St. Maarten Parliament drifts into new year on Ravel’s Boléro – “Structural campaign against corruption, money laundering”

POSTED: 09/11/13 3:17 PM

governor inspects honor guard

Governor Holiday passes the honor guard on Wilhelmina Steeg on his way to the parliament building. Photo Today / Milton Pieters

St. Maarten – “A new corporate culture for the Government of St. Maarten calls for creativity to do much with little, to prioritize within priorities and to think beyond ministerial boundaries,” Governor Drs. Eugène Holiday said yesterday in his address on the occasion of the opening of the parliamentary year.

The governor spoke in parliament to an audience consisting of Members of Parliament, the Council of Ministers and representatives of a host of organizations and state entities. Prior to the governor’s arrival, the sweet tones of Ravel’s Boléro – often described as the ideal background music for love making – drifted through the House of Parliament, triggering memories of the 1979 blockbuster movie Ten, starring Bo Derek, Julie Andrews and Dudley Moore.

Outside the parliament a peloton of VKS-officers in white gala uniform and a peloton of police officers lined the Wilhelmina Steeg to honor the governor’s arrival.

Governor Holiday outlined the government’s program for the coming year in his address, identifying thirteen focus-areas; among them are economic diversification, poverty alleviation, electoral reform and the further development and strengthening of the justice ministry.

“Essential to government’s vision and thus underpinning its focal issues are the following focal points: consensus building, long term planning, integrity, efficiency, transparency and responsibility.”

The promotion of integrity in government is key, the governor said. The drafting of an integrity law to establish an Integrity bureau is underway, as are the implementation of an integrity desk and the commissioning of transparency International to conduct a national integrity systems assessment.

Governor Holiday noted that the biggest challenge the government faces “is recruitment of qualified and specialized personnel.” The government also wants to pay more attention to its role as employer of a large and diverse civil service. “The government will seek to build its staff by improving opportunities for local expertise and continued personnel training in policy development and legislative advice. The government shall replace short-term contracts and establish an educational institute for civil servants.”

The wellbeing of civil servants also has the government’s attention. A parent-school program for young parents, flexible working hours and a fitness program are among the initiatives; however, government also intends to increase the retirement age to 62. On the other hand, government wants to allow mothers more time off by amending maternity leave conditions.

In the field of education, the governor announced the intention to establish a breakfast-program in schools, the adoption of healthy school-principles and the introduction of the one laptop per child program.

In the field of housing and infrastructure, the governor said that the government is preparing a housing vision and a policy for sustainable energy. Measures will be taken to reduce the processing time for permits to an average of 8 weeks and to eliminate the backlog in building perm its.

The governor announced that the government intends to build Link 6 – the connection between Weymouth Estate and Dutch Quarter and to expand the Illidge Road flood gates. The construction of the waste to energy plant on Pond Island will begin next year.

Addressing safety and security, Governor Holiday said that the government aims for a society that is fair and just, “in which small and big criminals are being prosecuted and in which crimes do not pay. It is the task of any government to serve its citizens by helping to create such a society.”

The government has announced a safety and security action program that deals with compliance, maintenance of law and order and development. It is essential to comply with the plans of approach for the police force, the national detective agency and the prison, the governor said. “Work has started on the expansion of the prison and preparations are underway to establish a youth detention center in Cay Bay.”

The government will introduce a system of justice certification and put in place a unit to execute audits on compliance with anti-corruption and anti-money laundering measures, the governor said. This is part of a campaign “to structurally tackle corruption and money laundering, which at the same time will contribute to improving the image of businesses and doing business in the public and private sector in St. Maarten.”

Governor Holiday furthermore touched upon initiatives to foster medical tourism, the maintenance of good foreign relations and the establishment of a military base on the island.

Talking finance, the governor said that the government will “continue to collectively examine ways and means to cut all unnecessary costs and find new revenues.” The main objectives in the short term are to complete the 2013 budget before October 1, to have the 2014 budget approved by the end of this year and to finalize the 2012 annual accounts by December 1.


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  1. St. Maarten Parliament drifts into new year on Ravel’s Boléro – “Structural campaign against corruption, money laundering” : One Caribbean Radio | The Global Mix says:

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