Published On: Thu, Nov 30th, 2017

Boasman seeks to manage expectations of aid money

BoasmanPHILIPSBURG - New caretaker Prime Minister Rafael Boasman said on Wednesday that he will use his finite time in office to focus on the reconstruction of the country, get parties to work together on that goal and manage expectations tagged to the release of 550 million euros of Dutch aid.

“At hand now is the continuation of the recovery of the country. … Whether is it one week, one month, whatever, that I would have the honour to chair the Council of Ministers … I would like to concentrate on getting things moving, getting St. Maarten back up and running,” said Boasman in the Council of Ministers press briefing.

He also issued a call to all political parties to work in the country’s interest. “I would like to call on all parties, and when I say all parties I mean all parties … should step up to the plate … for the best interest of St. Maarten. … Let’s move forward with only one goal and that one goal should be doing what we have to do in the interest of the people of St. Maarten. It should not matter who is in Government,” he said. The goal of all should be “getting St. Maarten back up and running.”

Boasman said he wanted “to try and manage expectations” in the community about the promised aid from the Dutch. “We hear the talks outside, talk about this big bag of money that at a certain moment will hang over us that will open and everyone can run and pick up what they need to do what they need to do. That’s not how it is going to work.”

Instead, Government and its social partners will have to identify and prioritise rebuilding projects with the aim of getting the economy back up and running, he said.

Boasman said both he and visiting Dutch State Secretary Raymond Knops agreed in a meeting earlier this week to “toning down the rhetoric” from both sides of the Atlantic Ocean. He said it is not nice for him or his colleagues to head to work every day to hear themselves referred to as “those crooks” or “bunch of thieves” in St. Maarten.

Their meeting was described by Boasman as “fruitful, frank and sincere.” Moving forward, the agreement is to leave political differences on the table and concentrate on recovery. “I am sure we will be able to get things started and to get things done,” he said.

Steps have been made toward the release of the Dutch recovery aid that was the maelstrom around Prime Minister William Marlin’s departure. Boasman agreed to the first part of the conditions – increased assistance from the Dutch for border control –more than a week ago in his capacity as Justice Minister. The final part is the adoption by Parliament of the law to establish the Integrity Chamber. Government is expected to submit the law for debate soon.

Commenting on Marlin’s abrupt departure, Boasman said the past couple of weeks had been “really tough” in the political arena.

The Marlin II Cabinet has “done our utmost to the best of our ability” for the past 11 months, he said. He acknowledged that “we made mistakes, yes. Where there is work being done, mistakes will be made. Could we have done certain things better? Yes, I am sure we could have,” he said of the firestorm that engulfed governing the country following Hurricane Irma on September 6.

“Nevertheless, the situation reached where they are right now and we have to move on,” he added.
The country would have had three governments in a period of a couple of months, Boasman pointed out. “I don’t see how that could be good for St. Maarten or the people of St. Maarten.”

The three governments result from the Marlin II Cabinet crumbling when it lost its majority in Parliament at the end of October, the Interim Government expected in office before Christmas and the Government that will come in should the snap parliamentary election go through on February 26, 2018.

Boasman (United St. Maarten Party) took up the mantle as prime minister on Friday after Prime Minister William Marlin stepped down in the face of an instruction from the Netherlands to Governor Eugene Holiday to remove him. The order from The Hague came after a two-week lapse between Parliament adopting an immediate dismissal motion against Marlin and the National Alliance-(NA) leader stepping down.
Marlin signed his own dismissal decree on Friday and submitted it to Holiday for co-signature that same day.

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