SINT MAARTEN (PHILIPSBURG) - Member of Parliament (MP) Rolando Brison for the United St. Maarten Party (USP) faction, has expressed disappointment in the Minister of Finance for his handling thus far of the country’s 2019 budget. The budget, which as per article 100 of the Constitution should have been submitted by government to parliament at the latest September 1st, has not been submitted, and parliament has not been notified formally that it will be late.
There has been no form of communication from the Minister as to why it is late, and no timeline for when it will be submitted. Brison states: “As a Member of Parliament, I took the oath of office to uphold the constitution, and of the many tasks outlined therein, the approval of the Budget of Country St. Maarten is one of the most crucial.
We in parliament want to do our job, we would hope that the Minister wishes to do his, and as co-legislators we look forward to working with the executive branch to pass these laws. But cooperation is a two-way street”, the MP continues. Brison is of the opinion that at the very least, parliament should have received formal notification that the 2019 budget would be delayed, accompanied by a plan of action to correct the situation. But not even this was the case. He says: “I wish I could in this release tell the public why we have not been able to do this very important part of our job, but the fact is we don’t know and have not been informed. What I can say for sure is that the Minister needs to respect the constitution first and foremost, and I will use whatever tool in my power as an elected representative of the people, to fulfill the tasks mandated to me by the people”.
“The budgetary process and its deadlines are very important, particularly when we are dealing with a deficit budget and one that is crucial to the resiliency of St. Maarten”. Brison repeats a previously made statement that Parliament should not be treated as a rubber stamp, and seeing the blatant disregard for even informing parliament about such a constitutional violation gives the impression of a Minister of Finance with little regard for the role of parliament. Such disregard for the budgetary process could, among other things, prevent parliamentarians from effectively ensuring the needs of the people are reflected in the budget such as housing, waste management and social programs. It could also lessen confidence in the business community in government’s part in the resiliency of St. Maarten and extend the time to which the CFT will remain hanging over the head of our country.
The United St. Maarten Party Member of Parliament expresses frustration as he takes into consideration the fact that the Minister was once a Member of Parliament and vocal about the importance of finance ministers to meet deadlines, and holding the executive branch accountable. The young MP harkens back to the public meeting of parliament where the credentials of the MP’s were approved, and Minister Geerlings, at the time an outgoing MP for the DP, had some advice for the new MP’s including the newly elected Brison. MP Brison quotes Minister Geerlings then an MP himself:
“I hope the level of understanding our own political framework will rise, because only then we will be able to keep our parliament and executive branch within the picket fence that we put around them. Because if you let them run off with whatever they think they need to serve to you, they will run off with it. And you will be the ones to suffer at the end of the day.” – MP Geerlings, Public Meeting #17, March 23 2018.
“Indeed, we cannot allow the executive branch to run off with things that are simply wrong, and thus I sound the constitutional alarm on this matter and hope the Minister remembers his own words,” concludes MP Rolando Brison.