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Brison says COHO removal is a ‘big win’ for St. Maarten.

rolandobrison22032020PHILIPSBURG:--- The United People's Party UP Leader and Member of Parliament Rolando Brison said Monday, “the removal of the COHO is a big win for St. Maarten and a step in the right direction for improved relations between the Netherlands and the Caribbean Dutch territories."
He said, “As I have stated in parliament during the handling of the COHO law, Having the country packages as a method of reform is much better than a COHO. For one, the local government must agree on the content, as opposed to an entity based in the Netherlands. Equally important is the fact that any budgetary implications would form part of the parliamentary debate as it is the Parliament that approves the budget. With a COHO, it was never clear if we would end up in a “wie betaald bepaald” (who pays dictates) with the Netherlands, and the parliament becomes a rubber stamp. This is a big win for St. Maarten.”
According to MP Brison, "The UP Party subscribes to the Dutch Government's position that reforms are needed for the Caribbean Netherlands Countries to advance sustainably." Still, he says, "Each government should take the lead on those reforms." He was reacting to news that the Prime Ministers of Curacao, Aruba, and St. Maarten, along with State Secretary of Kingdom Relations and Digitalization Alexandra van Huffelen, have agreed on removing the consensus Kingdom Act on COHO (Caribbean Body of Reform and Development).
The Governments of St. Maarten, Curacao, and Aruba have agreed on “a mutual regulation" that replaces the proposed consensus Kingdom Act on COHO (Caribbean Body for Reform and Development).
The Netherlands assisted the Caribbean Netherlands during COVID-19 by making EUR 1 billion in emergency liquidity loans available to support public finances. A condition for granting liquidity loans was that St. Maarten, Aruba, and Curacao agreed to accelerate reforms to help their economy and society better absorb a future crisis. These reforms would have been decided on and monitored by the Caribbean Body for Reform and Development COHO as a new form of a multi-year cooperation agreement.
Brison said, "Without the COHO, we have put forward reforms in healthcare where the Ministry of VSA (Public Health, Social Development, and Labour) presented legislation to Parliament to increase the SZV (Social and Health Insurances) limit. This law now gives medical coverage to more working-class people on St. Maarten."
"We have also seen reforms related to the construction of the new General Hospital, which incidentally formed part of the recommendations in the Country Package. We recognized these reforms as necessary. We made the adjustments to allow more progress in the hospital construction than in the past without coercion. Those reforms will ultimately lead to the timely completion of a state-of-the-art General Hospital."
Brison said the Mistry of TEATT (Tourism, Economic Affairs, and Transportation & Telecommunication), which also falls under the UP Party in the UP/National Alliance Coalition, is also finalizing several reforms. One such reform involves simplifying the process of acquiring some business licenses that are more frequently requested.
He said, “We will accomplish this while improving the working relationship with the Ministry of TEATT and the St. Maarten Chamber of Commerce and Industry.”
"Another initiative law by the UP Party faction in Parliament relating to improving the Residency and Work Permit application process has already been presented to the Ministries of VSR and Justice, after which it will go to the Council of Advice. The idea is to merge the Residency and Work Permits, raise the fees to cover the administrative costs incurred by Government, and make the process faster. Brison believes the future discussions with the Netherlands should continue in the tone of recent developments, which leans towards more respect for each country's autonomy. "At the same time, we accept that more autonomy means we are accountable for our decisions," said Brison.
He said reforms should be constant as they are necessary to help St. Maarten identify priorities, become more competitive in areas such as Tourism, and become much more inclusive and resilient.
"Reforms will promote the enactment of new legislations that create better-functioning institutions. Our role as Members of Parliament and Government is to work in the interest and benefit of each individual living and working in St. Maarten. Reforms will bring improvements in industries and technology, transportation, education, health care or social policies."

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