In our face

Dear Editor,

I started writing this article on Monday and then decided to put it aside. However, later in the afternoon I received a call from a very good friend of mine and he said to me, “I wonder if George saw this article.” The article he was referring to is the one entitled “The Netherlands, Ukraine sign 10 year security deal”. He was amazed that the Dutch government refuse to write off our debt but is willing to commit over 2 billion euros to assist Ukraine for the next 10 years which amounts to some 26 billion euros. This inspired me to complete this article.

This year St. Maarten has to commence making payments towards the debt incurred during COVID-19 totalling some 300 million guilders. It is in addition to the already 12.7 million guilders being paid annually on the around 1.2 billion guilders debt. If one can recall, during the handling of the 2021 budget I submitted a motion requesting our government to discuss the issue of debt cancellation. It was unanimously supported by my 13 colleagues present at the time.

On December 19, 2022, the Dutch government apologized for slavery or their part in the slave trade. In July 2023 King Willem Alexander apologized for slavery in the Dutch and former Dutch Caribbean islands. What is missing is reparations. For me, debt cancellation is a good place to start.

I will continue to champion this cause because it is of utmost importance to our financial situation. If you do the calculation, our debt of some 1.4 billion guilders which amounts to around 700 million euros is nowhere close to the 2.6 billion euros the Dutch government has provided to Ukraine in 2023 with another 2 billion euros earmarked for this year.

On her maiden visit to St. Maarten in a meeting with us as members of the Parliament of St. Maarten, State Secretary Alexandra van Huffelen had said that we are brothers and sisters. I then said to her, “If we are such, then what about debt cancellation?” Her response was that it was a hard sell and I said, “Sell it.”

I broached the matter in a discussion with Mr. Jeroen Recourt, Member of the Senate of the Netherlands, and again at the last IPKO meeting I attended in Curaçao in the latter part of February to early March 2023. Some of you might have seen a short video that was recorded of my speech. So you can again understand my disappointment but not surprise to see this article.

What cardinal sin have we committed that they are willing to invest this amount of money in their white brothers and sisters but not us? I am calling on the Members of Parliament along with the Ministers to make this matter one of great urgency, because it is.

I was assured on more than one occasion by interim Prime Minister Silveria Jacobs and interim Minister of Finance Ardwell Irion that they brought up this point on numerous occasions, but the Dutch kept ignoring or pushing it aside. I think it is time to act by first and foremost stop paying any debt to the Dutch government. Of course, this is not for the faint-hearted. But what do you do when it is in our face.

George Pantophlet

The Daily Herald

Copyright © 2020 All copyrights on articles and/or content of The Caribbean Herald N.V. dba The Daily Herald are reserved.

Without permission of The Daily Herald no copyrighted content may be used by anyone.

Comodo SSL

Hosted by

© 2024 The Daily Herald. All Rights Reserved.