Published On: Wed, Dec 23rd, 2020

The about-face of Prime Minister Jacobs


By Hilbert Haar

The government has finally done what it should have done months ago: sign an agreement with the kingdom about the conditions for the third tranche of liquidity support.

While I have not seen the actual correspondence between Prime Minister Silveria Jacobs and State Secretary Knops, the latter’s demands are public knowledge. Therefore I have to take it that Jacobs has: 1. Distanced herself from the Pro Soualiga Foundation and its baseless claims and 2. Distanced herself from the Hitler-thinking remark independent MP Christophe Emmanuel made during a meeting of parliament’s central committee.

What we know now for a fact is that Jacobs has agreed to all the conditions for receiving continued liquidity support. Some people call this an about-face. This from someone who firmly declared in July during a meeting where the Parliament followed the Council of Ministers in its unanimous rejection of the establishment of the Caribbean Reform Entity (currently known as COHO): “I will most definitely not go down in history as the prime minister who was complicit to putting St. Maarten back into a colony.”

But lookie here: how times have changed, or rather: how the position of the Prime Minister and with her that of the Council of Ministers and the Parliament have changed. In the end, the money the Kingdom is prepared to provide did all the talking.

A letter from Knops to the Dutch parliament reveals that the man often referred to as PoP King (President of Parliament MP Rolando Brison) has also confirmed his commitment to the agreement in writing. That is of course not the end of the story.

Signing an agreement is one thing, but as we all know executing it is at times quite a different story. Members of Parliament will now have to sell to their voters measures they vehemently opposed only six months ago.

That the lone “Hitler-thinking” MP Christophe Emmanuel will continue to make a lot of noise seems to be a given but at the same time his opinions will quickly become irrelevant if the other fourteen members of parliament live up to their promises.

The pennies Emmanuel likes to refer to have by now added up to 174 million guilders in kingdom-support; that’s a hell of a lot of pennies if you ask me.

The Caribbean Reform Entity, or COHO, is not there yet of course and parliamentarians will have to say a lot about this piece of legislation when the day arrives when they have to approve it. They will have no other choice so they may as well save their breath for a fight that offers at least a bit of perspective for a victorious outcome.

One man deserves at least some credit, even though it does not feel right: former Justice Minister Cornelius de Weever. He once told VVD-parliamentarian André Bosman about St. Maarten’s struggle with the prison: “If the problem becomes big enough it automatically becomes a problem of the kingdom.”

Et voilà: the kingdom just made €30 million ($36.6 million) available for the construction of a new prison and for the improvement of the detention situation. Maybe not something to be proud of but it is real money.

Related articles:
Government bends over backwards for liquidity support
COHO – change is coming but St. Maarten has to pay for it