Monday, September 29, 2014 - 16:17
St. Maarten ministers too powerful; integrity issues
With reporting by Janene van Jaarsveldt. A report by accountancy firm PriceWaterhouseCoopers on the integrity in St. Maarten, paints a picture of a tiny island with Government officials with immeasurable powers and no institutes to police failing legislation. PWC was commissioned by Kingdom Relations Minister Ronald Plasterk to carry out its research into integrity matters at the island’s Government and Government owned companies. The firm looked at vulnerable sectors like the gambling industry, prostitution, immigration, infrastructural works and big tenders. PwC examined the integrity within the government of St. Maarten as well as a number of public companies on the island. According to the investigators the lack of proper legislation, rules and enforcement are the cause that integrity issues go unpunished in St. Maarten. St. Maarten, the report stated, is also a haven for international human trafficking and money laundering practices. It said Ministers and other highly placed officials often meddle in matters relating to employment and residence permits, business licenses, in favor of family and friends. Ministers have uncontrollable powers in their ministries and advice from lower ranking civil servants more often not goes ignored or dumped with no reason given. The report quotes one minister who said he is surprised every day by the amount of power he wields. St. Maarten, formerly one of the Dutch Antilles, attained the status of Country within the Kingdom of the Netherlands per October 10, 2010. It is the smallest country in the Kingdom.