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MP Emmanuel: Again no public consultation on COHO entity.

chrisemmanuel07122020PHILIPSBURG:--- Independent Member of Parliament Christophe Emmanuel on Tuesday said that despite criticism, the government of St. Maarten continues its practice of not engaging in consultations with the people and Parliament on major issues that affect the country. Case in point he said: The announcement that The Netherlands, Aruba, Curaçao, and St. Maarten have reached an agreement on the Kingdom Act on the Caribbean Body for Reform and Development (COHO).
Emmanuel noted that the Prime Minister of St. Maarten said that the government of St. Maarten is now pleased with the changes to the COHO Kingdom act. However, he continued, nobody knows what these changes are and he reminded the public that Parliament met for days on COHO with MPs being very critical of the entity, its structure, and amount of control it will command over the administration of St. Maarten and lives of the citizens of St. Maarten.
“One of the reasons from the start that I have been against the COHO in any form is the intentional actions by the government not to consult the people and the Parliament of St. Maarten. Instead, following the directives of State Secretary Knops, the government of St. Maarten is deliberately vague about COHO, its true intentions, and the power it will have,” Emmanuel said.
He continued: “Parliament and the people will be the last to receive the COHO Kingdom act and, as usual, Parliament will be expected to rubber-stamp it. While the government perhaps can count on a majority to push the act through, my position will remain against this entity. It is unconscionable to force the country to support and go along without factual information.”
He further noted that the press release issued about COHO on Tuesday is full of “wordplay that signifies nothing”. “It is like me saying a banana is not yellow, it’s a mixture of red, green, and blue. Saying that changes were made to COHO, but just removing one word to add more that mean the same thing, is not change,” MP Emmanuel said.
MP Emmanuel said at present Caribbean nations from Barbados right up to the Bahamas are consulting people before implementing any new reforms that affect their lives in the COVID and post-COVID era. “These governments understand the importance of timely consultation with the people, or basic information to deliver change that matters to citizens, driving initiatives that have a significant, positive impact on society. Not St. Maarten. Not this government,” he said.
Instead, Emmanuel said, the people are being told to expect property and/or land taxes, the possibility of a VAT tax, no real economic plan, possible future layoffs of civil servants, the rising cost of living, and still no viable plan to cut government waste in a pandemic. “In the meantime, millions of dollars is being awarded only to Dutch companies to execute every project on St. Maarten, with probably more to come through the COHO which, lest we forget, is hanging over our necks like a guillotine. This is the standard of living this government is promoting,” the MP concluded.

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