The Chairpersons of Parliament and the HCSDL Committee of Parliament, Respectively Dr. Lloyd Richardson and Dr. V. H C. de Weever

Dear Sirs,
On March 4, 2015, members of the HCSDL Committee of Parliament received a convocation for meeting of this committee to be held on March 13th at 2 pm.
The proposed agenda reads:
1. A discussion on FRED and Sint Maarten’s participation in this.
2. The Counterpart Law policy and the Implementation guidelines
As documentation for this meeting, the members received a FRED flyer and the Counterpart Regulation, as approved by the Council of Ministers on August 12th 2014.
Permit me some general remarks:
It is my feeling that committees of Parliament are being used more and more without consideration for the Parliament itself. Topics for committee meetings are chosen at whim without any motivation or relevance.
Note please that the general rule is that Parliament refers letters, proposals etc. to the respective committees.
Committees of Parliament are not independent bodies, but created to facilitate the workings of Parliament, by doing preliminary research for Parliament and reporting via the Central Committee of Parliament.
Another worrying aspect are the invitations by some of the parliament committees to civil servants. Firstly this must always be done via the Minister concerned.
However, when there are clearly issues that warrant a political discussion, then the Ministers should come before Parliament.
When civil servants attend committee meetings and are questioned by members of Parliament, some members see this as an affront.
And now to the agenda:
1. A discussion on FRED and Sint Maarten’s participation in this.
With what purpose was this flyer sent to Parliament? What is the Government’s position on St. Maarten’s participation in Fred? Will government participate? How will they participate? Is there sufficient budget for a meaningful participation? If government will participate, how will they attract persons, with a personnel freeze as announced by government?
If government wishes to fill vacancies, what about the applications of St. Maarten graduates already submitted to Government?
2. The Counterpart Law policy and the Implementation guidelines
Will we be discussing the relevant law and if so with what objective? Is the meeting only informative? Then what is new? What is expected of the HCSDL committee on this agenda point?
Are there any new developments or decisions by government on this matter? Will the Minister respond to the outstanding questions by Parliament on this topic?
All in all, I wish to respectfully submit that Parliament guards against misuse or wrong application of the rules governing the functioning of Parliamentary committees.
If I were asked, I would submit the following priorities for this committee.
o Plans for SMMC urgent upgrades and the financing thereof.
o Changes to the medical insurance laws and expanded coverage for vulnerable groups, such as the elderly.
o Payments to care providers and institutions.
o Changes to the Civil Code with respect to labor contracts and maternity leave.
o “Ley di Bion”

Respectfully submitted,
Sarah Wescot-Williams,
Member of Parliament (DP)