Entire Parliament agreed with sending initiative law to Central Committee

POSTED: 07/19/11 11:47 AM

Arrindell: “We all made the mistake”

St. Maarten / By Donellis Browne – All members of parliament present at the June 29 and the body’s Secretary General share joint responsibility for the fact that the initiative law presented by the National Alliance will be placed on the agenda of a Central Committee meeting when parliament returns from recess on August 8. This was the position taken by President of Parliament Gracita Arrindell at a press conference on Monday where she slammed the leader of the National Alliance faction William Marlin for playing politics with the issue weeks after he and all other MPs present voted to send the document to the Central Committee when they approved Arrindell’s proposal for the list of incoming documents.

The draft law, which would amend the Civil Code, was booked into parliament’s archives as document S/2168 on June 6. In the meeting Arrindell proposed that it be sent to the Central Committee and also verbally amended the list and none of what she said was challenged. With the list now approved Arrindell intends to press ahead.

“I will make clear that draft has now been sent to the Council of Advice on July 11 and when the recess is over it will be placed on the agenda of Parliament. The Council of Advice will now handle the law and they will send their remarks to the initiator for review and incorporation, but I will also still place this law on the agenda of the Central Committee,” Arrindell said.

“There are 14 other members and clerk and even one of them should have caught the oversight. However we cannot assume that rights are being trampled,” Arrindell added.

Arrindell sees the “error” made by her and her colleagues as part of the hiccoughs that will occur as parliament continues to “get its feet on the ground, especially in the absence of a complete manual on how laws are to be handled. The Department of Legal Affairs and Legislation is working on the manual and Arrindell has been informed it is in the final stages of preparation. The guide will give both the Council of Ministers and MPs a uniform guide on how to create laws and how they are to be handled. Current legal provisions including subsection 3 of Article 85 of the Constitution – which was violated when parliament took its decision – will be included in that document.

“Also parliament continues to review its own rules of order and an advice to the Central Committee on the line by line review that I initiated in our first meeting is still pending. We have to stop playing politics and spend more time in the governing procedure. The elections are over and it is time to work,” Arrindell said.

Because of this controversy and the way press reports were done Arrindell intends to make the Constitution and the Rules of Order available to the public before parliament’s recess is over.

Housekeeping

Arrindell also provided reassurances Monday that the presidium and Secretary General were working within the legal constraints to ensure that “housekeeping matters” are being addressed without running afoul of the legal framework. That includes submitting proposals for the purchase of office equipment and supplies that the parliament will purchase in bulk along with the Council of Ministers in order to decrease costs. Several large photo copying machines were recently purchased and each MP will soon be getting their own copy/fax/printer, scanner machine for their office. Each MP has already been given a laptop computer and access to phones, fax machines and internet.

“I note here that the some members have yet to pick office supplies that have been left for them. Also on the matter of faction staff, one particular faction has not yet put forward the names of its faction staff as yet so the necessary national decrees can be issued,” Arrindell said.

She confirmed later that the National Alliance was the guilty party in both instances and that none of the existing faction staff or staffers of parliament has computers. A request for the computers has been submitted.

Arrindell further announced that parliament will continue to work with the Council of Ministers on the hiring of personnel because it is that body that must finalize the National Decrees confirming the appointment of the staffers.

Finding designated parking for MPs is also being handled, but Arrindell said she’s only been able to get to so far. She told the media she suggested that an area close to the Parliament Building be used, but she’s encountered resistance from some MPs because “they fear a backlash from a certain economic sector.”

“This is one of the issues that has come over to us seeing that the lack of parking was not taken account when this building was acquired and I don’t think it’s right that MPs have to walk to, for example, the space behind the Government Administration Building, especially when we finish at late hours like 2:30 a.m. and 3:00 a.m.,” Arrindell said.

Removal

Arrindell also expressed the view on Monday that she cannot be removed from her post as long as the current coalition is in place. This position does not match with the Rules of Order. Article 6 of the rules lays out the procedure for the election of the chair and vice-chairs.

Article 6 sub 1 states, “In the first public meeting following a periodic retirement – recess – or after dissolution Parliament appoints a Chairman and Vice-Chairs.”

Article 6 sub 2 states, “In case there is no periodic retirement – recess – nominations are submitted before the opening session of the new parliamentary year.”

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