Published On: Wed, May 9th, 2018

Parliament approves 2018 budget

2018 Budget voting list Parliament

PHILIPSBURG – Parliament approved the 2018 budget on Tuesday evening shortly after 8 p.m. with 8 votes in favor and 5 votes against. Thus the government met the kingdom’s demand for an approved budget no later than Tuesday at midnight.

The Faction of the United Democrats and coalition partner Wycliffe Smith (St. Maarten Christian Party) voted in favor of the budget. The National Alliance faction – minus the absent former leader William Marlin – and United St. Maarten party MP Rolando Brison voted against. USp-leader Frans Richardson left the meeting before the vote.

MP Christophe Emmanuel had said earlier in the meeting that he would support the budget if Minister of Finance Mike Ferrier could guarantee that salaries and benefits of civil servants would remain untouched. “Nowhere on this list of cost-cutting measures is a proposal to cut the salaries of civil servants,” Minister Ferrier said, though he added that one proposal is to freeze benefits.

Emmanuel was however not convinced. “I wanted a yes or no and I did not get that answer,” he said. “I don’t want to make a decision that is not in the best interest of our civil servants.”

Other opposition MPs also voted against the budget, because they consider the budget either incomplete, lacking revenue generating measures or, in general “not in the best interest of the people.”

Minister Ferrier made a passionate plea for unanimous support, saying that his cost cutting proposals include salary cuts for ministers and MPs. “The first ten items on this list are related to ministers and parliamentarians,” he said. “We have no solution for our liquidity problem. That means that we’re running out of money. We are talking to the Dutch about this. They are the only game in town.”

And, with a reference to criticism from MP Ardwell Irion (“If the Dutch say jump, you ask how high”) Ferrier closed with: “Yes, if they say jump, I’ll say how high. I can always come down again after we got the money.”