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DH | Last Parliament passed 35 laws over its four-year term

HomeLandenSint MaartenDH | Last Parliament passed 35 laws over its four-year term

~ Had 3 chairs, 5 factions, 5 independent MPs ~

PHILIPSBURG–The fifth Parliament of St. Maarten handled and gave the green light for 35 national ordinances over the four years it sat from 2020 to 2024, held eight “Solemn” Public Meetings and consisted of a record number of factions and independent Members of Parliament (MPs).

Parliament also had three chairpersons during this term and while the term began with five factions instead of four, which was, at that time, the most ever in the country’s history, it ended with five factions and five independent MPs.

Former President of Parliament Sidharth “Cookie” Bijlani alluded to the statistics during his last parliamentary speech at the close of the term of the legislature on Friday last.

Bijlani said although started, but not completed, he encouraged the incoming Parliament to continue working on further regulating the aspects surrounding factions, support and independent members.

Bijlani outlined the strides of the Parliament during his speech.

Women in Parliament

There was a record number of female parliamentarians this term. The parliamentary term began with four women of the 15 MPs and quickly increased to six women in Parliament, which Bijlani said was the most women Parliament had seen to date. During this term, Parliament also established a Women’s Parliamentary Caucus, a platform to debate on current issues predominantly affecting a large segment, if not the whole community, to liaise with stakeholders and others, and to analyse and propose solutions, policies and legislation. With one-third of the new Parliament consisting of women, Bijlani expressed hope the Women’s Caucus would continue and have a positive impact.

Laws

Bijlani highlighted some of the 35 laws approved. In February 2021, Parliament approved the Temporary National Ordinance on the Standardization of Top Incomes and Adjustment of Employment Conditions at (semi)-public sector entities, the Temporary National Ordinance on COVID-19 cuts in Employment Conditions for civil servants, and the Temporary National Ordinance on the Amendment of the Employment Conditions of political authorities.

On April 26, 2021, the Ombudsman, who is the guardian of the Constitution and the only one authorised to challenge newly ratified national ordinances that she considers to be in contravention of the Constitution, after careful consideration, submitted the ordinances to the Constitutional Court for review. Bijlani said based on the judgements rendered, Parliament has had the opportunity to further improve its legislation for the people in the future.

Another critical set of national ordinances that were accepted and form part of the 35 pieces of legislation approved by Parliament during this term were the Annual Accounts for 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019, 2020 and 2021. The handling and approval of these national ordinances allow for sound financial management for St. Maarten. “So yes, Parliament did carry out its constitutional tasks of acting as co-legislator during this parliamentary term,” Bijlani said.

Solemn Meetings

Bijlani said the term could also be considered the parliamentary term of Solemn Meetings. A total of eight Solemn Public Meetings were held during this term. Every year, on the second Tuesday of September, Parliament holds a Solemn Public Meeting for the opening of the parliamentary year; however, in 2020, St. Maarten also commemorated 10 years of country status with a virtual Solemn Public Meeting. In 2022, Solemn Meetings were held for the farewell of former Governor of St. Maarten Eugene Holiday, and the acceptance of office for current Governor of St. Maarten Ajamu Baly and just a few months ago, Parliament held a solemn meeting for the acceptance of office for current Acting Governor of St. Maarten Dr. Emiko Bird-Lake. Bijlani said with these changes, the transition into a new era of governance is seen.

Bijlani in his speech also spoke about regional cooperation, public outreach, school visits, the thesis library, the Secretariat of Parliament and the tasks and rights of MPs.

Bijlani said during the 2020-2024 term, St. Maarten faced extraordinary challenges, including the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, and he is proud of the way the country navigated through the difficult times.

“When I first took office as a Member of Parliament in 2020, none of us could have anticipated the profound challenges that lay ahead. The COVID-19 pandemic presented us with an unparalleled test of our resilience, unity and leadership. As a nation, we came together to protect the health and well-being of our citizens and to safeguard our economy. I am immensely proud of the way we managed to navigate through these turbulent times, demonstrating resilience, compassion and innovation,” he said.

Bijlani said in his role as President of Parliament of St. Maarten from November 2022 to February 12, 2024, he endeavoured to foster an environment of constructive debate, collaboration and progress and he is proud of the strides made in promoting transparency and accountability in government. He is deeply grateful for the hard work and dedication of fellow MPs and the parliamentary staff.

Bijlani is filled with gratitude for the trust and support of the people of St. Maarten and said it had been the privilege of a lifetime to serve.

Bron: Daily Herald

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