SINT MAARTEN (PHILIPSBURG) - The Minister of Finance, Perry Geerlings, was present in the house of Parliament on March 24th, 2019 to continue deliberations on the amendment of the National Ordinance on National Taxes in connection with international obligations, that was adjourned since March 8th, 2019, the National Alliance (NA) parliamentary faction said in a press statement on Friday evening.
“It was however quite interesting to observe the apparent lack of interest from the coalition members of Parliament, who support Minister Geerlings, was quite evident as only three (3) of those MPs were present at the start of the meeting. This caused the Chairlady of Parliament, upon opening the gathering, to start the postponement procedure of the meeting due to a lack of quorum. The chairlady was already into her explanations, when a fourth member of the coalition entered the Legislative Hall and signed in.
“The Chairlady then proceeded to announce that there was indeed a quorum at the last minute and decided to open the meeting.
“After opening remarks and announcements, the Chairlady explained that the Public Meeting would not be able to go ahead because of the fact that it is the start of the second round of the meeting, in which she had taken the floor to speak to the topic in the first round. Because of this, MP Wescott Wililams would not be able to chair the meeting for as long as the particular topic is on the agenda.
“The Chairlady only announced this after MPs of the opposition checked the speakers’ list from the first round and saw that she had spoken to the topic in that round. This made them wonder if the Chairlady would have broken the Rules of Order by chairing the meeting knowing full well that 2nd Vice Chair Peterson had sent notice of absence.
“As is customary in a case like this, a Vice Chairperson of Parliament would chair the meeting. However, there is currently no first Vice Chairperson and the second Vice Chairman was absent with notice. Member of Parliament and second Vice Chair Claude Peterson was absent, although his presence was key to the continuation and safeguarding of today’s meeting and avoiding another embarrassment for the Parliament. This shows a blatant lack of competence by the MP to handle his responsibilities in Parliament as Faction Leader and Second Vice Chairperson of Parliament.
“Members of Parliament of the National Alliance faction wondered what precedent was being set by the chairlady, by allowing a “meeting” to be opened even though she was not allowed to Chair it, and even though there was no quorum at the time that the gathering had begun 30 minutes after the scheduled time.
“Article 35:1 of the Rules of Order clearly states: ‘If half an hour after the time for which the meeting is scheduled, the required number of members are not present, the President opens the gathering. The President mentions any incoming notices of absence of the absent members. He/She has the names of all MP’s read, whereby those present confirm their presence, and proceeds by determining that the required number of members present is or is not sufficient according to the rules for debating and taking decisions. A report is made hereof.’
“Based on the lack of interest and what appears to be a boycott by the coalition to such an important meeting, the National Alliance faction questions if there is indeed a lack of support within the coalition for this law.
“According to the National Alliance faction it is also troubling to note that the MP Wescott Williams would open a public meeting which she knows cannot legally occur; a postponement would have been a wiser decision.”