National Alliance rejects majority position on staffers

POSTED: 02/25/11 12:34 PM

St. Maarten – The National Alliance faction leader William is protesting a decision by the majority of faction leaders in Parliament to give each faction at least two staffers. He also strongly disagrees with the interpretation of Article 16 of the Rules of Order that is being used by the majority of the factions.

In an e-mail after Thursday’s Senioerenconvent – faction leaders caucus – he said parties intend to give Independent Member of Parliament Patrick Illidge two staffers, the Democratic Party three staffers and for the National Alliance and the United People’s (UP) Party to have more than three. A specific figure has not been set and parties are keeping it at a minimum of two, because the approved budget does not allow for more at this time.

In Marlin’s interpretation granting Illidge two staffers means there could potentially be 30 staffers if each member decides to declare their independence. Based on that he objected and said he continues to hold the view that the staff allotment should be based on a faction’s size.

“It is unacceptable that someone who leaves a faction and goes independent can claim the same amount of support staff as the much larger original faction. If all factions, including the Chair, agree to the principle that the allotment of staff should be based on the amount of seats each faction has, then there is no reason not to immediately put this into effect. Particularly when they all agree, that if by next week more new factions are created, each of those new factions will be entitled to two support staff,” Marlin said.

The NA faction also accused the other three factions and the Chair of applying Article 16 incorrectly and of using it in their interest and to their convenience. He believes the correct interpretation is that each faction gets a proportionate allocation of Parliament’s entire budget.

“If the budget for the National Alliance was set at 700, 000 guilders per year, then Mr. Patrick Illidge, who has left the faction of the National Alliance would be entitled to 1/7 of the remainder of the budget. Since he left before any monies were dispensed, then he would be entitled to 1/7 of the 700, 000 guilders, which would be equal to 100, 000 guilders. The problem we are confronted with is, that no provisions have been put in place by the management of parliament, to allocate a budget to each faction,” Marlin said in his e-mail.

He continued, “As it now stands, all expenditures for Members of Parliament have been centralized. Each member gets a cellular phone. Each member gets a laptop, but each faction gets two support staff. That is absolutely not fair and it is a clear example of the coalition partners bending the rules of good governance simply to politically accommodate their agenda.”

Marlin is considering requesting a public meeting of Parliament to discuss the issue and accused the Presidium, which is responsible for drafting the proposal, of taking a rush decision that is “politically convenient for those factions supporting the government and on the other hand it covers up for the inability of the Presidium of Parliament to present a fair and democratic proposal to Parliament.”
“Using the argument that Island Territory St. Maarten provided faction supports staff to the Independent Members does not hold. We are no longer part of the Parliament of the Netherlands Antilles; neither are we Island Territory St. Maarten. We are the Parliament of Country St. Maarten. It cannot be that we apply the law when convenient and make an appeal on how things used to be done when we were Island Territory or when we were a part of the Netherlands Antilles. With such a mentality and modus operandi we will never move forward and grow as a strong nation, respecting our constitution and the principles of democracy and good governance,” Marlin concluded.


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