PHILIPSBURG--Former Minister of Tourism, Economic Affairs, Transport and Telecommunication (TEATT) Stuart Johnson asked on Tuesday whether “a particular resort” in the country had provided a complimentary room to Chairperson of Parliament Rolando Brison and whether a complimentary gift is equivalent to a monetary gift, as the former has a monetary value.
“Is there any truth that a complimentary room was provided by a particular resort to the President of Parliament MP Rolando Brison? Why were the meetings with the basketball associations held with MP Brison and a meeting of the TEATT Ministry held at the same resort? What is the reason for all of this? The people of St. Maarten have a right to know," Johnson said in a press release on Tuesday.
“Is article 56 of our country’s constitution the only semblance of holding our elected or appointed government officials accountable for receiving gifts?
“If there is any truth to this anyone can conclude that it simply remains ethically wrong, considering Brison is part of the governing coalition. Has the board of the UP Party considered the continuous actions of its party leader as acceptable behaviour? What message is being sent to our young people and the world at large with these actions?” Johnson asked.
“Can one conclude a complimentary gift is the same as a monetary gift as it has a possible monetary value? Will this be a new norm to be expected from our appointed and elected officials?
“I strongly implore the Parliament of St. Maarten to get the ball rolling on making this coalition more accountable as we remain in a pandemic without an economic recovery plan or a proper health crisis management plan. The continuous silence of the vast majority of the opposition MPs is deafening and speaks volumes of the need for leadership that remains missing in our country.”
Johnson said persons are wondering when the cries of residents will be heard by the governing coalition and when the questionable actions of some individuals will end.
He said the behavioural ethics of appointed and elected officials have come under questionable circumstances lately.
He alluded to an incident in 2018 when government had been notified of a 451-day past-due bill for a training attended by Brison during his stint as St. Maarten Tourist Bureau head. The company UBM Global Business Services added a warning that legal proceedings would start against government if the bill was not attended to immediately. The bill was later settled by Brison.
“One would think a lesson would have been learned about good ethics and integrity, especially holding an elected position and being the leader of a political party. However, it seems that good ethics remains a distant hope for many who seek to have confidence again in the political arena in St. Maarten,” Johnson said.