NA MP William Marlin addressing ministers during Tuesday’s meeting.
~ Meeting continues at 2:00pm today ~
PHILIPSBURG–Several Members of Parliament (MPs) were critical of the draft 2019 budget on Tuesday with National Alliance (NA) MP Christophe Emmanuel calling it “a devil’s” and “evil” budget registered under the number “666.”
Emmanuel said the “heavy-handedness” of Dutch State Secretary for the Interior and Kingdom Relations Raymond Knops makes the budget “even worse.” The MP said there were several things that were disturbing to him about the budget.
He was critical about roof repair by government and asked VROMI Minister Miklos Giterson to provide a breakdown of how many roofs will be repaired as a number of residents were still suffering from the effects of Hurricane Irma. He said the budget contained no funds to assist residents to fix their roofs.
Emmanuel said also that the budget contained “not one guilder” to address the ballooning dump and asked the VROMI minister what funds have been set aside in the budget for the dump. He said all of a sudden, the landfill has become the pet project of the World Bank. The MP called efforts to have fire suppression at the dump “the most ridiculous thing” he has ever heard of, noting that removing the garbage from the landfill and having it processed “is the only thing that will work” to address the dump situation.
Not wanting to call Prime Minister Leona Romeo-Marlin a liar, the MP said also that he found some 25 inconsistent reports from the Prime Minister. NA MPs Ardwell Irion and Egbert Jurendy Doran also alluded to inconsistencies from ministers. “The Prime Minister will fabricate a story and when you fact-check, it is not true. I won’t say she lied, but I will call it inconsistencies,” Emmanuel said.
Emmanuel also addressed the issue of the detained undocumented Cuban nationals who attempted to commit suicide, while incarcerated in the Pointe Blanche Prison. Emmanuel said “it was a blood bath” in the prison where the Cubans attempted to take their own lives writing “Viva la Cuba” on the walls of the prison.
He said the Cubans had been working in St. Maarten and when they asked for their pay, instead of paying the workers, their employer contacted the immigration department, and the Cubans were locked up. “What would have happened if they had died in prison?” Emmanuel asked. He was critical of government ministers including the Prime Minister, Health Minister and Justice Minister for not publicly “saying a word” to address this human rights issue. Every Venezuelan in St. Maarten, he added, are illegal but are walking around free. “It is a serious, serious situation,” the MP said noting that if trust fund money can be used for the Simpson Bay Prison and Philipsburg Prison, this can also be used for the Pointe Blanche Prison.
NA MP William Marlin said St. Maarten is at a crossroads and is losing its authority. He accused the Dutch of trying to intimidate the population and controlling government.
He said government is agreeing to all conditions that are imposed on the country by the Dutch. “The State Secretary wants to intimidate the politicians. They have already done so with government and the next step is to rile the people up against government. That is how you destabilize a country – get the people to rile up against their government and against their politicians – the people who they voted for and put their trust in. The people who they put forward to represent them.”
“Between 2000 and 2010, all of us wanted St. Maarten to become a country, but have we dropped the ball? Did we give it away? Are we allowing the Dutch government to take it from us because we were hit by a hurricane?” he asked, noting that the Dutch government has assisted countries such as Dominica with millions and zero conditions, when they faced a natural disaster, in order to get a vote in the European Union Security Council, but squeezes St. Maarten with conditions.
Marlin also called on Justice Minister Cornelius de Weever to look into the issue of the passport of suspended MP Theo Heyliger. He said the issue warrants a statement from the Justice Minister and he called on De Weever to look into the issue with the Prosecutor’s Office and report back to Parliament.
A number of other MPs also spoke on Tuesday and on Monday as well. The remaining MPs will deliver their addresses when the meeting continues today, Wednesday at 2:00pm.
The public can follow the deliberations in person at the House of Parliament located across from the Court House in Philipsburg.
The session will be carried live on St. Maarten Cable TV Channel 115; 107.9fm; 98.1fm; www.sxmparliament.org, www.pearlfmradio.sx and Parliament’s Facebook page: Parliament of Sint Maarten.