Published On: Sun, Jun 16th, 2019

MP Brison: Government the hold up on UTS share sale

MP Rolando Brison UTS Share Sale Presentation Parliament

PHILIPSBURG — Member of Parliament Rolando Brison on Sunday said regrettably that his first initiative law is falling behind due to waiting on answers from the government of St. Maarten. The legislation MP Brison referred to was the law aimed at authorizing government to undertake the sale proper sale of St. Maarten’s shares in United Telecommunication Services (UTS).

“A total of just 12 questions were posed by Members of Parliament that need to be answered by the Ministers of Finance and Justice. These questions were posed in the Central Committee handling of the draft initiative law, which is aimed at preventing the devaluation of the minority shares held by St. Maarten of UTS,” Brison said.

The main premise behind MP Brison’s draft law is that the country risks having what is currently valued at 13 million dollars in assets reduced to cents on the dollar should government not finalize this negotiation.

“The government had already agreed as shareholder since May of 2016 to sell its shares. Curacao has completed its part of the process, but almost 3 years later the government is still dragging its feet and putting millions of guilders of what is the people’s assets at risk,” stated MP Brison, “Here we go again with the government’s irresponsible behavior putting what amounts to almost $2,000 per household in St. Maarten at risk.”

While the questions were posed in the central committee on June 5th, the questions posed to the government are already covered in a letter dated May 27th 2019. “Had the government answered the questions posed in my letter to them weeks ago, all these questions would have been covered. Yet to date I still await the official answer to these questions,” stated Brison, “The fact the neither of the Ministers were present at the Central Committee handling of such a crucial law is also very unfortunate, as was pointed out by various MP’s during the meeting.”

The MP envisions law paving the way for a 3-fold multiplicative benefit to the country, namely paying back APS and taking them out of the low coverage ratio they currently stand in (staving off a need to raise the pension age to 65), funds being used for the development of affordable housing, and money being available to actually pay our police and other justice personnel what they are owed.

Members of the central committee, including some members of the coalition, expressed sentiments during the initial handling of the law that the government had “dropped the ball” on this issue. The law being initiated by MP Brison aims at picking up the ball to prevent a lackadaisical attitude from costing the public millions of guilders.

“This initiative is ready to go and should be moving forward, but once again the government is holding back progress with what appears to be an unwillingness to acknowledge that a member of the opposition is picking up a ball that the government themselves dropped. I did not go into parliament to be opposition or coalition. I am here as a member of parliament that simply works in the best interest of my people, regardless of which side of the isle I sit” explained Brison, “The government should cooperate with members of parliament and respect the initiative process. The right of initiative is not exclusive to the government or MP’s who support the coalition”

This law would be only the 3rd initiative law ever debated in Parliament, and was completed in just 8 weeks from initiative to the start of the debate. “This legal process proves that MP’s can indeed present more laws and earn our salary the way we were meant to. And despite the fact that government, in what seems to be with purposeful neglect, hampers the legislative process of parliament, MP’s have to keep doing what we can to do our jobs. I for one am undeterred, and will continue to hold the Ministers accountable while also keeping he public informed,” concluded Brison.

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Photo caption: MP Rolando Brison in Parliament while giving the members of Parliament a powerpoint presentation about his draft initiative law on Wednesday, June 5, 2019. Photo provided by Parliament.