Some Opposition MP’s walked out of hall. MP Lloyd Richardson voted for the draft 2016 budget —- Draft 2016 approved by eight votes all in favor.
PHILIPSBURG:— The chair of parliament read out a letter sent to her by MP Leona Marlin Romeo indicating that she wants to review the amendments, therefore she retracted them, further to that the chair denounced the statements that the MP made stating that the meeting was closed abruptly. Chairlady of Parliament Sarah Wescot Williams outlined that the amendments proposed by MP Leona Marlin Romeo was not seconded by any of her colleagues in Parliament therefore it cannot be taken into consideration, she further clarified that the meeting was not closed abruptly but instead it was closed after all the speakers on the speakers list had spoken.
Minister of Finance Richard Gibson in his presentation made clear that during the second round no questions were asked regarding the draft 2016 budget but instead a number of statements were made. Minister Gibson said that one MP screamed out during his statements that nothing was done for the elderly, he said that was notthing was done over the years and what his government did recently to assist the elderly while he also mentioned that government plans to do more from the revenues they gained from the parking garage that is to be constructed in Simpson Bay, he clarified that based on the draft 2016 budget there is a lot will be done for pensioners.
He said he was asked what risks it will pose if they deviate from the budget, he said that should there be a natural disaster it will cause the budget to explode, he also gave an example to what happened in Europe where all the countries budgets exploded due to the acts of terrorism.
Minister Gibson said in the budget there is reasonable amount for risks and or incidents. Gibson said that there is monies allocated for neo-natal problems, even though he was not required to say anything about that since the amendments proposed by MP Marlin Romeo was not supported and she eventually retracted them.
The Minister of Finance clearly stated that the draft 2016 budget will generate more income which will be used to compliment any shortfall the NGO’s may have had due to the current budget constraints.
He pleaded with the Parliament not to give the CFT a chance not to approve the draft 2016 budget, but instead let the country deal with its shortcomings, and when more monies are available they will fill the gaps. He also made clear that due to the current situation including the NAF.60M debt and instruction imposed on St. Maarten, the draft 2016 budget is the best they could have now. Gibson asked Members of Parliament to put their differences aside and vote for the budget unanimously in order to send a clear message to the world and those looking at St. Maarten with a microscope.
When it comes to the voting on the budget, the Members of Parliament from the opposition wanted to have the meeting postponed because three of their members did not attend the meeting on Thursday. Members of Parliament voted on that proposal which was not supported. Seven MPs voted in favor of moving forward with the people’s business while four voted for it to be postponed.
MP Rudolph Samuel pointed out that during the budget debate the 15 MPs were present but many of them did not participate in the budget debate. MP Samuel even reminded the Members of the Parliament that one of their own even stated he did not have nothing to say in the last meeting. MP Maurice Lake also indicated that the people’s business must go on even if MPs are not in the house.
The motions presented by MP Samuel one being that taxi and bus drivers must have a valid identification card in their vehicles, the second motion regarding the mandatory services for the youth, and youth employment, and the third motion job secured scholarships were all adopted by the parliament of St. Maarten.
When it reached the time to vote for the budget some of the MPs from the opposition left the hall of parliament without voting. The only MP that remained in the hall to vote was MP Lloyd Richardson who said that he went through all the budget debates, and this one will be no exception. MP Lloyd Richardson said that he had a direct discussion with the Minister of Finance and he holds the Minister of Finance to his word without the need to have anything on paper. He also said because he knows the budget is a projection and knows that his country is in peril he voted in favor of the budget since they are men and women in the people’s house.
MP Silvio Matser who was only released from prison on Wednesday afternoon made clear when motivating his vote that despite that he had two horrible weeks yet he was in parliament on Thursday because his country means everything to him, especially the situation regarding the country’s youths. He said that those who believe that the seat he has in parliament was bought they are dead wrong because his seat in parliament came from the hearts of the people who voted for him. He said it is sad to see when one person has problems others rejoice. MP Matser said it does not matter what others tried, the draft 2016 budget will pass by parliament then he voted in favor of the draft budget. He also took the opportunity to give GOD praise and said “NO Arms Formed Against him will Prosper.”
The chair of parliament before disclosing the results of the votes cast, quoted the constitution which stated that all MPs are supposed to vote either for or against since there is nothing like abstaining from voting. She then disclosed the results of the votes, eight votes cast, all in favor of the draft budget of 2016.
Source: St. Martin News Network MP Leona Marlin retracts amendments she proposed, due to lack of support and to review the amendments.