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Dutch Parliament seeks intervention for islands

page8a169THE HAGUE--The Dutch Parliament's Second Chamber is highly critical of the quality of governance of the new countries Curaçao and St. Maarten. Some parties want The Hague to invoke the intervention article of the Charter, while others want the Dutch government to state its position on the guarantee function.
Two things worry Parliament: the process of screening the Curaçao Council of Ministers and the financial management of St. Maarten's government. Member of Parliament (MP) Hero Brinkman of the Party for Freedom PVV said during the handling of the 2011 budget for Kingdom Relations Thursday that Curaçao was now "officially a banana republic."
Brinkman called it "incredible that such a government existed in the Kingdom" and criticised the process of screening the Curaçao Government.
MP Ronald van Raak of the Socialist Party (SP) agreed that a government that hadn't been screened shouldn't be allowed to govern.
MP Martijn van Dam of the Labour Party PvdA referred to reports in the media on the screening process as an "embarrassing soap," wherein the issue wasn't about creating jobs, realising better care and safety and a solid economy, but about politicians and officials "rolling around on the street."
Van Dam said the arguing in Curaçao stood in stark contrast to the quietness in St. Maarten, which made him wonder whether the members of the UP/DP government had been screened. "Does it mean that there were no problems there, or that they weren't screened at all out of negligence? Considering the media reports about the buying of votes during the elections, such an investigation would be fitting."
The Christian Democratic Party CDA and the Socialist Party (SP) want Minister of Home Affairs and Kingdom Relations Piet Hein Donner (CDA) to include a thorough analysis of the guarantee function of the Charter, Article 43, in the Kingdom position paper the Dutch government is preparing.
MP Bas Jan van Bochove (CDA) said the "worrisome" reports out of St. Maarten on the government's finances and the screening in Curaçao were enough reason to ask the Minister to go into details about the guarantee function in the position paper, which should be completed early 2011.
MP Ineke van Gent of the green left party GroenLinks said she didn't want to wait for a position paper to take a decision on invoking Article 43. "We need to prevent money from slipping through the cracks and the people being left empty-handed."
Van Gent and Brinkman (both PVV) wondered whether the Committee for Financial Supervision CFT truly would be able to carry out its task in controlling the finances of countries Curaçao and St. Maarten. Van Gent suggested strengthening CFT and including the integrity aspect in the Council's tasks.
Van Bochove said the remarks about stricter financial supervision and integrity were "tough talk," and pointed out that under the Charter, countries Curaçao and St. Maarten were responsible for their own internal affairs.
Brinkman said strict measures were needed, because the islands "obviously didn't worry with CFT." Calling the Charter a "beast that was born out of guilt," he said that he too didn't take the Charter very seriously.
Brinkman demanded a guarantee from the Minister that the islands would never again be allowed to build up a debt. "I know the tactics of these leeches," he said. He referred to St. Maarten as an "administrative chaos and governmental disaster," aiming at the issue of the budget deficit.
Van Raak interrupted his colleague Cynthia Ortega-Martijn of the Christian Union (CU) and asked if she knew why politicians in Curaçao and St. Maarten "never kept to agreements." Ortega-Martijn, who was born in Curaçao, answered that Van Raak should pose his question to the politicians overseas.
MP André Bosman of the governing liberal democratic VVD party also referred to St. Maarten's financial situation and the potential budget deficit. He said the VVD didn't support a request by St. Maarten for the Netherlands to grant the island three years in the plan of approach to get matters in order financially. "Besides the fact that the ink of the plan of approach has barely dried, a debt could be created in three years for which there would be no solution," he said.
According to Bosman, one of St. Maarten's main problems is integrity of government. "The WODC (Dutch Scientific Research Documentation Centre, ed.) report of 2007 indicated a clear criminal presence in a weak government," he said.
He requested that the Minister give an update on efforts to combat crime and strengthen the judicial apparatus on the island. He enquired whether the Minister was willing to have WODC look into the crime situation in St. Maarten again during the evaluation of the plan of approach for the judicial apparatus.
It became clear during Thursday's deliberations that a majority of the members supported a coordinating role for the Ministry of Home Relations and Kingdom Affairs BZK where it came to handling the interests of the Dutch special municipalities Bonaire, St. Eustatius and Saba. MP Van Bochove suggested that BZK serve as a "mother department," just like it did years ago when the Flevopolder was a special municipality before acquiring the status of province.

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