WEDNESDAY, 11 SEPTEMBER 2013
THE HAGUE–St. Maarten Prime Minister Sarah Wescot-Williams and Justice Minister Dennis Richardson recently assured Dutch Minister of Home Affairs and Kingdom Relations Ronald Plasterk that they will do their utmost to wrap up all plans of approach within the current term.
Plasterk stated this in a letter that he sent to the Second Chamber of the Dutch Parliament on Friday and which was released on Tuesday. The Minister forwarded various reports on the progress of the execution of the plans of approach for the Pointe Blanche prison, the Federal Detectives (“Landsrecherche”), General Affairs and the Department of Public Housing, Spatial Planning, Environment and Infrastructure VROMI to the Second Chamber. The Minister informs the Dutch Parliament on a regular basis about this subject.
Plasterk had consultations with the Prime Minister and the Justice Minister on July 11 and on August 26 to discuss the progress of the plans of approach which were drawn up to improve the tasks that St. Maarten was not able to carry out on its own when it attained country status on October 10, 2010. There are also plans of approach for Country Curaçao.
During the July 11 consultation, Richardson informed Plasterk that the renovation of the Pointe Blanche prison would start in a few days. “The prison renovation is very urgent and the delay of many years withheld the progress of the improvement plan. The renovation has started on July 15. It is expected that the renovation will provide an impulse to finalise the plan of approach,” stated Plasterk in his letter to the Dutch Parliament.
Especially the execution of the plans of approach in the justice area have suffered long delays. Wescot-Williams and Richardson promised Plasterk that they would do all within their reach to see to it that the execution of the plans of approach were finalised within the set term.
According to Plasterk, the Progress Committee, chaired by former Dutch Mayor Ronald Bandell, was “alternately positive” about the execution of the other plans of approach. He said the Committee was positive about the Federal Detectives, but it found the situation at the St. Maarten Police Force worrisome.
The most recent report of the Progress Committee that Plasterk sent to the Second Chamber dated back to April this year and covered the period January 1 to April 1, 2013. At that time Roland Duncan was Minister of Justice.
The Committee held the former Minister responsible for making insufficient progress where it came to the securing of the position of police personnel. This resulted in an increased dissatisfaction among police personnel. The Committee had some doubts at the time about the developments at the Police Force, especially regarding the planned growth of the work force.
The committee further expressed its concerns about the financing of the plans of approach. The committee said it received contradictory explanations about the financial means to execute the plans. On the one side, government claimed that there were sufficient funds, but on the other hand projects could not be executed because the financial means were lacking.
According to the committee this put especially a strain on the staffing at the Police Force and the Department of VROMI. “Crucial functions at VROMI cannot be filled because there is no financial coverage. At the Police funds would have been allotted for a considerable expansion … but the coverage is not present this year,” the committee stated.
The committee was positive about the efforts of the St. Maarten Government to enhance integrity. Integrity trainings are being given since 2012, in conjunction with the Integrity Bureau of the Municipality Amsterdam. The trainings are compulsory for everyone in government, including the members of Government. Confidants have been appointed at all ministries where civil servants can confidentially relay information on integrity issues.
The Integrity Bureau is being set up under the auspices of the Ministry of General Affairs, the committee noted. “The committee is under the impression that the subject of integrity has a permanent place at the Ministry of General Affairs and the departments with a plan of approach, such as VROMI and justice.”
Source: The Daily Herald, St. Maarten