UP threatens to sink the government

POSTED: 02/21/14 2:44 PM

Party-leader Heyliger upset about Central Bank agreement

St. Maarten –It is not immediately clear whether United People’s party leader Theo Heyliger has a point with his claim that Finance Minister Martin Hassink should have consulted the UP before signing an agreement with his Curacaolenean colleague José Jardim about the Central Bank; however, according to Prime Minister Sarah Wescot-Williams the agreement between Hassink and Jardim UP-leader Heyliger refers to does not exist (See related story on page 3).

Shortly after midnight in the night from Wednesday to Thursday, Heyliger sent an email to the media stating that his party would withdraw its support from the coalition if the council of Ministers ratifies the agreement.

According to the UP faction leader, the two finance ministers have agreed to send the two St. Maarten board members of the Central Bank – attorney Jairo Bloem and Marciella Illidge – home together with Central Bank president Dr. Emsley Tromp.

“It has come to our understanding,” Heyliger wrote in is email, “that the present St. Maarten board members and the directorate will be replaced. If this agreement is ratified by the Council of Ministers, it will mean that the UP will withdraw its support from the present coalition. This is in no uncertain terms.”

The UP-leader adds that St. Maarten “has been a stepchild for too long. It is time we are respected as an equal partner.”

Any changes to the present setup of the Central Bank must be agreed upon by all stakeholders, Heyliger stated. “No minister or Council of Ministers has the green light to make such a decision. Consultation prior to decision making is the preferred approach but this approach will not be tolerated.”

Heyliger points out in his email that the Minister of Finance, Martin Hassink, “is a jointly appointed minister and is therefore also responsible to keep the UP party informed. This is definitely not the case with the Central Bank.”

The UP will send a formal request to the minister “to explain his intentions.”

Attempts to obtain a reaction from Finance Minister Hasssink failed yesterday. Board member Jairo Bloem declined to comment, saying that this was not the moment to go public with the situation. Prime Minister Wescot-Williams did not immediately react to an email containing questions about the looming political crisis.

Heyliger’s threat to bring down the government would without any doubt result in early elections. The UP-leader is not in favor of elections in September, because this month is the peak of the hurricane season.

The charter of the Central Bank states in article 20 that the president and the two directors of the Central Bank can be suspended or fired “at the recommendation of the Board of Supervisory Directors.” In case of a suspension, the Board of Supervisory Directors will – “insofar necessary” – recommend three candidates to fulfill the positions temporarily.

The chairman of the Board of Supervisory Directors is jointly appointed and fired by the countries Curacao and St. Maarten via a national decree. Article 25 states that the appointment of the chairman is done based on a joint nomination by the ministers of finance of both countries; in turn this nomination is based on a recommendation by a 5/6 majority of the Board of Supervisory Directors.

The other six members – three for Curacao and three for St. Maarten – are nominated “by the minister (of finance) of the countries.” This nomination is based on a recommendation by the Board of Supervisory Directors.” The appointment is again by national decree.

Paragraph 6 of article 25 regulates suspension or dismissal: “In special cases the countries can suspended or dismiss via a motivated national decree.”

While board member Jairo Bloem declined to comment on the situation, the Antilliaans Dagblad published excerpts from a letter he wrote to the parliament in Curacao. In the letter, Bloem explains that the board consists of “functioning and non-functioning members.”

Per May 31, two members step down according to schedule. Then just two board members remain including one temporary member (Robbert Pieterz) and not a single one from Curacao. Currently, the listed board members on the site of the Central Bank are Robbert Pieterz, Jairo Bloem, Marciella Illidge, Renny Maduro and Lincoln James. Maduro is listed as chairman.

Bloem wrote in his letter that the board members from curacao – Maduro and James, as well as Glenn Camelia until his resignation – “do not look after anything because they have no confidence in the bank’s president.”

“That they do not partake in meetings with the Board of directors is one thing,” Bloem wrote, but since May 2012 they have not attended meetings of the Board of Supervisory Directors or of internal committee-meetings either.”

During the past 22 months, Bloem observes in his letter, the Curacaolenean members did not take part in a single informative session organized by the Central Bank. “These meetings are also used to give account.” The attorney wrote that it is due to the functioning members of the Board of Supervisory Directors that the Central Bank was able to execute its tasks.



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