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Ministers St. Maarten sworn in, urged to protect integrity of democracy

SATURDAY, 15 JUNE 2013

HARBOUR VIEW–The new ministers who took the oath of office on Friday afternoon were urged by Governor Eugene Holiday “to protect the integrity of the constitutional democracy” as they strive to achieve integrity, transparency, reduction of bureaucracy and efficiency and service – all focal points of the new coalition’s governing accord.

The ministers of the Wescot-Williams III Cabinet were sworn in by the governor at his office. The first constituting meeting of the Council of Ministers was then held at the Government Administration Building where the substituting decree was signed by all ministers and the governor. This decree stipulated the substitute minister for each ministry.

The coalition of United People’s (UP) party, Democratic Party (DP) and independent Member of Parliament Romain Laville has as focal points to work for economic diversification, fiscal reform and simplification, social safety nets, job creation, training, poverty alleviation, community and infrastructural development, legislative focus, electoral, labour and immigration reform, national insurance and the completion of the reorganisation of the Justice Ministry based on the governing accord.

Ministers and minister plenipotentiary to carry out those tasks and goals are Wescot-Williams as Prime Minister/Minister of General Affairs, Maurice A. Lake as Minister of Housing, Spatial Planning, Environment and Infrastructure VROMI, Dennis L. Richardson as Minister of Justice, Martinus “Martin” J. Hassink as Minister of Finance, Patricia D. Lourens-Philip as Minister of Education, Culture, Youth and Sports, Van Hugh Cornelius de Weever as Minister of Public Health, Social Development and Labour and Mathias S. Voges as Minister Plenipotentiary.

Wescot-Williams will also act as Minister of Tourism, Economic Affairs, Transportation and Telecommunication temporarily until the candidate minister is vetted and sworn in.

The governor told the new ministers: “Your decisions will have lasting influences on the lives of the people … Thus, as you deliberate on taking action on the matters before you during your governing period I wish you wisdom, individually and jointly, in the conduct of your responsibilities as you seek to meet your constitutional responsibility to the people.”

He further added that by accepting the function of minister through the taking of the oath is “a solemn expression of your commitment to perform your function with integrity … In that regard, there rests on you individually as ministers and jointly as Council of Ministers a great responsibility.

“It is my hope and trust, that as you continue the march where your predecessors left off, that you will, through the application of the principles of good governance, answer the call to unite the people towards the further overall and balanced development of our island nation. This hope and trust comes from my firm belief in the good within and strength of the St. Maarten people.”

The governor told the new ministers, their families and other officials at the swearing-in ceremony that they had just witnessed the transfer of executive responsibility for the governance from one team of ministers to a new team of ministers. “En route to the transfer, the strength and resolve of our nation has been put to the test, and a new chapter has been written in the constitutional history of our young nation and parliamentary democracy.”

He continued, “Today, six weeks after the start of the political developments that brought us to this point and three and a half weeks since the previous team of ministers made their positions available, we have before us a new team of ministers.

“A lot has transpired in that six weeks period, some of which has given rise to some critical questions and requires that politicians take a good look in the mirror. Developments that have caused me, in my capacity as Governor of St. Maarten to appeal to all stakeholders to do all that is necessary to maintain and protect the integrity of our constitutional democracy. I did so drawing from the words of the preamble to our constitution.”

Expounding on the ideals in the preamble, he said, “… we have no option, but to work towards these ideals, as anything else will go against the general interest, that is against the interest of the people.”

In monitoring recent political developments and looking ahead, the governor said he is concerned about “the increased divisiveness and accusations” and about the increasing questions about this country’s commitment to the ideals.

“Let me, in that regard say that I am sure that is not what the people of St. Maarten want. I say this, because of my firm belief in the good of the people of St. Maarten, and because I am particularly pleased and encouraged to see the increased level of involvement of and debate among the people of St. Maarten regarding political developments during the past weeks. I, therefore, challenge you as the new team of ministers, as you assume your mandate to govern this beautiful country, to make the further building on the realisation of our ideals your priority,” the governor said.

Bron: The Daily Herald, St. Maarten

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