St. Maarten MPs want discussion on energy policy, medical tourism and cooperation

POSTED: 06/23/11 1:22 PM

St. Maarten – Three members of the St. Maarten delegation to the inter-parliamentary Kingdom consultation (POK) all want to begin discussions with the Council of Ministers on energy policy, medical tourism and cooperation with the Dutch. The follow-up they plan to do here is also to take place in The Hague based on the discussions that took place in the week of June 13.

According to Chairman of Parliament’s Permanent Committee on Inter-parliamentary Affairs and Kingdom Relations Roy Marlin it was a joy to get together with the other parliaments – The Dutch States General (First and Second Chamber), Curacao and Aruba – for discussions that had a friendly tone. Parties took the time to discuss cooperation on travel, medical care and foreign relations and Marlin sees an opportunity.

“I think with this changed mode and this focus on cooperation that it is important that we also get the opinion of our ministers on how we move forward,” Marlin said.

Second Vice President of Parliament and Independent Member of Parliament Patrick Illidge said continuing to build the partnership with the Dutch remains a core issue even after the very fruitful discussions that partners had.

“The relationship needs a revamp because the tearing down does us no good. I stressed that in order to move forward we must respect each other. Also the Dutch want to work with us medical tourism and this will lead to a better life for our people and millions in savings for the SZV because we will have specialists here. Now we need to sit with our ministers and work this out more,” Illidge said.

Illidge also considers the discussion on energy as a key point going forward especially since there are indications that the Dutch government which has responsibility for Saba and St. Eustatius and the French are interested in the development of a waste to energy plant.

“Where we once saw a dark tunnel, there is now a tunnel with some light at the end,” Illidge said.

Energy and the relationship among the four parliaments are also key issues that Dr. Ruth Douglas of the United People’s (UP) Party faction.

“The Dutch have seen the need to work together and they are willing to intensify the relationships and that means there is a very promising future,” the UP MP said.

She added, “I believe that renewable energy is important as well because we can see that St. Maarten has all the elements to make this a success. We now need to talk to the minister and the agencies, but especially the minister because when we talk to the especially GEBE about renewable energy there is a positive and a negative because they will think it means an end to their monopoly or that someone will replace them and also the question of whether they would be willing to change.”

Marlin also responded to criticism about the expenses for the trip pointing out, “The law on the travel and accommodations for parliamentarians states that we fly business class and the money was well spent because this trip allowed us to build relationships and to identify some assistance in building the Parliament of St. Maarten. One of the discussions I had on the side lines was with the recorder for the Second Chamber and they agreed that if we identify two legal draftsmen – people who specialize in writing laws – to send to the Wetgevings Academie, they would be able to do their internship at the Second Chamber.”

Illidge sees the complaints about the trip and its cost as a symptom of a bigger problem of disunity.

“As a people we need to focus more on being together and collectively. There are better days ahead. Let us move forward and stop bickering,” Illidge said.


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