Opinion: Open government

POSTED: 07/27/14 11:05 PM

Dear Editor,

The perception of the power of the politician in St. Maarten stems from the notion to grant privileges and benefits to preferred voters and vice versa.  For that reason, many believe that politicians are not in favor of transparency.  As a youngster, involved with many different youth organizations, I was always told the importance of transparency.  For this reason I have decided to champion the cause of open government.

At some point, most of you have read or heard via the media by many candidates that they stand for integrity; but do they really understand the meaning of the word?  By definition integrity means: “the quality of being honest and having strong moral principles.”  The expectation of the voters of St. Maarten when electing a political party to power is based on the principle that the elected will serve its country and all its people with respect and courteousness (integrity); as well as an open government, one that is transparent.

By having an open government that is transparent to the community, allows opportunity for all its citizens to become involved in helping with the development as they too should have a say of the country. As a motto, I always believed that the people deserve to know. By informing the people, we eliminate the illusion of political power that is believed to be misused by elected officials to blind or keep voters in the dark.

With an open government the citizens will have the right to access certain documents and proceedings of the government which allow for effective public oversight. As public officials we have a responsibility to ensure that Government regulations, policies and procedures are as clear as possible to its constituents, withholding nothing.

There are often complaints and criticism regarding the process/procedures of handling certain government affairs: for example the acquiring of a government land, building permit, business license, work permit etc.  The concerns are the lack of information available to the public, which leads to frustration.  I am no exception of the frustration that is caused by the lack of information and more so the back and forth from one department to the next and still did not receive the assistance needed.

As a champion for open Government, if elected, I will do my utmost to ensure that there is transparency within the new governing party.

Gerard M.C. Richardson

DP candidate # 10.

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