St. Maarten – “Every half hour wasted by Members of Parliament costs taxpayers nine hundred guilders. (15 x 60 is 900 guilders). This amount is close to what some persons in our community earn monthly after deductions. It equals the school fee for others. For yet others, it equals the monthly cost for day-care,” Democratic Party MP and President of parliament Sarah Wescot-Williams stated after a meeting of parliament did not take place on Monday morning due to a lack of quorum. More accurately, seven MPs who were present did not sign in for the meeting.
“So on Monday, October 26, when 14 Members of Parliament sat around and only 7 members signed the attendees’ list, the only duped ones were the taxpayers, who pay all 15 members a full time salary to defend the very same taxpayers,” Wescot-Wiliams stated. “Sad to see that this “old-school” practice is still very much alive in some sections of the Parliament of St. Maarten.”
The former prime minister acknowledges in het statement that parliament is a political body where you will inevitably see some political maneuvering and posturing. “However, Monday’s meeting was not about political mileage one way or another. It was about ratifying the membership in the different committees of parliament. A meeting for this same agenda point, scheduled for October 1, also had to be canceled due to the lack of a quorum.”
Wescot-Williams noted that Members of Parliament are free to participate in all committees of their choice. The committees then appoint their own chairpersons and vice -chairpersons.
The function of these committees is to investigate matters that are brought to parliament for its consideration, before deliberations take place in the Central Committee or a public meeting of parliament.
“It is an opportunity for members to deliberate in a less formal way about these matters and to report to the Central Committee of Parliament,” Wescot-Williams stated. “Due to this old and outdated political practice of “attending” meetings and not signing in for such, the membership of the committees of parliament has not been ratified on October 26 as scheduled and the work of these committees is further frustrated.”
Yesterday morning a meeting of the Central committee that was supposed to deal with a proposal about avoiding double taxation between the Netherlands and St. Maarten did not go through either. This time, the new majority was one man short because MP Silvio Matser was absent and the remaining seven declined to sign into a meeting where they did not have the majority.