Published On: Thu, Oct 12th, 2017

DP urges a repositioning on Dutch assistance for the benefit of the people

Philipsburg — Minister of General Affairs, the honorable Prime Minister William Marlin on October 11th, received letter from the leader of the Democratic Party, MP Sarah Wescot-Williams, as a result of the allusions made by (outgoing) Dutch Minister Plasterk regarding Dutch reconstruction aid for St. Maarten.

The Dutch minister in essence accuses the local government of jeopardizing the reconstruction aid from the Netherlands. While the timing might be suspect, the fact remains that the storm did not blow the integrity chamber issue away. It was there and talks between the two governments on the matter were well advanced. Some persons could rightfully ask what the Democratic Party would have done or would do if placed in the same situation.

Firstly, I don’t believe the points of contention (at least from the information I have) are of such a nature that our democratic system would crumble because of them. Secondly, get the fine print. E.g on the point of border control: what is concretely the proposal by the Dutch government? Control, management or assistance? Or all of the three?

And thirdly, and most importantly, for the sake of the wellbeing, livelihood and very survival of the St. Maarten people the Democratic Party, that fought tooth and nail for our current status accepts that this is no ordinary state of affairs. Imagine in the week of September 3rd, we all were going our separate ways, doing our own thing, grateful for our island, its resistance and potential, only to wake up ( if we could’ve slept) to total destruction and despair. Our lives changed forever! If this is not reason to step down from any pedestal we are on, I don’t know what is. Moving our people forward out of the heap of despair and uncertainty that is slowly engulfing our island, is the Democratic Party’s main focus at this time. Reality is a tough teacher. If there are realistic alternatives to the Dutch assistance or in addition to, then I welcome such with open arms. I am a believer though, that there are no “free lunches”. As it seems right now, we do not have the luxury to jeopardize or condition any help.

Some say, we are asked to sell our souls. Our soul, at least mine, is content to know we did our best for the common good of St. Maarten. As we come out of the state of emergency and the stark reality sets in, let’s fight for restoration, like we have never fought before. Extraordinary times call for extraordinary measures and outlooks.

DP’s letter to the Government of St. Maarten reads as follows:

It is with great astonishment that I read the statement by the outgoing Dutch Minister for Kingdom Relations, Dr. R. Plasterk, titled “ Government Reluctance May Stall Recovery”. The article goes on further to state that refusal by the government to cooperate with conditions put forward by the Dutch Government could stall and or delay the much needed assistance from the Netherlands.
Before drawing any conclusions from these statements, I urgently put the following questions forward:

1. Has the government been apprised of these conditions and if so what EXACTLY are these conditions? Please spell these out.
2. Has government been unequivocally told that refusal to cooperate will jeopardize Dutch assistance and aid?
3. What has been government’s response?
4. What are the government’s objections to these conditions? Please spell these out.
5. What -if any- are the guarantees for Dutch support?
6. How much of this support has already been received in kind?
7. How many requests for aid have been submitted to the Dutch/Kingdom government for support due to the destruction by hurricane Irma on St. Maarten?
8. If indeed, as mentioned in the statement by Minister Plasterk, one of the conditions is the establishment of an Integrity Chamber and given the agreement between the Dutch and St. Maarten governments of July 6th last, what is the status of the Integrity Chamber of St. Maarten and when will Parliament receive the draft law?

It goes without saying that these questions warrant government’s urgent reply.

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