SINT MAARTEN (PHILIPSBURG) - The behavioral ethics of our appointed and elected officials have come under questionable circumstances lately, stated former Minister of Tourism, Economic Affairs, Transportation and Telecommunications (TEATT) Stuart Johnson on Tuesday in a media statement.
The statement continues: “While there is no regulation against gifts for government officials neither has the code of conduct been passed, which includes a gift registration for Members of Parliament (MPs).
“Back on December 13th, 2018, former Minister of Tourism, Economic Affairs, Transportation and Telecommunications (TEATT) Stuart Johnson highlighted an embarrassing case our country faced.
Johnson in The Daily Herald newspaper article stated, “Government was notified on November 28 of a 451-day past-due bill for a training attended by Member of Parliament Rolando Brison during his stint as St. Maarten Tourist Bureau head. The company UBM Global Business Services added a warning that legal proceeding would start against government if the bill was not attended to immediately.
“Brison received the money for the Route Development for Tourism training from government, but it was never debited to the company. On query about the non-payment, Brison told The Daily Herald he had paid the US $1,395 bill and provided a receipt from the company dated December 12, 2018, at 11:53 am.”
“Why did he only rush to make that payment after I broke the news to the people of St. Maarten?” Johnson questioned.
“One would think a lesson would have been learned about good ethics and integrity, especially holding an elected position and being the leader of a political party. However, it seems that good ethics remains a distant hope for many who seek to have confidence again in the political arena on St. Maarten,” Johnson stated.
“Is there any truth that a complimentary room was provided by a particular resort to the President of Parliament MP Rolando Brison? Why were the meetings with the basketball associations held with MP Brison and a meeting of the TEATT Ministry held at the same resort? What is the reason for all of this? The people of St. Maarten have a right to know."
“Is article 56 of our country’s constitution the only semblance of holding our elected or appointed Government officials accountable for receiving gifts?
“If there is any truth to this anyone can conclude that it simply remains ethically wrong considering, Brison is part of the Governing coalition. Has the board of UP Party considered the continuous actions of its party leader as acceptable behavior? What message is being sent to our young people and the world at large with these actions?” Johnson questioned.
"Can one conclude a complimentary gift is the same as a monetary gift as it has a possible monetary value? Will this be a new norm to be expected from our appointed and elected officials?" he asked.
“I strongly implore the Parliament of St. Maarten to get the ball rolling on making this coalition more accountable as we remain in a pandemic without an economic recovery plan or a proper health crisis management plan. The continuous silence of the vast majority of the opposition MPs is deafening and speaks volumes of the need for leadership that remains missing in our country.
“Everyone wonders when will the cries of our people be heard by this governing coalition and when will the questionable actions of some individuals end,” Johnson concluded.