De Weever sees Corporate Governance Council evaporating

POSTED: 06/30/11 12:30 PM

“I am really on their side too”

St. Maarten – Democratic Party Member of Parliament Petrus Leroy de Weever has said he won’t be part of asking government owned companies to fund the Corporate Governance Council. The MP has vehemently opposed the Council’s existence from the beginning because he believes it “interferes with the mandate of the politician that is given by the people through elections” and because “it creates problems.”

De Weever’s remarks were made during a Central Committee meeting on Tuesday and in the presence of the Chairman of the Corporate Governance Council Louis Duzanson. The latter had been invited to Parliament to give a presentation on the council’s functioning and reported that the body is still having challenges with finances. The problem is that the Council is not an established legal entity with a bank account and so it cannot cash a 400, 000 guilder cheque that the government has made out as an advance.

“We have submitted an advice on May 27, which is a bit unorthodox, in terms of how we should be funded but we have not yet reached to a solution. Some have suggested that we should have a foundation, but what we have advised is that government should create a chapter in its budget – like it does with all other advisory bodies – list income – the money they collect from the companies – and then expenses which can be paid out,” Duzanson said.

The need for government to give an advance comes from the fact that the Council of Ministers has not yet taken a decision on the division key for payments from the companies and it has not yet approved the council’s budget for 2010 and 2011. The body has now also submitted its expenses for 2010 for compensation as the members have been funding the council’s operation from their own pockets “out of love for country.” The body is also now trying to finalize a draft budget to be submitted to the Finance Minister by July 1. The body is legally bound to submit its budget by October 31, but the Minister of Finance Hiro Shigemoto has requested all ministries, councils and Parliament submit their draft budget by July 1.

“We are doing what we have to do and what we were entrusted to do,” Duzanson said.

De Weever is not happy with the Council however calling it a commission that stands in the way of government carrying out its mandate from the electorate and a blockade to Parliament carrying out the supervisory task it was given.

“I believe that ultimate political power is with the people through the Parliament they elect to represent them,” De Weever said.

The DP MP pressed his point by stating that councils such as the CGC and the corporate structure of some of the government owned companies place them too far from the government’s influence and that the rules around the councils and boards did not spell out what is good and bad advice thoroughly enough. GEBE’s structure was used as an example.

“We have a company that is bleeding the people dry and there is little we can do because the politicians cannot give directives. What you see here is price fixing. And now we are asked to sit here and sustain a commission like yours that creates problems and interferes. What you’re more likely to see is an evaporation of this body (CGC). To come here to ask us to get the government owned companies to fund you for your advice. It won’t happen. What I suggest is that you find the money to pay the debts you’ve made,” de Weever said.

Duzanson’s reply is that the Corporate Governance Council was not attempting to usurp the government’s power and asserted that there are certain questions about the implementation of the legal framework governing the council that the government must answer.

“The advisory body is just that. The advice can be taken and then it is a matter of just following the legally prescribed procedure when they don’t agree. I am really on their side too. Let me also stress that we have also said before that not every matter is regulated in the law and it therefore has shortcomings. It (the law) needs to be made workable,” Duzanson said.

Considering the discussions around the law President of Parliament Gracita Arrindell has suggested it be put on the list of laws that need reviewing during the upcoming four year term of the Parliament. Duzanson presented Arrindell with a copy of the council’s year report at the end of Tuesday’s meeting.


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