PHILIPSBURG, Sint Maarten -– Independent Member of Parliament (MP) Leona Marlin-Romeo plans to request an urgent meeting with the Minister of Public Health, Social Development and Labour (Ministry VSA) on the issue of the unlawful interference of the Council of Ministers on the closure of food establishments and the hindrance of inspectors to work independently.
“Over the past months many establishments have been rightfully closed by the Inspectorate of VSA Dr. Best for the violation of food safety regulations.
“Recently the Inspectorate closed a prominent restaurant at the Sonesta Maho Beach Resort, however the decision was immediately overturned despite the restaurant having a sewage pit in the kitchen that releases a bad odour and pest infestation was also found in the kitchen.
“This was a joint effort with the Immigration Department and Customs. Each entity has their own task. This has my full attention as Independent Member of Parliament due to the fact that the Council of Ministers are not allowed to interfere in the work of enforcement agencies.
“The right to question the actions is allowed but interference is not. Furthermore local establishments are not privy to that sort of ‘connected first class treatment,’” stated the MP.
“Moreover, it is the opinion of this Member of Parliament that civil servants are being hindered from doing their jobs, and the decision of the ministers will only frustrate and demotivate them.
“When looking at the recent actions of the Minister and as by extension the Council of Ministers, it is clear that they have crippled the inspectors to carry out their jobs without prejudice.
“It is the duty of the Council of Ministers to empower civil servants to execute their work according to the law,” stated MP Marlin-Romeo, adding that, “…undermining their hard work is insulting and condescending.”
Member of Parliament Leona Marlin Romeo stated that equal treatment should be given to all and not only the privileged and prominent persons on Sint Maarten, neither businesses, nor any special interest group should be able to hold the Council of Ministers hostage.
“It is the job of the Minister to protect the people. The assurance of restaurants following and adhering to the food regulations of Sint Maarten is critical for this island is known for its gastronomic cuisines,” MP Leona Marlin-Romeo concluded.