Laveist “disgusted” about salary-cut cabinet members

POSTED: 01/14/14 12:47 PM

Draft 2014 budget in Central Committee

Laveist “disgusted” about salary-cut cabinet members

St. Maarten – The Central Committee of Parliament began yesterday morning its deliberations about the draft 2014 budget. Finance Minister Martin Hassink was at hand for an explanation in broad strokes. National Alliance MP Louie Laveist found reasons to criticize the cabinet for its decision to cut the minister’s salaries by 30,000 guilders.

“I am disgusted by you,” he said to no one in particular, “about the fact that you did not discuss this with us, knowing that this would have a boomerang effect on the Parliament. I do not wish to discuss this in public; I want to do this with decency and respect.”

Apparently, the cabinet-decision to cut down the salaries of all ministers has put Members of Parliament on edge, because they feel now that they are more or less forced to follow suit.

Laveist also had something to say about the activities of the Harbor Group of companies. Without getting specific, he noted that apparently the harbor now controls the issuance of land in long lease. “The harbor has rendered the government in Clem Labega square impotent,” Laveist raved.

He also criticized the decision to move the purchase of the Emilio Wilson Estate to a future budget year. “You are compromising the patrimony of the people. Have you no bloody shame?”

Laveist furthermore want to know how the budget cuts at the justice ministry are going to affect crime fighting efforts.

He also touched upon the motion independent MP Patrick Illidge submitted recently and in which he asks the government amongst other things to free the issuance of work permits to foreigners for a period of two years. “That motion is not well thought through. I agree with the SHTA.”

The St. Maarten Hospitality and Trade Association severely criticized the motion last week, saying that it would slow down the economy and have an adverse effect on job opportunities for locals.

“It would have been better to discuss this motion instead of presenting it secretly,” Laveist muttered. “I want to know whether the government plans to carry out this motion and how, in that case, it will affect the budget and the economy.”

Independent MP Frans Richardson criticized the proposal to cut down the subsidy for Carnival from 500,000 to 350,000 guilders. “They celebrate their 45th anniversary and they want to go all out,” he said. Richardson also asked how the government intends to deal with the outstanding debt to Interreps, the company that takes care of marketing St. Maarten in the Benelux.

Richardson wondered about the cut in personnel costs by 5.2 million guilders while, according to the budget, the same number of civil servants (1,823) are on the payroll.

National Alliance MP George Pantophlet informed whether the government is still going after the 118 million guilders in debt relief it never received from the Netherlands. He furthermore drew attention to price controls on basic goods and on the expansion of the basic of basic goods. Pantophlet also brought up the financing of the new government administration building via an investment by the pension fund APS, the review of the tax holiday policy and changing the road tax system to one whereby the tax is based on a vehicle’s weight.


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