Published On: Mon, Jan 6th, 2020

What did SMCP achieve in Government

The Sint Maarten Christian Party was in Government (Council of Ministers) for 17 months namely from June 25, 2018, until November 19, 2019. Party leader, Wycliffe Smith, was sworn in as Minister of Education, Culture, Youth and Sport as well as Acting Prime Minister and Acting Minister of General Affairs.

In addition, Michael Somersall was sworn in as Acting Minister Plenipotentiary, representing Sint Maarten in The Hague. Both appointments were in keeping SMCP’s conditions such as being qualified and experienced for the job.

What has the Sint Maarten Christian Party (SMCP) accomplished during those 17 months in Government? Our worst critics would say “nothing” while our best supporters would say “a lot!” The truth lies somewhere in between and in our assessment, it lies closer to “a lot”. Having also been part of the executive branch of Government (Council of Ministers), SMCP feels obliged to give an account to the people for the time spent in office. Hence, outline SMCP’s achievements and accomplishments while in Council of Ministers (COM).

As Minister of ECYS, Smith ensured that he kept his Cabinet staff appointments within the budget by appointing only four Cabinet staff members. Smith’s Cabinet was the smallest Ministers’ Cabinet in Government at that time. In addition, for the sake of continuity and stability within the Ministry of ECYS, Minister Smith accepted the projects and programs that were initiated by his predecessors and found it important to give his predecessors the credit for the work they had started.

Describing all of SMCP’s accomplishments in Government in this article would be too long, hence let us suffice which just listing some of the most salient ones. Minister Smith presented an inventory of our damaged education, cultural and sports facilities to the World Bank which totaled approximately $70 million of which $35 million was approved. This amount included funds that would also go towards the construction of a new library. Smith requested the World Bank to conduct an Education Expenditure Review to ascertain how well the Ministry and the School Boards are spending our education guilders. In order to be able to match the budget with the plans of the Ministry, Smith introduced, with the assistance of SOAB, policy based budgeting. Smith approved and began the implementation of an improvement plan for the St. Maarten Vocational Training School. He also approved the repairs for most of the Public Schools. During Smith’s tenure the School Subsidy Law and the Study Financing Law were approved by Parliament. Smith approved and signed for the Law Course on Sint Maarten to begin. The Law on Higher Education was moved nearer to its completion. Smith insured that the budget allocation for USM was increased from NAf 1 million to NAf 1.7 million in 2019 and has proposed to increase it to NAf 2.3 million in the 2020 budget. The accreditation for the American University of the Caribbean (AUC) was extended. The Math Curriculum in public schools was upgraded. A Committee was established to evaluate the teaching profession; this committee submitted its final report days before Minister Smith left office. A Policy on Home Schooling was issued. All schools (subsidized and public) submitted their Safety and Emergency Contingency Plans. A new Monument Council Board was appointed whereby Smith decided against the appointment of his son to this board even though the appointment of his son was approved by Parliament. Smith ensured that the cultural aspect of Carnival was promoted. During Smith’s tenure the National Intangible Cultural Heritage Inventory was approved and officially launched at the Constitutional Day celebrations. The 2019 Sint Maarten Day celebrations was one of the best thus far. Despite severe budget cuts, Smith still maintained the Business Outreach and Placement Program (BOPP) for our exam and pre-exam students of secondary schools and the NIPA. Smith signed off on the Rights of the Child Agreement together with the other Kingdom partners. Smith negotiated the repairs for the Johan Cruyff Court in Belvedere and finally was able to reopen the court. Smith also ensured that the new lights for the Raoul Illidge Sports complex were bought and installed. He approved for the Kings Games to take place in our primary schools in 2018. He mediated between the PSVE School Board and the teachers and presented his findings to the Board and the Union. He tendered and renegotiated the contracts for the cleaning of all public schools. He ensured that the pavilions that were to accommodate some schools after hurricane Irma were dismantled in collaboration with Public Works. He extended the Twin City Agreement between Sint Maarten and Tallahassee. He submitted the annual State of Education Report as well as the annual Compulsory Education Report to Parliament. He honored local educator Dr. Alma Fleming by placing the name sign of the Primary School in Belvedere in her honor. During his tenure the construction of the 4 classrooms at the Sint Maarten Vocational Training School was completed. It should be noted that the Ministry of ECYS was the least traveled Ministry. Of course, there are also a whole lot of activities such as visiting schools, attending graduations, opening and closings of sports and cultural events that form part of the job.

Smith submitted a proposal to the Council of Ministers to amend the Election Ordinance and the National Ordinance Registration and Finances of Political Parties. This law, which was approved by the Council of Ministers on November 14th, ensures that the election process can now legally take place within the time frame mentioned Article 59 sub 2 of our Constitution.

Besides the portfolio of Education, Culture, Youth and Sport, SMCP also held the portfolio of Acting and later of Prime Minister and Minister of General Affairs and as such also functioned as Acting Minister of Justice, Acting Minister of Finance and Acting Minister of VSA.

As stated above, SMCP also appointed the Acting Minister Plenipotentiary, Mr. Michael Somersall, who worked very closely with the Minister Plenipotentiary in The Hague. From reports we have learned that this team was the strongest representation that Sint Maarten has had in The Netherlands thus far. Besides representing Sint Maarten in the Kingdom Council of Ministers, Minister Somersall developed a number of relationships with Dutch organizations and companies on behalf of Sint Maarten. For example with FRED Expo Rotterdam, INFRA TECH Expo, Royal Talens Apeldoorn, JC Electronics Groningen, Cyber Security Company, just to name a few. Together with the Minister Plenipotentiary, Somersall was instrumental in establishing the program the “Cabinet after 5”, whereby students, young professionals and entrepreneurs living in the Netherlands came together to discuss issues, plans and proposals related to Sint Maarten.

Looking at the listing of SMCP’s accomplishments as a minority partner in the Coalition, a one seat party in Parliament, with one Minister in the Government and an Acting Minister in The Hague and given the short life of the Coalition SMCP has accomplished quite a lot. Unfortunately, we did not accomplish all that we had set out to do but SMCP intent was really to serve a full term of 4 years which would have given us more time to achieve more of our goals for change.

We hope that the above listing would cause people to review their blanket statements that SMCP has done nothing while in Government because the abovementioned accomplishments speak for themselves.

In the January 9th 2020 election, SMCP is asking the people to give us at least 3 seats so that SMCP’s Members of Parliament can be empowered to call meetings without having to depend on other factions to be able to do so. With at least 3 seats SMCP can accomplish much more than we have done thus far. SMCP is counting on your vote.

Wycliffe Smith
Leader of the SMCP
Website: www.smcponline.com
SMCP Manifesto: Download it here…

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