Published On: Fri, Jun 29th, 2018

International Day of Parliamentarism June 30

Great Bay — St. Maarten — For the first time, 30th of June this year is celebrated as the International Day of Parliamentarism. It is also the date, in 1889, on which the Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU) — the global organization of parliaments — was established.
This Day celebrates parliaments and the ways in which parliamentary systems of government improve the day-to-day lives of people in the world. It is also an opportunity for parliaments to take stock, identify challenges, and ways to address them effectively.
The United Nations promotes international awareness and action on these issues.

What parliaments do
Strong parliaments are a cornerstone of democracy. They represent the voice of the people, pass laws, allocate funds to implement laws and policies, and hold governments (ministers) to account. They work to make sure that policies benefit all people, especially the most vulnerable, by passing laws—for example—on violence against women and ensuring equal access to health care.

Parliaments also link international and national agendas, ensuring that governments implement international treaties and agreements that they sign up to. They can play a significant role in supporting and monitoring implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. The IPU has been working closely with governments to help build their capacity to do so.

Parliament and SDGs
A ‘Parliament’s Role in Implementing the Sustainable Development Goals’, a Parliamentary Handbook, has been produced jointly by the United Nations Development Programme, the Global Organization of Parliamentarians Against Corruption to help parliamentarians and parliamentary staff members play an effective role in implementing the SDGs. It introduces Agenda 2030 and lists good practices and tools from around the world.

Just recently, St. Maarten’s parliament heard a presentation done by ECLAC and Drs. Loekie Morales, on aspects related to the 2030 Agenda and the implementation of SDGs and their role in that. Attention was given to a national development approach for St. Maarten. For the drafting of the National Development Plan, a dialogue process was started between 2013 and 2015 to engage the stakeholders within and outside Government (NGO, Private Sector, Academia, Media etc.). The exercise was organized by the department of the Interior and Kingdom Relations, BAK.

The main points of concern of the stakeholders back then, still need to be linked to the government Vision document, for BAK to come up with a Nationwide ‘Countries priorities’ for the development of the NDP for Sint Maarten. The SDGs are a roadmap for the NDP and will be incorporated in the NDP when drafting this long term strategic plan.

Much has been done on national development planning which resulted in the following final documents:

1. ‘The Baseline study of St. Maarten’s development from a government perspective’: This report gives an understanding of the range of development issues that are relevant to St. Maarten’s development, like how the government policies is addressing those issues, and the extent to which St. Maarten’s current level of development can inform future development options.

2. ‘A Policy-Budget Paper’, which is a document intended to promote discussion towards implementing a planning and budgetary process to support a programmatic style of governance. By linking funding to policy results rather than inputs, a program budget becomes an instrument where information and decisions are structured in accordance with the objectives that guide the country’s development.

3. St. Maarten Vision 2030: A vision document for the sustainable development of St. Maarten, integrating economic, social, environmental and governance dimensions of development.
With the passing of hurricane Irma, it is needed that the SDGs also be incorporated in the National Recovery and Resilient Plan (NRRP), the short-term plan to deal with the hurricane urgencies. Since Irma a lot of priority has been given to reconstruction/building back a better St. Maarten.

St. Maarten’s Department of the Interior and Kingdom Relations (BAK) is the designated focal point for the Sustainable Development Goals. Ms. Drs. L. Morales, program manager at BAK can be contacted to be part of the Agenda 2030-SDGs process. You can reach her via government email loekiemorales@sintmaartengov.org or per telephone number + 1 721 5271223.