PHILIPSBURG–Encouraging the government of St. Maarten to prioritise requesting debt cancellation from the Dutch government is the premise of a motion passed unanimously in Parliament late Wednesday evening, in the final leg of the plenary session of the 2021 budget debate.
The motion, which was tabled by National Alliance (NA) Member of Parliament (MP) George Pantophlet, was passed unanimously when all 13 MPs present voted in favour. It was the first of three motions passed by the legislature in the marathon budget debate, which ended after midnight.
In the motion, Parliament called on the government of St. Maarten to prioritise requesting debt cancellation in its discussions with the Dutch government “as this is the only recourse that will help country St. Maarten to get out of this debt, and to execute its social and economic duties as it relates to the citizens of the country.”
The factors on which the motion was presented include that St. Maarten owes the Dutch government close to NAf. 1 billion, and that annually the country pays NAf. 12.7 million on this debt. “At this rate, it will take the country almost 100 years to repay this debt,” the motion reads, adding that the country was not able to start with a sound financial position because the agreed upon debt eradication with 10-10-10 was never received.
The motion says also that due to the passing of Hurricanes Irma and Maria in 2017 and the present COVID-19 pandemic, the financial position of St. Maarten has further deteriorated and continues to deteriorate.
“Due to these factors, the responsibilities as laid down in Articles 17-22 of the Constitution of St. Maarten cannot be complied with,” the motion reads.
Pantophlet has been championing debt cancellation for years on the floor of Parliament. “Debt cancellation is not something that is out of reach. St. Maarten right now is faced with a budget deficit of more than NAf. 240 million. Debt cancellation will ensure that we meet the social and economic needs of our country,” Pantophlet said, while motivating his proposing of the motion. Several MPs motivated their backing of the motion.
Bron: Daily Herald