St. Maarten Government begins rounding off plans of approach

POSTED: 06/12/12 12:50 PM

Dutch Minister of Home Affairs and Kingdom Relations Liesbeth Spies makes a point during a joint press conference with Prime Minister Sarah Wescot-Williams following Monday’s round of meetings at the Government Administration Building in Philipsburg.

St. Maarten – Justice Minister Roland Duncan has said that he believes that the Immigration Department and the National Detectives no longer need to be covered by plans of approach. But he does believe that the police and prison will need more time to complete the targets that have been set in their plans of approach. The statement was made after Monday’s ministerial consultation on the implementation of the plans of approach. That meeting has led to an agreement on the termination of some of these plans in 2012. A definitive decision on which ones will be continued and which have reached a successful end will be made in September based on the quarterly assessment that is submitted by Progress Committee in July.

Monday’s talks follow a decision in principle by the Kingdom Council of Ministers to formulate a decree on the continuation of the plans of approach. Each plan covers a two year period and the decree for them to be continued for, at the maximum, another two years must be published two months before the continuation begins. It is up to the responsible ministers – General Affairs, Housing, Physical Planning, Environment and Infrastructure (Vromi) and Justice – to indicate whether they believe that the plan can be ended or if they will need to spread the implementation over a longer period.

St. Maarten is now on its sixth report since implementation of the plans of approach began on October 10, 2010. Prime Minister Sarah Wescot-Williams says these latest reports show that the implementation of most of the plans is “well underway and will be completed by October.”

“A great deal will meet the first two year period, but we need an update on the plans. So the reports on where we are will allow for a formal decision by the minister and then the progress committee will make a recommendation. Mind you, the extension does not mean that it will take another two years for a plan to be finished. At any point it can be determined that a plan is completed,” Wescot-Williams said.

Dutch Minister of Home Affairs and Kingdom Relations believes it is important to reach agreement on what plans will end and what plans will continue by July. She is also clear that she sees no reason why the country should not be given more time to complete a particular area if they need it.

“We completely agreed that a lot has been done and a lot has not been done. It’s a good sign that things will be actualized, but we need the reports so that we can decide in September,” Spies said.

Introductions

The Dutch minister began her morning with a brief meeting with Prime Minister Wescot-Williams, followed by a meeting with the members of Wescot-Williams II cabinet. Each of the attending ministers was able to give an outline of their ideas for the way forward. There was also a general discussion on the economy, employment and the state of government’s finances.

“I congratulated the new government on behalf of the Dutch government. As you can see we have elections in the Netherlands on September 12, but here you can have a new government without elections. I was pleased to meet the new ministers and talk about the new plans of the government and I wish them much success to achieve their ambitions,” Spies said.

The matter of the government’s finances and the Central Bank of Curacao and St. Maarten was also the focus of a separate meeting between Spies, Prime Minister Wescot-Williams and Finance Minister Roland Tuitt. Spies left the meeting convinced that Tuitt “will do what is necessary” to bring the country’s finances into order. She expects to get more specific details during a meeting of the Kingdom Council of Ministers on July 13. By then there’ll be a report on how things went in 2011 and projections for how they will develop in 2012.

Tuitt said the discussions on the Central Bank focused on some “strategic issues” that he could not elaborate on until the Council of Ministers takes some concrete decisions.

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