~ UPP Faction Leader took a stance for SXM at Parlatino meeting in matters of Foreign Relations. ~
PHILIPSBURG: ---- Member of Parliament and Leader of the United Democrats Sarah Wescot Williams told reporters on Monday that she is still very much dissatisfied with the answers provided to the parliament of St. Maarten last week regarding the amended petition that was submitted to Special Rapporteur on Contemporary Forms of Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia, and Related Intolerance and The Working Group of Experts On People of African Descent.” on behalf of the parliament of St. Maarten.
Wescot Williams said that despite her posing several questions on the floor of parliament when the committee meeting was held the answers to her questions have not been forthcoming.
Wescot Williams said that she is very much concerned with the contents of the amended petition and the way matters of parliament are handled. She explained that the parliament of St. Maarten was not informed about the petition and its contents prior to it being sent. “I am concerned about the way this matter is handled and I am also concerned about the motion that was passed in 2020 which appears to have given the chair of parliament a carte blanche.”
The UD leader said that even though she asked about the funds being paid to the Coharis Law Firm that information is not forthcoming. I do not know if this law firm is on the budget of parliament and if they are being paid a monthly fee, I am very dissatisfied with the way the information is provided to the parliament of St. Maarten.”
Wescot Williams said she sent a letter to the Prime Minister requesting information on the budget for 2022. Wescot Williams said people were misled when the government said that the 2022 budget had to be passed if not people were not going to be paid. This time around the Member of Parliament said she wants information from the government of St. Maarten regarding the amendment presented by the coalition parties of the government specifically regarding the cuts on the budget of the integrity chamber.
Wescot Williams said the coalition parties agreed to cut 28% of the budget that was presented by the integrity chamber. The MP explained that St. Maarten has to foot the bill of the integrity chamber in its totality in 2022 since the Netherlands will no longer finance or contribute to the budget of the integrity chamber. She said prior to this amendment the integrity chamber noted in their 2020 annual reports that the budget they were given was not enough to cover their expenses. Wescot Williams said the reports stated that the integrity chamber managed due to the COVID-19 pandemic because they were unable to execute all projects that were planned.
The MP said she wants information on the budget submitted by the integrity chamber and what it was based on and how the cuts will affect them. Wescott Williams said the government of St. Maarten budgeted NAF 2.4M and based on the amendment the budget was cut by 28%. She said because of this she needs information on the operations of the integrity chamber and how would the cuts change their financial picture.
Brison commits St. Maarten in Foreign Affairs at Parlatino.
Wescot Williams said she also requested a meeting with the committee of parliament that handles matters of Parlatino so that they can discuss the agreements that were reached by members of parliament that attended the last Parlatino meeting especially the general assembly of parlatino. Wescot Williams said while reviewing the recordings of Parlatino she noted that some model laws have been accepted, thus she would like to see the laws and wanted them handled in the St. Maarten parlatino committee of parliament.
Wescot Williams said during the General Assembly Member of Parliament and Faction Leader of the United Peoples Party Rolando Brison addressed the assembly on the matter of Argentina and their conflict with the United Kingdom.
Wescot Williams said this matter was discussed in the General Assembly when the representatives of Argentina were pushing for the matter to remain on the agenda of parlatino. She said MP Brison in his presentation said St. Maarten supports Argentina because of what St. Maarten is going through and the threat to democracy. She said following the statement made by the St. Maarten representative a member of parliament from Aruba said he could not take a stance or give an expression on the matter regarding Argentina because they are part of the Dutch Kingdom just like St. Maarten and matters of Foreign Affairs remain under the Kingdom of the Netherlands.
“We need to get our position straight when it comes to foreign affairs therefore, I will table this issue when the meeting is called. For an MP from the Parliament of St. Maarten to take a position and say that the matter concerning Argentina is the same as St. Maarten is an indictment towards the Dutch Kingdom. I also asked that the Prime Minister report to parliament or designate someone when this meeting is called to explain to the parliament of St. Maarten their position when it comes to foreign affairs and how should St. Maarten maneuver when there are discussions relating to foreign affairs.” Wescot Williams said that the coalition needs to be clear on matters of Foreign Affairs and the direction they want to take.
Letter to Minister of Justice on multi-disciplinary controls.
Wescot Williams said she also expedited a letter to the Minister of Justice seeking information on the matter regarding the controls that were held by the multi-disciplinary teams and the outcome of those controls. She said she wants to know how many cases were filed against the government of St. Maarten when it comes to immigration cases on refusal and or denial. The MP said she also wants the Minister to address the statements made by the attorney that filed the cases last week where the attorney said that the Ministry of Justice is working in contravention of existing laws.
Wescot Williams said she tied her questions into the country packages and the reform measures since one of the measures are to combat illegal employment with foreign workers in consensus among stakeholders notably the social partners.
The MP said that the COHO which is under construction has a plan of approach for the measure of combatting illegal employment of foreign workers. This plan can be found on the COHO website where it states that the plan is to come to a consensus among stakeholders and social partners. This has been established on the management of labor migration and working towards a culture of compliance. Short-term and mid-term measures have been taken in the plan of approach. Consensus building has finished identifying the direction of structural changes in the immigration and labor laws and policies including proposals for laws and changes in regulations as well as stakeholders' commitment and business regulations.
Wescot Williams said upon reading the plan of approach published on the COHO website she wants to know who the stakeholders are and who will be assigned for consulting.
Wescot Williams further explained that while the government and its Ministers are portraying as their own initiatives, is contrary to what is seen in the country packages and its conditions. Based on what is seen clearly shows that the plans of approach are on track. “The good thing about these plans of approach is it is structural and not adhoc with the action here or there.”
However, the Ministers and government have to own up to the fact that they are not free in what they are doing due to the country package and the implementation agenda that has specific actions that are outlined for the first quarter as well as the second quarter.