SINT MAARTEN (PHILIPSBURG) – Independent Member of Parliament (MP) Christophe Emmanuel on Friday said in a press statement that while he can empathize with the position the Prime Minister finds herself in after the Kingdom Council of Ministers decided to hold off on releasing liquidity support, it is unfortunately a reflection of her weakness as a leader, no cohesion in the coalition and the results of her government playing dangerous games with the Dutch. “I have warned this government to be direct, to be forthcoming, to be honest. They chose to lie and deflect,” the MP said.
MP Emmanuel said he takes no pleasure in telling the government “I told you so” and does not minimize the financial obligations that the government has to meet, but going to Holland to grovel had the expected results after the government itself showed the world that they have no clue how to solve the country’s problems, on top of months of lying and playing games with the Dutch.
“When you tell the world that there is no plan B, no alternative other than depending on the Dutch for liquidity support, you place yourself in a position of weakness to be taken advantage of. And this is exactly what State Secretary Knops has done,” Emmanuel said. Moreover, he continued, “by admitting you have no plans, you admit that the people should not expect any solutions from their government whom they elected to govern the country and provide them with a decent way of life. This means you are admitting your incompetence as a government, eroding any confidence the people had in you,” he said.
Emmanuel said while the Prime Minister mentioned corporate governance at the airport as the sticking point with the Dutch, she did not mention what specifically the Dutch wanted to be done with the airport. He said decades of dealing with the Dutch have taught him that they never leave out what they specifically want in any situation. As such, the Prime Minister of St. Maarten, he said, has to come clean.
“Tell us what the Dutch really want with PJIA. In our last Parliament meeting on the subject I specifically asked what is Knops definition of good corporate governance, because while government thinks it means getting rid of Dexter Doncher, Knops obviously wants much more than that. So what is it? Does he want binding decisions to be made only by the supervisory board of the airport (PJIAE)? Taking the holding board out of the picture? What is it? The Prime Minister is obliged to inform Parliament and the people what Knops wants with their property and must be very, very careful not to give up our airport in order to get Naf 39 million that we have to pay back,” the MP said.
He said the Prime Minister has already secured her legacy of signing away St. Maarten’s autonomy by signing for country packages and supporting COHO, and should be careful not to set a precedent of “giving for getting.” Today it is the airport. When the 39 is done in about a month, the demand will be the harbor when you go begging for money again. Remember, you told them you had no plan b. So you gave them all of the leverage to ask for what they want,” the MP said, adding that any agreement involving PJIA without the knowledge of Parliament should also result in a motion of no confidence against the government as the sole shareholder of the airport.
MP Emmanuel also re-iterated that State Secretary Knops is also a “bold face liar” that completely lacks integrity and should never utter the words that he cares about St. Maarten people again. He said government has to “find its spine” and lend the money it needs. “What are they going to do if you do what you have to, to support your people and run your country? Why is it ok for them to break the law and break agreements by not providing the liquidity support after St. Maarten did everything it was asked to do, but St. Maarten can’t and should not do the same?
“We met all conditions. Yet they are allowed to walk all over us and we shouldn’t do anything for ourselves. I have called for us to stand with one voice against these unconscionable tactics by the Dutch. As long as we are divided, their behavior will never change. Instead of taking up my call, government said I as fear-mongering.”
The MP said the public should not forget that while government said it had exhausted all funding options, it has never disclosed what exactly these options were that it exhausted. He said nobody could ever determine what government did to save itself other than continuously accept conditions and demands from the Dutch, which included cutting the income of workers.
“This government has not been serious about doing about making real sacrifices to tide the country over and save from within. They kept hiring people right after cutting the income of current civil servants, they did not make serious internal operational cuts, but accepted brand new cars, which means more gasoline bon sect, the spending never stopped. Why?, because the government became dependent and never truly worked on getting the country out of crisis. The Dutch, being the Dutch, understood desperation when they saw it and are now using the situation to get their hands on St. Maarten’s assets,” Emmanuel said.
He continued: “This government acts cowardly. They only thing they are good for is destroying their own people. Cut the income of your workers, suspend Dexter Doncher for which we still have no explanation, defend foreign nationals being placed in positions over your own. This government can put down their people, but refuse to stand up to the Dutch and be bold and assertive with the mandate the people gave to them. We not only have a democratic deficit to contend with, we have an intellectual deficit with this government when they go up against the Dutch. We have clearly lost that battle on all fronts.”