Ministries “softening blow” in individual way

POSTED: 02/29/12 3:20 PM

St. Maarten – Five of the seven government ministries have provided parliament with information on how they are “softening the blow to the people.” The statements are a reply to a question from Independent Member of Parliament Patrick Illidge. The Ministry of Housing, Physical Planning, Environment and Infrastructure and the Justice Ministry were the only two not to respond to this question.

In its answer the ministry of Tourism, Economic Affairs, Transportation and Telecommunications announces that it is increasing controls and inspections to ensure consumers are protected, increasing efficiency and customer service, reviewing GEBE’s operations with an eye to implementing a lower base rate for utilities, securing increased airlift and using new marketing strategies to attract visitors thus ensuring jobs and revenue.

The Ministry of Education, Culture, Youth and Sport says their contribution is giving students study financing, continuing the Get off the Block, Get on the Bus, Get Busy program in order to “help participants to get started with moving on to their next station in life”, signing memorandums of understanding with tertiary institutions outside of St. Maarten to allow students to get reduced rates and focusing on getting students to study in the region, because the cost for this is “significantly lower.”

The Finance Ministry considers their work to engage and communicate with stakeholders on the reform of the tax system a means of giving “softening the blow.” Improving the service level at the tax administration is another highlighted effort.

“Not only is this aimed at softening the burden but in addition the result is striving to  provide better service to the people while developing a more transparent, and fair tax system geared towards increasing overall tax compliance,” the minister states in answers provided to members of parliament.

For its part the Ministry of Public Health, Social Development and Labor is softening the blow by providing programs for immaterial guidance, assisting with debt management and debt research, providing crisis care & 24 hours crisis care, running the “Employability through training” program, providing basic social work training as well as crisis care training, broadening of the scope of the Social Services department, tailoring service to the elderly, physically & mentally handicapped and doing research on the elderly. Other initiatives include creating an appointment-system for better customer service, piloting the “Public Service Centre”, doing a customer friendly training, implementing a complaint system and procedures at the Department of Social Affairs, running the Integrated Neighborhood Development Program, setting up an ambulance sub-station in Simpson Bay, opening Community Help Desks, serving as an international human rights platform, conducting a research on knowledge, attitude, perception and behavior regarding sexual activity and family planning needs and automating and integrating the ministry’s ICT system.

“As the axis for many departments in the area of personnel, ICT, Facility Affairs etc, the Ministry of General Affairs concerns itself very much with the service aspect of government. In addition, this Ministry oversees funding programs for all Ministries. Not to forget, the institutions that offer redress to citizens regarding government actions, such as the Ombudsman. The Minister of General Affairs also has a vested interest in the overall community development and bringing government to the people via the Department of Communication and outreach programs such as the neighborhood programs,” the minister of general affairs states in the answers.

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