Civil Registry and Vromi look ready to end Plans of Approach

POSTED: 06/20/12 12:30 PM

St. Maarten – The last ministerial consultation on the Plans of Approach has agreed that the report the progress committee led by R. Bandell submits in July will be the yard stick to determine which of the seven plans is successfully finished and which will need to be continued for, at maximum, another two years. Justice Minister Roland Duncan has already said he believes that the National Detectives and the Immigration Department no longer need to be covered by Plans of Approach. A review of the fourth quarterly report covering July 1, 2011 to October 2011 confirms his opinion and reveals several other agencies that no longer need a plan of approach. No concrete decisions have been made yet as to which plans will be stopped and which will be continued.

Police

The fourth quarterly report states that police are relatively on schedule. The goal of reaching 60 percent of needed strength that should have been accomplished in 2011 was likely to be met at the beginning of 2012. Some projects were on schedule and others had been completed but the three man committee noted a loss of momentum on certain projects. For example the function book and job descriptions were not complete and the job evaluations were not conducted. The staff bureau was also not completely staffed and the naming of department heads had been postponed.

“There is qualitative and quantitative issue with capacity, there are lengthy procedures to get finances and (political) decision making takes quite some time. The committee recommends giving a mandate to the police management so the force has more financial autonomy,” the committee recommended.

Prison

The report on the third quarter of 2011 also showed that one year after 10-10-10 the situation at the prison sat between no improvements and minimal improvements. The personnel situation remained cause for concern and the renovation had not yet begun.

“The moment the renovation begins will be an important step forward, but St. Maarten will still have a serious shortage of cells. Point Blanche is full. Two questions must be answered in the search for a structural solution – How will the cell capacity be structurally added and how will this problem be temporarily solved while new cells are made available. The Minister of Justice expects to be using the building known as the Box as a House of Detention before the summer of 2012,” the committee states.

Some 10 months after that fourth report the renovations at the prison still have not started. There will also be a delay in getting the Box ready as the minister will resubmit his plans to the Council of Ministers so the members of Wescot-Williams II can give their opinion.

National Detectives

The committee reported that the National Detectives had made a good start. Four new staffers – two detectives, an administrative staffer and a tactical team leader – were hired. This leads to nine full time equivalents working in the department and the draft budget for 2012 made space for hiring three more. Based on that the committee asked attention for a national decree outlining the task and powers of the national detectives, a definite approval of the function book, approval of a mandate to allow the national detectives to be more autonomous and the finalization and signing of a cooperation agreement with Royal Detectives Netherlands.

Immigration

The committee advised the minister of justice to ensure that the lack of surety around the immigration department and how it will be reorganized did not last long. The minister had informed them that he would present a reorganization plan by the end of 2011.

The committee was pleased that a “highly qualified” director (Udo Aron) had been found and started work. By the time the report was issued Aron had worked with the Dutch Immigration and Naturalization Office to identify three people from the latter agency that would start work in 2012. He’d also began jointly investigating with the ministry of public health, social development and labor how the process of issuing work and residence permits can be sped up and how the backlog in processing applications for residence permits could be ended by the end of the year. Aron recently told this newspaper that he’d started the project to clear the backlog in January and the applications that are now being handled are being done within the legally stipulated time frame.

“The hiring of a director by the minister of justice is seen as an important step for the further professionalization of the organization. It is regrettable that the appointment took a year as this has led to a delay in the implementation of the plan,” the committee states in its report.

There is still work to do though. The law and rules on the authoritative statement of the (Lt.) Governor need to be assessed, personnel need to get customer service training.

Civil Registry

The Civil Registry has also made progress. All eight open functions have been filled and the Cabinet of the Governor has mandated the giving out of passports to the Head of the Civil Registry. Prime Minister Sarah Wescot-Williams stressed that particular success during a recent meeting with parliament.

“The implementation of the plan is on schedule and all of the steps should be rounded off by mid 2012.  The committee has advised though that minister of general affairs, the minister of labor and the minister of justice come to an agreement on how the Civil Registry links their files. This is essential for enrolment in the Piva system,” the report states.

Legal Affairs and Legislation

The Department of Legal Affairs had 10 of the 17 employees it needed when the report was filed in November. The committee that recruiting continues and is important because there could be a large loss of employees in 2013 when the three year appointments of many of the employees ends.

“The buildup is going according to plan. Other ministries are still getting used to the existence of the Department of Legal Affairs and legislation and they either engage them too late or pass over them. The committee recommends that investment be made in strengthening the position of the department within the government.”

Vromi Ministry

The recruitment of personnel to strengthen the Ministry of Housing, Spatial Planning, Environment and Infrastructure (Vromi) is going according to plan. The ministry expected to have 90 percent of vacancies filled by the end of 2011. Personnel were being trained and the effects of this were being seen. At the time of the report it still took three months or longer to get a permit from the ministry. This is a process the committee believes can be reduced to weeks. The committee expects that the improvement plan can be rounded half in the second half of 2012.

“The acting Secretary General and his staff are to be credited for the results that have been booked in the implementation of the improvement plan.”

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