Prime Minister has nothing but smooth answers to integrity questions

POSTED: 10/2/14 11:24 PM

St. Maarten – Prime Minister Sarah Wescot-Williams had nothing but smooth answers to questions about the PricewaterhouseCoopers integrity report yesterday but then, her term in office comes to an end just eight days from now and from the way things stand now, she will not have to deal with it from an executive position anymore.

Wescot-Williams said that the government is ready to take over the recommendations from the PWC-integrity report, adding that the new government that will soon take office also ought to get an opportunity to react to it. “We need to put a proper structure in place to carry out the recommendations,” the prime minister said. “The task ahead is daunting and we need to set priorities.”

Wescot-Williams repeated what she had already indicated earlier, that a monitoring process is important. “The government, the parliament, and social and civil stakeholders should all be involved,” she said. We need a commitment of our country to clean up our act. The people of St. Maarten should take this upon them.”

To specific questions however, Wescot-Williams gave vague, if not evasive answers. Confronted with the findings in the report that ministers almost habitually interfere in the day-to-day operations of their ministries, she said, “I can imagine that very well,” adding that government-processes are very slow and that therefore queries almost automatically end up with the responsible minister. “The line between the civil service and what ministers do is not as sharp as it maybe ought to be,” she said.

The decision by Minister Plasterk to send a Supervisor Integrity to the island also met with an evasive answer in the sense that the prime minister did not express any sentiment in favor or against such an initiative. Wescot-Williams pointed out that whatever the Kingdom Council of Ministers decides to do, it has to be within the realm of the law and the stipulations laid down in the Kingdom Charter.

“I am keenly awaiting the reaction from the Kingdom government,” the prime minister said.

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