Budget, 2 motions, 3 amendments approved after marathon debate

   Budget, 2 motions, 3 amendments  approved after marathon debate

MPs during the last day of the budget debate on Friday.

PHILIPSBURG--Following three days of lengthy discussions with one marathon session that began on Thursday, ending at almost 3:00am Friday, Members of Parliament (MPs) late Friday evening approved the 2023 budget for Country St. Maarten with eight votes for and seven against.

Also approved prior to the passing of the budget were two motions presented by National Alliance (NA) MP Angelique Romou (see related stories) and three amendments, one tabled by Romou, one by United Democrats (UD) MP Sarah Wescot-Williams and one by United People’s (UP) party MP Rolando Brison.

Voting in favour of the budget were National Alliance (NA) MPs William Marlin, Angelique Romou, George Pantophlet and Hyacinth Richardson; United People’s (UP) party MPs Sidharth “Cookie” Bijlani and Rolando Brison; independent MP Akeem Arrindell and United St. Maarten Party (US Party) MP Chanel Brownbill.

Voting against were Party for Progress (MPs) Melissa Gumbs and Raeyhon Peterson, United Democrats (UD) MP Sarah Wescot-Williams and Independent MPs Grisha Heyliger-Marten, Ludmila de Weever, Ludmila Duncan and Christophe Emmanuel.

As it relates to the three amendments, Wescot-Williams’ amendment was for the transfer of NAf. 200,000 from the privatization of the Department of Public Education (DPE) to the budget post dealing with promotion of dance art youth [NAf. 100,000], and the one for tangible cultural heritage [NAf. 100,000]; Romou’s amendment was for the transfer of NAf. 50,000 from the regular expenditures of the Education Innovation Department to the Business Outreach Placement Programme (BOPP), which currently has NAf. 75,000 budgeted and Brison’s amendment was to change the name of the “Vendor’s Village Development” to the new name “Marketplace, Meeting Place and Taxi Holding” and adding intellectual property tourism development and to allocate an amount of NAf. 2.5 million for this as well as to allocate NAf. 2.4 million for tourism product development.

The debate on the NAf. 495 million balanced budget began in a meeting of the Central Committee of Parliament during the week of March 14, and continued last week Wednesday, March 22, with the public meeting. The public meeting was originally scheduled to start on Tuesday, March 21, but after several time changes due to technical difficulties, was postponed to Wednesday.

During the Central Committee and public meetings, MPs posed hundreds of questions combined to the seven members of the Council of Ministers, which were answered. Public Housing, Environment, Spatial Planning, and Infrastructure VROMI Minister Egbert Doran was a no show at the public meeting. Parliament Chairperson Sidharth “Cookie” Bijlani said a notice of absence was received from Doran, whom he said had been attending a United Nations conference on water for sustainable development.

Notable was the session which began on Thursday, and continued all the way until almost 3:00am Friday.

One of the many highlights during the sometimes-animated debate were MPs Christophe Emmanuel pulling out a ruler to measure the numbers on the new 2023 number plate questioning whether it had been in conformity with the law and Minister of Finance Ardwell Irion, in his return to the legislature to respond, walking with his own ruler to measure a letter on a government plate showing that it had been in conformity of the law.

The Daily Herald

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