Implementation of country St. Maarten Plan of Approach going well, but challenges persist

POSTED: 06/22/11 12:03 PM

St. Maarten – Dutch Minister of Home Affairs and Kingdom Relations Piet Hein Donner says the second quarterly report on the Plans of Approach is positive overall. He’s also said the monitoring committee has reported there are still challenges with recruitment, the procedures to implement the plans and the capacity for implementing the plans.

These main conclusions have not led to any amending of the plans and parties have agreed to accept them as they are. There is also a commitment from St. Maarten’s side to complete activities set for earlier quarters as soon as possible. For example work was to start on the renovation of the Pointe Blanche prison in January. The project has not started yet because there is nowhere to move the prisoners to. Justice Minister Roland Duncan has promised yet again, once the renovations at the police station in Simpson Bay are complete.

Duncan has also informed Donner that the ministry has hired implementation managers to guide the execution of the various plans of approach. He also pointed out that recruitment is well underway.

“Probably by next week – June 27 – or somewhere around there we will start with a training course for like 88 trainees that we have. We’re having psychological tests right now,” Duncan said.

The group that emerges after the psychological tests will be given an entry level course that fits all uniform services – Police, Customs, and Immigration etc. That course for auxiliary police officer will be in English, with Dutch as a second language. Once the participants complete that course they will be able to specialize in a specific area. Duncan anticipates the bulk of candidates will try to be police.

Donner reported these main conclusions about the Plans of Approach on Tuesday at the end of his working visit to St. Maarten. Parties will meet on the plans again in September, but that conversation may be by video conference.

During his visit Donner met with the Prime Minister and Justice Minister and then had a discussion with the Prime Minister, Vice Prime Minister and the Finance Minister. All of these talks have left Donner with one overwhelming feeling.

“I respect the way the government is handling the task of building the country. It is really something. My hope now is that the budget will be accepted on June 29 so there will be a basis for implementing the policies,” Donner said.

Finance Minister Hiro Shigemoto is full of good hope for the 2011 budget and also told Donner that the 2012 budget should be approved by Parliament before the end of the year.

There was no discussion on the appointment of Michel Soons as St. Maarten’s representative on the board of the Committee for Financial Supervision. Donner confirmed receiving the government’s letters and has promised a reply. He won’t discuss why the appointment has not taken place until his answer is sent.

Parties also discussed the Kingdom Conference that Curacao will host later this year. There’s no firm date for the meeting as yet. Donner requested Prime Minister Sarah Wescot-Williams to state as soon as possible the items St. Maarten wants on the agenda for the meeting. He also revealed that the Dutch government has yet to establish what they want on the agenda.


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