PHILIPSBURG–The “unlawful interference” by the Council of Ministers (CoM) in the job of food safety and health inspectors, and the hindrance of inspectors from work independently have led to independent Member of Parliament (MP) Leona Marlin-Romeo calling for an urgent Parliament meeting with Health Minister Emil Lee.
The Inspectorate of Public Health control team was ordered at the end of last week to stop inspecting businesses until further notice. The CoM decided this after reports surfaced of misconduct by the team during an inspection at Sonesta Maho Beach Resort and Casino last Wednesday, when Public Health inspectors closed The Point restaurant for several violations.
Romeo-Marlin decries the overturning of the closure decision by the CoM. The decision was overturned in Sonesta Maho’s favour despite the restaurant having a sewage pit in the kitchen that releases a bad odour and that pest infestations were also found in the kitchen.
“This was a joint effort with the Immigration Department and Customs. Each entity has its own task. This has my full attention as independent Member of Parliament due to the fact that the Council of Ministers is not allowed to interfere in the work of enforcement agencies,” said Marlin-Romeo in a press statement on Sunday evening.
“The right to question the actions is allowed but interference is not. Furthermore local establishments are not privy to that sort of connected first class treatment … Civil servants are being hindered in doing their jobs, and the decision of the ministers will only frustrate and demotivate them,” she said.
“When looking at the recent actions of the Minister and as by extension the Council of Ministers, it is clear that they have crippled the inspectors to carry out their jobs without prejudice. It is the duty of the Council of Ministers to empower civil servants to execute their work according to the law. Undermining their hard work is insulting and condescending,” she added.
“Equal treatment should be given to all and not only the privileged and prominent persons on St. Maarten, neither businesses, nor any special interest group should be able to hold the Council of Ministers hostage,” she said.
Source: The Daily Herald Leona calls for urgent meeting on suspension of inspections