Fourth publication on integrity issues in St. Maarten – Transparency International study ready by month’s end

POSTED: 07/15/15 11:23 PM


St. Maarten – Transparency International plans to publish its National Integrity System Assessment about St. Maarten towards the end of this month. “Following the extensive consultation period and many conversations with key stakeholders, we are currently putting the final touches to the report,” Natalie Baharav told this newspaper yesterday. “We are also in the process of arranging the logistical details of the report launch. We are aiming to publish the report towards the end of this month.”

The Transparency International team – consisting of Max Heywood, Natalie Baharav and Zoë Reiter – visited St. Maarten in December of last year. Reiter, the regional program manager for the Americas Department of TU said at the time that the team would leave the island “with a set of benchmarks as a basis for calling officials to account.”

In December, the planning was to publish the report towards the end of March, but in the end that proved to be not feasible. TI started working on the integrity assessment study in March of last year. Researchers came to the island in the months of August and September to collect data.

Max Heywood, the regional coordinator for Reiter’s department, said at the time that it was difficult to find studies containing data about the island. “That made the interviews with people on the island even more important,” he said.

St. Maarten contacted Transparency International in March 2013, after Kingdom Relations Minister Ronald Plasterk threatened with an instruction if the country did not get a grip on things. It took until December of that year before the government signed the contract with the international anti-corruption watchdog, but by that time all hell had already broken loose over the kingdom instruction to Governor Holiday to order an integrity investigation.

The government reacted by ordering an integrity investigation of its own. The report from the Bob Wit Committee is the result. The governor’s integrity probe, conducted by PricewaterhouseCoopers’ New York Office under the leadership of seasoned investigator Sam Nassaro and Sunita Saligram is the second report. The General Audit Chamber published in April of last year its Baseline Study Institutional Integrity Management.

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