Parliament is back from its summer recess and none too soon, as there are important issues to deal with. Hopefully Wednesday’s cancellation for unknown reasons of the first meeting about the prison management structure and the law enforcement Progress Committee’s reports is not a sign of what’s to come.
Mind you, this was an “urgent” plenary session that had been suspended since May 29. By now many things regarding the agenda points may have changed, so further delay is only going to make it more outdated.
Tentatively scheduled for Friday afternoon is a Central Committee meeting on changes to the Penal Code to comply with pressing international commitments, establishing a new Penal Procedural Code and amending the Civil Code. These are all related to requirements of the Caribbean Financial Action Task Force (CFATF) to fight money-laundering and the financing of terrorism that must be met to avoid being blacklisted as a fiscally non-compliant jurisdiction.
Just two weeks ago Dutch State Secretary of Kingdom Relations Raymond Knops told Parliament in the Netherlands that St. Maarten must give this draft legislation priority, because a public declaration as the next countermeasure in November could harm diplomatic traffic of the Kingdom and within CFATF, while a public notice would indicate the country has structural shortcomings and forms a risk for the international financial system, with all possible consequences. Remember also that this would follow already existing problems with monetary transactions due to the de-risking policy of correspondent US banks.
About a month earlier Knops had reported that the World Bank managing the Dutch-sponsored Recovery Trust Fund was willing to assist in this matter. It was suggested in this column at the time that – if needed – accepting the offer would be a good investment due to the crucial nature of the issue.
As for the elected representatives, they need to get right to it concerning this topic and expeditiously finish the job as part of their task to do the people’s business in a responsible way.