Informateur NA Leader MP Silveria Jacobs
PHILIPSBURG–Formateur and National Alliance (NA) Leader Member of Parliament (MP) Silveria Jacobs made it clear on Friday that while the incoming interim government will be open to talks, it will “definitely not” be entertaining the Dutch government taking over any ministry in the St. Maarten Government.
Jacobs was commenting on the motion supported by a broad majority of the Second Chamber of the Dutch Parliament, who are in favour of starting dialogue with the St. Maarten Government to see if the Netherlands should take over management of law enforcement on the island.
“No motion that is passed in the Netherlands can take foothold here in St. Maarten unless our government agrees to it and unless our parliament agrees to it… I do not see that we will give up even more autonomy at this point seeing the serious concerns that we have had,” Jacobs said in an invited comment.
She said a motion from the Dutch chamber cannot mandate that the Dutch government takes over certain things in St. Maarten.
“St. Maarten is an autonomous country to the most extent. It (the Dutch government) cannot unilaterally take over control of anything, unless St. Maarten allows it. The incoming interim government definitely will not be entertaining the Dutch government taking over any ministry in our government. We’ve already signed against… protocols which have given them much control already in the justice chain. I believe that any and all agreements that we will come to have to be on the initiative of St. Maarten or with the agreement of St. Maarten.”
The Dutch parliament can pass any number of motions, similar to how motions are passed in the parliament of S.t Maarten, however, the execution of the motions, she stressed, is another thing. “I think that’s where they will struggle and fall. At least in that respect, everything that has been done to release some of our autonomy has been, up to now, with the agreement of the government in place. I must reiterate, though, that it was not a government that I supported. We did agree in 2017 before we left office to increase border control and the integrity chamber under much duress, even though we did not agree with the way it was being implemented and this is the way that we have continued to operate within this Kingdom – supposedly with being autonomous, but with things being forced down our throats and in this case, if you don’t, then you don’t get the Dutch aid.”
She said while St. Maarten had agreed that several new police officers would be brought in, this has been at a cost to the Government of St. Maarten. “It is not as if you are giving us anything at this point with the assistance (being received). You are loaning officers here, but we are paying hand over foot,” she said alluding to the exorbitant costs to cover things such as housing, car, food etc. for officers from the Netherlands, “whilst we are not able to meet our obligations to our own police officers. I think this needs to be made abundantly clear. In the budget debates, this did not go down well with us and we did not vote for the budget. We did, however, vote for the budget amendment whereby the sale of UTS (United Telecommunications Services) will be finalised and then our local law officers would be paid as well.”
She said, however, that having Dutch officers in the country enables more locals to study and upgrade themselves, “which is a plus over previous agreements and protocols where justice is concerned, because back then officers just came and left (and) our local officers hardly got the opportunity to upgrade themselves. “That is ongoing and it is a good thing for the justice chain, but I believe if you are going to be assisting then assist, do not become heavy handed and do not become demanding. Sit at the table with us as equals and discuss what is best for St. Maarten in the best way possible, and of course, as an interim government coming in, we are willing to do that… There are even upcoming IPKO (Inter Parliamentary Kingdom Consultations) meetings where our position will also be made clear from the parliament level.”
The MP stressed that the motions voted on in the Netherlands have to be analysed by St. Maarten. “We don’t need to panic. We have to analyse from our point of view what our stance will be and sit at the table and fight for those positions as well. And this is my stance on it. The Dutch government cannot dictate (certain things), as we are Kingdom partners. We already have a protocol in place for justice. That protocol will be evaluated and if necessary adjusted, but not upon the demand of a motion of the Dutch Parliament. They do not dictate to our parliament and our parliament should determine what happens in St. Maarten.”