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Budget 2013 approved by St. Maarten parliament

THURSDAY, 18 APRIL 2013

Several environmental related motions passed ~

 PHILIPSBURG–The 2013 budget was passed by Parliament after 3:00am Thursday with votes of the ten members of National Alliance (NA)/Democratic Party (DP)/Independent three coalition. The four members of the United People’s (UP) party were in the meeting, but were not present when it was time to vote on the budget.

MP Leroy de Weever (DP), who had said he had issues with the budget, in particular the intention to raise revenue by increasing the turnover tax on alcohol and tobacco products, voted for the budget. He said he had been assured by Prime Minister Sarah Wescot-Williams (DP) and Finance Minister Roland Tuitt (NA) that everything possible would be done to mitigate any shortfall in tax collection, so he voted for the budget.

The budget stands at NAf. 457,874,400, some NAf. 25,324,800 more than the approved 2012 budget. In the coming days, government will approach the Central Bank of Curaçao and St. Maarten to float a NAf. 150 million bond to allow several capital projects to be carried out, including completion of the ring road and purchase of Emilio Wilson Estate.

UP Parliamentarian Dr. Ruth Douglass was not present for the meeting.

The budget deliberations started in the Central Committee last week Monday and continued until early Thursday morning as MPs voted on 16 motions.

All six of independent MP Romain Laville’s motions were passed by Parliament although coalition partner DP parliamentarians were not present for all. UP was not present for 15 of the motions. UP was present for its motions on the establishment of a special victims unit, on allocation of money from the Crime Funds for Second Chance Foundation, and to bring relief from high GEBE bills.

Several of the motions passed unanimously as no MP asked for individual voting.

DP supported the motion to amend the Civil Code to allow employees to transfer to a new company if the one for which they worked was bought out or acquired. This would allow the employees to retain their benefits and jobs.

The motion to require a mandatory employee/employer pension plan was supported unanimously.

DP did not support the motion for free education for all primary school pupils. Individual voting was requested by DP and afterward its two MPs Roy Marlin and Leroy de Weever left the chamber. De Weever had indicated earlier that some motions would cost money that was not available.

The motion for the development of a beach protection law was passed unanimously.

The motion to establish a feeding programme for all schoolchildren was passed unanimously.

A motion supporting the planned Justice Park was adopted with eight votes for and one against from MP Marlin (DP).

Independent MP Frans Richardson’s motion urging government to complete the new government administration building and to construct Block D for the tax department and a parking garage was passed unanimously.

MP Richardson’s motion to introduce heritage education in schools and for hospitality workers was passed unanimously.

The motion instructing government to obtain the designs for the planned cricket stadium, football field and softball field and to find funds for the project was passed with eight votes for and one against from MP Roy Marlin. Motivating his vote, Marlin said the motion would have consequences on the budget and will cause an issue with the Committee for Financial Supervision CFT.

MP Richardson’s motion to obtain unrestricted access to Fort Amsterdam was adopted by all 10 coalition MPs.

The motion to protect Mullet Pond was passed by the eight votes of the five NA parliamentarians and three independent parliamentarians.

MP Richardson’s motion to make budget amendments to allocate funds from the current budget for Environmental Protection in the Caribbean (EPIC) was adopted unanimously.

MP Frans Richardson’s motion to regulate election campaign materials, campaigning outside polling stations, prevent vote buying and not allow cameras and cell phones in polling stations was passed unanimously.

Independent MP Patrick Illidge’s motions to allocate NAf. 50,000 from the crime fund to support Second Change Foundation to support youngsters who have had a brush with the law was passed by 13 votes. MP Jules James (UP) was not present for the vote.

Illidge’s motion to provide 10-20 per cent relief of the GEBE bill for less fortunate and senior citizens was passed by 13 votes. MP Jules James was not present for the vote.

The UP motion to reallocate monies from the Voluntary Corps St. Maarten for the establishment of a special victims unit was not passed. Only the four UP members and De Weever (DP) voted for motion.

Moties hebben gevolgen voor krappe begroting

ZATERDAG, 20 APRIL 2013

PHILIPSBURG — Zeven van de vijftien moties die donderdag door het parlement werden aangenomen tijdens de behandeling en goedkeuring van de toch al krappe begroting, hebben financiële gevolgen daarvoor.

Boven aan de lijst staat de bouw van een cricketstadion, waarvoor fondsen gevonden moeten worden. Ook de constructie van twee kantoorgebouwen voor de overheid, die dit jaar nog moet beginnen, zal op de begroting drukken.

Verder werd een motie aangenomen voor bescherming van het milieu door de Caribbean EPIC Foundation, die een jaarlijkse subsidie van 359.000 gulden nodig heeft. Deze moties en de benodigde financiën zullen ongetwijfeld ook voor gefronste wenkbrauwen zorgen bij het College financieel toezicht (Cft). Dat heeft de begroting voor 2013 voorlopig goedgekeurd, maar moet nu kijken of die voldoet aan de gestelde criteria van het financieel toezicht.

In drie moties wordt de opdracht gegeven om financiële ruimte te maken dan wel fondsen te vinden voor de aanleg van een cricket-, voetbal- en softbalveld en de twee gebouwen voor de overheid. De moties werden ingediend door de onafhankelijke Statenleden Frans Richardson, Romain Laville en Patrick Illidge, die de NA/DP-coalitie steunen.

De motie voor gratis onderwijs haalde het met een minimale meerderheid van 8 stemmen maar werd niet door de DP-fractie gesteund omdat de kosten hiervoor nog niet bekend zijn. Dat geldt ook voor de motie voor het schoolmaaltijden-programma die unaniem werd aangenomen.

Hiervoor moet volgens het parlement samengewerkt worden met restaurants en groothandels. Laville suggereerde dat hiervoor producten gebruikt kunnen worden die vlak voor het einde van de houdbaarheidsdatum zitten, zodat deze niet weggegooid hoeven te worden door de groothandels en supermarkten.

De geplande 100 miljoen gulden voor het Justitieplan werd ook goedgekeurd. Illidge stelde daarbij voor om 50.000 gulden vrij te maken uit het Criminaliteitsfonds voor de Second Chance Foundation voor rehabilitatie en integratie van jongeren die uit de gevangenis komen.

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