Sint Maarten Sint Maarten

SINT MAARTEN (COMMENTARY by S. Kirindongo) - What is cartel formation? Cartel formation is the illegal cooperation between individuals and/or companies to prevent competition when undertaking activities and to keep the benefits within their own group. For example, a drug cartel serves to gain and promote sovereignty over drug trafficking and keep others, including justice, out.

Cartel formation can have far-reaching consequences, especially in small communities. Unfortunately, this phenomenon occurs very much within the government of Sint Maarten, where the interim government together with a handful of coalition partners determine and direct everything for the rest of the government and the elected representatives. And that is not something of this government alone, but of most previous governments, just think of the numerous arrests and investigations of politicians over the last 12 months.

An Economic Cartel is a cooperation between elected government representatives and others, who share land, concessions, business and work permits, government purchases and loans among the group, as well as among their party members, against payment.

In the Political Cartel, important decisions are taken by a handful of board members and their (financial and campaign) sponsors, who must be sold through a number of core members to the party structures for certain favors or promises for them. These types of cartel formation lead to unfair competition, degrading income and capital distribution.

Political favors are peripheral symptoms of cartel formation. To this extend the Trump Impeachment process is a consequence of an attempted cartel formation between Trump (and his inner circle) with the Ukraine president.

If you want to see how cartel formation works, you have to check how the money flows take place and who gets benefits or becomes richer and which groups gets poorer. In government and/or political cartel formations it is always the people who pay the bill to the benefit of the top cartel members. The political party tops certainly benefit from these types of cartels in one way or another, otherwise they would raise their minds and voices about this.

When cartels are kept out of sight of citizens, they are referred to as Mafia-like practices, which are accompanied by threats, fears, ridiculing opponents, dismissals, sabotage etc.

In this regard there is certainly cartel formation around the financing of the reconstruction of the Princess Julianna International Airport (PJIA).

Here is where political cartels are formed in parliament against the interests of the country and its people. The highest political institution that took ought to act on behalf of and for the people of
Sint Maarten, is now boycotting its progress.

A couple of months ago a motion that was passed against the then minister of finance (Geerlings), preventing him from signing any agreement with third parties, including the lenders and bondholders for the reconstruction of PJIA. The latter was of course against the interest of the people of Sint Maarten. Because of this impasse and uncertainty, the bondholders now required that parliament give the minister a motion, instructing him to sign the agreements. Without that instruction they would not be willing to sign any agreement and release the insurance payout, which is instrumental for the reconstruction. A subsequent motion was submitted to parliament by MP Claude Peterson to give the minister that mandate to sign all contracts and agreements, and speed up the reconstruction.

Here is where a broadly evident political cartel formation came into play that sabotaged the progress of the reconstruction of PJIA. During the handling of the motion the coalition MP’s played down the motion in a purely political attempt to prevent the minister from starting the reconstruction of the airport. They told the minister that he had already received the mandate when the budget for 2019 was approved.

Again, completely ignoring the requirement of the bondholders, that parliament pass a motion that mandates the minister to sign. During the voting of the motion the coalition MP’s simply walked out, confirming their self-interest, dishonesty and disloyalty to the country’s priorities and best interests.

On November 19th a new set of interim ministers from the coalition was sworn in with the explicit task from the governor to handle the reconstruction of the PJIA. Now suddenly the same MP’s that sabotaged the motion are turning around and are pushing for a motion to be signed in parliament to pave the way for the financing of the reconstruction of PJIA. Politicizing the issue, only and exclusively for their own political gain in the upcoming snap elections. Subsequently on November 28 the same coalition submitted the same motion that was previously submitted by MP Peterson. That motion was subsequently passed by the same (cartel of) MP’s that were against the first motion.

The reconstruction has again been unnecessarily delayed, and the people are again the victim.

There are also other examples where cartel formation is hampering other highly needed (administrative, penal and financial) legislation that would greatly benefit the people of Sint Maarten.

In this seemingly democratic constitution, it is not possible to offer and guarantee equal opportunities and opportunities for everyone. In a true democratic constitution, elected representatives should serve the interests of the people and, as such, stand for the advancement of its people, the progress and improvement of the economy and the speedy reconstruction of the airport.

The above described political cartel formation is blatant and sad. An absolute self-centered mafia-like deception of the people. Where are the Ombudsman, SER, Algemene Rekenkamer, RMR and other supervisory authorities?

Every people's representation represents the highest will of the people and therefore has a derived authority; hence it must be accountable to the people! But with cartel formation, a handful of people are in charge of the rest. This is the worst example you can give to a society.

S. Kirindongo

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