Published On: Thu, Jan 20th, 2022

“We want to drink champagne on a mauby budget”

“We cannot drink champagne if we only have money for Coca Cola.” – Marcel Gumbs

PHILIPSBURG — First MP Claudius Buncamper declared himself independent. Then Akeem Arrindell followed his example. Result: the United St. Maarten party (USp) lost its representation in Parliament. After Buncamper’s suspension that situation will soon be resolved, because his replacement will come from the USp-list In the meantime, Aging With Grace-program host Linda Richardson recently asked in a Facebook panel-broadcast what should be done about situations like this.

StMaartenNews.com publisher Terrance Rey was the first one to react: “The USp has given us a practical definition of what is an extra-parliamentary party. They have won seats but they have no representation in Parliament.”

Former Prime Minister Marcel Gumbs: “I think this happened because the law permits it. Elected candidates go into parliament and they vote their conscience. They are there in their own right and with their own responsibilities. If they do not get along with their party, they can do two things: give the seat back to the party or go independent. In the history of the Netherlands Antilles it has happened since 1955 only once that somebody gave back his seat. But to be clear: nobody can force a member of parliament to give up his seat.”

There is some confusion in the community about what happens with the seat MP Buncamper had to vacate after his conviction for bribery. Gumbs: “The electoral law kicks in and the next one in line comes into consideration for the seat. I heard someone say on the radio that the one who leaves parliament can appoint his successor. That’s not true of course, but the talk show host was not hitting them for saying this.”

Gumbs shrugged off the notion that the country now has to pay sixteen instead of fifteen parliamentarians. “We don’t have to wait for Holland to change the law. We can change the law.”

Terrance Rey doubted the feasibility of such a move: “You need twelve out of fifteen votes to change that law. I do not see that happening.”

Another issue that seems to bother quite some politicians is the presence of financial supervisor Cft, but Gumbs disagrees. “The Dutch did not force the Cft upon us. We accepted it. The people who went to represent us agreed with it. All the laws we have now were approved by the island council back in 2010.”

Looking at the future, Gumbs said that the country has to do some serious cost cutting and budgeting. “We cannot drink champagne if we only have money for Coca Cola. But what I see around me is that more money is going into new cars than into food.” Gumbs was referencing the local saying ‘We want to drink champagne on a mauby budget’.

Franklin Richards: “The government has to start cooperating with the Netherlands. It is important to have a good dialogue.” The former Lt. Governor emphasized the importance of the budget saying that some people are strapped for cash and that there is poverty on the island. “That has to be addressed. We have to look at financial management and the cost and effectiveness of the public sector.”

Rey expressed his concerns about the aggression among young people. Recently, a 13-year old girl was stabbed to death and an 18-year old DJ committed suicide. “It is a problem and a lot is coming from frustration in their personal lives. My heart goes out to young people and we should take time to look at their problems and their issues.”

Rey also suggested an initiative. “I want to push for bringing back compulsory military service for boys and girls. That way they get to spend their time productively and they get valuable training and the discipline they need to give their lives some guidance.”


Read also: Marcel Gumbs: “Friendships have broken up over vaccination-discussion”

And: Professionals needed to carry out a strong government administration

Editorial: Cooperation, cooperation, cooperation


Related links:
Franklyn Richards joins Progress Committee
Click here to watch this Aging with Grace episode