William says new Cabinet will address questions on elections

~ Promises open, transparent govt. ~

PHILIPSBURG–The new Marlin Cabinet that was sworn in on Thursday will address and answer immediately “the million-dollar question” on whether elections will be called in February.

Prime Minister/Minister of General Affairs William Marlin said the new Cabinet would address this issue without delay on taking office and would let the populace know of its decision. He told attendees at the opening of the constitution meeting of the new Council of Ministers and Governor Eugene Holiday that the new Government faced “humungous tasks” and “enormous” challenges.

“One of them is the million-dollar question that is asked every day, many times a day, as to whether there will be an election come February 9, yes or no. It is an issue that this Government definitely will address immediately on taking office and the outcome of that will be known to the people of St. Maarten.”

The new Government pledges to be open and transparent to the people of St. Maarten. Weekly press briefings will be held and in some cases information will be disseminated immediately to the people of St. Maarten, “because we cannot hide the affairs of Government behind closed doors. We cannot hide from communicating with the people, because communication is of essence.”

Marlin zoomed in on issues such as the budget, noting that a tremendous task now lay in the hands of new Minister of Finance Richard Gibson, who will substitute for the Minister of Justice temporarily until the new minister for this post is sworn in.

Marlin said Gibson was someone who took his job “seriously” and would “go after it” the way he was known to address matters.

Marlin said the country had a “serious problem” when it came to managing its finances and had been unable to balance its budget and unable to present a balanced one for 2016.

“It is now the responsibility of the new Minister of Finance to lead us through this financial crisis and ensure that as soon as possible the instruction handed down to St. Maarten will be lifted,” Marlin said. “And we cannot concentrate only on finances.

“We also need to address issues in education and issues in our communities. We cannot turn a blind eye to the effects of crime and rising criminality on this island. Collectively, the Council of Ministers has pledged to work and work hard for the people of St. Maarten.

“We are backed by a Coalition of Eight who have pledged to remain together until the next election, whether it will be on February 9, 2016, 2017 or 2018. The Coalition of Eight has made a pledge to work together in the interest of St. Maarten to bring stability and respectability to government.”

In remarks at the ceremony, Governor Eugene Holiday expressed hope that the new Cabinet would create a constitutional order based on open and approachable government.

He urged the ministers to work to fortify the country’s constitutional principles and work for the wellbeing of the people of St. Maarten as efforts were made to address pressing budgetary issues and electoral matters. He said a great responsibility lay on each minister individually and collectively, as their decisions would have lasting influences on the lives of the people of St. Maarten.

Also present at the meeting were new Minister of Education, Culture, Youth and Sports Silveria Jacobs, who held the same position in 2012; Minister of Public Health, Social Development and Labour VSA Emil Lee; Minister of Finance Richard Gibson; Minister of Tourism, Economic Affairs, Transport and Telecommunication Irania Arrindell; and Minister Plenipotentiary Henrietta Doran-York.

Gibson will substitute for the Minister of Justice and Marlin for the Minister of Public Housing, Spatial Planning, Environment and Infrastructure VROMI until the vetting of the new ministers for these positions has been finalised.

During Thursday’s Constituting Meeting, Holiday and the ministers also signed the national decree regulating the substitution for the two ministries for which ministers are still to be appointed. Marlin and Jacobs have resigned as Members of Parliament.

Thursday’s swearing-in and constituting meeting was followed by a celebratory reception at Great Bay Beach Hotel.

Source: The Daily Herald William says new Cabinet will address questions on elections