Published On: Wed, Oct 11th, 2017

Government reluctance may stall recovery

ronald-plasterkPHILIPSBURG - The two conditions put on the table for continued Dutch Government support for the country’s recovery are being rebuffed by the local Government. Refusal to come to an agreement may see the recovery process stall somewhat due to politics.

The lack of an agreement may lead to the invoking of Article 51 of the Charter of the Kingdom. That article will pave the way for the Dutch Government to bring its conditions into effect – the implementation of the long-talked-about Integrity Chamber, but without St. Maarten’s input, and beefing up border control via the “Koninklijke Marechaussee” (Royal Military Police).

The Kingdom Council of Ministers is to meet on Friday, October 13, with the way forward for St. Maarten on its agenda.

The Dutch Government, via Dutch Minister for Kingdom Relations Ronald Plasterk, asked Prime Minister William Marlin last week to agree to the implementation of the Integrity Chamber with some limited changes, including allowing the Netherlands to appoint two members of the Chamber.

This, according to information received by The Daily Herald, was not welcomed by Marlin, who has publicly stated in the past his support for a Chamber, but on St. Maarten’s terms.

The push for the Chamber by the Dutch Government is not a vehicle to impair the work for the local Government. It is viewed by The Hague as a way to make sure the country recovers well, both infrastructure-wise and in its administration.

The Dutch Government has also indicated to Marlin that it would be prepared to fund the Chamber. There is no allocation for the implementation of the Chamber in the current local budget.

Marlin appeared to allude to Dutch conditions in his Constitution Day Speech delivered on Monday. “Of course, we know that we won’t be able to do it alone. We certainly need help, genuine help, from within and without the Kingdom. But we will not permit anyone to exploit our tragedy to bring in Trojan horses while holding our people to a much higher standard than anyone else in the world,” he said.

Article 51 allows the Dutch Government to act decisively if any organ in Aruba, Curaçao and St. Maarten does not adequately perform its duties as required by the Charter. That decisive act takes the form of a Kingdom Act.

The decision to adopt a Kingdom Act could trigger a review by the Council of State, which at best will take a few months. During that review period, there is the likelihood that the flow of recovery funds could drop to a trickle, if the tap is not turned off all together until an advice is rendered.

The basis for the Dutch conditions is firmly rooted in the need for strict accountability for funds funnelled to St. Maarten for recovery and rebuilding efforts post-Irma. The Dutch parliamentarians have recently raised concerns on the floor of the Second Chamber of their legislature about checks and balances for the money coming from Dutch taxpayers to St. Maarten.

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