SINT MAARTEN (PHILIPSBURG) - The board of the United St. Maarten Party (US) said on Monday that their sentiment with regards to the confusing manner in which the country is being governed has been echoed and confirmed by State Secretary Knops with decisive action in the aftermath of the advice from the Council of State on the COHO legislation.
The USP board said the people of St. Maarten are now left wondering about the way forward, while the Prime Minister continues to issue strange and confusing statements on the COHO. “The Prime Minister and her faction leader in Parliament MP William Marlin called a press conference to address what they said were inaccuracies being peddled as it relates to COHO. This is after reconfirming (March 17) her agreement to the implementation agenda, setting the stage for more liquidity support to be given at the end of the month. However, the only thing that came out of that press conference was more confusion from the Prime Minister,” the board said.
The board said that according to Knops, NAF 39 million in liquidity support will be withheld from St. Maarten until “parliament clarifies its position on the recently submitted petition to the United Nations and confirms approval for the Caribbean Entity for Reform and development COHO”
The USP board explained that Prime Minister Jacobs said “the country did not agree with the proposal made for COHO in July last year”. Jacobs went on to say “the entity was being introduced as a prerequisite to continue receiving liquidity support” further stating that “the countries did not agree with the manner in which it was done, it was more than a proposal and was a forced consensus that had been accepted as the islands were no longer able to financially sustain themselves.” Prime minister Jacobs then goes on to say “In December 2020, St. Maarten agreed to follow the trajectory towards the realization of COHO and agreed to start working on reforms in the country package.”
The US party board questions how one could in one breath not agree with the proposal made for COHO, and in the next agree to the trajectory for the establishment of COHO without stating such in the letter of acceptance on March 17 2021.
“How could a properly functioning Council of Ministers approve the implementation of the agenda for the country package and not question the Prime Minister on her acceptance of the country package and COHO in her letter of March 17th 2020. The fact that they are two separate issues is obvious, making it even more difficult to understand why the Prime minister would accept both in one letter without any objections,” the USP board said.
The “trajectory” argument was dismissed by the US party board as nonsensical since all laws follow the same trajectory, the COHO law is no different. “The claim that the islands accepted both agreements holds no water since St. Maarten is the only island whose liquidity was put on hold until clarity can be given on its position,” the board said.
The US party board further questions if there was a strategy to be applied beyond following the trajectory of the COHO law, as this would be the perfect time to present it. “The advice from the Council of State is clear, COHO in its current form is unacceptable but once revisions are made, it will be instituted as a body to manage the country package. Everything else that followed was equivalent to grand standing when you have no legs to stand on. The games being played by this coalition are elementary at the expense of the people. State Secretary Knops has placed Parliament’s petition to the United Nations on center stage to further divide the coalition, while the people of this country are left wondering what their plan is moving forward,” the board said.
The US party board said a country cannot transition to self-sustainment without a proper plan and the highly irresponsible way in which the people’s business is being conducted without proper planning leaves it vulnerable to ultimatums.
“The NA/UP coalition now finds itself having to choose between their egos and liquidity support because they have yet to take a principle stance on any decision they have made thus far, on behalf of the people of St. Maarten. Individualistic ideals and a lack of leadership has now fragmented Parliament into those who will side with the petition on principle and those on the side of liquidity support at all cost. All of which could have been avoided if Prime Minister Jacobs had stated in writing in clear words that she had an issue with the way in which the structure of COHO infringed on her ability to govern and represent the people of this country,” the board added.
The US party board said they were awaiting an emergency press briefing as was held last Friday to bring clarity to the misconceptions of State Secretary Knops and his unjustified stop to liquidity support. “Not just a press briefing to point fingers at other MPs and deflect. But as has been the case for the past year communication on the issues that matter most to the people are only discussed when the coalition finds itself with its back against the wall and decisions are made for them,” the board concluded.