Sxm St Maarten News

Video Dutch Parliament Discuss St Maarten Full English transcribed translated below

This is an Algemeen Overleg, the most common form of committee consultation. A general consultation is a regular meeting of a committee with Ministers. In an A.O a Minister’s specific policy is discussed.

In an A.O. MPs ask questions to the minister, who then answers them. The formal completion, including the submission of motions, takes place in the plenary session. These are often very short debates that are on the agenda as a V.A.O. Verslag Algemeen Overleg General Report

JAN PATERNOTTE (VOORZITTER) is the Chairman: Ladies and gentlemen, a very good afternoon. Good morning St Maarten, welcome to the General Consultation (Algemeen Overleg) Sint Maarten on this 5th of December 2019. Welcome everyone and the Minister of the Interior Kingdom Relations.

BOSMAN: Thank you very much. There’s a lot going on with St Maarten,(stapelstukken?) but Chairman, please look a bit more carefully under the stones to see exactly what’s going on. There will be a new Government next January, the tenth in ten years I believe. I have no idea, no idea what they’re going to do. And that is the biggest concern. Will there be a government that we can work with, and I’m curious to know if the Minister also feels this way. Is the Minister able to communicate and explain, draw us a clearer picture? As far as we know, in January there will be elections, and I cannot comprehend that St Maarten is refusing to allow independent elections observers at the polls. I find that odd. I thought that an agreement had been made during IPKO (Annual meeting between all countries within the Dutch Kingdom). I thought that we had come to an understanding/agreement. As far as I know, during elections each country sends out invitations to allow observers, it’s not meaningless, the observers are not there useless for reasons. In principle it is useful in many countries. I find it very strange, and I believe that non compliance would be a black mark (stain) on the Kingdom. I am curious about the Integrity Committee’s stance towards the World Bank, is every in order/arranged by St Maarten. It is now two years post Hurricane Irma. Now we ask “What’s going on with the ‘Recovery Plan’, whose responsibility lies with the government of St Maarten? Let us emphasize/stress that it is the Government of St Maarten who has to come up with plans, finalize and validate everything, be proactive with all tasks. TWO YEARS, Mr Chairman..and I’m curious as to how far along the recovery process is. Something else to study carefully is the Airport project. As far as I know the funding was finalized and made available, with a prerequisite being ‘good governance’. And St Maarten, as far as I know, has not complied.

(KUIKEN INTERRUPTS TO TELL HIM AIRPORT AGREEMENT SIGNED)

BOSMAN CONTINUES: Yesterday? I am pleased with that, I believe that now things will go faster. These types of delays don’t help, a year delay in development. Another thing….they are saying “No!” To the Financial Action Taskforce..A huge risk when it comes to reconstruction. If it seems that the finances/economy is dubious, no monitoring, control or supervision. St Maarten is considered to be too much of a risk. St Maarten will not be able to do financial transactions, tourist will no longer come. Meaning that St Maarten’s economic development will be further delayed. It would be crazy if St Maarten were put in the same category as Iran and North Korea for defaulting on their financial plan. Above all, it is St Maarten’s responsibility. It would be a ‘stain’ on the Kingdom, on St Maarten and the St Maarten government. I am curious as to how the Minister feels.

RONALD VAN RAAK: Thank you very much. St Maarten is at a Dead End, and we are on a dead end road. On January 9th, there will be elections for change, and the situation is especially bad. Look at the dump, or the prison, or the Airport you see undermining, sabotage. Politicians working against the best interest of the people, working for the interests of ‘certain players’ in the background. Players who are more important than the citizens of St Maarten or the future of St Maarten.

If you look at the assistance funds from the Netherlands for the reconstruction of the island after Irma, it makes sense that nothing has been done for more than a year, because the SXM politicians don’t want it. Why don’t the politicians in St Maarten want it? Because Holland made a demand. ONE DEMAND. We demanded that the almost 600 million Euros made available GO TO THE PEOPLE OF ST MAARTEN, AND NOT TO CORRUPT POLITICIANS. And I find it quite remarkable that it is the ST MAARTEN PARLIAMENTARIANS HINDERING THE PROCESS OF ASSISTING ST MAARTEN. Sxm Parliament are making sure to hinder and obstruct the process.

How does the Minister feel about that, can we continue going on like this? And the Financial Action Task Force..How is it possible for an island dependent on tourism, if there is no way for the tourist to pay? If planes no longer come, if banks are no longer active, if St Maarten is blacklisted….How do the politicians get it into their heads that it’s all about their personal enrichment. They are putting the island IN DANGER, and that’s exactly what’s happening. Politicians are for sale via various means and this is disastrous for the island and people. In January there will be the tenth election in ten years. There are NO alternatives. It does not matter whether you vote for Mr. or Mrs. Heyliger, it is still the exact same family, and that is the big problem I see on the island, and the drama is there is no alternative. 45 thousand people, PARLIAMENTARIANS/ MINISTERS PAUD THE MOST, but they are refusing assistance to the people. Can the Minister explain? The island was in trouble, we provide 100’s of millions, but we have demands, so you would expect a bit of solidarity their Parliament. Prepare for more honest elections. Are they prepared for a more honest elections? I am also hearing that they are refusing outside election observers from other parts of the Dutch Kingdom. How is it that the St Maarten Parliament can say we want an election but “No observers? No witnesses, no transparency, why don’t they want that? If you ask me, there is but one reason why they would refuse observers, because there are things happening that shouldn’t.

Can the Minister confirm whether there will be no observers from Holland and what it means?

Last but not least, The border conflict with France. A part of Oyster Pond a harbor and restaurant cannot be built because then gendarmes show up to arrest and intimidate. I have spoken to other chamber who agree that before the end of the year the Oyster Pond dispute must be resolved.

ATTJE KUIKEN: Let’s begin with the positive news, the airport agreement has been signed for the further development of the Airport. Nice news, but that begs the question….what’s going on with the rest of the projects? Plans and intentions are on divergent courses. That’s what I would like to get a reaction from the Minister specifically about. What’s going on with the sewage and water treatment project? There’s E.U money and collaboration to be completed with French and Dutch St Maarten, how is that going, can the Minister inform us? A huge requirement for the reconstruction funds is based on political stability. 9th January will be new elections, but what’s going on in the meantime. What can we expect from the elections, people need to know that if there is another hurricane, they are safe. We need to know, not just on on this side of the globe. Economic prosperity, people also profiting. With economic prosperity we have to also consider integrity. What will offered not offered, most important what will the St Maartener be offered. Questions about Election observers…Has the Minister been in contact with the Cabinet? Why are they against it? We do it in the other Dutch countries so they cannot pretend that this is a power play, it is merely the basis of a proper, monitored election.

CHRIS VAN DAM: (Van Dam opens saying that first he will philosophize, and then get into the discussion. He reiterates that he read articles in a law magazine about what Democracy is. Chris Van Dam spoke a lot of nonsense and refused to get to the point. He tried to compare St Maarten to Suriname saying Suriname was aiming at becoming a democracy, but the few elite in power changed that. Suriname regressed in her development after gaining independence, they took a Step back. He babbles about Venezuelan asylum seekers. He re emphasizes that his NONSENSICAL BLATHERING has NOTHING to do with the topic. Then Van Dam tries to be coy, suggesting that Minister approach the St Maarten government about Holland becoming the police management authority of St Maarten. Meaning St Maarten police forces to be CENTRALIZED DIRECTLY UNDER HOLLAND. (Minister Knops openly laughs at his suggestion)

Van Dam then b.s.’s some more muttering that the situation in St Maarten reminds him of Suriname.. He is beating around the bush. Van Dam feels that only a full take over of the St Maarten police force will change corruption. He ends by saying that on January 9th there will be a true election.

That’s it for Van Dam, video is posted. He waxes philosophical…hint hint..beheer en gezag😉😉 wink wink

DIERTENS: I say to my colleague Van Dam “Amen”.. (laughter)

It touches my heart, we need to collaborate with something positive and optimistic, clarity how can we progress forwards two years after Irma? The material and immaterial lost was massive. Politicians, NGO’s, the World Bank, Europe, St Maarten, investors all got together to rebuild. People are still not getting the proper help, that really bothers. I was in St Maarten on a work visit and spoke directly to the people, and it was not reassuring. I am speaking honestly, it is difficult to get a good picture of what’s going on with the reconstruction. How can Holland assist more? We need clarity. I noticed frustration in St Maarten with lack of progress and the means to rebuild. Is the Minister aware of this? Is has been a slow process from the beginning, does the Minister show us examples of good results? What work needs to be done? The airport, we discussed. Cooperation with Europe and Brussels. French and Dutch St Maarten has to work together on the sewage and water treatment to complete the project. I am also concerned about the health of the families living closed to the contaminated areas. Can the Minister give us more info? The construction of a Trust through the World Bank is good but the reality of St Maarten, i don’t get the impression that we will see results. Does the Minister know when these projects will start? I see there is 2 million Euros for that and I’m curious about when that will start. Is the Minister able or is it wise to seek out options? The NGO’s None Government Organisations were suggested and used but are having difficulties, delays from the ground up because of bureaucracy. And for clarity, with me its not about the means but the goal. (Does the end justify the means?)How can we make the reconstruction foundation stronger more stable. Does the Minister have an Intensive plan? Also, how will we register kids who have not been registered for school.

BOSMAN INTERRUPTS: Yes, I am hearing a lot of questions directed at the Minister, but how much of this is the St Maarten Government’s responsibility? To finalize plans, be proactive, ensure each house has a roof, that the schools are okay, that there is economic recovery. What do you believe is St Maarten’s role?

DIERTENS: I think of this as a shared responsibility within the Kingdom. St Maarten’s involvement is very important. Democracy, integrity 500 million via the World Bank how is the cooperation going, that is what I want to know from the Minister..

BOSMAN: It’s the government of St Maarten, that’s odd. The Minister is not responsible, St Maarten is. I’m curious. Everybody’s responsible, nobody is responsible. Who is responsible for the reconstruction?

DIERTENS: I feel that within the Kingdom, everyone has the share of responsibility of all parts of the Kingdom. St Maarten is autonomous, they have to get their own affairs in order. I am here about the people of St Maarten who are struggling for a better life.

VAN RAAK: THREE ENTITIES!: Holland, World Bank and St Maarten. Holland does her homework, the World Bank does its homework, St Maarten says “No”.

Holland says yes, the World Bank says Yes, St Masrten says No.

DIERTENS: It is a shared/ divided responsibility, we will consult with St Maarten and I hope that the population goes out and votes for the right politician to practice their right to democracy like my colleague mentioned. I hope we can discuss the different responsibilities.

VAN RAAK: This is very interesting. We have to help the population of St Maarten. In my analysis St Maarten is a dead end road. So how are we going to do this when Holland and The World Bank says yes, but St Maarten says no. How do we get pass that? How do we turn the ‘no’ into a ‘yes’? Consultations do not help because they just won’t do it. Friendly questions don’t help because they just won’t do it. So what do we have to do to get them to jump through hoops?

DIERTENS: Your wording “making them jump through hoops” does not sit well with me. There are major problems at all government levels. I hope the 500 million from Holland via the World Bank we continue with assistance, that is the understanding. I hope we don’t reach the point where we say “Let the people solve their own problems” There has to be a way to resolve the impasse. We have now been dealing with 2 different governments the assistance has stagnated, and that’s what this is about.

THE VOORZITTER ALLOWS DIERTENS TO FINISH OFF THE FIRST THIRD OF MEETING.

DIERTENS: The limited trustfunds. In 2015 it expired as the real work began. Does the Minister realize this? Can it be assured that 2020 will be a performance year?

The theme of rebuilding aside, I know the importance of a safe secure home. There are not enough roofs, and the health of the people are being effected. How is it possible that I am reading that there are not enough roofs? In 2 years 10 roof repairs? And then I read a report that the Ombudsman says it is lower. Can the Minister confirm the Ombudsman’s report?

THAT IS THE FIRST THIRD. 2ND THIRD THE MINISTER ANSWERS SOME QUESTIONS BASED ON HIS COMMUNICATIONS WITH THE DUTCH SXM GOVERNMENT.

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