Opinion: Perception

POSTED: 01/11/13 12:23 PM

The parliament building is the control center for the government – at least: it ought to be.

Politics is seldom about the truth and more often about perception. Because readers have a short memory span and they remember best what they read last. In that context the truth becomes irrelevant, at least in terms of what people think is the reality they live in.

The past couple of weeks we have seen how Maurice Lake, at one time the closest advisor to former Minister Theo Heyliger, and Kendall Dupersoy, a policy advisor to Vromi-Minister William Marlin, are slugging it out on this page with claims and counter claims that probably dazzle readers.

In this sense, the 2014 election campaign has indeed started early and one may well wonder whether there is anything positive to learn from these exchanges. Still, we will give the two adversaries the space to do their sparring and we gladly leave it up to our readers to draw their own conclusions.

At the same time, we feel that these claims to who did what and who failed to do this or that are in essence irrelevant. What matters is where we stand as a country right now and what matters is which decisions this government has in store in the run-up to the next elections.

Basically, any government that takes office is bound by decisions its predecessor made, unless these decisions are so questionable that they have to be withdrawn.

As we have seen with the causeway project, the National Alliance-led government opposed the project and it would have pulled the plug on it too. But when it became clear that this would have dire financial consequences for an already troubled budget, the government quickly decided to drop that ball and to let the work continue.

More interesting than who did what, and who has the bragging rights for which project is the question: what’s next?

Will this government for instance make good on its word to buy the Emilio Wilson Estate? Will this government finally establish the Gaming Control Board? Will it finally force the casinos to contribute their fair share? Will it present – for the first time in history – a budget that is not only balanced on paper, but that also proves its value over time?

What will happen for instance with the finance ministry’s initiative to – finally, finally – drop the wasteful habit of changing number plates every year? No new plates have been ordered for 2013, so the first step in the right direction has been made.

But here is the next www.mindanews.com/buy-ventolin/ question: how will the ministry check who paid the road tax and who did not? In the past this was a piece of cake, because the police only had to look at the number plate to know what’s what. One may well ask the question whether checking road tax payments is a police task or a task for the tax inspectorate.

But in the meantime, we haven’t heard anything about a control mechanism that ensures the payment of road taxes. This could, or so we hear, cost the treasury 9 million guilders in missed revenue in the first quarter of the year already.

Another bone of contention seems to be the National Health Insurance. Will the system be implemented this year or not? Yes it will, the minister responsible for this portfolio says. No it won’t, and therefore it will give us breathing space in the 2013 budget to the tune of 18 million guilders, the finance minister said on Monday.

These are the real issues we have to deal with these days and these are the issues parliamentarians worth their salt ought to monitor and, if necessary, address. Alas, we are a young country, is the argument we hear more often these days, even though many of those in the political arena have a track record that spans decades. The young country-argument is no excuse. It never was.

Our politicians know darn well what they ought to pay attention to. Recently we heard on the radio that parliamentarians should get more involved with the community. But that is not the role MPs have at all: the government is supposed to take beneficial initiatives and MPs ought to control how they execute these initiatives.

UP-MP Gracita Arrindell notes this week in a press release the dismal performance of the parliament – of which she herself is a part. Many spoke loud and said nothing, Arrindell noted. We have no argument with this statement, simply because it reflects – across the board- the reality of local politics.

Acknowledging a weakness is the first step towards improvement, but the way things go in our parliament, everything that comes from another party falls victim to the not invented here syndrome and is quickly dismissed as playing politics. If only parliamentarians were able to drop that bad habit which bears the characteristics of the ostrich) and if only they showed at least a beginning of preparedness to look at the issues, St. Maarten would soon start to become – step by step – a better place.

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