St. Maarten News: The Kingdom Council of Ministers cannot deviate from an advice issued by a dispute regulator, unless such a deviation is properly motivated,” Kingdom Relations Minister Ronald Plasterk said at a press conference yesterday at the end of his visit to St. Maarten. With this statement, Plasterk seems to come back from his earlier stance that the Kingdom Council of Ministers should always have the last word in disputes between the countries in the kingdom.
The only issue that separates Plasterk and the Caribbean autonomous countries St. Maarten, Aruba and Curacao from a breakthrough is the question which high Council of State should be appointed as the dispute regulator. Plasterk has proposed the Council of State, the Caribbean countries favor the Supreme Court, most likely because it stands at more of a distance from politics than the Council of State.
The dispute regulation has been under discussion for the past five years. Plasterk’s proposal last year, after the Kingdom Conference, to begin with a temporary solution with the Council of State as the dispute regulator did not find support from the Caribbean countries; nor does his current proposal.
Plasterk does support a dispute regulation. “Not only for legal issues, for any issue,” he said yesterday. “The outcome of such a procedure should not be taken lightly. Members of the Kingdom Council of Ministers should not diverge from these decisions, unless they are able to motivate them properly.”
Plasterk’s visit to St. Maarten was more of a greet-and-meet than a mission to discuss serious issues. He visited the Council of Ministers yesterday morning, basically to get introduced to the ministers. “We discussed no issued of major concern,” Prime Minister William Marlin said at the press conference at the end of the day.
In the afternoon, Plasterk met with the prime minister, Minister of Justice Edson Kirindongo and Finance Minister Richard Gibson for more in-depth discussions, but the issues they discussed did not light any fires either.
“As far as the Integrity Chamber is concerned, we have agreed to await the ruling of the Constitutional Court,” Marlin said. “Then we will take it from there.”
The budget was not an issue either, since the Governor submitted it to parliament by the January 31 deadline. “We are now awaiting the advice from the Cft,” Marlin said.
Plasterk furthermore discussed justice-related issues, in particular the support that has been promised by the Netherlands to St. Maarten, “Details have not been worked out yet,” Marlin said.
Minister Plasterk spoke of “a fruitful visit” where he got to know the members of the Council of Ministers. He also met with the president and the two vice-presidents of parliament – Sarah Wescot-Williams, George Pantophlet and Frans Richardson. Furthermore, the minister paid a visit to the harbor where he received information from managing director Mark Mingo.
The meeting with the Council of Ministers was however Plasterk’s main reason for being on the island. “I was very impressed with Minister Emil Lee,” he said with a reference to the plans for a new hospital. “I will be happy to help. Minister Lee is not only thinking about the building, but about the entire business plan.”
Plasterk was also pleased to hear from Minister Irania Arrindell about the research into a fast ferry connection with Saba and Statia.
The minister described his meeting with ministers Kirindongo and Gibson as positive. “I have a lot of faith that they will do well,” he said. “There are a lot of pressing issues to deal with that cannot wait until after the elections. They have to be tackled, all for the wellbeing of the people who live here.”