Opinion: Happy Anniversary St. Maarten

POSTED: 10/10/11 11:54 AM

So today we celebrate the first anniversary of country St. Maarten. It’s a bit like celebrating one’s own birthday, wondering where the past twelve months have gone and wondering about all the things we should have done, the things we should not have done, and the things we ought to have done better.
Did anything change since 10-10-10? Well, for one, we do not have an Island Council anymore; we have a Parliament. We also have four more politicians sitting there, fifteen instead of eleven. And of course we have a dualistic system: the ministers that form the government are no longer a part of the Parliament, as the commissioners were part of the Island Council.
Did it make any difference? Oh oh, that’s a tricky question. We have seen, after the elections, how one MP broke away from the winner of the elections and the loser of the formation – the National Alliance. Recently, a second NA-member jumped ship.
As far as we have been able to establish, and please correct us in case we are wrong, voting in Parliament went as usual along party lines, so the fireworks one might have expected from the dualistic system has so far not materialized.
The past twelve months were characterized by a continued struggle about the 2011 budget. We also noted that the government did not manage to present the 2012 budget by September 1 to the Parliament, so it is fare to say that our government violated the constitution.
There is not much news under the sun in this respect. People who had expected a pro-active role from the Parliament will obviously be disappointed. After all, the Parliament’s first decision was to join the Parlatino Parliament. That signaled a hunger from traveling abroad more than a hunger for solving problems at home.
We’ve had uproar in the Time Share industry, and there has been a fuss about short term labor contracts. The latter discussion ignored the fact that the law does not recognize “short term labor contracts”: it only mentions labor contracts for a definite period and permanent contracts. If the Parliament were to do away with the often criticized “6-month contracts” we would probably soon experience the rise of the 3-month contract, the 7-month contract and any other variation the private sector is able to come up with.
By the way, after the initial uproar, the commotion about those labor laws and about initiatives to rewrite time share legislation, have all died down, making many people wonder whether the subjects have by now been completely forgotten.
On the upside, the government has now decided to organize a competition because the country needs a national anthem. What’s wrong with Oh sweet St. Maarten land? Is there a possibility to simply submit that tune and make off with the ten grand?
Many more things happened in the past year. We lost one minister in record time over a land scandal, and we also lost the head of the finance department who in turn reported another scandal to the prosecutor’s office. All this is still under investigation, but with so many murders happening, chances that anybody will go to jail anytime soon are slim.
So it’s time to celebrate. Happy anniversary.

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