Arrindell’s decision violates Constitution and Rules of Order

POSTED: 07/15/11 1:00 PM

St. Maarten / By Donellis Browne – A decision by the President of Parliament drs Gracita Arrindell to place the concept amendment to the Civil Code as put forward by the National Alliance on the agenda of the Central Committee before sending it to the Council of Advice is a violation of the Constitution and Parliament’s Rules of Order. Leader of the National Alliance William Marlin revealed on Wednesday that the law still had not gone to the Council of Advice even though the revised concept had been submitted to the chair on June 6.

“We had contacted the Secretary General after hearing the legislation had not yet reached the Council of Advice and he said the procedure is that it will go to the Central Committee and then to the Council of Advice. We do not believe this is the correct procedure because basically you could have a situation that the opposition faction would be stifled by the governing factions who decide then and there to put the law on the back burner. The law is clear that Members of Parliament have the right to submit initiative legislation and you cannot stop it from going to the Council of Advice,” Marlin said.

The N.A. leader’s words are borne out in that Article 85 of the Constitution which gives one or more members the right to submit initiative laws. Article 85 sub 3 states, “The Parliament shall offer a draft of a national ordinance to the Council of Advice before proceeding to consider it.”

Article 60 and Article 61 of the Rules of Order also deals with the right MPs have to submit initiative laws. Article 60 states that all proposals from members must be submitted to the Secretariat in accordance with Article 85 of the Constitution and that it must also be copied and sent to other MPs and the Council of Ministers. Article 61 requires that amendments to common law legislation – like the Civil Code – should also be sent to the President of Parliament of the other countries. In this instance the speaking partner would be Curacao and Aruba as St. Maarten and these islands have a common Civil Code.

Lack of direction

According to Marlin decisions like the one on how to handle the amendment to the Civil Code and matters like the fact that Parliament continues to rely on the government apparatus for assistance in, amongst other things, the hiring of staff, and that the wider parliament has yet to engage in a discussion on the body’s budget for 2012 shows that the Presidium of Parliament does not have the correct focus and vision.

“One would expect better and you ask why we have not been more vocal. It’s because we’ve been trying to allow people time to settle in and you don’t want to create the impression that you’re beating up on people, but there is still not enough action and too much focus on window dressing,” Marlin said.

Next to presenting a draft budget for Parliament Marlin believes that the Presidium must move quickly to improve communication with the Council of Ministers and to regulate the position of the people who are working for the body.

“We are currently neither fish nor fowl, because we see that among the people who are currently working there are civil servants on loan from the government. We also see that answers are sent by government and then disappear and you also have a situation where a simple thing like regulating designated parking for Members of Parliament still has not been taken care of. What are we busy with,” Marlin said.

Asked if he’d heard there was a “shake-up” of Parliament’s leadership coming in September Marlin said, “That is an internal matter for the coalition and the National Alliance has not been privy to any discussions, if there were any.”

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