SINT MAARTEN (POND ISLAND) - Independent Member of Parliament (MP) Christophe Emmanuel on Sunday said that the freezing of liquidity support to St. Maarten by the Dutch is a result of failed deception and childlike governing by the Prime Minister and her Parliamentary support which translates into negligent governance that only hurts the people of St. Maarten even more.
He said that any “proud representative with some backbone” would use the opportunity to tell State Secretary Knops to “keep his money and his COHO.” Emmanuel, the only MP who is completely against the COHO in any construct, said that Knops recognized the game at play as soon as the Parliament of St. Maarten involved the United Nations by submitting a petition calling for, among other things, dumping the COHO which even the Prime Minister called an entity of colonial control.
“I said then, and I’ll say again, you cannot ask the UN to kill the COHO while still asking the Dutch for money which comes with COHO as a condition for said money. It was dangerous from the start and deceitful at its core,” he said. The MP also re-iterated that Knops “probably got upset” after his second request for assurances in writing from the PM and Parliament for support of the country packages and the COHO, resulted in the same language he received after the first request for support in December.
“The only difference is, the petition was filed after the PM and Parliament informed Knops in writing that they have majority support for his reforms and the COHO. If he received a similar response in writing the second time he asked, knowing full well the PM and a majority in Parliament wants to get rid of COHO through the petition, he would have immediately realized that the PM and President of Parliament was acting in bad faith and pull the plug. That is entirely on the Prime Minister of this country,” MP Emmanuel said.
He continued: “The Prime Minister didn’t help matters when she said she didn’t read the petition, just the conclusion. This is the Prime Minister of the Country making such an irresponsible statement. It all smelled like bad fish to Knops. Point is, you should have said no to COHO from the start. But fear guided you. Instead you tried to lie your way through and here we are today without a plan. This is negligent governing and St. Maarten will suffer because of it,” MP Emmanuel said.
The MP stressed that St. Maarten does not need adult supervision. Instead, he said, St. Maarten needs to be treated with respect and as a true partner in the Kingdom. “We do not need another entity in this country. We have CFT, the World Bank, NRPB, Integrity Chamber, Schiphol, we have enough. We do not need COHO or any form of it, period. What we should be getting is the opportunity to meet at the table and speak based on respect and understand each other as partners in the Kingdom,” MP Emmanuel said.
Putting emphasis as nation building and wealth development for the people, Emmanuel stressed that there are areas that the Netherlands, as true partners, could assist St. Maarten. “The Netherlands are adept in several areas of economics and social development for example. Partners should be helping each other, not demanding and blackmailing trying to use an entity of control that even the Council of State views as heavy handed and infringes on autonomy. This is the responsible approach and principled stance our government should have taken. But they got scared, failed the people and lied to the Dutch,” he said.
He further pointed out that the same MP’s who said they were waiting until the COHO legislation gets to Parliament to discuss it, are now panicking and asking questions about the same issue they have been mute on for months.
“We all had the documents on the COHO for months, even before the PM signed the agreement with Holland in December. She refused to discuss COHO with Parliament. The Chairpersons of Parliament even instructed me on numerous occasions not to raise the COHO when discussing the country packages. The same Chairpersons as well as coalition MPs admitted that COHO and the country packages are linked. I tried numerous times to get answers and a meeting so that the public could be aware of what we were getting ourselves into.
“The people are still not informed because the PM and her coalition partners never brought it to Parliament to discuss. It could have been handled in a Central Committee meeting where members of Parliament would have had the opportunity to ask question and voice concerns in anticipation of the Council of State advice. Any responsible government would have taken this course of action to inform its people. Today there is confusion created by all the lying and deception perpetuated by the PM and her coalition partners,” MP Emmanuel said.
He added that while the Prime Minister continued to send mixed signals trying to trick the Dutch, she has yet to tell the people of St. Maarten what the plan is now moving forward. “The same PM is on record as stating that St. Maarten made suggestions that would be taken up in COHO. What those suggestions are nobody knows as only questions from Curacao were reflected in the Council of State advice on the COHO. So tell us what exactly we are now going to recommend to Knops at this stage,” Emmanuel said.
The MP said for a year the government of St. Maarten has tried to play a dangerous game with the Dutch while not developing economic plans of its own to guide our people out of this economic crisis brought on by the pandemic. “The Prime Minister and her government can find the time to recruit her predecessor to hold her hand in a press-conference and claim some sort of fake victory, but can’t present a budget for the country yet,” Emmanuel said, adding that the budget is another fiasco waiting to happen as many of the reforms have to be funded by the country’s budget, something that was specifically stated in the COHO legislation.
“What is her position on the petition, what is her position on the budget, what is her position on the freezing of liquidity, on the airport and that mess, on the function books for law enforcement personnel, on rising food prices, on rising gas prices. Is it true that the government is only now going to approach APS and other government owned entities for funding? The Prime Minister has engaged in months and months of transparent lies and this country still doesn’t have a plan for anything. We have absolutely nothing from this government,” he said.