PHILIPSBURG:--- President of the board of the United St. Maarten Party (USP) Cecil Nicholas on Monday said his board is baffled over why to date the mandatory 12.5% cut imposed by government on civil servants and workers of government-owned companies, specifically GEBE and Telem, has not been followed up with an instruction to ensure that the “savings” be used as a supplement to directly offset the bills of every citizen in the country. He added: “Obviously because the savings, a motivation used to impose the cuts, have not materialized and people's lives were made harder for nothing.”
Nicholas said the budget of country St. Maarten has ballooned to over 500 million guilders, an increase of over 100 million guilders. Countries around the world, the USP said, have found themselves in a similar position because of the economic impact of COVID19.
“And while all recognized the importance of the socio-economic wellbeing of their citizens and found ways and means to alleviate, and aggressively address such, the NA/UPP coalition and supporting MPs in parliament from the inception of the pandemic have continuously found ways to place the burden on the backs of the people and their families,” the USP President said.
“However, and perhaps more accurately, we are not seeing any relief for our people because the so-called savings that the cuts were supposed to generate have not materialized and were nullified and increased due to new hires. In essence, nullifying the objective sought by burdening the civil core with cuts in the first place,” Nicholas said.
As such, the government’s actions have created an environment that has led to a record number of resignations, and growing absenteeism. “Has the policies that have led the standardization of civil servants being placed in life long-acting positions been addressed to stem further flight? What is the monetary value of the 12.5% cut and what social initiative has it been assigned to?” Nicholas questioned.
He continued: “The NA/UPP collation and its supporting members in Parliament voted there conscience and passed the motion on the 12.5 % cut, and based on their motivations for that vote, knowingly imposed the current hardships being faced by people and their families today, while promising a review within 6 months. That review has yet to materialize, a review which is a moot point based on the statements made by State Secretary Knops.”
Nicholas said that the same members of parliament who voted for the cuts are now questioning government about the cuts “as if they had an out of body experience when they cast their vote, in an attempt to distance themselves from the decision, while full-heartedly acknowledging the ramifications of the said vote in their motivations of “we need the money and don’t have a choice”
He further questioned if it would not have made more practical sense for government to promote from within since creating opportunities for the dedicated staff who in most cases were already doing the jobs and fulfilling tasks that fall within the competence of the open positions. “Hence creating a more rewarding working environment, instead of the demotivated unappreciated environment that currently exist?”
Nicholas reminded the public that the Prime Minister stated recently that the cuts imposed on civil servants and workers at government-owned companies remained unfair. This, he pointed out, came after previously expressing her joy of being “vindicated” by the Constitutional Court judgment that upheld the unconscionable act of government and parliament on the backs of the people.
“The approval of COHO is up next to be rubber-stamped by parliament, and if this proposed budget and the almost 2-year history of this National Alliance led coalition and the Members of Parliament who support it stands as an example, the people will be brought to their knees while our sworn representatives vote themselves into spectator status.
“The blunder of fruitlessly debating the proposed budget that without first being granted permission to deviate from the balanced budget norms is also being blamed on the Dutch. There is a never-ending game being played by this National Alliance-led government and their coalition partners in parliament of rubber-stamping everything government presents to parliament, then parliament questions government about the same motions and decisions they passed and agreed to is a mockery. Especially since governments answers all seem to reference the “Dutch”
“The budget with its increase of over 100 million guilders with no specific attention and or tangible focus being placed on the socio-economic well-being and “human dimension” of the families and individuals whose backs are being broken carrying the weight of the decisions being made cannot and should not be placed as the fault of the “Dutch” because they did not prepare this proposed budget. The people deserve more than just subpar representation and finger-pointing, and it is your duty to be accountable to the oath that you have sworn to uphold,” Nicholas concluded.