Published On: Wed, May 19th, 2021

MP Heyliger-Marten calls Dutch government “untrustworthy partner”

PHILIPSBURG — The Dutch government is an untrustworthy partner and this re-emphasizes the need to finalize the de-colonization process post-haste, United People’s party (UP) faction leader Grisha Heyliger-Marten writes in an open letter to Prime Minister Silveria Jacobs, Minister of Finance Ardwell Irion and Minister of Tourism and Economic Affairs Ludmilla de Weever.

Heyliger’s letter runs almost 1,600 words and contains a list of sixteen questions.

The UP faction leader refers to the situation in Curacao, where the incoming MFK-Minister Charles Cooper has announced that the country has a Plan B in reaction to State Secretary Knops demand that Curacao adheres to agreements about the COHO (Caribbean Development and Reform Organization) or lose all forms of liquidity support.

Heyliger-Marten asks what this Plan B entails and whether this is something for St. Maarten to look at. The details of Curacao’s Plan B have not been published yet, but Cooper said that it includes the investment of 2.5 billion guilders ($1.4 billion) in the local economy over the next five years. According to Cooper, the country would receive 500 million guilders ($279.3 million) each year for these investments. He did not say where that money is coming from or what the conditions for this funding are.

“An alternative course of action, if feasible, will give the government the necessary flexibility to continue meeting the urgent needs of St. Maarten and its people, while continuing the negotiations with Holland,” Heyliger-Marten writes.

She furthermore notes that the Dutch Council of State has “shot down” the proposed kingdom law COHO, but this is not entirely correct. The Council of State has advised the Dutch government about the shortcomings it found in the draft law and State Secretary Knops intends to amend the proposal in such a way that these issues are addressed.

Heyliger-Marten also writes that the Ombudsman sent the laws that regulate budget cuts for ministers, parliamentarians and employees in the (semi) public sector to the Constitutional Court for annulment. In fact, the Ombudsman sent these laws to the Constitutional Court for review. The outcome of this procedure obviously depends on the court’s ruling.

The letter furthermore refers to the motion the parliament approved on November 5 of last year. That motion urges the government to start the process towards finalizing the de-colonization process. The UP faction leader notes that it is up to the government and the parliament to take decisive action “based on a review of the viable alternatives for achieving reform, securing our sustainable social-economic development and ensuring the country’s financial stability.”

“This must be done without outside influence by an unreliable partner who imposes unlawful demands on us,” Heyliger-Marten writes, making clear that the Netherlands has to stay out of it.

A request for information about the status of “A path to economic recovery” tops the list of sixteen questions. Minister of Tourism and Economic Affairs Ludmilla de Weever presented this document in parliament on October 21, 2020. According to a press statement from De Weever, this plan is designed “first to promote, restore and protect tourism; secondly, to create an attractive business climate through innovative fiscal reform to offer relief and encourage growth; and thirdly, to build real economic diversification based on St. Maarten’s natural comparative advantages.”

Heyliger-Marten wants to know who was involved in drafting the plan and what the status is of the plans for tax reform.

She also asks what the government’s plan is if the Dutch government no longer provides liquidity support and whether the government has considered taking legal action against the Netherlands. Other questions are about alternative funding and the willingness of the minister of finance to research the possibility of floating a bond.

Click here to read the complete letter