Countries discuss strategy at tripartite before IPKO

Countries discuss strategy at tripartite before IPKO

Part of the St. Maarten delegation at Monday’s tripartite meeting in The Hague with the parliaments of Aruba and Curaçao. (Suzanne Koelega photo)

THE HAGUE--The parliaments of Aruba, Curaçao and St. Maarten met in The Hague on Monday in preparation for the Inter-Parliamentary Consultation of the Kingdom IPKO which starts today, Tuesday.

On the agenda to discuss during the so-called tripartite at Mercure Hotel in The Hague’s city centre were presentations by Members of the Council of State of the Kingdom Paul Comenencia, Maria van der Sluijs-Plantz and Mildred Schwengle.
Van der Sluijs-Plantz of St. Maarten, who spoke in English, talked about disputes in the Kingdom and resolving them. She called on the Dutch Caribbean parliaments to be prepared, to come with well-founded arguments. “Choose your battles wisely. Be well-prepared and make sure your arguments are well-founded. You will see that your well-founded arguments will be heard and rewarded,” she said.
Comenencia of Curaçao urged the Dutch Caribbean parliaments to do more to create more understanding in The Hague for the islands’ perspective. “With all respect, a lot is being said, found and expected, but not enough is being done to create more understanding in the Netherlands for the interests and position of the islands and what happens there,” he said.
Annemarie Tuzgöl of the Dutch National Ombudsman gave a presentation on the findings and recommendations of the 2020 investigation about the challenges Dutch Caribbean students face in the Netherlands.
Independent Member of the St. Maarten Parliament Christophe Emmanuel walked out of the tripartite meeting on Monday morning during the presentation of the Council of State, because of the uninvited presence of St. Maarten Minister Plenipotentiary Rene Violenus. According to Emmanuel, the Minister Plenipotentiary had no business attending the presentation because he represents the St. Maarten government and the tripartite meeting is a gathering of the parliaments.
“My position was: if he attends, I leave. So, I stepped out, while he stayed for the presentation of the Council of State, which I believe was wrong. The St. Maarten delegation should have known ahead that he would be attending. There is a formal way of doing things and him attending without our prior consent felt like a disrespect for parliament,” said Emmanuel.
Students from the islands run into different practical, logistical and emotional problems. Plus, the cultural and language barriers remain difficult. These challenges have an adverse influence on their personal development and their studies. And, when they have completed their studies, they face financial problems having to repay their study debt. The National Ombudsman will keep a tab on the governments’ efforts to resolve these issues.
Leader of the St. Maarten delegation Chairperson of Parliament Grisha Heyliger-Marten announced that the St. Maarten delegation presented a proposal to have more frequent tripartite meetings, not just one day before the IPKO.
“There is a lot happening in the Kingdom, in our countries and we need to discuss these things. So, as St. Maarten we proposed to have quarterly tripartite meetings. We need to work closely as Dutch Caribbean countries to come with strategies and have a joint position when we deliberate with the Netherlands,” said Heyliger-Marten.
According to Heyliger-Marten, it essentially all comes down to the democratic deficit, the imbalance in the relations between the Netherlands and the Dutch Caribbean. “I can’t change this alone. We need the other countries, and for that we need more meetings.”
Heyliger-Marten heads the St. Maarten delegation which this time consists of nine Members of Parliament: four independent members and a member of each of the five parties. The Curaçao delegation consists of nine persons and the Aruba delegation of 12 persons.
MP Sarah Wescot-Williams of the Democratic Party said the tripartite was a “very important” part of the programme. “We need follow-up to what we decided in former tripartite and IPKO meetings, to discuss common issues and give it real meaning,” she said in support of St. Maarten’s proposal to have more frequent tripartite meetings.
Wescot-Williams said the tripartite meetings, but also the IPKO were important to talk about the Kingdom and its future. “Fundamental to all of this is, where do we stand as countries in the Kingdom? What are the plans in the Kingdom? And if we want to stay in the Kingdom, with what perspective? These are things that we need to have serious discussions about.”
MP Rolando Brison of United People’s Party and Chairman of the St. Maarten Parliament’s Committee for Kingdom Relations explained that a few things were important for St. Maarten at Monday’s tripartite meeting.
St. Maarten expressed support for the proposals of Aruba for the Dispute Regulation for the Kingdom whereby the regulation needs to be based on three basic points: it needs to be binding, it needs to be executed by an independent party and the disputes have to be of a political nature.
The countries approved a proposal of the St. Maarten delegation with regard to the banking sector in the countries to have this matter placed on the agenda of the next tripartite and IPKO. “St. Maarten has championed a lot for banking reforms, the right to have a bank account, to create a sort of Ombudsman for banks. We now want to discuss this on a broader level, with the other countries in the Kingdom,” said Brison.
Another important matter for St. Maarten was the agenda point of financial supervision. Curaçao and St. Maarten have been subject to financial supervision by the Committee for Financial Supervision CFT under the RFT law since 2010. A similar Kingdom law has been in the making for Aruba.
“As St. Maarten, we cautioned Aruba about what financial supervision in practice implies and what we have endured under the CFT. The overall opinion of St. Maarten is that the CFT, rather than being a supervisory organ has become a mandating organ. That is something we have to be cautious about. I like the idea of Curaçao to have a Budget Chamber, so we have asked them to send the law proposal to us so we can see if this is something for St. Maarten as well,” said Brison.

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