Committee discusses beaches, permits behind closed doorsPOSTED: 03/12/15 12:43 PM
St. Maarten – The permanent parliamentary committee for Tourism, Economic Affairs, Transport & Telecommunication will meet in a closed door session tomorrow at 2 p.m. to discuss the beach policy and public access to the country’s beaches. The committee will also discuss the moratorium on bus, taxi and tour bus licenses and the recommendations on this issue from the PricewaterhouseCoopers integrity report.
The PwC-report recommends the creation of a national decree that outlines a minister’s authority to lift moratoriums and require that all subsequent licenses are awarded according to a queue.
The report established that ministers of Tourism, Economic Affairs, Transport and Telecommunication have undue influence over who will receive a bus, taxi or tour bus license.
“Moratoriums should only be lifted if there is a public need and if the lift will benefit the common good,” the report states. “Ministers should exercise their authority to lift moratoriums in an objective manner and parliament should hold ministers accountable to acting objectively.”
The recommendation furthermore states that if a moratorium is lifted “licenses should be granted according to a queue and not to specific entities or individuals instructed by the minister. Policy should not be amended by minister-instruction and all policy departments should be encouraged to objectively evaluate the need to amend policy and include their opinion (positive or negative) in an advice.”
If safety concerns are raised in such an advice, the recommendation continues, and the minister still executes the lift, “he should be required to provide written justification to the relevant departments. Specifically for public transportation licenses, the ministry should clearly articulate a policy that requires bus and public transportation licenses to be issued in line with queue priority. Any license granted to individuals outside the established queue should also require a written justification by the authorizing minister.”
The PwC-report furthermore recommends establishing a public roster of license-holders. “This would prevent a single person from holding multiple licenses, and it would make it more difficult for ministers to distribute licenses as personal favors or political tools. A public roster would also increase the likelihood that licenses are granted to the intended recipients.”