Citizens in need

Citizens in need

The long holiday weekend was not short of interesting news on the political front, as Minister of Tourism, Economic Affairs, Transport and Telecommunication (TEATT) Ludmilla de Weever announced taking up her seat in the United People (UP) party’s parliamentary faction vacated earlier by recently sworn-in Minister of Public Health, Social Development and Labour VSA Omar Ottley. She also said it had been agreed for her to temporarily occupy both functions.

There was some initial confusion, as the Constitution states “a minister elected member of Parliament” may combine the two for a maximum of three months and the last elections were over a year ago. However, the term “elected” should be interpreted as receiving notification from the Central Voting Bureau (CVB) that one has qualified for a seat based on the candidate list in the most recent vote, as the addition “following admission to Parliament” would also seem to indicate.

What happens with TEATT after those 90 days or even before will obviously be up to UP and some are already pointing to its current leader and President of Parliament Orlando Brison as likely candidate due to his marketing background. If that were to happen, Dr. Luc Mercelina would be next in line for a seat.

In monetary union partner Curaçao, the incoming MFK/PNP coalition made known that it wants the International Monetary Fund (IMF) rather than the Caribbean Body for Reform and Development COHO proposed by the kingdom government to execute the island’s “country package” of restructuring measures agreed on by the – now caretaker – Rhuggenaath Cabinet as condition for liquidity support from the Netherlands.

It will be interesting to see what happens, considering the criticism by the Council of State on the draft COHO legislation and how it came about. Aruba and St. Maarten are supposedly working with The Hague on adjustments to accommodate that advice, but the result is – as yet – unclear.

Another issue which surfaced last week was the Ombudsman in Philipsburg sending up to St. Maarten’s Constitutional Court for annulment three national ordinances cutting employment benefits in the public sector that were required for the ongoing Dutch financial assistance. Based on that, the Central Committee of Parliament subsequently suspended its handling of a 2020 budget amendment to incorporate these – already implemented – same laws and other changes due to the coronavirus-related crisis.

With a new government being formed in the Netherlands too, one would hope these latest twists do not – again – lead to overly drastic action such as halting the soft loans in question. Nobody should forget that it is still – first and foremost – about kingdom citizens in need because of an unforeseen and unprecedented global pandemic.