June 29, 2020
Member of Parliament George Pantophlet says that the members of the Caribbean part of the Kingdom are not being treated equally as the members of the European Union. A blind man can see this. We have not been offered any gifts. In contrast we are asked to make cuts that will further cripple an already ailing economy. Telling us that there is help or assistance and then attaching austerity measures sorry my apologies reforms as conditions to this “help” at a time such as this is inhumane indeed.
St. Maarten was well on its way to proper financial management with three consecutive balanced budgets had it not been for hurricane “Irma” and the infamous covid19 pandemic. I am not too clear with this statement in Dutch: (We vragen nu niet of de eilanden ten koste van de bevolking zware bezuinigingen doorvoeren) Is he saying freely translated: “We are not asking the islands to make heavy cuts to the detriment of the citizens. Or is he saying We are not now with the emphasis on now asking the islands to make heavy cut etc. This is why I have serious issues when it comes to translating from Dutch to English. On another note maybe he misspoke when he said and I paraphrase “he is not asking the islands to do differently to which was requested of the countries Italy, Spain and France.
I beg to differ. He said that there was a basket of goodies which can be given as gifts to those same members of the European Union. There is a big difference between a gift and a loan. The only thing I believe has to be given is debt relief. As things are presently, it will take us almost 80 years to repay the debt owed to the Dutch government and this without adding the recent covid19 related loans. This is a young country and younger government literally and an opportunity should be given for said government to improve its financial management. Are reforms needed? Definitely. Another blatant sign of inequality is that there is too much room for interpretation when it comes to article 36 of the Kingdom Charter which does not explain whether the assistance should be in the form of a loan or a grant. And now they are planning to enforce article 38.2 which basically states that Aruba, Curacao and St. Maarten can discuss the law but it has to be established by Kingdom Law or Kingdom General Measures.
This means the process stipulated in articles 15 to 21 is applicable. And we know who has the final decision. The Kingdom government. And we call this democracy. We are not equal or treated as such when it comes to article 43.2 of the charter which mentions the safeguarding of fundamental human rights, freedom, legal certainty and good governance. They want to bring in some entity which by a particular definition is “a thing with distinct independent existence. What they plan to do with this entity is to trample on the fundamental human rights of the people of Aruba, Curacao and St. Maarten by attempting to replace a democratically elected body. Is this equality?