Published On: Wed, Nov 6th, 2019

The blame game

SXM Airport terminal building - 20190916 JA

By Hilbert Haar

The parliament meeting about funding for the airport reconstruction was rather bewildering – at least, that was my experience.

Finance Minister Perry Geerlings made clear that the bondholders refuse to sign off on the loan agreements with the World Bank Trust Fund and the European investment Bank until parliament unequivocally declares that the incoming interim government will honor these agreements. Only then will the bondholders release the $72 million insurance pay-out that is currently under its control.

Passing a motion presented by Christian Party MP Claude Peterson would most likely have satisfied the bondholders.

But former opposition parliamentarians – currently part of the new majority of nine – did not want to go there. Why not? Who knows?

Their argumentation seemed to be non-sensical and certainly counter-productive. The main argument presented by several MPs was that the government has already the authority to sign off on the loan agreements because they are part of the 2019 budget. And parliament approved that budget.

“The bondholders don’t trust this government,” MP Christophe Emmanuel even said, while – in my mind – the opposite is true: the bondholders don’t trust the incoming interim government.

Get it done, otherwise we will do it, MP Frans Richardson said, suggesting that the interim government would sign off on the agreements.

But how would the interim government do that? And what would it do better than the current caretaker government? Minister Geerlings said that the government was ready to sign the agreements on October 7, but that the bondholders raised concerns about its authority to do so based on the motion of no confidence of September 25.

But while former opposition members railed against what they called the “redundant” motion of MP Peterson, they declared at the same time that they would “respect the budget.”

National Alliance faction leader Silveria Jacobs also made a statement that should reassure the bondholders: “There is no way we can stop the process.” Jacobs also made clear that she will adhere to the instructions she received from the governor when he tasked her with the formation of the interim government. Those instructions are clear about the funding for the airport reconstruction: the funding has to go through the World Bank Trust Fund and the European Investment Bank.

Against this background there is only one explanation for the odd behavior of the parliamentarians who refused to support Peterson’s motion. They want to stall until the new government is in place so that they can sign off on the loan agreements and then claim during the election campaign that the caretaker government has failed but that the interim rulers are the airport’s saviors.

MP Rolando Brison explained in a live stream why he has left the USp and why he will lead the United People’s party in the upcoming elections. While he remained like a true politician extremely vague about the real reasons for his transfer, he did say that he refuses to see politics as a numbers game.

On one level it is of course a numbers game. If you don’t have the numbers, you don’t get into parliament and your party does not play a role in forming the next government. On that other level politics is not a numbers game at all – it is a blame game.

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