“I got more color” Spies focuses on plans of approach in introductory meetings

POSTED: 02/14/12 3:49 PM

St. Maarten – The progress reports on the Plans of Approach dominated talks between Dutch Minister of Home Affairs and Kingdom Relations Liesbeth Spies and members of the Council of Ministers on Monday. The discussions started in an introductory meeting with the members of the cabinet and continued in a ministerial meeting that lasted into the early evening that focused on the report.

“The plans of approach took the most time as we spent time going through the report. The report we discussed covered the period July to September. A lot has happened since then so we took longer because we have to bring the minister up to date on the situation,” Prime Minister Sarah Wescot-Williams said.

The progress of things at the justice ministry is still of particular concern. This was emphasized by Minister Spies and was also a point hammered by Justice Minister Roland Duncan, who has previously decried the state of cooperation on justice matters. That has led to agreements for parties on both sides to consult with their cabinet colleagues – Spies with Dutch Minister of Justice and Security Ivo Opstelten and Duncan with Finance Minister Hiro Shigemoto – on how they work on accomplishing the plans.

Spies admitted to having polite but sever discussions with Duncan where parties agreed to focus not just on what St. Maarten asks of the Kingdom partners, but what they also ask of  St. Maarten.

“We made plans that there should be improvement. Today we did not focus on the past. We talked about the future. It is too optimistic to say we made agreements but we have made a new appointment for March,” Spies said.

Prime Minister Wescot-Williams made sure to also assert a reminder that there is a means for the cooperation on the plans of approach to continue based on agreements made before and just after October 10, 2010 – the date St. Maarten became a country. Those agreements allow for a two year prolongation of the plans if the country clearly outlines the reasoning for the extension to happen.

Praise

Some of the concern about the country’s finances seems to have lifted, with Spies praising Prime Minister Wescot-Williams and Finance Minister Hiro Shigemoto for the progress being made with the government’s finances.

“I have a great appreciation for how St. Maarten is moving. The finances from last year to now are much improved and I must give a big compliment to the prime minister and finance minister for the progress. It is good to see you want to strengthen your financial base,” Spies said.

Getting Acquainted

Monday’s meeting allowed Spies and the cabinet to get acquainted. She leaves for Saba today having gotten “more color” and having set up the contacts necessary for video conferences, emails and telephone calls in the future.

“I hope this visit gives us a basis for cooperation in our Kingdom even though we have a lot of work to do on our own task. It’s been a pleasure to meet and to work on intensifying cooperation. I got more color because when you really talk with each other, you really get more information,” Spies said.

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