Shigemoto says crime report is “beyond alarming”

POSTED: 01/16/12 12:56 PM

St. Maarten – “Beyond alarming,” Finance Minister Hiro Shigemoto said about the Ipol-report Crime Analysis of St. Maarten that was released last week. The Minister said that he was yet to read the report in its entirety but opined that the magnitude of organized crime it suggests could have serious implications for the economy. “The situation is beyond alarming, it has a negative effect on the main pillar of our economy which is tourism but also on our residents. It is an issue which will have to be tackled on several fronts.”

Minister Shigemoto cautioned that people ought to be careful to make the distinction between facts and assertions in the report. “We have to deal with facts because many rumors are going around, quite a few times they also mention ‘cannot be proven’…we have to be careful because this is a small island and rumors get around.”

The report suggests that mass immigration, money laundering and social security fraud are crippling proper economic growth. St. Maarten still has to develop policies and upgrade its resources to deal with criminality, the report concludes.

The Criminal Investigation and Audit Chamber, the MOT and anti-money laundering legislation will go a long way towards exposing organized crime the Minister said, adding that the government has already started putting measures in place to deal with crime. He has made the case for residents to help the current administration in fighting crime and corruption. “Soon we will have the cameras in Philipsburg, Minister Duncan is working on his police force but we also need the help of residents. If you see something, report it.”

Tax evasion by big businesses may have cost the government millions of guilders between 2008 and 2010. That money, the report suggests, could have been channeled into programs to stem youth criminality and the linking of all government registration systems.

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