewing project still not being operational as a glaring example”, Heyliger-Marten stated.

As Chairlady of the electoral reform committee, MP Heyliger-Marten identified pertinent articles that needed updating. Unfortunately, due to political power games being played, her tenure was not renewed, leaving Parliament’s electoral reform efforts stagnant.

With regards to the issues faced by our seniors, Heyliger-Marten proposed two quick wins for seniors, namely promoting senior-friendly business practices and a lower “Tariff 60” rate for seniors at GEBE. However, due to the absence of budgets for factions to initiate proper laws that can pass the scrutiny of the High Councils of State, she was not able to finalize these initiatives. “Unfortunately, the Minister of TEATT did not see it fit to work on either of these initiatives, and blamed the cyber-attack on GEBE for not creating the Tariff 60”, according to Heyliger-Marten.

Looking back at the current Parliamentary term, Heyliger-Marten specifically expressed her disappointment with the government’s handling of key institutions such as TelEm, PJIA, and GEBE. “Just look at the numerous times I called on the Government to provide information to the people of St. Martin about the state of our Government owned companies, Heyliger-Marten said. The Minister(s) responsible were either evasive if they came to Parliament, or didn’t come to Parliament until it was too late. This disrespect and total disregard for the role of Parliament is unacceptable.

And now look at where these companies are today: TelEm is in the process of laying off 60% of its employees, besides cost overruns and delays in the reconstruction, PJIA is getting major complaints regarding the logistics in the arrival hall, and the financial situation of GEBE is still precarious at best.

There is no other way than to sum all of this up with the current Government’s lack of vision and execution, and gross incompetence.

I look forward to a new Government who respects the role and function of Parliament and the people that it represents. I also hope that the next Government will be pro-active instead of reactive, displays vision and leadership, and refrains from victimization tactics.

As this Parliamentary term comes to an end, I remain committed to advocating for effective governance and addressing the pressing needs of the community, Heyliger-Marten concluded.