PHILIPSBURG–With members of the Council of Ministers having signed a release that they would be voluntarily giving up ten per cent of their salaries, Deputy Prime Minister Wycliffe Smith said on Wednesday that it is now up to Members of Parliament (MPs) to do the same.
Smith was responding to a question during the weekly Council of Ministers press briefing. Ministers earn approximately US $12,090 per month and the 10 per cent reduction will bring their salaries to approximately $10,881 per month.
“As member of the St. Maarten Christian Party, that is one of the things that we championed and also brought a motion last year during the budget debate to parliament. The motion was referred to the Council of Ministers at that time.
“The Minister of Finance indicated that to change salary structure would be a lengthy legal process … and so ministers, but also MPs are requested to voluntarily give up [part of their salaries – Ed.] and so the Council of Ministers signed a release that they are willing to give up 10 per cent of their salary and it will be up to the parliamentarians to do the same,” Smith said.
The voluntary salary reduction is supposed to have gone into effect as of January. Ministers and MPs in St. Maarten receive substantially higher salaries than their colleagues in Aruba and Curaçao.
In Curaçao MPs earn $7,111 and ministers $7,839 monthly and in Aruba MPs earn $6,069 and ministers earn $8,365, while in St. Maarten MPs earn $11,539 and ministers earn $12,090.
Dutch State Secretary of Home Affairs and Kingdom Relations Raymond Knops said recently that in the past year he had regularly sought attention for the fact that everyone – MPs and ministers – needed to contribute to keep the government finances in check, considering the difficult situation that St. Maarten faces since Hurricane Irma.
“The MPs were asked to take a similar decision [to that of ministers], but so far that has not happened,” stated Knops, who announced that he has asked the Committee for Financial Supervision CFT to inform him on this subject in connection with future budget support for the St. Maarten government.
Knops was responding at the time to written questions submitted by Member of the Second Chamber Ronald van Raak of the Socialist Party (SP).