National Alliance Senator/ Island Council member George Pantophlet said he was a bit surprised by the motion presented in the Dutch Parliament Second Chamber against the Brooks Tower Accord.
If we can remember a couple of years ago the famous WODC Report. The report had mentioned several issues such as the Judiciary, illegal immigration. It had questioned the fact that although the economy of St. Maarten seemed strong, this was not reflected in the government’s coffers. The Brooks Tower Accord has exposed the exploitation and or abuse of workers it exposed the fact that approximately 70% of businesses are not paying their taxes. And this practice continues to date as I received a call from an employee today whose Employer refused to gave them a pay slip. If my information is correct according to the Inspectorate of taxes only 30% of businesses and persons are carrying the load. What we need from our Kingdom partner is cooperation in dealing with the difficult issues that is facing country to be. And if we are to have a good starting position then here is where to begin. The Netherlands Antilles in general and St. Maarten in particular is trying to find a solution for the many undocumented immigrants and we need all the assistance we can get. We are definitely not rewarding illegality but are trying to deal with this problem. If all goes well St. Maarten will become country on October 10, 2010. We are doing our utmost to ensure that we know what our reality is. Ironically the same fears expressed by the Dutch now on the Brooks Tower Accord are those which are being expressed by St. Maarten in being overrun by Europeans. Furthermore access to the Netherlands is not as easy as one would think. There are stringent requirements in place. First of all a working/residence permit does not give immigrants free access to the Netherlands as the person would require a visitor’s visa. Where the Dutch Nationality is concerned one has to be registered 5 years consecutively and has to pass through a rigid test. If we would look at the statistics, less people are coming into consideration for the Dutch Nationality than in the past. At present the Minister of Justice of the Netherlands Antilles is responsible for all five islands. When we become country this responsibility will be in the hands of the Minister of Justice of St. Maarten. I can assure that I already have some ideas how address the immigration issues. I can start by pointing fingers as to who is responsible for what but that’s water under the bridge and does not solve the problem. I think our Kingdom partner should applaud our efforts in tackling such a daunting task and see us as willing to grab the bull by the horn.