Integrity Bureau and Tourism Authority potential highlights governing program

POSTED: 01/9/13 11:04 PM

St. Maarten -Last September Governor Eugene Holiday hinted at some of the government’s plans for this year and made it even clearer that some programs will definitely form part of the governing program. The program is scheduled to be unveiled next Wednesday at the Government Administration Building.

Highlights of the governing program are expected to include the Integrity Bureau and the Tourism Authority that should have been established as of January 1.

A Council for the Elderly and a Human Rights Platform as well as a public services center in Simpson Bay are also to come on-stream. Pension reform, including the increase of the retirement age from 60 to 62 in combination with adjusted pension-benefits are also effective in 2013.

The revision of the foreign employment policy which will see focus on the dismissal law, employment agencies and curbing the use of 6-month labor contracts, is expected to take place this year.

To strengthen its bilateral relations, the government intends to establish a foreign relations commission and further strengthen its foreign relations directorate.

The complete overhaul of the tax system originally planned for this year will however go into effect in 2014. The first phase of the overhaul, expected in this year, should provide direct financial relief and give more spending power to those citizens that earn a maximum of 5,000 guilders ($2,973) per month.

The construction of affordable homes, the development of the marine park and the designation of Emilio Wilson Estate as a terrestrial park are also expected to be featured in the governing program.

The government’s energy policy including the use of alternative energy (solar and wind) should be outlined in detail. It includes a net metering policy that will enable citizens to sell electricity they generate back to the utility company, GEBE. The waste to energy plant on Pond Island also features in the government’s plans.

The setting up of a stock exchange and the elusive Gaming Control Board as well as compliance with the requirements of the Financial Action Task Force regulations are also to be highlighted in the governing program.

The current NA/DP/ Independent coalition government has no more than 1.5 years left to implement its plans before new elections are called in the latter part of 2014.

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