St. Maarten – Prime Minister Sarah Wescot-Williams explained the budget process, the submitting of motions and the next steps with regards to the budget on her weekly radio program One on One with the Prime Minister on Friday.
“Considering that the budget has now been approved and there is mention in the media concerning motions I thought it important to highlight this and to explain what is happening so that the community can have a better grasp on the process,” Wescot-Williams commented live on air.
“I look back at the budget debate feeling confident that it was handled correctly. I would also like to mention that the parliament has had a considerable amount of time to examine and discuss the budget. Despite the fact that government submitted a draft budget on October 2012, I believe that parliament has had a sufficient amount of time this year to carry the budget through the approval process. Budget approval is one of the most important tasks of parliament and is one of the basic and principle rights of parliament as the representative of the people, especially considering that one of the central mandates of parliament is to approve and pass the budget. This, in addition to the right of initiative, or the right to propose a draft law is what is referred to as a constitutional right of parliament. Many also feel that the right to legislate is also one of those rights enshrined in constitutional law, however, when it comes to national ordinances parliament has a shared responsibility with government in that regard. Both need to go through a particular process that goes through the council of advice, if needed the social economic council, and the handling by parliament so for this reason legislation is looked at as a shared responsibility,” disclosed the prime minister.
The prime minister also clarified the motions which were submitted by the various factions during the plenary session of parliament discussing the budget: “Members of Parliament can submit a motion which is an expression or statement that is expressed and which is subsequently put into what is called a motion, which is another constitutional term.
“A motion is an expression or a wish or a feeling or a standpoint so to speak which one or more MPs can submit. The expression is then supported and carried either with a majority or unanimously if that motion is to be passed. Members of Parliament can submit motions on any topic which they deem important. Usually motions are drafted starting with considerations and an elucidation and then are subsequently carried in a motion. Motions can be carried in parliament at any time and need not necessarily need to occur during budget deliberations as was the case recently. The prime minister stated that there were sixteen motions submitted last week. Most of the motions were passed and accepted while some were rejected,” commented the prime minister.
The PM further highlighted that the budget, as approved by parliament, now needs to go to the CFT to ascertain whether it still complies with the requirements of the laws that governs financial supervision: “This is important because, as I mentioned earlier, parliament has the budget right and could have amended the budget or could have changed it as such. The budget will now go to CFT to look if parliament stayed within the context of the law and also to see if any decisions taken by parliament are contradictory to having a balanced budget. I was indicating that to parliament taking this into consideration. Going back to the motions issue I have expressed the hope that the passed motions that have a financial nature are not seen as changes to the budget, which would have as a result the budget being delayed. This is extremely important; if the CFT would now look at the budget and see that changes were made which would have an effect we would have to go through the whole process once again. Right now I am keeping my fingers crossed that we do not get that recommendation from the CFT.”
The prime minister concluded by stating that government and parliament will be cooperating closely to ensure that the necessary steps are taken in order to ensure that the motions are carried out while still operating within the 2012 budget as submitted by parliament.