St. Maarten Parliament opens informal discussion on draft Kingdom Visa Law

POSTED: 05/18/11 12:28 PM

St. Maarten – Members of Parliament will open informal discussions on the Kingdom Law on Visas in short order. The decision to do so was made Tuesday in a meeting of the Committee on Kingdom Relations and Inter-parliamentary Affairs where it was also confirmed that there is to be no further discussion on report on the democratic deficit in the kingdom.

The basic premise of the law is that the authority of Ministers of Justice in the three countries in the Caribbean part of the Kingdom will be removed and regulated by the Kingdom Law. The parliaments of Aruba and Curacao have already begun discussing the law and have submitted preliminary reactions. The draft law is also a point for the Parliamentary Consultation of the Kingdom that will be held in the Netherlands beginning on June 13.

St. Maarten is now joining the discussion after Chairman of the Committee on Kingdom Relations and Inter-parliamentary Affairs Roy Marlin obtained a copy of the draft from his counterpart in Curacao after hearing they were discussing the draft. He requested a copy of the draft and received one dated June 15, 2010. With time running out ahead of the planned parliamentary consultation between the four parliaments in the Kingdom Marlin placed the draft on the agenda of Tuesday’s meeting to open up an informal discussion as the Parliament of St. Maarten has not officially been presented with a copy by the Second Chamber. The latter Parliament, which will handle the legislation, is required to consult the Parliaments of the affected countries to get their opinion, but that process does not start until the law is officially handed over.

Marlin’s proposal for an informal discussion was welcomed by National Alliance Member of Parliament George Pantophlet.

“We cannot allow that we have no say in this matter especially if the premise of the law is to take away the authority that the ministers of justice have and place it in Kingdom law,” Pantophlet said.

Concept Agenda

The discussions at the June meeting on the Kingdom Visa Law were requested by the Parliaments of Aruba, Curacao and the Netherlands as part of the process to come to a draft agenda for the meeting. MPs who attend Tuesday’s meeting also put forward specific points they believe should be discussed.

Marlin wants a meeting with the IBG Group, which grants study financing to students pursuing tertiary studies in the Netherlands. The concern is that students who return to the Dutch Caribbean have difficulty paying off the loans because of the exchange rate between guilders and euro. This problem often causes them not to return from the Netherlands. This proposal has support from United People’s (UP) Party MP Johan Leonard.

“We have to see how we can change the system with IBG,” Leonard said

Marlin believes the St. Maarten delegation should also meet with the Council of State to discuss that body’s role and its potential interaction with St. Maarten. There’s also a desire for a meeting with the Dutch Second Chamber to discuss a protocol that will allow for a strengthening of the St. Maarten Parliament, especially in the area of writing laws. Leonard also supports this proposal.

“I don’t like the idea of having more and more Dutch people coming to our shores, but I agree we should seek assistance on writing laws,” Leonard said.

Independent Member of Parliament Patrick Illidge said the delegation should have the Minister Plenipotentiary Mathias Voges organize a press conference so the delegation can tell the Dutch media directly about the island and what happens here. He also wants to target that familiarization towards his Dutch counterparts.

“We need to establish a starting point and create an understanding of St. Maarten and its position,” Illidge said.

United People’s (UP) Party MP drs Gracita Arrindell said she supports having a discussion on legislation, education, energy, the Kingdom Visa Law and Kingdom Laws in general. She also supports Marlin’s idea to discuss a protocol between the Parliament of St. Maarten and the Second Chamber, Aruba’s desire to meet with the Supreme Court to discuss the dispute regulation. Arrindell also suggested that the Board of Financial Supervision be called upon to discuss the role of Parliament in terms of approval of the budget versus that of the Cft in terms of verifying the figures.

“I also believe we need to study specifically the period between October 10, 2010 and the end of December, 2010. That period and the events that took place, certainly require further study,” Arrindell said.

Delegation

Tuesday’s meeting has also agreed to recommend that the delegation consist of the President of Parliament, the Chair of the Committee on Kingdom Relations and Interparliamentary Affairs, members of the committee – Ruth Douglass, William Marlin and Patrick Illidge – the Secretary General, a press advisor – Roddy Heyliger – and one of the committees advisors – Reynold Groeneveldt, Ralph Richardson and Marcel Gumbs.

All of the decisions from Tuesday’s meeting will be communicated to leaders from the other parliaments today as part of the preparation for next month’s gathering. Should anything change, as the full parliament must ratify the decisions, notices will be sent.

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