PHILIPSBURG--United Democrats (UD) leader Member of Parliament (MP) Sarah Wescot-Williams has weighed in on what she calls the recent “squeezing” of NAf. 1.9 million from government’s treasury to pay around 250 justice workers part of their retroactive payment.
Finance Minister Ardwell Irion had said recently that police officers had been paid some of their back-pay via government’s cash flow. He said at the time that the decision was made to pay the workers via the treasury and not hold it up any longer. The treasury will be reimbursed the amount used when the next tranche of payment is received from the sale of St. Maarten’s 12.5-per-cent shares in United Telecommunications Services (UTS). The first tranche of the settlement from the UTS sale was paid on September 10, 2019, which amounts to NAf. 9.2 million (9,206,975,34). Although, Members of Parliament (MPs) wanted the payment of justice workers to be prioritized with the funds, the first tranche went towards settling a debt at TelEm.
Wescot-Williams said the partial payment from the UTS sale needs to be addressed. “What is not sufficiently addressed is the reason why we only received a partial payment from the sale of UTS. (It) has nothing to do with the final price, but rather with the initiative law passed by Parliament that now has to be corrected. Until then, no second payment,” she said.
“If, as government purports, the former Finance Minister (Perry Geerlings) handled (the issue) illegally with an MB, what is the basis for this advanced pay-out, if the function book is still not complete and the decree is supposedly at the Council of Advice?” she asked. “So, it is not about squeezing NAf. 1.9 million from the treasury. If everything else was kosher, I can’t imagine it took government close to two months to figure out (that) our cash flow could accommodate a pay-out of two million, UTS sale or not,” she said.