Published On: Tue, Feb 26th, 2019

Income parliamentarians under attack again

Members of Parliament 2018

PHILIPSBURG – State Secretary Raymond Knops is not done yet with attempts to address the high remuneration of members of parliament in St. Maarten. This appears from answers to questions from SP-MP Ronald van Raak that Knops sent to the Second Chamber. Knops has asked financial supervisor Cft for information about the topic “in the context of future liquidity support.”

Van Raak asked the state secretary whether he shares his astonishment about St. Maarten being the smallest country in the kingdom while its members of parliament receive the highest remuneration. He also asked what happened with the intention to lower these payments.

The General Audit Chamber published a report in September of last year that contains an overview of the money parliamentarians and ministers in the kingdom receive.

It appears that a minister in St. Maarten gets 20,369 guilders ($11,379) per month, while a minister in Curacao – with three times the population of St. Maarten – gets 14,110 guilders ($7,883); in Aruba, a minister earns 15,010 ($8,385) per month.

A minister in the Netherlands – with a population 432 times that of St. Maarten – earns 22,983 guilders ($12.840) per month – just $1,461 more than a member of the Council of Ministers in Philipsburg.

Members of Parliament in St. Maarten also receive a higher monthly payment than any other parliamentarian in the kingdom. These are the numbers: St. Maarten 19,443 guilders ($10,862), the Netherlands 16,017 ($8,948), Curacao 12,800 ($7,151) and Aruba 10,865 ($6,070).

Knops Embarrassed

No wonder that Van Raak keeps hammering on this topic. State Secretary Knops writes in his answers that he has regularly drawn attention to the fact “that everybody has to contribute to keep the government finances sustainable.”

“I have referred to the role model function members of the Council of Ministers and the parliament have, also towards their remuneration.” Knops discussed the issue with the Minister of Finance in June 2018. “He told me he would not shy away from the issue.”

Members of the Council of Ministers have lowered their remuneration per January 1, 2019, by 10 percent, meaning that they now receive 18,332 – less than a member of parliament. Only MP Claude Peterson (Christian Party) is living up to his party’s campaign promise to lower his remuneration by 15 percent. He does this by donating that share of his income (2,916 guilders – $1,629) to charities of his choice each month.

A proposal by the Christian Party to apply a 15 percent deduction to the income of all MPs stalled last year in parliament and it has not been brought back to the floor for a vote yet.

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Related stories:
Knops puts Van Raak at ease about parliament building
Opinion: “The true value of our parliamentarians”
Editorial: ‘In the context of future liquidity support’