SINT MAARTEN (POND ISLAND) - Independent Member of Parliament (MP) Christophe Emmanuel on Wednesday said Minister of Finance Ardwell Irion slapped civil servants across the other cheek when he attempted to include a budget post in the 2021 budget to hire some 155 new full time government workers, two weeks after spearheading the drive to cut the benefits and income of current civil servants.
“I do not understand what this government and this finance Minister is doing. I really don’t. He submitted a budget to the CFT with a 16% increase on the 2019 figures for personnel costs, after he just implemented a cut of 12.5%. An elementary school child would tell you this doesn't make sense. So he created increases in personnel expenses during a crisis, after you just cut people using the same crisis as your reasoning. Simply unbelievable,” MP Emmanuel said.
The MP said he was not surprised to read that the CFT sent the budget back with the 155 new hires as an obvious problem. He said the Finance Minister’s attempt to hire follows a baffling statement made by the Prime Minister during the debates in Parliament on the laws that resulted in income and benefit cuts.
“The PM said that government will have to hire persons to execute the country packages. This of course makes no sense, because government was already instructed by the Dutch to implement the 12.5% cut on personnel costs as the cost has been increasing every year. But instead of implementing personnel stop last year as a cost saving measure, which would have meant that no new employees would have been hired as of last year, they decided to continue to hire and now want to hire more,” the MP said.
MP Emmanuel said poor decisions like this one is just one of the reasons why some people will continue to want the Dutch involved. “When the government comes with illogical things and others have to point out that what they are doing is nonsense. It is a bigger slap to civil servants because they have been understaffed for a long time already and doing work for maybe two or three persons. So had government done its due diligence it would have not agreed to ambitious packages that require our civil core to take on more work and accept a cut in their income and benefits,” the MP said.
He continued: “In the past when departments were understaffed civil servants would work overtime and even on weekends with the understanding of overtime pay, “gratificaties” and so on. But since this government went and cut out all of those things, a limited civil core with less income will now be asked to fulfill country packages for which this government had no foresight, but just accepted.”
He also used the opportunity to touch on a related matter: “The Minister of Finance continues to perpetuate the lie that civil servants salaries were not cut. Stop playing with words. You cut their income. You have the right to certain increases, bonuses ect. Many plan their lives around this. This is income rightfully earned. Not a gift. So when you cut this income, where do you think civil servants will have to turn to? They take from whatever is left from their base salary, which will now be under further pressure on top of regular monthly obligations. So this notion that their base salaries are not being touched is a lie,” the MP said.