Published On: Tue, Apr 18th, 2017

“We want discussion, not instruction”

Civil Servants at information session

PM Marlin at info session for top civil servants:

“We want discussion, not instruction”

GREAT BAY (DCOMM) – The Council of Ministers hosted an information session last Friday for the secretaries general of the seven ministries and their management team, cabinet staff and the staff of the secretariat of the Council of Ministers.

The main agenda points of the session were the governing program; integrity and the plans of the Dutch government towards establishing an Integrity Chamber on St. Maarten and their recent appointment of a Dutch integrity quartermaster and an update on the budget 2017.

The Council found it essential to inform the key leaders and advisors of the organization in person about these matters.

Prime Minister William Marlin spoke about the governing program and integrity, while Minister of Finance Richard Gibson Sr. elaborated on the budget.

Both Ministers stressed the importance of the role of each civil servant in the process of making St. Maarten great. The session was well attended; the Council of Ministers will conduct similar information sessions in the near future to safeguard transparency and open communication with and within the organization.

Both the Council of Ministers as well as the ministers on an individual basis will ensure that the civil servants receive the required information necessary to fulfill their tasks and responsibilities.

The Prime Minister showed how the governing program has come into existence, how it is to be used and what the next steps to be taken are.

The governing program Stability for Prosperity is the product of a workgroup consisting of members of the three different political parties – National Alliance, United St. Maarten Party and the Democratic Party – which all want to address different issues in different ways.

The common ground among all three parties were identified and written down in the program. The secretaries general and the cabinet members all provided their input in finalizing the program.

The success of the governing program depends on all the civil servants acting as the managers of the process while focusing on certain priorities, Marlin said.

“You are here because we want to emphasize that you are important in the execution of the governing program. It is about liking your job. We are already in March and we are already executing. It is a government for four years and we may begin in 2017 and certain things may run over in 2018, 2019 and 2020.

“For now, the concentration is on what should be done in 2017 and this should be in sync with the governing program, but more important it should be in sync with your budget.”

The importance of following up on advices and decisions taken by the Council of Ministers was elucidated upon. “The progress has to be meaningful and important to you. You should follow up on decisions of the Council of Ministers, you should execute, you have to be proactive,” the prime minister said.

Marlin said that there is a major difference in interpretation of integrity and how to deal with it between St. Maarten and the Dutch.

“Integrity breach in the Netherlands is considered fraud by the Dutch while integrity breach in St. Maarten is considered corruption by the Dutch. St. Maarten wants discussion, not instruction.”

“St. Maarten is only a six years old country and it needs space, room and opportunity to handle the integrity issues her own way, respecting her circumstances and situation, learning along the lines.”

He acknowledged that there are integrity issues on St. Maarten, but the country decides what to accept and how to deal with unacceptable things. An Integrity Chamber should not be single handedly imposed by the Dutch government, Marlin said.

Management was urged to continue to provide service in an integer manner to the public.

Minister of Finance Richard Gibson personally thanked each civil servant for their contribution. Today’s budget surplus would not have been possible without each one of them, yet he stressed that a lot more work needs to be done.

He pledged financial assistance to the youth, the prison, the tax department and the Ministry of Vromi. Management was tasked with the responsibility to prioritize their capital investment plans and projects for final decision making by the Council of Ministers.

“The exercise is needed for St. Maarten to take advantage of the opportunity to apply for a 30 million guilders loan to be approved by the board for financial supervision (Cft). This becomes the first time since 2014 that St. Maarten can borrow for capital expenditures and make investments so the gross domestic product can grow”, the minister said.

Caption photo above: Top civil servants at the information session last Friday. Photo contributed