Today’s Opinion: Priorities

POSTED: 06/1/11 12:21 PM

Finance Minister had joined the chorus of politicians who see positive developments in the economy, in spite of the fact that the research department of the Central Bank has produced a report stating that the economy will stay flat this year and that there is a real possibility that the year will end with negative growth.
Yes, spending by tourists is down and there is a good reason for that. Cruise companies have managed to film up their vessels by dropping their rates dramatically. Thus they attracted a different category of vacationers, people with less money in their pocket. And even though the arrival numbers are up, revenues are down. So there is no reason to celebrate at all.
The increase in numbers only confirms that the cruise companies have managed to fill up their boats. The numbers say more about the marketing strategy of these companies then about the popularity of St. Maarten as a cruise destination.
Shigemoto has also made a public statement about law enforcement that warrants further scrutiny. There is a need to make improving legislation a priority, the Minister said, suggesting that this is necessary to deal with the crime situation.
It is a pity that the minister did not specify on which point legislation needs to be improved and how this will help the fight against crime.
Last time we looked, penalties for serious crimes are still serious. Today there are a couple of criminals in court who face between 22 and 30 years imprisonment. Those penalties do no help to fight crime at all, because punishment only becomes an issue after a crime has been committed.
For the prevention of crime our police force needs more officers and better equipment. Maybe Minister Shigemoto ought to discuss this issue over dinner one night with Justice Minister Duncan. Up to now, the expansion of the law enforcement agencies is slow in coming. The plans are there, but the people that are part of these plans have yet to arrive.
We are left wondering what exactly Minister Shigemoto means by improving legislation. As far as we know, the new penal code is ready to be handled in the Parliament. Question: why is this not happening?
We know that due to understaffing on several levels certain investigations are shelved – or maybe queued is a better word. But for how long? We’re thinking about the vote-selling investigation, the Maria Buncamper-case, the Bobby Velasquez rape-allegation, and so on. It seems that on a certain level our decision makers are not too unhappy with the understaffing issue; otherwise they would have done something about it a long time ago.
Now, with the recent and – we have to admit rather shocking – robbery at the home of former Minister Buncamper-Molanus – law enforcement has yet another urgent case on its plate.
We realize that proper legislation is important, but even more important are the men and women in blue, the manpower at the prosecutor’s office, the national detective agency, the prison cell capacity and the staffing at the court. In other words, there is enough to do and we are eagerly awaiting the results of all these efforts our politicians are making.

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