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Dutch parliament asks about St. Maarten minister Duncan’s justice park

THURSDAY, 08 NOVEMBER 2012

THE HAGUE–The Second Chamber of the Dutch Parliament wants clarity on the planned construction of a US $100 million justice park in St. Maarten.

Parliament’s Permanent Committee for Kingdom Relations supported the proposal of Member of Parliament (MP) Ronald van Raak of the Socialist Party (SP) to ask Dutch Minister of Home Affairs and Kingdom Relations Ronald Plasterk for a letter describing the plans of St. Maarten’s Justice Minister Roland Duncan to construct a facility in Cay Hill to house the various services of the Justice Ministry.

Van Raak, also on behalf of his colleague André Bosman of the conservative VVD party, requested such a letter in a meeting of the Kingdom Relations Committee on Wednesday. The Committee wants to know specifically how the St. Maarten Government intends to pay for this project.

“The construction of buildings in St. Maarten is not our responsibility, but we do want clarity on how this US $100 million project is covered in the budget,” said Van Raak, who also wanted to ask Minister Plasterk to address in the letter whether there was a link between Duncan and the owner(s) of the property and the construction company that will take on the work.
MP Madeleine van Toorenburg of the Christian Democratic Party CDA objected to Van Raak’s suggestion to ask Duncan about his link with the property owner(s) and the construction company. “I don’t want an undertone in the letter. We can ask about this, but it has to be done in a professional manner.”

Van Raak and Bosman didn’t agree that the Second Chamber should keep quiet about the construction of a justice park because it is an internal, autonomous matter. “We are not against this project, but it has to be done in a transparent manner. The conditions have to be clear to everyone, also to the people,” Bosman told The Daily Herald after the meeting.
“It doesn’t have to do with the construction of ministries, but with solid financial management,” said Van Raak. The MPs reiterated that St. Maarten was under financial supervision by the Committee for Financial Supervision CFT of Curaçao and St. Maarten and that the country needed to have its finances in order.

The Kingdom Relations Committee also approved a proposal of Bosman to ask Minister Plasterk for a letter explaining how he intends to give content to Bosman’s recently adopted motion to make sure that the CFT receives all financial information of the government-owned companies of the two countries.

Bosman’s request for a letter from the Minister comes one day after the publication of the Royal Decree with the revised instruction of the Kingdom Council of Ministers which ordered Willemstad on July 13 this year to get its 2012 budget balanced and to compensate losses of earlier years. The Curaçao Government appealed the July 13 instruction at the Council of State.

According to the revised instruction, Curaçao still has to balance its budget and compensate losses, and it may not cover shortages in the budget with assets of government-owned companies and use dividend policy to realise cost-cutting measures in the budget.

The Second Chamber is satisfied that these requirements are still in the revised instruction, but is less happy with the fact that the article in the instruction which stated that Curaçao has to submit a plan of approach to enhance the assets of its government-owned companies has been taken out.

In Bosman’s view, there is a direct link between the financial situation of the government-owned companies and the Government of Curaçao. That is why he wants answers from the Minister on how he intends to realise more transparency of Curaçao’s government-owned companies.

MP Wassila Hachchi asked what the consequences would be of the revised instruction on the financial supervision that is in place for Curaçao, and also St. Maarten. She requested that this part be included in the letter from the Minister.
Van Toorenburg said the revised instruction was a “slap on the fingers” of the Kingdom Council of Ministers, as some parts of the original July 13 instruction lacked a legal basis in the Financial Supervision Law for Curaçao and St. Maarten. She said for next time it would be wise to properly look at these aspects to “avoid coming across these bumps again.”

The Committee was receptive to the idea of Van Toorenburg inviting the Ministers Plenipotentiary of Aruba, Curaçao and St. Maarten for a “broader talk.” Committee Chairperson Brigitte van der Burg proposed inviting the Ministers Plenipotentiary for a meeting in January, considering the formation process in Curaçao and the Second Chamber’s Christmas recess in December.

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