PM confirms: oversight committee security service established in April

POSTED: 08/1/13 12:52 PM

St. Maarten – Without saying it in so many words, Prime Minister Sarah Wescot-Williams confirmed yesterday that before April of this year there actually was no functioning oversight committee for the beleaguered National Security Service VDSM. The service is currently entangled in a controversy because a huge amount of money has disappeared.

Parliament President Drs. Gracita Arrindell, who is a member of the oversight committee, told this newspaper on July 19 that the committee was established on April 13 and that the service has never published public annual reports as it is duty-bound to do.

“That particular date is when the response came from the Common Court of Justice about its candidates for the committee,” Wescot-Williams said. “The committee has been there but the last nominations were around that time.”

The PM said that the establishment of the committee does not require a national decree. “The ordinance says: there is a committee, and from that premise, once the members were nominated, you had the committee-members by name. The chair was definitely indicated in April.”

The Prime Minister said that it is up to the committee-chair (Judge Selma Verheijen – ed.) to send out a letter to the members. It is the responsibility of the committee to indicate how it is going to function and to meet. But I am not aware of any correspondence of that type.”

The Prime Minister again declined to be specific about the state of affairs in the investigation into irregularities at the VDSM. It is certain that this involves a lot of money, but other than indicating that the number is “quite high” Wescot-Williams remained tightlipped.

“I am looking at the steps that have to be taken and I will keep the public informed as far as that is possible.”

The PM said that the central committee of parliament will deal next week Thursday (August 8) with a proposal to amend the ordinance for the security service. The amendment takes the position of the president of parliament in the oversight committee away and puts the authority to nominate a candidate in the hands of the chairman of the constitutional court, Judge Bob Wit.

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