21 JANUARY 2017
THE HAGUE–Dutch Minister of Home Affairs and Kingdom Relations Ronald Plasterk is keeping St. Maarten to the protocol signed in May 2015 to establish an Integrity Chamber for the island. “It is in the best interest of the people of St. Maarten,” he said on Friday.
Plasterk was clearly not deterred by St. Maarten Prime Minister William Marlin’s remarks that the local Government had not been officially informed of the Dutch Council of Ministers decision last week Friday to appoint recently-resigned Dutch Tax Office Director-General and former Commander of the Royal Dutch Marechaussees Hans Leijtens as quartermaster for the Integrity Chamber.
“This has been discussed extensively on official level. If we don’t make a move, nothing will happen. It has been a year and a half since we signed a protocol after a long discussion, and we can’t go on in this manner,” Plasterk told The Daily Herald after Friday’s Kingdom Council of Ministers meeting.
He repeated his dismay about the delay in establishing the Integrity Chamber, an independent body that will have autonomous competencies to give advice and make recommendations in matters regarding integrity within Government, and have the authority to initiate investigations and file a report.
“We made a clear, signed agreement with the then-Prime Minister and Minister of Justice, with the initials below each page. At that time it was unknown to me that the Constitutional Court was to pass judgement on the law to establish the Integrity Chamber. I would have liked to know that beforehand,” said Plasterk.
“The Constitutional Court decided that some aspects have to be changed, which is fine. That is a matter St. Maarten has to take care of. But nothing happened after that. St. Maarten has not presented a proposal to adapt the law. This is not the way we treat each other.”
He said it was in everyone’s interest that agreements were executed. “We are contributing to something that is important for the St. Maarten people and the Kingdom in general in the form of integrity in all four countries of the Kingdom, in this case for St. Maarten,” he said.
Asked whether an instruction was looming for the St. Maarten Government, Plasterk said this was not the preferred route. “I am more in favour of keeping to the agreement. If that agreement is executed, an instruction will not be necessary,” he said, referring to the National Ordinance that St. Maarten would need to pass to establish the Integrity Chamber.
The Kingdom Government can still decide to impose a so-called General Measure of the Kingdom Government “Algemene Maatregel van Rijksbestuur” (AMvRB) if the National Ordinance does not materialise. The AMvRB to instruct St. Maarten to set up an Integrity Chamber is still at the Council of State for advice pending the securing of the Chamber via national legislation.
Having an Integrity Chamber is in the best interest of everyone, especially the St. Maarten people, said Plasterk. “It is important for the people to know that [their – Ed.] business is handled truthfully, and that a separation is made between the underworld and upper world,” he said.
Plasterk, who will visit St. Maarten late February, did not want to comment on the practical aspects of the introduction of the Integrity Chamber. Quartermaster Leijtens is supposed to start his new job on January 23, according to a release from the Senior Civil Service “Algemene Bestuursdienst” (ABD), an organisation made up of the most senior civil servants within the Dutch Government.
Source: The Daily Herald, St. Maarten