Commissioner Buncamper has fruitful meeting with Antillean Met Office Officials

 Commissioner Buncamper has fruitful meeting with Antillean Met Office Officials regarding National Meteorological Service for St. Maarten

Commissioner of Economic Affairs Maria Buncamper-Molanus, described her meeting with a delegation from the Meteorological Service of the Netherlands Antilles & Aruba as a success. "We had a fruitful meeting where I was informed about the numerous duties and the staffing of the St. Maarten Met Branch. An overview of the St. Maarten operation and the improvements made since June 2008 was presented," Commissioner of Economic Affairs Maria Buncamper-Molanus told the Government Information Service (GIS) on Sunday.

The meeting that took place between Acting Chief of the St. Maarten Met Office Eugenio and Director Albert Martis, Commissioner Buncamper, Sector Director of Economic Affairs Miguel De Weever and Senior Advisor to Commissioner Buncamper Ruth Boyrard-Brewster, was held to discuss the requirements for the establishment of the National Meteorological Service for St. Maarten.

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Commissioner Buncamper added that since the responsibilities of the Central Government meteorological service will be transferred to the Island Territory as of July 1, 2009, the Island Territory is busy preparing for the transfer.

The transfer of tasks and responsibilities is based on the November 24, 2008 agreement that was signed between the Island Territory and the Central Government.

St. Maarten will receive the responsibilities from the Federal Government with the exception of those related to conventions and international agreements. As was suggested earlier, during the video conference between the Council of Ministers and the Executive Council of St. Maarten, a platform will be established that will further work out the transfer of the meteorological services scheduled for July 1st.

The Commissioner pointed out that this will be a good platform where knowledge and experience will be exchanged among the islands, enhancing the understanding regarding management and the international affairs of a National Meteorological Service. Furthermore management of the Met office offered the commissioner the possibility to send students and personnel for additional training and preparation in Curaçao if needed.

Commissioner Buncamper-Molanus stated that she welcomed the work that has been done during the past months and commends the new director for giving St. Maarten’s branch office more attention. The commissioner emphasized that work will continue to explore the options of making St. Maarten a full fledged Meteorological Center which undoubtedly will have alliances with other Met offices including the future Curacao establishment.

"Our point of departure which is also shared by Director Albert Martis is that we assume the responsibility ourselves, this is the case for all Central Government services and where we are unable to or if it is more feasible to work with others, not excluding country Curacao, we will do so. But it must be understood that St. Maarten must build its own services, improve and increase its own knowledge base, in this specific case offer career prospects in meteorology.

"In other words St. Maarten must embrace this constitutional reform process to equip its own people to handle its own affairs. St. Maarten has the chance now to create job opportunities for St. Maarten people, students studying abroad, like Joel Pierre, in jobs that fall within the middle and high income bracket, hence settling to purchase services from others will not bring us to that level," Commissioner of Economic Affairs Maria Buncamper-Molanus told the Government Information Service (GIS) on Sunday.

The service according to Martis and Commissioner Buncamper provided by the Netherlands Antilles Meteorological Service in which the observers of the St. Maarten’s branch office gather local information and disseminate meteorological products, is of good quality. However the building on St. Maarten which houses the dependence has not been able to function independently, thus remaining dependent on the main office in Curacao. In addition, for years moneys requested to be placed on the Central Government budget were repeatedly removed leaving the building and as a result the working conditions in a deplorable situation.

But there is good news as equipment has been renewed and after eleven years the radar Doppler has been returned to St. Maarten after being damaged during the hurricane in1998. While not yet erected the work has started for the radar to be put in place within the coming months. As St. Maarten would like to consider establishing a full fledged Met Service, requirements were discussed to be able to perform the additional duties. These requirements include the qualification for operational meteorologists, the meteorological technicians, management personnel and housing of the Service.

Also the concept of cost recovery for meteorological services was considered as a mean to generate revenue for the Service.

In the concluding remarks the Commissioner stated that although St. Maarten will continue the process of setting up a National Met Service, there will be always a way of cooperation with other Met Services, especially within the Kingdom, to ensure the quality of meteorological services for the general public and the relevant sectors of St. Maarten.