Published On: Wed, Jan 9th, 2013

We are not politicians

WILLEMSTAD – Premier Daniel Hodge (PS) held his first speech  for the Parliament of Curaçao during a meeting of the Central Committee that discussed the draft budget of the country Curaçao for the year 2013. In his speech, Hodge stated: “We are not politicians and wouldn’t even know how to behave like politicians.” According to Hodge, none of the cabinet-members could have assumed several months ago that they would be a minister now. They would have answered that question with ‘absolutely not’, and yet all ministers, –all experts in their field–, indicated to help the country in these difficult times, Hodge said yesterday. “The nine ministers, irrespective of where their families may have come from, are all from the island and will therefore risk their neck to help our island.”

During the debate several parliamentarians, including Monique Koeyers-Felidia, urged Hodge to introduce the members of his cabinet. At the end of the first question round Chairman of the Parliament, Mike Franco (Pais) gave Hodge the opportunity to introduce them. The members were then given the possibility to present themselves to the parliamentarians and those present.

Steven Martina is the Minister of Economic Development (MEO). He is also the vice-premier. Martina was recommended by Pais. He was chairman of the board of insurance company Fatum from 2006 up to December 30th 2012. He had been the director of utility company Aqualectra since 1999. He has a Master’s degree in applied economics, is married and has two children. Martina also stated he had much appreciation for the honor given to help govern the island.

The briefest ‘introduction’ was from Minister of Finance, José Jardim, whom independent parliamentarian Glenn Sulvaran had recommended. “I am the current Minister of Finances. I also held that post in the previous cabinet and before then was secretary general at the Ministry of Finance.” Etienne van der Horst was also recommended by Pais. He is the Minister of Administration, Planning and Service (BPD). Before his appointment as minister he was a member of the board of directors of Curaçao Airport Partners (CAP) and before that he was an official of the island territory Curaçao for eighteen years where he was active as department head of the Directorate Regional Development and Housing (Drov).

Bernard ‘Ben’ Whiteman is the Minister of Health, Environment and Nature (GMN), recommended by PS. Until December 30th Whiteman had been the inspector general of Public Health of the country Curaçao. Until 10-10-’10 he was the director of the Directorate Public Health, and before that acting director of the Public Health Authority (GGD). Whiteman is doctor by profession. Earl Balborda is the new Minister of Traffic, Transport and Regional Planning (VVRP). After his secondary school, he studied and worked in the United States. On Curaçao he worked for various companies, including Autobus Company Curaçao (ABC) and PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC). He worked at the Human Resources-department of the Isla-refinery before his ministerial office.

Nelson Navarro, the most experienced member of the cabinet, is originally a lawyer, and was recommended by Pais. In the past he was the head of the Central Bureau for Legal and General Affairs (CBJAZ). Through the years he held numerous posts on the island and had been a parliamentarian. Rubia Bitorina was recommended by the PS to become the Minister of Education, Sciences, Culture and Sports (OWCS). She studied English and literature at the State University of Utrecht. Back on Curaçao she gave English classes at the Maria Immaculata Lyceum (MIL) and gave classes at other educational institutions on the island, such as the Pedagogic Academy, the Avondschool and the Social Economic Faculty (SEF). She was also the deputy principal entrusted with quality control at the MIL. Bitorina was the inspector general of Education since August 2011.

Sherwin Josepha, recommended by the PS, was the last member of the cabinet to introduce himself. He is the Minister of Social Development, Labor and Welfare (Soaw). He studied civil engineering at the HTS. Josepha, who lived in the Netherlands in 2005, attempted in vain to enter the referendum of that year. When this appeared impossible he decided to return to Curaçao to contribute toward the development of his native island. Josepha worked at the Department of Public Works (DOW) since 2005 and as parliamentary assistant for the PS since 2010. He stated he was much honored to be approached by the PS to serve the country.

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