Duncan attacks “nit picking” by the governor’s cabinet

POSTED: 06/15/12 12:49 PM

BOB-legislation and other ordinances awaiting signatures

St. Maarten – Justice Minister Roland Duncan opened a vigorous attack on what he called “nit picking” at the cabinet of the governor and within departments of the civil service. “The flow of decision making is one of the biggest problems of St. Maarten and I am inclined to think that at certain levels this nit picking is done deliberately.”

Minister Duncan made his statements in the central committee yesterday morning that dealt with thirteen draft ordinances under the Civil Code.

Several pieces of legislation that have been approved by the parliament are stuck at the Governor’s cabinet, Duncan said. Among them is the ordinance on joint custody, but also the critical ordinance on special investigation methods (the so-called BOB-ordinance).

“There seems to be confusion at the Cabinet of the ‘governor about how to treat these ordinances,” Duncan said. “They were returned with questions. I think it is a mixture of inexperience in these matters as well as unfortunately the cabinet taking on more duties than it should.”

Duncan said that there is in general confusion about what needs to happen after the parliament has approved legislation. “I don’t think it is proper for the cabinet to withhold a signature because there are mistakes. Life is full of mistakes. They corrected the Bible several times because there were mistakes. We have repair-legislation for that. we need to trust each other and remember that there is a ministerial responsibility to deal with laws.”

The minister referred to the fate of the BOB-ordinance. “In Curacao and in Aruba it has been signed and in St. Maarten it is not signed yet because I need to assure and prove that they are uniform. We have been through a whole year of negotiations and arguments and discussions with the three ministers and with the parliaments. We have sent confirmations to each other that the ordinance is uniform. Why do we have to prove that they are uniform? They are supposed to be, and they are.”

Duncan said that he is setting up a meeting with the cabinet and with the legal affairs department to agree on a procedure for the promulgation of legislation.”

The minister went on to note that there are ‘a lot of dramatic actions in St. Maarten.” these actions, he said, “are based on inexperience and on the way people are interpreting their role in these processes.”

Though he said he wanted to express his opinion delicately, the minister added that civil servants are holding things back because they don’t agree with them and don’t sign papers if they do not agree.

The minister also expressed his frustration with the governor’s cabinet. “You can’t write In Naam der Koningin. It has to be In Naam van de Koningin. They are nit picking; there is a beautiful word for that it Dutch; according to the Supreme Court it is not insulting if you use it in the proper context,” he said, without providing the expression he referred to (mierenneuken – ed.).

Democratic Party MP Roy Marlin pointed to a document Aruba has developed to regulate the procedures for national ordinances. Minister Duncan said that there is a script for this in St. Maarten as well, but that it needs fine-tuning.

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