St. Maarten Labor Minister to receive work/residence permit amendments Friday

POSTED: 12/9/10 11:47 PM

St. Maarten – Minister of Public Health, Social Development and Labor Maria Buncamper-Molanus expects to receive the first draft of amendments to the policy on the employment of foreign nationals on Friday. The changes focus on criteria like the age limit, the amount of time a permit can be granted for and the process of granting the permit.
“We believe that the process should be much more efficient. It can be much more efficient. At this moment when you look at the process for obtaining a work permit and then you need to obtain a residence permit, there are areas of duplication as far as documents are concerned and sometimes you have the issue of documents expiring because one process took longer than the other or the documents expire because the process took a little longer than expected especially if you have an appeal as part of the process so I would say it is much further reaching than just a few cosmetic changes,” the Minister said.
Buncamper-Molanus added that the overall objective of the amendments is to create employment in the local market and use the permit process to truly get people who have particular expertise that are not available here.
“Once the policy is amended the objective is that we would have created an environment whereby we achieve the objective of improving the labor force on St. Maarten, whereby people on the local labor market get all the opportunities they should and where we run short that is then supplemented by foreign labor and that the process is less cumbersome than it is now and is conducive to economic development,” the Minister said.
The Minister plans to consult the Tri-Partite Committee consisting of the government, the unions and the businesses on the amendments. That and the review of the age requirement are commitments from the outline of the governing program submitted to St. Maarten Governor Eugene Holiday as part of the formation of the government.
Buncamper-Molanus also announced on Wednesday that the amendments will take into consideration people who were granted three year residence permits under the renewal process for the Brooks Tower Accord. This is so government can avoid creating an “imbalance” where people who have not complied with the laws for residing here get an advantage over people who have complied with the rules, but filing for and receiving their permits.
“There has to be a balance and it has to be fair,” she said.
The process to change the policy begins with its submission to the Minister, who will then make a proposal for perusal. The document is then sent to the Council of Advice for review and then if there are no issues the Council of Ministers takes a decision to adopt the policy, with the changes, and the Minister issues a decree outlining the measures.

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