PHILIPSBURG, St. Maarten (January 7, 2016) – Governor Eugene Holiday may have said September 26 is the final date for elections in the December 14 national decree, but United People’s (UP) party leader Member of Parliament (MP) Theo Heyliger says there is “a huge possibility” the Coalition of Eight, at least by mid-year, will request “yet another postponement” of the ballot.
The postponement of the elections, issuance of at least new two casino licences, the formation of new marketing firms, rather than the implementation of the tourism authority, the non-institution of the integrity chamber by the Coalition and the resulting silence of the Dutch Government are among the top 10 things, Heyliger says, will happen in 2016.
Heyliger said Thursday, “The National Alliance leader said in a past Council of Ministers press conference he will seek the support of the kingdom government on electoral reform. It was a subtle hint, but a telling one, nevertheless. Why seek the help when he was clear only a week before that statement that no outside assistance was needed to bring about reform.”
The “only assistance” the Coalition can be seeking from the Dutch Government is “consent to allow another change of date to bring about yet another stumbling block for democracy. Yet another way to thwart the progress of St. Maarten,” Heyliger said.
“Of course, the Coalition may well get their wish. After all, it is clear the same rules does not apply as when UP is in office. A UP Government making any change to an election date would have been decried totalitarian and, as leader, I may have been labelled worse,” he said.
Heyliger’s second prediction for 2016 is the Integrity Chamber will not be instituted. “The Dutch Government won’t say anything. After all, the National Alliance voted against the Integrity Chamber. The DP will forget about its integrity campaign. The matter will go dead after all the threats to St. Maarten’s autonomy,” he said.
The Coalition will issue two new casino licenses, said Heyliger. “One casino licence will be issued for the harbour and another for the airport. What will be the reason the Coalition will give? The need to stimulate economic activity and revenue for Government, via its companies. Again, the Dutch Government won’t say anything. There will be utter and complete silence as there will about the Casino Gaming Board,” he said.
Two more casino licences coming onboard will result in a drastic change in approach by the Coalition to collect casino fees, Heyliger forecasted. “Finance Minister Richard Gibson will take a radically different stance on the collection of casino debt; citing Government’s needs to readdress the situation. After all, it’s supposed to be an election year and there will be two new casino licences, two of the thorns that were in the side of UP, or, should I say, two of the reasons the UP coalition was broken by former coalition members,” he said.
The Coalition will also issue a number of taxi and bus licences without taking into consideration the number of licences already on the road, Heyliger said. “There will be no study, impact assessment, nothing. It will be done and it will be done quietly, but we will be watching,” he said.
The push to amend the Labour Laws by the National Alliance to address the short-term labour contracts will cease, Heyliger said. “Think about the businesses that thrive on short term contracts and think about the two licences that will be issued by NA to keep its coalition together. Also, think about it in terms of it supposedly being an election year,” he said.
The St. Maarten Tourism Authority (STA) will not come off the ground, said Heyliger, “Rather, new marketing firms will be contracted without private sector involvement. Tourism will continue to suffer and the people of St. Maarten by extension,” he said.
Affordable housing via starter homes will be stalled, said Heyliger. “One member of the Coalition was all about housing for the people. Now, there is silence and not even a cornerstone has been laid,” he said.
“Same with the sewage plant. The need has been lost in the crush to halt everything the former Cabinet had been working on. The sewage situation will continue to be a health hazard and, again, it is the people who will continue to suffer. The Dutch side will be made to look like an unreliable partner for our French side counterparts on the sewage project,” said Heyliger.
“The stalling of the hospital project has already been predicted and it is coming to pass as the days go by. It is the method of this Coalition to make everything appear sinister to distract from the fact that they do not have solutions or answers nor can they successfully get anything of true worth to the people of the country,” Heyliger said.