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Constitution Court rules the Government of Sint Maarten has not acted unconstitutionally

On Monday, November 1, the Constitutional Court did not support the request filed by the Ombudsman of Sint Maarten on April 26, concerning the three temporary national ordinances to cut the employment benefits of civil servants, (semi) public sector workers and political authorities. The three contested national ordinances were issued by the government of Sint Maarten on July 1, 2020, and passed in Parliament on February 3, 2021.

During Monday’s ruling, the Constitutional Court stated, “The Court is “fully aware” that the measures laid down in the national ordinances are far-reaching and have “unexpected and serious consequences” for many. No government would like to take such measures, but the Government and the Parliament of St. Maarten were in a major dilemma. To keep the country going, a lot of money was needed that simply was not there. That money could only be borrowed from the Netherlands under certain conditions - now detailed in the contested regulations. After all, in crisis situations such as the present, Parliament and the Government have to act within the limits of their powers as laid down in the Constitution.” In the opinion of the Constitutional Court, Government has done so, and has not acted unconstitutionally.

“The government of Sint Maarten has done all that it could to avoid cutting into the basic salaries of its civil servants. Other cost-cutting measures were also sought and implemented which included the reduction of phone call and data usage, the introduction of gas cards instead of gas bons, reduction in travel expenditure as well as the reduction in redundancy pay for political authorities. As such, We will be meeting with civil servants, this week and the unions the following week to discuss what this means for the civil servants who are affected and for the implementation of the new national ordinances. As strongly emphasized by the Court this government will continue to consider the human dimension when making decisions on the next steps forward,” stated Prime Minister Silveria Jacobs.
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