PHILIPSBURG–National Alliance (NA) Members of Parliament (MPs) are concerned about the manner in which meetings are being convened, adjourned and reconvened in Parliament, noting that not scheduling meetings is hampering MPs from performing their duties in a timely and efficient manner.
NA said in a press release on Tuesday that a number of urgent Parliamentary meetings related to the hazardous dump, the financial situation of Social and Health Insurances SZV, establishing a Calibration Department, the status of utilities company GEBE, and tax reform, which abruptly ended “because the chairperson apparently had somewhere to be,” are all still pending.
The most recent publication on Wednesday, January 9, of the agreement with the European Investment Bank (EIB) and the World Bank (WB) of a grant/loan of US $100 million to Princess Juliana International Airport (PJIA) for the facility’s reconstruction sent shockwaves throughout the island, NA said in its release.
“Primarily, as the faction notes that Minister [of Tourism, Economic Affairs, Transport and Telecommunications (TEATT) Stuart – Ed.] Johnson publicly stated that PJIA would not give up any positions on the board and/or the management positions to the Dutch for the US $100-million-dollar deal for the reconstruction of PJIA.
The Minister’s (or Council of Ministers’) obvious change of position on the deal, after the very public demand made by Dutch State Secretary (Raymond) Knops to government to make a speedy decision, must be explained. An urgent meeting of Parliament has therefore been called on Monday, January 14, 2019, for government to account for the loan/grant agreement decision by the Government for PJIA.”
NA said an earlier public meeting with Minister Johnson requested by five MPs on November 19, 2018, concerning the economy and traffic challenges has to date still not been convened.
Another urgent request by NA and United St. Maarten Party MPs on December 5, 2018, for an urgent public meeting with the Minister of Health, Labour and Social Affairs VSA concerning the construction of the St. Maarten General Hospital has also not been convened. This meeting was requested due to the recent discovery of the financial woes of the parent company Condotte d’Acqua, whose subsidiary construction company INSO was contracted to construct the new St. Maarten General Hospital.
NA said, “Lee’s recent trip to Italy raised even more questions as to why the Minister is so intent on fighting to maintain this company despite its financial crisis.”
According to the NA release, United Democrats MP Sarah Wescot-Williams, in her capacity as Chairperson of Parliament, is the one responsible for the convening of parliamentary meetings. The dictatorial approach of convening meetings at will by the Chair of Parliament hinders MPs from performing their tasks and duties in a timely and efficient manner. Ministers not being available for meetings is also no excuse, as each Minister has a replacement according to the Replacement Regulation.
“This lack of prioritisation of meetings (especially urgent ones) by the Chair gives the people of St. Maarten the impression the MP does not consider these urgent matters and further encourages the thought that Parliament does nothing, as meetings are convened and head nowhere and seem to have no end in sight. Even when meetings are adjourned, they are not reconvened in a timely manner, as to afford the Parliament the opportunity to hold Government accountable to the people of St. Maarten,” NA said.
Source: The Daily Herald https://www.thedailyherald.sx/islands/84523-na-failure-to-schedule-meetings-hampering-mps