MPs prefer trip to Panama to parliament meeting

POSTED: 09/29/14 12:31 AM

St. Maarten – It was to be expected, but it still was a sight for sore eyes when the rescheduled meeting of Parliament yesterday morning to handle an amendment to the 2014 budget did not get a quorum. Only MPs Hyacinth Richardson and George Pantophlet (National Alliance), Roy Marlin (DP) and Parliament President Gracita Arrindell (UP) were present. Finance Minister Martin Hassink and his support staff turned up for nothing. There was not even the traditional moment of silence. Clerk Van Dijk Bell read the names of those present and that was it.

Independent MPs Romain Laville and Lloyd Richardson, Jules James (UP) and Leroy de Weever were absent with notice.

“They had to go to a meeting,” Arrindell said. Only after DP faction leader Roy Marlin pressed for details, the president confirmed that the four had gone off to Panama to attend a Parlatino meeting.

MP George Pantophlet then gave notice of the absence of his faction leader William Marlin and MP Louie Laveist.

Arrindell said after the meeting that the meeting would now be rescheduled for Monday. That meeting will continue, irrelevant of the number of MPs present.

Roy Marlin said after the meeting that he had always been vocal about the usefulness of Parlatino meetings – or rather that lack of it. “The past four years not a single parliamentarian has presented a report to parliament about a Parlatino meeting,” he said.

Marlin pointed out that the travel budget of Parliament had been slashed by 50 percent to 375,00 guilders. “If you accept such a motion, you cannot continue to travel as if it did not happen,” he said, indicating that the Parliament had already overspent its travel budget for the year.

Marlin showed also concern for the fact that the meeting did not go through. “We have to handle this budget amendment and deal with the 2015 budget to avoid that we are getting the Kingdom government on our back again.”

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