New Coalition: St. Maarten Ministers accountable to Parliament, not Knops
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New Coalition: St. Maarten Ministers accountable to Parliament, not Knops

SINT MAARTEN (PHILIPSBURG) - The new Parliamentary coalition of nine on Tuesday clarified its decision not to attend a meeting scheduled with Dutch State Secretary Raymond Knops that was scheduled for Wednesday, September 25, as this would once again ignore the rules of order regarding correct Parliamentary procedures.

The new coalition stressed that it has no issue meeting with State Secretary Knops once correct procedures are followed, not in an adhoc manner or where they are directly put in a position to bend or break the rules of order of Parliament.

Furthermore, the coalition took note that the former Chairlady of Parliament had already informed MP’s Claude Peterson, Franklin Meyers and Jules James that their request for Parliament to meet with State Secretary Knops was against procedures. “Now the former Chairlady is already spinning the issue as if the new coalition missed some sort of opportunity and she had no option but to cancel the meeting. The truth escaped the former Chairlady once again,” the Coalition said.

In her letter dated September 18, the former Chairlady informed MP Meyers, MP Peterson and MP James as follows (verbatim): “I would like to point to article 32, paragraph 3, of our constitution which stipulates the following: The Ministers are answerable to the Parliament. Aformentioned article focuses on the so called ‘ministerial responsibility’ which is crucial in our Parliamentary democracy. This means that each Minister is responsible and accountable individually for his or her actions or lack thereof to Parliament. This responsibility only exists for St. Maarten Ministers towards the St. Maarten Parliament. Ministers or State Secretaries from other countries within the Kingdom of the Netherlands are not legally accountable to the parliament and as such cannot be called to give account to Parliament.”

“The former Chairlady instead saw an opportunity to use a political line of attack after she herself informed the MP’s who requested the meeting that it was not legally possible,” the coalition said. “This type of behavior is typical of the former Chairlady who bent or broke the rules of Parliament at a whim and often when convenient.”

“The new coalition does not want to follow in the footsteps of the previous Chairperson of Parliament with breaking or bending rules of order. We have rules that we have to follow and the request to meet with State Secretary Knops was incorrect procedure as, again, the former Chairlady herself confirmed. The prime Minister of St. Maarten is who answers to Parliament and we don’t want the PM to feel like she can simply pass the buck to Knops to answer to Parliament, a responsibility that belongs to her. We would like to stress that the new coalition have no issue meeting with State Secretary Knops in a proper setting once correct procedures are followed.”

The new coalition once again pointed out that the UD/SMCP imploded due in part to its MP’s not being able to obtain information from their appointed Ministers which, among other things, led to infighting that persists to this day and caused the crisis they have thrown the country into.

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