PHILIPSBURG–Democratic Party (DP) leader Member of Parliament Sarah Wescot-Williams has written to the Dutch Government, via Prime Minister Mark Rutte, pleading for a separation of the much-anticipated reconstruction aid from the Netherlands from the conditions of the Integrity Chamber and the additional manpower at the country’s borders.
Her letter, instead, calls on the Dutch Government to make the funds available as soon as possible and put the most stringent control mechanism in place.
A press statement from her office described the letter as a “personal and passionate” reaction to news about the terms given to the local Government, of which DP is a coalition member. She has also written to St. Maarten Prime Minister William Marlin asking whether he is aware of the conditions and, if so, “to spell them out” to her and Parliament.
Dutch Minister for Kingdom Relations Ronald Plasterk has made clear that the Integrity Chamber and border control are firm conditions attached to hurricane aid for St Maarten, she said. “My concern is that a standoff on these two issues jeopardises the aid that should come to St. Maarten. Furthermore, other potential donor agencies and countries could look to the Netherlands for leadership, meaning they too could take on a wait-and-see attitude.”
In her letter, Wescot-Williams pointed out the magnitude of the storm, the immediate assistance given, and the St. Maarten’s people’s own willingness to rebound and come back stronger. She expressed her grave concern for what the coming weeks will bring if not addressed head-on and with conviction.
The issues of integrity and border control (immigration) are “not matters we should turn away from, but surely neither to make the aid to St. Maarten dependent on,” she said.
She gave an assurance in her letter that the issues of integrity and immigration will not be swept under the rug, but should reach the highest echelon in the political system – the Parliament – for deliberations.
The legislature, she said, should debate in all openness these two topics and the effects on the relationship between St. Maarten and the Netherlands/the Kingdom.
“And finally, like I have stated in the past, this is a good time to review our immigration policies and laws,” Wescot-Williams said.