Laville’s twinning initiative and Dominica-deal seem stranded

POSTED: 06/27/14 1:46 AM

St. Maarten – On December 16 of last year, independent MP Romain Laville, seconded by Minister of Tourism and Economic Affairs Ted Richardson, announced a twinning agreement with the American city of Newark. On March 26, Laville made another announcement, again seconded by Minister Richardson, to announce a Memorandum of Understanding with his birth country Dominica. This deal would bring citizens amongst others cheap cooking gas. Since then, there has been only silence about both initiatives.

Asked about the twinning agreement with Newark, Prime Minister Wescot-Williams said yesterday “that there has been no follow up from a government perspective.”

Asked whether Richardson’s ministry in the meantime had set up a liaison office in a building belonging to Tempo TV, Wescot-Williams responded: “Not that I know of.”

The question drew the PM into a statement about the inner workings of government. “This is a point that is difficult to understand for people outside the government. Is it really true that the government, the Council of Ministers, the Prime Minister would not know of something that a minister or a ministry is doing? The answer to that is definitely yes.”

We hailed the system of government that we have today, Wescot-Williams said. “However, this system requires maturity, understanding and knowledge by all who operate in it. The ministerial responsibility, as enshrined in our constitution, gives possibilities for ministers to basically use the argument that as far as their ministry is concerned they can do what they want to do and that the only one they give account to is the Parliament. When the Parliament has approved the budget the minister has it at his disposal.”

Returning to the question about the liaison office Richardson, or rather Laville, wanted to establish in Newark in a building belonging to Tempo TV, Wescot-Williams said: “I cannot tell you there is none. I can tell you however that the Council of Ministers has not given its approval, if that was even necessary.”

Asked whether such a situation did not make her look back to the shared responsibility members of the Executive Council under the former Island Territory had, the PM said: “We have that discussion in a different setting; that is what I long for. It is a challenge to understand and carry out the roles of the individual members of the government and Parliament. This is critical for the functioning of our government but it remains a challenge.”

Laville’s Memorandum of Understanding with Dominica seems to have landed in a bureaucratic quagmire. “Some weeks ago that proposal was brought to the Council of Ministers by Minister Ted Richardson,” Wescot-Williams said. “That memorandum was so broad that it involved several other ministries. Something like that is dispatched into the organization so that every minister can give her or his opinion. That has not come back yet.”

 

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Laville’s twinning initiative and Dominica-deal seem stranded by

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