PHILIPSBURG--Party for Progress (PFP) Members of Parliament (MPs) Melissa Gumbs and Raeyhon Peterson submitted a motion to Parliament on Monday which would reduce the salaries of MPs and the Council of Ministers by fifteen per cent. This was submitted during Parliament’s discussions on the 2020 budget.
If passed, the motion resolves to request the St. Maarten government to issue a National Decree containing general measures to reduce MPs’ and Ministers’ salaries by 15 per cent.
It also resolves for the National Decree to be adopted and published as soon as possible, and requests government to submit a draft National Ordinance to Parliament within three months of the National Decree’s adoption. The draft National Ordinance is to contain the same general measures and would permanently establish the salary reduction by law.
“The St. Maarten economy [is – Ed.] on the verge of collapsing and that, consequently, there is little economic activity to withstand the needs of the people … for a substantial part of the population the income has dropped considerably and that another part of the population has become unemployed due to the loss of jobs.
“That these persons currently have to rely on government relief, while the revenue of government has declined drastically, on an account of less tax income; that all sectors of the society called for a reduction of government expenditure in order to be able to cope with this situation.
“That for social considerations – and as an act of solidarity the Members of the Parliament of St. Maarten should also contribute to lowering government expenses by reducing their salaries,” according to the motion.
“I have spoken to an MP in Curaçao. Their salary is less than NAf. 14,000, brutto [gross]. We, as MPs in St. Maarten have a brutto salary of more than NAf. 18,000.
“We enjoy the highest salaries amongst all other Members of Parliament across the kingdom, yet we are the smallest country. We enjoy the highest salary as Members of Parliament in the kingdom, while our people are pushed to the side with the lowest minimum wage in the kingdom. How can we justify selfishly holding on to this high salary, and speak of solidarity?
“On top of that … why are we trying to use old tricks to fool the people of St. Maarten into thinking that we are taking a higher cut than we actually are. I am not for it … By the end of this meeting it should be clear to the people of St. Maarten who is really willing to bite the bullet and go through these rough times ahead of us, with them,” said Peterson.
“We say that – as Parliament and as government – we want to stand in unity with the people and show them that we comprehend their struggle – now and in the future – when the real economic fallout of COVID-19 begins to hit this region. We believe this motion is a possibility to do so: particularly via the process we propose, which is swift and decisive,” said Gumbs.
MPs are to vote on this motion after the meeting’s second round of questions. On Monday, MPs were busy asking questions in the first round.