Published On: Wed, Dec 6th, 2017

Integrity Chamber law still not with Parliament

Sarah Wescott-WilliamsPHILIPSBURG - The draft law to establish an Integrity Chamber for the country has still not reached Parliament. The law is a pivotal piece in the pending release of the 550 million euros in recovery aid from the Netherlands.

The Dutch Government set two conditions for the local Government to agree to before the funds are released, possibly via the World Bank. Government has already signed on to the first condition – more Dutch involvement in border control. However, compliance with the most crucial of the conditions – the Integrity Chamber – is still lacking.

Former Prime Minister William Marlin, in his last press conference two weeks ago, said the law would be on its way to legislators soon and this was repeated by current Prime Minister Rafael Boasman last week.
“Neither the draft ordinance Integrity Chamber nor the amended Budget 2017 has been received by Parliament,” Parliament Chairwoman Sarah-Wescot-Williams said in a press statement Tuesday. “I have again reminded the Council of Ministers of the urgency of the draft ordinances that would establish the Integrity Chamber and the amended budget 2017.”

She reminded the caretaker government there is a legislative process that must be followed in Parliament before any law/ordinance can be passed, such as the mandatory handling in a Central Committee session, and reports and responses from Government, if necessary.

Government has been requested to put some urgency into finalising these drafts, taking into account Parliament’s upcoming holiday recess, she said.

The mutual agreement on border control signed by the St. Maarten Government “is yet to be received by Parliament and made public,” Wescot-Williams pointed out. The Justice Minister “also needs to be clear on this agreement and its workings, if any, as far as our symbolic borders inside of St. Maarten are concerned.”

Public sentiment regarding border control is “one of understanding as far as our external borders are controlled. However, there is some concern regarding this agreement enforcing controls between the two sides of island.”

Wescot-Williams said that in her opinion it is a non-issue, but it is the Minister’s responsibility “to make this clear and emphasise the Government’s stance that we respect and honour our dual island status, our people and our culture.”

Parliament is also still awaiting the final National Recovery Plan (NRP). “What we see are initiatives being taken by the individual Ministers, mostly uncoordinated, while an overall plan of action is lacking. Three months following Hurricane Irma, there is no excuse for the absence of this plan,” she said.

Parliament has set aside Thursday to hear from the Ministers individually and the Council of Minsters collectively on their plans and projects for the immediate recovery funding from the Netherlands.
Wescot-Williams said Parliament “awaits with much anticipation Government’s response to the invitation to present Government’s recovery projects.”

This plan of approach is also awaited by the Dutch Government, as stated by Dutch State Secretary for Home Affairs and Kingdom Relations Raymond Knops, for the release any of the three financial funding streams – budgetary, early recovery projects or sustainable rebuilding, she pointed out.

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