St. Maarten Justice-related departments escape austerity measures

POSTED: 02/3/16 6:17 PM

St. Maarten News – The austerity-driven 2016 draft budget has hit some departments and organizations pretty hard, but justice-related ones have in general been spared and given higher budgets.

Standing out is the national security service VDSM. It spent 1.6 million guilders in 2015, out of its 2.4 million budget. This year the country’s secret police will have 4.1 million guilders to spend – an increase over last year’s budget of 70 percent.

The National Detective Agency (Landsrecherche, not to be confused with the RST) sees its budget shoot up 59.5 percent from 1.7 to 2.7 million. Last year the NDA spent 1.4 million.

The police force also gets more money. It overspent its 2015 22.2 million guilders budget by 2 million, and it will get 24.7 million this year –and increase of 11.4 percent.

Pointe Blanche – the house of detention and the prison – gets 19 percent more money. It spent 12.5 million last year, almost 3 million above its 9.8 million budget. This year there is 11.7 million available – more than the 2015 budget, but still below its real expenditures.

Immigration and Border Patrol finds itself in a similar situation. It gets 8.7 million guilders this year, 11.7 percent above the 2015 budget of 7.8 million, but it spent 9.4 million last year.

Customs also gets more money: 3 million, compared to 2.6 million last year, when it actually spent 2.7 million. The increase is 13.8 percent.

The MOT (the financial intelligence unit) on the other hand has to give up 15 percent of its 2 million guilders budget. It will get 1.7 million this year, still 200,000 more than it spent last year.

The budget for the Public Prosecutor’s Office remains unchanged at 2 million; the office of the Attorney General is in the budget for 592,000 guilders – on a par with 2015. The country’s contribution to the Common Court of Justice is 4,451,000 guilders, almost 67,000 guilders more than last year.

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