Published On: Tue, May 24th, 2022

Agreement about draft COHO-law seems highly unlikely

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PHILIPSBURG — What are the chances that the four countries in the Dutch Kingdom reach an agreement about the draft consensus kingdom law COHO? If you look at the criticism from the Caribbean side of the ocean, the answer is simple. Zero. But the untimely death of the Caribbean Organization for Reform and Development will not mark the end of Dutch interference in Caribbean affairs. No sir, the reform train has already left the station because the governments of St. Maarten, Curacao and Aruba have signed agreements for the execution of so-called country packages.

In St. Maarten politicians voiced their criticism of the COHO draft law during a central committee meeting on May 19. A summary of the meeting has been submitted to State Secretary Alexandra van Huffelen who inherited the issue from her predecessor Drs. Raymond Knops.

Both the National Alliance (NA) and the United People’s party (UP) faction argue that St. Maarten has stuck to the execution agenda of the country package for 92 percent. “What is the difference between the COHO and the tasks the Temporary Work Organization has already executed?” the NA wonders. Good question. “And if there is no difference, then why do we still need the COHO?”

The NA hits another sore point: the Dutch expectation that after all the intended reforms, St. Maarten will have become financially independent. “If this is the expectation, then our debts must be forgiven. But our faction understands that there is no legal basis for this.”

The UP also wonders why debt relief is not at the forefront in the COHO-draft. “Why not subsidies instead of loans?”

The NA and the one-man factions Emmanuel and Arrindell have a clear opinion about COHO: “Just say no,” Emmanuel is quoted as saying and the NA noted: “The proposal is unacceptable.” Arrindell agrees with Emmanuel.

The UP furthermore argues that there is no proof that the draft is in accordance with international law, while the party furthermore points to the undue pressure on the budget-right of individual parliamentarians.

The Party for Progress notes that a dispute regulation is lacking and asks for a reaction to its proposal for a new Worldbank-regulation as a replacement for the COHO.

The UP is of the opinion that the parliament should have the authority to overrule decisions taken by the COHO, while Emmanuel warns darkly that the COHO “can cause serious problems for the governing of the country.”

Elsewhere COHO’s survival-chances have also taken a serious nosedive. René Zwart writes in an article published on dossierkoninkrijksrelaties.nl: “Chances that the countries reach an agreement about COHO are negligible. The question is not if, but when State Secretary Van Huffelen will pull the plug on this draft law.”


Related links:
Report Parliament of Sint Maarten to the Kingdom Council
Ook Staten van Sint Maarten branden COHO wet af