Below is the speech that Mrs.Sarah Wescot-Williams presented during the DP’s press briefing on September 28th 2009.
On behalf of the Democratic Party and the People of Sint Maarten, heartfelt congratulations go out to centenarian, Mrs. Delphine Hyman, affectionately called "Aunt Olette".
Aunt Olette of French Quarter is celebrating her 100th birthday today and we pray that God continues to hold her in the palm of his hand.
Congratulations also go out to the people of Aruba, who exercised their democratic rights on September 25th. The voters’ turn-out was extremely high.
The people have spoken and we wish the AVP Party, its leader, Mr. Eman much wisdom and strength.
We also congratulate the MEP party and the RED who are also called to serve the Aruban people in the Parliament of Aruba.
May they all work diligently in the interest of the people of Aruba. We look forward to the continued cooperation and support of Aruba.
This week will be a filled week, starting with the meeting of the Political Steering Group on Wednesday, September 30th. No details have been released about the meeting. However, obviously the focus will be on the agreements reached on June 24th.
To summarize from the June 24th agreement:
A date for country status, which should be no later than October 31, 2010 should be pinned down on September 30;
A report should have been presented for the September 30th meeting regarding postponement of the Antillean parliament elections of January 2010 and regarding (early) elections for the island to become country.
We also expect, as agreed to in June 2009, that plans with respect to the police organizations will be presented on Wednesday, September 30th; a proposal for cooperation between the police corps and the GVP ( Gemeenschappelijke Voorziening Politie) should also be presented. The budgets for the police establishments are also expected.
We are also expecting the TAC to report on the outstanding regulations, those that were not yet submitted as part of the vetting process.
Sint Maarten was supposed to submit the so-called list of tasks, describing how all responsibilities of country SXM will be executed. This needed to be submitted within 2 weeks of the June 24th meeting and had to do with the vetting of the proposed government organization of country Sint Maarten.
The June 24th meeting also concluded that:
It is not possible that the legislation to dismantle the Netherlands Antilles will be ready by January 1, 2010 and that implementation will not be completed.
So, there can be no "Vetting RTC" before January 1, 2010.
The consensus kingdom laws need to be passed by the Dutch Chambers, the Antillean Parliament and the Island Councils of SXM and Curacao.
The planning was that these laws and the amendment to the Charter, will be ready in August/September 2010.
Critical to all of this and for the transition date for Country Sint Maarten (no later than October 31, 2010) is that " necessary legislation can go into effect then".
But there was an agreed to process, namely:
A commission needs to come with a proposal for maximum guarantees to execute federal responsibilities that St. Maarten (and Curacao) can not (yet) execute. This however, should have been the result of the vetting process. And the commission should have advised how the transition date would be anchored down.
The report by this commission should have been presented before Wednesday’s meeting.
I have not seen any report. I don’t know if such exist. But what happens on the 30th, especially pinning down the transition date hinges on this advice.
I am not convinced that what was attempted on September 16 and 17 last with Curacao, will cut it. In fact, I don’t know if that agreement was ever signed. If it was, I have not seen it.
That draft agreement of September 17th ratifies the transfer of federal responsibilities to SXM by 1-1-10, but only if the island territory is able to adequately take care of regulation, policy and execution.
A federal resolution would ratify if such is the case. Then you have the financial part, which will be according to the federal budget and the part that is not used of that budget.
What we will get from federal tax income is a share equal to what is on the budget for the services on SXM, until central govt. is no more.
We sought to come to an understanding with Curacao regarding the providing of services by Curacao to SXM, so that we could comply with the agreement that we must show that we can legislate and execute matters.
Within 2 weeks of the September 17th meeting. we should have had a general agreement with Curacao.
And before 1-1-10, we needed to have service level agreements for every area, where we felt we needed that buffer.
I am yet to see which areas these areas are.
The draft of September 17th also dealt with transfer of personnel of the central government to the local government. This will happen when we get the responsibility for one or more central tasks. This personnel will start out as island personnel once transferred.
Curacao proposes to do this differently. The personnel will be seconded by the central government at transfer and taken over at transition.
The intention of the September 17th draft was also to have a covenant between SXM and the Central government regarding our Social Charters. That covenant needs to be in place by 1-1-10.
The New Government Organizations need to be established 6 months before the transition date.
The date for federal funds to come to SXM in connection with transfer will now start in 2010 and not 2009, as agreed to on November 24, 2008.
An interesting note is that capital investments of 2010 will be distributed to the islands as per the central budget of 2010. You don’t have to ask yourselves how that picture looks.
And then of course, you have the services of the APNA/SVB/BZV/Capriles for which according to the agreement of 24-11-08 cooperation agreements would have been worked out. This is lagging far behind.
If we look at the agreement between the Central Government and Sint Maarten of June 23rd, transfer of federal duties needs to start October 1st 2009. That’s the day after the conference. And should be finished by January 1, 2010!
Further this week, we will have the Central Cmt. meeting requested by the DP Faction. What I miss in the convocation is that the management of these boards have been invited to this meeting. We have been informed that the information we asked for has been requested from these companies, but we have also asked for these companies to be present at the meetings.
And on October 2, the continuation of the island council meeting on the financial economic situation of Sint Maarten. The Executive Council had the time to prepare the answers to the questions. And I hope these are what we will hear from the entire executive council. That even what was not asked, is provided to the people of Sint Maarten, in terms of government plans and intentions.
When one looks at the quarterly reports for this year, these are not encouraging.
Imagine the government today is indirectly praising the DP administration for its financial management of the past years, as it is this management of the DP and the building of surpluses by the DP that today offer some maneuvering space to government.
But we will come back on this report.
It was with a sense of pride that I witnessed the graduation ceremony of the SPW level 1&2 Training Course on Saturday last. This is a training for pre-school educators, in this case given by SIFMA, but important to note is that the SBO Training concept is being diligently pursued by several organizations.
It’s not the first time that I mention that it needs to be clear to the SXM community that this form of education is advanced vocational education. It is being provided by different institutions in several areas, important to the economy of our island.
It’s adaptable in terms of study areas, in terms of who provides the training and also who can benefit from the training. In the case of the SPW courses, most graduates are already in the field, but programs also cater to students of PSVE.
I think all in all, we should recognize the strides made in intermediate and higher vocational education on St. Maarten. And yes, the plans for a VE institution are there and hopefully within short these can be presented and the project can start.