SINT MAARTEN (PHILIPSBURG) - Independent Member of Parliament (MP) Christophe Emmanuel is again calling on government to pay public servants “something, anything” from their owed vacation pay of 2020 and due vacation pay of 2021. Being more forceful than he has ever been on the subject, the MP said he wants to see something paid before the end of the budget debate this week.
“Our people are struggling. I am sure the Minister of Finance has heard the stories of hardships and how anything right now would go a long way to assist with due obligations at this time of year such as school fees, uniforms and hurricane preparations. The Minister of Finance must be able to find the money within the budget. I have given enough examples of where he can find the funds. Now is the time for the Minister to deliver,” MP Emmanuel said.
The MP went on to remind the Minister of his harsh words towards State Secretary Raymond Knops and the CFT in May 2019. The Minister was an MP at that time and stated that quality of life of the people of St. Maarten was the most important thing to him, not how Knops and the CFT feel. He stated verbatim: “Quality of life comes before Knops and the CFT.”
MP Emmanuel called on the Minister to follow through on his words now that he is in the seat. “The Minister was passionate about ensuring a decent quality of life for the people of St. Maarten. He now has the opportunity to do like the government of Curacao is doing for its people and give even a small percentage of the vacation pay,” Emmanuel said.
He continued: “At that same time the Minister also chided the former government for not presenting alternatives to the increase in pension age. He wanted government to show how it had exhausted all options in seeking alternatives. That’s ironic because I have been asking the government to show us what options they have exhausted in looking for ways to avoid cutting people’s income. That information has never been presented.
“The government of St. Maarten signed the agreement with the Dutch despite my many warnings that it would result in a tsunami of protests. Today we are seeing bigger drips of protests at government companies building up towards that tsunami. The Prime Minister and MPs in support of the government bragged and said nobody is protesting or storming the government building. Tell me if you feel like bragging now.
“Government would do well to step up and do something instead of being afraid of Knops and CFT. Do not make the people suffer for a decision that you took without their consent, and probably illegally. What could your motivation be for choosing to please Knops over helping your own people? How does that actually make you feel?
“Please pay public servants something, anything from their vacation pay. You will have to figure out how to deal with whatever verdict from the constitutional court on the three laws. But in the meantime, find a way and just pay” the MP concluded.