Groen-Gumbs to become acting SG at parliament

POSTED: 01/29/16 5:16 PM

St. Maarten – The Central Committee meeting designed to discuss the appointment of Ann Groen-Gumbs as the parliament’s acting secretary-general deteriorated into questions about competency though the appointment itself is a done deal because it has the support of the coalition and of the opposition party UP.

Parliament president Sarah Wescot-Williams said that the questions that were posed in the meeting – in particular by independents Cornelius de Weever and Leona Marlin-Romeo – “uncalled for.” After all MPs had had their say, she adjourned the meeting to discuss the questions in the presidium.

The previous acting secretary-general, Van Dijk-Bell was appointed in May 2011, but his contract expired at the end of last year and he had in the meantime reached retirement age. The vacancy was advertised in the first half of last year and by the September 1 deadline, several applications had come in. Ann Groen-Gumbs is the current second acting secretary-general. She has been working at the parliament since June 2014.

MPs Cornelius de Weever, Leona Marlin-Romeo and Dr. Lloyd Richardson all had reservations about the meeting being held in public. Richardson even suggested holding the meeting behind closed doors. “We are discussing a person, that is very sensitive,” he said, after De Weever and Romeo-Marlin had already spoken.

Both insisted that their questions were not personal, but they dealt with competency and their concerns about the functioning of the parliament secretariat. While it never became clear what exactly their concerns are, they asked whether “the requirements (for the job) had changed.”

Marlin-Romeo also made a reference without specifics to “a candidate proposed by the United People’s party.” But UP faction leader Franklin Meyers later corrected her. “It is a rumor. No candidate has ever been proposed by the UP. The political spin is that now the UP is against locals, but it is in fact about competence and the functioning of the office.”

Wescot-Williams stepped in after the first three speakers, noting that there had been a meeting of faction leaders where pertinent questions could have been posed. “This central committee meeting is open, and it is just for discussing the proposal,” she said.

National Alliance MP Christophe Emmanuel noted that a consultancy firm had been hired for the assessments, claiming that this had cost between 40,000 and 60,000 guilders. ‘But if I need to have a light bulb changed in my office, I do not know whom to call,” he added.

Franklin Meyers later asked the chair to make public what was spent on consultancy for this particular vacancy.

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