PHILIPSBURG--Much to the chagrin of members of the coalition Government, Members of Parliament (MPs) for the opposition United People’s (UP) party were not present at Thursday afternoon’s Central Committee meeting to discuss the governing programme for 2016 to 2020, titled “United Democratic Alliance: Stability for Prosperity.” Nor did they show up to pose questions to cabinet members pertaining to their Ministries’ year plans.

Eight MPs representing coalition parties United St. Maarten (US) Party, Democratic Party (DP) and National Alliance (NA) were present for the meeting during which they congratulated government with the presentation of their plans.

Chairwoman of Parliament Sarah Wescot-Williams said not having a debate on the Government programme and the ministerial plans is an opportunity lost. “This I regret. It is important that Government gives updates on urgent issues, if necessary daily, for instance on the dump, the hospital and health care in general.”

She said Government should keep the finger on the pulse, also where it concerns the way forward after the Constitutional Court struck down the integrity chamber as adopted by Parliament.

“Did Government seek advice on what now after the Constitutional Court struck down the integrity chamber?” Wescot queried. “It is crucial that Government receives the legal and other advice that Government obtained on the rejected integrity chamber. What do we do with the Constitutional Court’s ruling, as it provided pointers on the way forward,” Wescot said in calling upon Prime Minister William Marlin to provide clarity on this matter.

In stating that Government has many challenges at hand, the Parliament Chairwoman called upon the cabinet to provide as much information as possible on what plans may be realised with regard to the limited availability of finances. “For continuity’s sake it is also important to know what plans will be considered for 2018,” Wescot said.

“It is not right for the opposition party to sign in for the meeting and then disappear,” US fraction leader Frans Richardson said. “It is unfortunate that UP chose not want to participate in this debate.”

He thanked the Ministers for their presentations, and said his party would not question any part of the governing programme, which US had helped put together.

   MP George Pantophlet (NA) echoed Richardson’s statements in saying it was “unfortunate” that the opposition party had not come out to pose questions about the Government’s programme.

He said many Government plans required policies and legislation, and he was looking forward to seeing many of those executed. “There is much to be done with little resources. We cannot expect miracles. It is important to support Government. I am looking forward to working together to the benefit of the people,” said Pantophlet.

MP Perry Geerlings (DP) also expressed his discontent with what he described as a “small” section of Parliament. “It is unacceptable that we allow this to happen all the time. MPs are on the people’s time and money,” he said.

“We are here to question, and for checks and balances,” Geerlings said. “If I were in the opposition, I would be interacting with Government and its programme, but they don’t discuss with Government, and I hope the people will take note. This is very disappointing.”

   Minister of Justice Rafael Boasman and Minister of Education, Culture, Youth Affairs and Sport Silveria Jacobs were the only two cabinet members who sat in on Thursday’s meeting, which was a continuation of the adjourned meetings of Tuesday and Wednesday. Both expressed their gratitude for the support shown by Parliament for their Ministries’ plans.

Geerlings congratulated Minister Jacobs with her plans, especially where it pertains to youths and dropouts. He commended Minister Boasman for facing the problems in the area of justice. “His plans concern some serious business,” Geerlings said, and also said he would pose some questions in writing concerning the pre-clearance of travellers to the United States.

Romeo Pantophlet (NA) wished Government much success in its future endeavours.

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