A volatile situation

By Hilbert Haar

So now what? The factions of the United People’s party (UP), Democratic Party (DP) and USp-MP Chanel Brownbill sent the William Marlin government home with a motion of no confidence. No surprise there, but the question is now whether this change of the guard is going to do the people who live in St. Maarten any good.

For sure, UP, DP and Brownbill – together good for eight seats, or a slim one-seat majority in the 15-seat Parliament – have taken away the obstacles that stood in the way of obtaining financial aid for the country’s reconstruction by agreeing to all the conditions the Kingdom government demanded with regard to the Integrity Chamber and the one about border control.

We are however not out of the woods yet, because Marlin will dissolve the Parliament – if he makes good on his word of last Wednesday – and that means that the country is heading once more for elections. Some MPs mentioned December 20 as a possible election date.

Until that time there are two options: the outgoing government handles current affairs and stays away from controversial issues – or the new majority installs an interim-cabinet.

Anyone who is able to read a calendar will realize that the second option is more wishful thinking than anything else. Time is simply too short.

This means therefore that the country will be saddled with a lame-duck government – minus its Minister of Finance and minus its Minister of Public Health, Social Development and Labor. In other words, this is a team with a severe handicap – and that at a time when the country could use all hands on deck.

In the aftermath of Hurricane Irma, St. Maarten is not only facing tough times, it is also facing tough decisions. We’re not talking about reconstruction; we’re talking about the blows the private sector will endure in the months to come. Those decisions in turn will have an effect on a handicapped government.

Businesses will close down, people will be out of a job and in the end they will run out of money too.

That all this will create a volatile situation is a bit of a no-brainer.

And how will a government with limited decision-making power handle that situation? We understood already that (now former) Finance Minister Gibson has doubled the money for social welfare in his amended 2017 budget.

Unfortunately, he did not mention an amount and there is no way of knowing whether that money will be enough to keep a large number of unemployed islanders happy.

It sure as hell is not gonna be a Merry Christmas for a lot of people in St. Maarten this year.

The new majority in Parliament has declared, in different ways, that the Marlin-government has failed miserably in the aftermath of Hurricane Irma. Whether that is a true or a false statement is a matter of opinion.

But by pointing that out, the new majority has suggested that it has all – or at least better – answers to handle the crisis. Whether that is a true or false statement is not a matter of opinion. It is a matter of time before we will get to know whether they were bluffing or whether they really have an ace up their sleeve.

Source: StMaartenNews http://stmaartennews.com/opinions/a-volatile-situation/