MP Buncamper questions ramifications of national ordinances submitted to Constitutional Court by the Ombudsman | SOUALIGA NEWSDAY

SINT MAARTEN (PHILIPSBURG) – Taking into account that the 2020 Budget amendment which includes the cost cutting measures established by national ordinance in December 2020 which have been reviewed by the Ombudsman, who in turn submitted the three draft ordinances to the Constitutional Court for revision with the recommendation that these be “squashed”, Member of Parliament (MP) Claudius “Toontje” Buncamper of the United Sint Maarten Party (USP) faction in parliament said in a press statement on Thursdays that it wonders what this means for St. Maarten. The laws will have to be retracted because, according to the ombudsman, they are in contradiction with the constitution and are not based on equality.

When the St. Maarten parliament agreed to the conditions it was based on the assumption that our constitution, the kingdom charter and international treaties were not being contravened. According to the ombudsman that is not the case! The laws need to be amended to adjust and correct the inequality and denial of certain rights of freedom.

According to the Ombudsman, the call by the St. Maarten parliament that we are being treated unequal, with some groups being excluded from the solidarity movement of income and benefits cuts, seems not be a cry in the wilderness. To say that the St. Maarten government is top heavy is an unjustifiable statement.

MP Buncamper questions the rationale to approve the amendments to the 2020 budget, while awaiting the verdict of constitutional court. The ombudsman has done what parliament and government have failed to do. The St. Maarten government complied with the conditions laid down by Dutch State Secretary Raymond Knops for the sake of money in order to keep the country afloat from the financial disaster we are facing as a result of the passing of Hurricane Irma in 2017 and COVID 19. The decision had been criticized by many who used the opportunity to highlight the parliament’s and the government’s incompetence and shortcomings, while it is understandable that the decision was made with the intension to save the country’s finances, businesses and the population. 

I am happy that the ombudsman has taken on the challenging task to apprise the “handtied” government that it accepting unlawful conditions that are not in line with the country’s constitution. The ombudsman warned that the matter will be challenged in the constitutional court. The chance that the amendments will be proven unlawful is great.

“It amazes me that the many legal minds across the ocean didn’t notice the unlawfulness or just didn’t take it serious” Buncamper said, ‘It would be interesting to know what the position is of the Kingdom council of Ministers and by extension the 2nd chamber”. 

According to the ombudsman our constitution was trampled upon when these laws were made. Thank God the process took as long as it did. 

MP Buncamper said that the current situation presents some questions, which he hopes that the minister of finance can answer. 

With the situation we find ourselves in today, what implications can this have on the moving forward with the agreements with the Dutch government for future liquidity support?

What implications can the approval of the amended budget have, should there be a positive verdict of the ombudsman’s case recommending the squashing of the laws?

How much funds have been removed from the 2020 budget as a result of the 12.5% cuts of the civil servants income, the subsidized entities and the 25% of the political office holders?

Source: Souliga Newsday