Published On: Tue, Sep 17th, 2019

MP Claude ‘Chacho’ Peterson requests meeting to be convened with State Secretary Knops

MP Claude Chacho Peterson - Vice Chair of Parliament

PHILIPSBURG — On Tuesday, September 17, 2019, SMCP Member of Parliament Claude ‘Chacho’ Peterson submitted a letter to Parliament requesting, through the Prime Minister Leona Romeo Marlin, that a meeting be convened with Dutch State Secretary of Home Affairs and Kingdom Relations, Raymond Knops, in order to address a number of issues.

This meeting request was supported by Independent Member of Parliament Franklin Meyers and United Democrats Member of Parliament Jules James.

The proposed agenda points for the requested meeting are:

– Liquidity support to St. Maarten; specifically the amounts received thus far and the amounts to be received and their conditions and timelines;

– Evaluation of the performance of the Trust Fund and its projects, specifically but not limited to the use, pace, results, financials (use and balance), World Bank, National Recovery Program Bureau;

– Kingdom Relations, focused on the current views on the relationship between St. Maarten and the Netherlands, the status of and views on the dispute regulation, and the aspects to be tackled going forward.

“Since Irma devastated St. Maarten and later after the signing of the Trust Fund with the Netherlands via the World Bank, the Prime Minister in particular, in her capacity as the signatory to the trust fund agreement on behalf of the Council of Ministers, has had to interact and work on a consistent basis with Mr. Knops on the reconstruction process.” MP Peterson explained. “I felt it is important to open direct dialogue between the Dutch State Secretary and the Parliament of St. Maarten in the best interest of relations within the Kingdom at a time when our island is reliant on direct aid from the Netherlands as we seek to rebuild our economy and increase our tax compliance.” Too often we talk about each other and not to each other, the MP concluded.

In November 2018, as 2nd Vice Chair, MP Peterson had the opportunity together with the President of Parliament and 1st Vice Chair to meet with State Secretary Knops and the Dutch Representative Chris Johnson at the Dutch Representative Office on Front street.

MP Peterson further elaborated that “Meeting Mr. Knops was very insightful and gave me the opportunity to asked questions on the reconstruction process as well as clarify statements made on the airport financing option at the time. I believe doing this in a bigger setting with all members of Parliament would be beneficial not only to the Members but also to the public where too often misinformation lives a life of its own. Our people should be able to know exactly where they stand as they try to rebuild their homes but more importantly as they strive to recover from the mental trauma so many experienced.”

“I understand that as elected members of Parliament in St. Maarten, we have no direct authority to demand his presence but I do hope that State Secretary Knops will see the importance of a dialogue with our highest legislative body and accommodate this request.” MP Peterson stated.

“I think this could be a good opportunity for Parliament and the people to get a clear direct explanation on statements made regarding financing of the airport, liquidity support to government, MP salaries, pension law, WB/NRPB projects from the Trust Fund and the prison.”

Lastly, and more importantly, MP Peterson stated that he hopes to discuss the pace of the reconstruction and what can be done to speed up the process in the interest of St. Maarten and its people. Specifically in the areas of home repair, school repair and hurricane shelters which are paramount to the resilience of our island should the island experience another Hurricane like Irma. The recent passing of Hurricane Dorian and its devastation of the Bahamas as a Category 6 hurricane should be seen as a serious warning that we will see such mega storms with more frequency. Hence we must speed up our reconstruction and resilience.

MP Peterson, who is faction leader for the St. Maarten Christian Party (SMCP) forming part of the UD-SMCP coalition, supporting the Leona Romeo-Marlin II cabinet in government, concluded in his letter requesting a meeting be convened with Knops that he hopes that the State Secretary will accept this invitation to appear in Parliament at his earliest convenience.


Related links:
Letter MP Peterson requesting meeting to be convened with State Secretary Knops