THE HAGUE--Curaçao and Aruba are learning - or rather trying to learn - a valuable lesson from the continuing discussion about an integrity chamber in St. Maarten. Members of Parliament of both countries wonder how to prevent interference by the Dutch government. It turned out to be one of the main issues at the Inter-Parliamentary Consultation for the Kingdom (IPKO), which started on Wednesday in The Hague.
Speaking for the integrity workgroup, Aruban Member of Parliament Rene Herdé said all four countries are fighting fraud and corruption to some extent. Aruba has only just started with the implementation of integrity laws, Curaçao is a little further along the way and both St. Maarten and the Netherlands have various laws and rules to safeguard integrity, he said. “We also see that laws might not be enough. We need other instruments,” said Herdé of the government party AVP.
His introduction triggered Evelyn Wever-Croes to express her fears that Aruba is not making enough progress. “We are worried. What will happen if we continue at this pace? St. Maarten has made a lot of progress with integrity laws, but still was forced to realize an integrity chamber,” said Wever-Croes, MP for the Aruban opposition party MEP.
Ana-Maria Pauletta, Curaçao MP for the PAR, shared this view. The new government of Curaçao has plans for its own integrity organization, but does not want the Dutch or Kingdom government to force an integrity chamber upon them, she said. “I think it is also important that we all define what integrity actually is,” she said.
Dutch Member of Parliament for the liberal VVD-party André Bosman said that views on integrity are constantly changing. It is not legally required for Members of the European Parliament to have receipts for all their expenses, but there still is a debate on their expenses. “The public and the media want to know what is happening to the money,” Bosman said.
Speaking for St. Maarten, MP Rodolphe Samuel said his country was fully aware of the need for integrity and he could not resist stressing that there is also corruption and fraud in the Netherlands. “We see a lot of stories in the media about this, but we do not hear what the Dutch are doing about it. Maybe it is time for a Kingdom organization to handle integrity issues in the whole Kingdom,'” said Samuel, who is also chairman of the St. Maarten commission of Kingdom Affairs.
Because integrity turned out to be a hot topic, IPKO-chairman Ruard Ganzevoort decided the discussion would continue on Thursday.