MPs discuss Monument Council appointments | THE DAILY HERALD

PHILIPSBURG–Members of Parliament (MPs) discussed the appointment of seven persons to the Monument Council during a meeting of the Central Committee of Parliament on Friday.

The seven proposed members are Patrice Gumbs (member and Chairman), Alfonso Blijden, Marla Chemont, Emmalexis Velasquez, Natasha Richardson, Donovan Smith and Nzinga Lake. Monument Council members will be paid a NAf. 75 per hour stipend for meetings which should not exceed NAf. 2,000 per month. This means that members cannot exceed 26 hours of meetings monthly. Members are not paid for meetings they do not attend.

Minister of Education, Culture, Youth and Sports Affairs (ECYS) Wycliffe Smith told MPs that the four-year tenure of the former members of the council had come to an end on May 17, 2017. In June 2017, then-ECYS Minister Silveria Jacobs called for the submission of applications for membership to the Monument Council. A total of 18 persons applied.

Evaluations and interviews were to be held in September 2017. However, Hurricane Irma prevented this from happening and this process was postponed. The minister subsequently established a committee to prepare for the interviewing process and to evaluate the applications.

When former ECYS Minister Jorien Wuite took office, she continued the process and 12 persons were selected to be interviewed. Ten attended the interviews, and seven were selected on June 10. Parliament has to approve the appointment of the members.

Minister Smith said that Donovan Smith is his son. He said the process of selection had occurred prior to his taking office as minister. Nevertheless, he brought the matter to the Council of Ministers meeting to determine whether there was a conflict of interest and he recused himself from the discussions. His son was still selected by the remaining members of the Council of Ministers.

According to Minister Smith the Monument Council is an independent advisory body, whose role is to advise the Council of Ministers and Parliament on monuments, monument requests, policy matters and criteria for designation of monuments, and to review and advise on appeals to owners of monuments and requests for repairs, restoration and demolition of monuments, amongst other things.

The minister made clear that the Monument Council is not to be confused with the Monument Fund. The fund provides subsidies and/or loans for the restoration of monuments. The Department of Culture is in the process of setting up the fund with assistance of Government Accountant Bureau SOAB. Services that can be expected are subsidies, soft loans, technical guidance of clients in the restoration process, and providing information and advice to clients, architects and contractors on matters related to preservation of monuments.

Source: The Daily Herald