Bell named interim Acting Secretary General of St. Maarten Parliament

POSTED: 05/24/11 1:28 PM

GREAT BAY – Mr A. Van Dijk Bell, who works at the Department of Legal Affairs, has been unanimously selected as the interim Acting Secretary General of Parliament for six months. Members of Parliament (MPs) elected him to the function in a public, general meeting on Monday morning. The voting was overseen by a committee consisting of Johan Leonard and Frans Richardson.

Bell’s appointment was made on advice of the Presidium of Parliament, but drew questions from the opposition National Alliance. MP George Pantophlet wanted to know how Bell was selected and whether or not Cassandra Janssen was approached on whether she still wants to work in the Secretariat or not.

Bell was personally approached at the weekend and indicated his willingness to serve, should his employer approve. His temporary appointment is necessary because the contract given to former Island Secretary Amador Muller has expired and a full time replacement has not been found. There was also a confirmation from 1st Vice President of Parliament Petrus Leroy De Weever that Janssen had sent a letter on May 5 that she was not interested in a function in parliament’s secretariat.

Pantophlet did not agree with the procedure and said, “This was done in a rush and mistakes were made.”

N.A. MP Frans Richardson had questions about the working arrangement. He specifically wanted to know if it would be a similar arrangement to the one Muller had – work on an as needed basis – or if Bell would be seconded. According to the answers provided Bell will work on as needed basis and will get the difference between his salary with the government and that of a staffer at Parliament as his compensation.

“There is no discussion about the individual. We all know Mr. Bell and his capabilities, especially those of us who were in government and I am looking forward to working with this good gentleman,” Richardson said.

Democratic Party faction leader Roy Marlin urged the presidium to work quickly to fill in the entire secretariat, even as he lamented that all offers that have been made for employment, with training attached have been turned down. He also pressed the presidium to engage Bell’s employer in short order to finalize the arrangements.

“I understand Mr. Bell, when he was approached this weekend, said he was willing to assist and I hope his employer will give him the time off,” Marlin said.

Debate on the full time Deputy Secretary General has been postponed on request of MPs. The proposal was tabled by De Weever and seconded by five others.


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