St. Maarten Government’s personnel costs jump 20 percent in July

POSTED: 06/6/12 12:09 PM

St. Maarten / By Donellis Browne – Parliament’s recent unanimous approval of the national ordinance making July 1 – Emancipation Day – an official holiday means government must find an additional 100, 000 guilders to pay police, prison officers, the fire department and other services that will remain on duty during the holiday. That’s next to the 75, 000 guilders that has been set aside in the budget for the hosting of a celebration. The allocation forms part of the total budget of the Department of Culture, which forms part of the Ministry of Education, Culture Youth and Sport.
The explanatory note to the law also provides an indication of what the implementation of the new law will cost businesses. As part of the preparation of the law government conducted a quick scan among businesses. The results show that all together businesses will lose 1.5 million guilders in revenue on the particular day. Even though all respondents expect an increase in earnings either the day before or the day after the holiday, some 25 percent of businesses say they will be hurt by the closure. The other 75 percent do not expect the closure on the holiday will have a negative effect.
The matter of the cost for the holiday was taken up in the separate advices that were prepared by the Socio-Economic Council (Ser) and the Council of Advice (RvA). While the Ser trusts the government to present a realistic view of the financial repercussions of the new holiday, the Council of Advice pointed out that it could not find reference to the budgeted amount for hosting the ceremony. In its report on the advice government explains again that the reservation for the celebration is part of the budget under posts 62002, 62003, 62004 and 62005. The Department of Culture has also been informed it will be allowed to use an internal budget amendment in order to cover any additional costs that may arise.
While the Ser believes the government should inform the wider public about the importance of Emancipation Day and the content of the law making it a holiday they’ve called for government to put special focus on informing the youth and various ethnic groups that make St. Maarten their home about the cultural and historical significance of the day.
The Ser also stressed in its advice that civil servants and people in the private sector should have equal right to enjoy Emancipation Day as a holiday. The Ser’s advice also shows a disagreement over whether one of the current holidays should be removed from the list of holidays and replaced by Emancipation Day. According to the advice a minority believe that a day like Kingdom Day (December 15) should have been removed, but a majority believes that there should not be an exchange of one holiday for another.

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