Date for budget-debate sparks controversy

POSTED: 04/11/13 3:02 PM

St. Maarten – The start of the third day of Central Committee deliberations into the presentation of the Draft 2013 Budget featured disagreements between Members of Parliament on the announcement of a plenary session set for next week.

Parliament President drs. Rodolphe Samuel sent out a convocation on Tuesday afternoon indicating that the plenary (public session) of Parliament on the budget discussions will start on Monday April 15 from 10:00 am. An announcement was also made in the media.

The bone of contention for United People’s Party MP Jules James was that Samuel had jumped the gun.  Yesterday James insisted that the Central Committee session needed to be completed with questions asked in the first and second rounds before the Budget was hurriedly sent through to the plenary level. Samuel should not have anticipated the end of the Central Committee so soon, drs. Gracita Arrindell (UP) chimed in it. They both suggested that the convocation be pulled back.

The views of UP, were supported by MP Roy Marlin of the Democratic Party. Marlin said that “it is premature to send out a notice for a public meeting. I have not heard that before we have to be prudent and careful when we are doing these things.

Both George Pantophlet and Louie Laveist of the National Alliance supported the move of the Samuel saying that it could be changed later, and was not a legal error.

“We have to try to meet deadlines,” Laveist explained adding that approval of the budget is an urgent matter.

Samuel did not respond to the sentiments of the MPs expressed during the notice period.  But eventually did by indicating the convocation would remain in effect and changed on Monday if necessary, after James interrupted Prime Minister Sarah Wescot-Williams during her presentation, for a position on the issue.



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