Published On: Tue, Jan 16th, 2024

Parlatino costs a lot and brings St. Maarten nothing

PHILIPSBURG — The Parliament spends hundreds of thousands of guilders each year on its membership of Parlatino without showing any tangible results. This appears from an audit of the General Audit Chamber into the effectiveness of the Parlatino-membership.

The annual Parlatino membership fee totals 702,000 guilders ($392,179) and parliamentarians spent more than 2.1 million guilders ($1,173,184) a year on travel and accommodation to attend meetings of this organization.

The Audit Chamber surveyed parliamentarians about the effectiveness of the Parlatino-membership. Seven out of fifteen MPs responded. Six out of these seven agree to setting criteria for specific flight classes and for implementing a requirement to submit expense reports that show how they spent their per diem allowance. The MPs acknowledged that parliamentarians do not return unspent per diem to the government and three of the seven said that this should not be done. Four of the seven MPs said that there were no concrete results from Parlatino and six out of seven support the exploration of alternatives.

“The effectiveness of Parlatino is questionable, given the language barrier and parliamentary model differences,” the auditors note. The report states that during the past thirteen years (St. Maarten became a member in 2010) just one report was submitted to the Audit Chamber about the effectiveness of Parlatino.

The report mentions three regional alternatives to Parlatino: Caricom (Caribbean Community), ACS, the Association of Caribbean States and the Organization of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS).

The report states that six of the seven surveyed parliamentarians question the cost, the language barriers and the lack of evident impact of Parlatino over the past thirteen years. They consider shifting to a St. Maarten-centric regional approach as a more cost-efficient and strategic alternative.

“The decision-making process behind St. Maarten becoming a member of Parlatino lacks transparency, as the goals and objectives of this initial commitment remain unclear,” the audit report states. “The absence of objectives and no clear tangible outcomes from the membership raise questions about the impact and effectiveness of St. Maarten’s participation in Parlatino over the past thirteen years.”