PHILIPSBURG, Sint Maarten –– Prime Minister William Marlin reiterated the urgency for a vote on the budget for St. Maarten in the midst of the arrest of Member of Parliament (MP) Silvio Matser, which he said will affect the passage of the budget.
“The interest of this country cannot be put on the back burner or in second place because there is a Member of Parliament who is under investigation going back to two years ago, whose case the investigation was completed some ten months ago. Now that on the day that you are going to handle a budget, you are going to arrest that person,” a disgruntled Marlin told members of the media at an urgently called press conference Friday, March 4.
Matser’s detainment is a part of the ongoing “Octopus” investigation into suspected election fraud (vote buying) in the August 2014 Parliamentary Elections. Matser was arrested early Wednesday morning, March 2. His arrest puts approval of the budget at risk, as the government has a one-seat majority in Parliament.
The Prime Minister noted that this situation is a clear indication why St. Maarten needs its own Attorney General. The Attorney General, based in Curaçao, said he was not aware that the budget debate was taking place in St. Maarten. While not indicating if he believes the act was deliberate, Prime Minister Marlin said the incident makes one frown.
“It’s difficult to believe that an Attorney General did not know that the budget of St. Marten was being handled on that day, and if a call was made by the authorities on St. Maarten to say yes, go ahead or the call was made from St. Maarten to the Attorney General saying we are ready, then those making the call from St. Maarten should have known the repercussion this would have had,” Marlin lamented.
Meanwhile, Marlin made it clear that he is not seeking to form a new government having met with other Members of Parliament in a bid to get their support to pass the budget. He recounted approaching MP Lloyd Richardson, who in the past is known to cross party lines in support of the budget. The Prime Minister noted that several proposals were banded about by other Members of Parliament in an informal meeting this week, focused mainly on taking control of the government by removing all independent Members of Parliament, and forming a new government with only political parties represented in government.
Marlin scoffed at the idea and made it clear that he is not negotiating a new government for St. Maarten. “I want to make it abundantly clear, there is a government in place. At no point in time did I make any attempt to form any government…I have initiated no discussion to form a government. I have not been involved in any negotiations to form a government and it is not my intention or desire at this point in time of this coalition to branch off or form any new government,” he said.
Prime Minister Marlin believes this situation is dragging out the approval of the budget, which is very important to the progress of St. Maarten. He wants the matter resolved as soon as possible.
Source: 721 news Marlin wants urgent resolution to budget vote impasse