SMCP’s 12 agree to submit motion to reduce MPs’ pay

PHILIPSBURG–The twelve St Maarten Christian Party (SMCP) candidates signed a declaration and agreement on January 30 to, if elected, submit a motion to Parliament to lower the salary of Members of Parliament (MPs) by fifteen per cent.

SMCP leader Wycliffe Smith said in a press release on Wednesday that candidates believe that, given St. Maarten’s financial predicament post-hurricane Irma, MPs should be sympathetic to residents who are suffering and should demonstrate their care for the people of St Maarten.

“By agreeing to reduce their salaries, MPs would be saying ‘we understand your hurt and pain and this is the least that we can do to stand with you,’” it was stated in the release. The candidates hope Parliament will agree to make the reduction even higher.

According to the party, if Parliament does not pass the motion to reduce salaries by 15 per cent, SMCP MPs will voluntarily donate 15 per cent of their gross salaries to a social-cultural foundation which will administer the funds. Individuals and/or families in need can apply to the foundation for financial assistance. SMCP board members and its MPs cannot sit on the board of the foundation.

The SMCP candidates also pledged to donate five per cent of their salaries to help build up the party’s campaign funds.

SMCP has also included in its manifesto the reduction of MPs’ severance allowance. According to the Pension Regulation of St Maarten concerning public officials, MPs and Ministers are entitled to a severance allowance commensurate with the period they held public office, with a minimum of one year and a maximum of two years. This is not applicable to MPs or ministers over the age of 60 who do not take up office again in a new Parliament or Council of Ministers.

“Come to think about it, theoretically taxpayers can be paying up to two sets of parliamentarians (current and inactive) and up to three Ministers of a particular Ministry. For example, we have just had the William Marlin Cabinet. This cabinet was recently replaced by the interim cabinet of Leona Marlin-Romeo.
“If, after February 26, the Marlin-Romeo Cabinet is replaced by a new Cabinet it is very well possible that some or all of the current Ministers may be replaced. In this case then, the Ministers who are inactive are entitled to a severance allowance commensurate with the period that they served.

“Given the tough financial and economic times that St. Maarten is currently facing, our people will be called upon to make certain financial sacrifices,” the release said. “SMCP is of the opinion that parliamentarians and Ministers should also be asked to make sacrifices.
“SMCP believes that our MPs should set the example. Once the SMCP obtains seats in Parliament, its MPs will present a motion to reduce the severance allowance as well as the severance period for persons who have held public office, but who are no longer active in that office.”

SMCP said it is willing and able to spearhead change and make a difference in Parliament and consequently in Government.

Source: The Daily Herald