Published On: Fri, Oct 11th, 2019

MP Wescot-Williams: “Tread carefully with parliamentary inquiry”

PHILIPSBURG – MP Sarah Wescot-Williams asked some critical questions during Thursday’s central committee meeting about MP Rolando Brison’s initiative proposal to conduct a parliamentary inquiry into Mullet Bay – and the initiator was not amused, nor did he see fit to react to the actual content of the questions. Instead, Brison posted on his Facebook-page: “What a sad display by MP Wescot today. I only pray that the public takes notice of who votes against the Mullet Bay inquiry.”

Wescot-Williams however did not say that she was against the inquiry, but she noted that the proposal in its current form contains quite some questions to which answers can be obtained in a rather straightforward manner without using the Parliament’s ultimate instrument – the parliamentary inquiry.

“What I miss is the need to have arrived at an inquiry,” Wescot-Williams noted. “According to our Constitution this should be done when all other means and tools of parliament have been exhausted. I also miss the specific problem definition.”

Wescot-Williams referred to three issues that bother her: the ownership of the beach, the ownership of the Mullet Bay property and the encumbrances on the property. “Is the beach an issue in terms of ownership? Or is it a matter of enforcement? And the question about the ownership of the whole property: what are we trying to establish? And did we ask the Central Bank and the Minister of Finance about the encumbrances and did we not get answers?”

Because this is the first proposal to conduct a parliamentary inquiry, Wescot-Williams said, “We must make sure that whatever precedent we set is the right one. It is a measure of last resort.”

Wescot-Williams also criticized the proposal’s subtitle: Giving back Mullet Bay to the people. “A parliamentary inquiry should investigate, not first assume and then investigate,” she said. This is a tool for controlling the government and to establish where it has fallen short.”

The question whether the government could lay first claim to Mullet Bay also got Wescot-Williams’ attention. “Can we make that claim? We can ask that question right now.”

Wescot-Williams said that MP Brison made several statements about asking for information and not getting it. “My question is” has parliament requested this information and not received it? We need to tread very carefully with the tool of a parliamentary inquiry.”

Another issue is the budget – estimated in the proposal at 519,200 guilders ($290,000). Wescot-Williams concludes from the presentation that the inquiry committee will be supported by one secretary-general and that this is the secretary-general of parliament. “That is already a heavy task,” she said. “Why not also add a communications person from Parliament?”

That last question already has its answer. A copy of the inquiry-presentation was sent to stmaartennews.com by MiliMari, the consultancy and public relations company of Michael Granger, suggesting that this company has at least lent a hand in putting the presentation together. The 24,000 guilders reserved in the inquiry-budget for public relations will therefore most likely go to Granger’s company as well.

Wescot-Williams’ critical remarks notwithstanding, most members of parliament made clear that they want answers about the Mullet Bay property. The proposal was signed by seven MPs: initiator Rolando Brison, Frans Richardson, Christophe Emmanuel, Silveria Jacobs, Jorendy Doran, Ardwell Irion and William Marlin.


Related links:
Presentation MP Rolando Brison’s Proposal for Parliamentary Inquiry on Mullet Bay
MP Brison: 24 years is long enough without knowing truth on Mullet Bay
Opinion by Hilbert Haar: “Getting Mullet Bay out of its funk