~Young Ministers also have challenges but are on the right track.~
PHILIPSBURG:--- Prime Minister Silveria Jacobs believes that her young cabinet members are doing fairly well despite the pressure they faced from the Netherlands to obtain liquidity support. The Prime Minister was responding to questions posed by SMN News regarding how satisfied they are with their performance since entering office. Jacobs said that her cabinet took office during challenging times as the island was now recovering from Hurricane Irma when the COVID-19 pandemic hit.
Jacobs said on March 28th, 2021 her government celebrated one year in office and everyone knows that her government has the youngest members of the Council of Ministers in the country’s history as such innovations and finding solutions are the key changes she noted. “My Government has been faced with challenges that no other governments faced as such we are doing the best we can under the circumstances.”
Jacobs also credited the communication she has had with the coalition partners that support the Jacobs 2 cabinet despite the undue pressure the country received from the Netherlands to obtain liquidity support. The Prime Minister reminded that her government stood up to the Netherlands and the various conditions and the heavy-handed behavior even though they are facing those challenges on a daily basis. Jacobs said she agreed with the statements made by Members of Parliament regarding the conditions levied against St. Maarten. “We did our best to maintain the integrity and laws of the country even though we gave in to a certain extent to obtain liquidity support. Right now, the same heavy-handed behavior is being displayed since Parliament submitted the petition to the United Nations, even though the country has accepted to follow the trajectory of the COHO."
“We are now being told that because Members of Parliament issued a petition it is being used against us and we are told we cannot be of two minds, while parliament is asked to clarify statements made related to the COHO in their petition visa vis their support for the Jacobs 2 cabinet to follow the trajectory.” St. Maarten’s Prime Minister said that now there is an opportunity for all parties to sit around the table to come to a real consensus regarding the COHO while removing the heavy-handedness that has been identified by the State Council. “If the Netherlands wants to show that they have not been discriminating or heavy-handed against St. Maarten then this is their opportunity, if this is achieved then I can truly say that St. Maarten is on its way to having true equity in the Kingdom, even though not sure if the islands will ever get true equality.”
There is still a lot that governments around the world want to do but are unable to do due to the financial constraints brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic.
In the meantime, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of VROMI Egbert Doran said in his response that while they are working in the interest of the country while maintaining law and order the sentiments and feedback he is getting is as if they are being picked on. Doran said when inspectors conduct controls persons feel they are being targeted or picked on while the government is only trying to apply the law. The same sentiments he said are shared when the Department of Domain Affairs tries to collect dues that are owned by the government, the same he said are being expressed in the area of infrastructure management, such as garbage collection. Doran said that he will continue to work in the best interest of the country while implementing the law, even though the mistakes of the past have placed the government where they are today however unpopular decisions will have to be made during the country’s downtime for the great come back. He recalled on the homeporting that the Minister of TEATT is working on that will greatly benefit St. Maarten.
Minister of Justice Anna Richardson also shared the same sentiments when it comes to making unpopular decisions. “I am one of those Ministers who received the most backlash when it comes to making changes and taking unpopular decisions however, I accepted it with honor because I am confident that positive changes are on the way. Richardson said every Minister in the Jacobs 2 cabinet is dedicated in their services and the oat they have taken. The Minister of Justice made clear that if certain cultures and practices have been developed over the years outside of the law then she is committed to changing that course.
The Minister of Education Rodolphe Samuel, the most senior politician within the Council of Ministers has also expressed his concerns over the amount of pressure being placed on St. Maarten by the Netherlands. Samuel said while he is someone that shares less of his views and remains silent most of the time, he too has an opinion on how the countries of the Kingdom are being treated, he said right now he wants to know what else will be demanded of the country and what more does the Netherlands want from St. Maarten and its people.
Maintaining Good Governance and appointing people to boards of Government-owned companies.
Asked if the government wants to clear up the cloud hanging over the country by having complete supervisory and managing boards at government-owned companies. Prime Minister Jacobs said based on the questions being posed by the Netherlands one would think there are now laws relating to governance on St. Maarten.
Jacobs said in the past when certain politicians entered offices’ they appointed friends and families to boards of government-owned companies that went to work. The Prime Minister said that without making changes to the policies in place no member of government could appoint friends and families’ but they must follow proper procedures that are sometimes very lengthy.
She said it is the decisions to appoint management boards and supervisory board members that are decisions of the Council of Ministers and not a particular Minister. She said in the past one would think that appointments for N.V GEBE are done by the Minister of VROMI while the Harbor and Airport would have been the Minister of TEATT. Jacobs said that was never the case and her government is ensuring that all procedures are followed prior to making appointments and dismissing of persons.
Jacobs said that process is long and when it comes to screening that also takes a lot of time because the screening does not only involve the selected candidate but also their families.