Presentation by Commissioner Frans Richardson during Thursday’s Island Council Meeting


The following is the Presentation by Commissioner Frans Richardson during Thursday’s Island Council Meeting that was held at the Legislative Hall.

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I.C. Meeting / April 22, 2010 – continuation of meeting of 14-04-10 on SLAs a.o.

Elucidation / Presentation by Commissioner Frans Richardson

Transition tasks

Mr. Chairman, as we continue to prepare for country status, there has been the need to transfer, besides the Tourism & Economic affairs on island level, the responsibilities of Netherlands Antilles authorities, where it regards a number of areas. These include the tasks and responsibilities of Telecommunications & Post, Transportation, Meteorological services and "Ijkwezen" (Inspection and Control /Measurements).

Mr. Chairman, for St. Maarten this means the transition from sector Economy and Tourism to a ministry of tourism, economic affairs, transportation and communications.

Mr. Chairman, the Executive Council earlier this month – on the 13th to be exact — approved proposals for the transition of tasks for the new ministry of tourism, economic affairs, traffic and telecommunications for country St. Maarten.

The Executive Council also approved an overview provided of the transfer of legislation by the Netherlands Antilles to the new ministry as well as the terms of the required legislation, Central Government tasks, policy, work instructions and procedures per department of the new ministry.

Based on the decision of the Executive Council, the Council of Ministers of the Netherlands Antilles is being requested to transfer all tasks of the new ministry to the Executive Council of St. Maarten as per July 1, 2010.

The Council of Ministers is additionally asked to transfer the respective budgets and incomes related to the ministry, to the island government of St. Maarten takes place, as of July 1, 2010.

Mr. Chairman, another request is that the Antillean government immediately makes available personnel of the various dependencies on St. Maarten to the Executive Council.

Pragmatic approach

A workgroup of the sector Economy and Tourism has, meanwhile, been working diligently to complete the preparations for the transfer of tasks of the Netherlands Antilles to the island territory of St. Maarten.

The sector has chosen for a pragmatic approach to the transfer of tasks, taking into consideration, among others, lack of budget and human resources.

The approach calls for, among others, service level agreements.

The elucidation provided with the decision covers the island government’s approach during the transition period for the various segments of the government organization.

It covers, among others, the responsibilities of:

· Policy department

· Inspection services (so-called ‘Ijkwezen’)

· Central Bureau of Statistics

· Aviation and Maritime affairs

· Weather bureau (Met office)

The advice preceding the EXCO decision also dedicates attention to the set-up of the new ministry and the related topic of human resources and expertise.

All this was necessary, considering that St. Maarten is to have its own ministry dealing with the responsibilities of: 

1. Economic Policy

2. Inspection & Control

3. Licenses

4. Tourism

5. Meteorological  office (Met Office)

6. Civil Aviation & Maritime affairs

7. Statistics

Bureau Telecommunication and Post will also fall under the supervision of said Ministry.

Mr. Chairman, we have to get it right and we have to do our homework and complete all of the preparations in time for 10-10-10.

Mr. Chairman, this means that we don’t have any more time to waste. We simply have to get ready realizing that St. Maarten is facing an entirely new situation. Generally speaking, we do not have previous experience with the running of a number of services at a country level.

Bureau Telecommunications & Post

Mr. Chairman, as example of all that needs to be done, let’s take the Bureau of Telecommunications and Post (BT & P).

BT&P is a public law entity with a semi-autonomous status. It resorts under the jurisdiction of the Minister responsible for Transportation & Telecommunication and is supervised by the so-called "Raad van Toezicht".

For as long as we can remember, this service has been headquartered in Curaçao with a ‘dependence’ (small office) in St. Maarten.

BT&P runs its own administration and has full managerial control over its finances and internal affairs. As the regulatory agent, BT&P promotes the interests of consumers, providers and the government regarding telecommunications and postal matters in the Netherlands Antilles.

Mr. Chairman, this is the bureau that has to deal with radio and TV broadcasters when it comes to matters such as:

– Concessions

– Telecommunications Requirements

– License Fees

– Telecommunications Laws

– Telecommunications Providers

– Radio and TV broadcast License

– Policies etc.

Apart from the issuing of licenses and concessions and law enforcement, they make sure the infrastructures available comply with standards as well as advice the government on telecom and postal issues. These are not areas to be taken lightly; for instance, on St. Maarten alone we have seen an increase in the amount of radio stations heard over the airwaves, over the past years.

The Netherlands Antilles has one of the most advanced telecommunication networks in the Caribbean. We also hear that the telecommunication legislation is among the most progressive of the region.

Mr. Chairman, when we become a country, we cannot afford to fall behind; we need to be in a position to keep pace with fast-changing telecommunications developments — the same as is happening all over the world.

We do not need to re-invent the wheel – but we do need to have some sense of direction to develop telecommunication and enable free competition. The same could be said of the postal market.

In other words, it will be up to us to safeguard the interests of country St. Maarten.

Mr. Chairman, for the transfer of authorities, we expect all cooperation from the relevant authorities. We know that we can count on the new Minister of Traffic & Telecommunications, Mr. Patrick Illidge.

The expectation is that things will certainly be expedited.  

Expectation is also, of course, that additional monies will eventually become available as a result of the changes.

Workgroup TEZVT

Mr. Chairman, we have a transition workgroup TEZVT (tourism, economic affairs, traffic and communications) supported by a quartermaster and front-runner helping with the transition process.

The main objective of the appointments of these persons is to guarantee the readiness of the new Ministry by 10-10-10.

We additionally need to certainly understand that St. Maarten needs to be strengthened by outside expertise in some fields, for example in the field of Telecommunication and Postal services.

At this time, we look forward to ongoing briefing on the state of affairs of tasks on central government level which need to be decentralized, as well as the present departments that need to be migrated into the new Ministry.

For Country St. Maarten we will have to secure personnel and fill critical vacancies. At the same time, we need to complete the signing of Cooperation Agreements and/or Service Level Agreements, where this may be necessary.

Mr. Chairman, there are five functions for which interviews have begun, namely: 

§ Meteorologist

§ Statistical Analyst

§ Economic Policy Advisor

§ Section Head Shipping & Maritime

§ Section Head Civil Aviation

The above-mentioned functions will be funded by USONA for one year. The other critical vacancy functions will be filled when the tasks and responsibilities are transferred. 

The budget needed for the minimum operation is as follows: 

§ For CBS – 1.8 million guilders

§ Civil Aviation – 1.2 million guilders

§ Shipping and Maritime – over 853 thousand guilders

§ Met office – 1.4 million guilders

§ BTP (Bureau telecommunications and postal services) – 1.2 million guilders.

This totals some 6.4 million guilders.

The human resources need for the operation of these services is as follows:

CBS – 8 people

Civil Aviation – 6 people

Shipping and maritime – 6 people

Met office – 9 people

BTP – 6 people.

This brings us to a total of 35 persons.


Mr. Chairman, we need Service Level Agreements (SLAs) to ensure the continuity of a number of tasks in, for instance, the areas of telecommunications and transportation, after country status.

Mr. Chairman, in order for us not to be confused about the term ‘service level agreements’, maybe I should mention what it really is.

A service level agreement (frequently abbreviated as SLA) is a part of a service contract where the level of service is formally defined.

In practice, the term SLA is sometimes used to refer to the contracted delivery time (of the service) or performance.

As an example, internet service providers will commonly include service level agreements within the terms of their contracts with customers to define the level(s) of service being sold.

What is important to note is that a service level agreement (SLA) is a negotiated agreement between two parties where one is the customer and the other is the service provider.

Mr. Chairman, as such, it would be expected that a SLA records a common understanding about services, priorities and certain responsibilities.

Mr. Chairman, St. Maarten would not be the first to seek service level agreements; SLAs have, after all, been used since late 1980s by fixed line telecom operators as part of their contracts with their corporate customers.

Internal departments (such as IT and Human Resources) in larger organization have adopted the idea of using service-level agreements with their "internal" customers — users in other departments within the same organization.

In other words, service-level agreements are, by their nature, "output" based — the result of the service as received by the customer (country St. Maarten) is the subject of the "agreement."

Of course, Mr. Chairman, country St. Maarten would have to safeguard that SLAs include segments to address: a definition of services, performance measurement, problem management etc.

Mr. Chairman, this government recognizes that we must make the most of service level agreements, which involves not only human resources but also technological resources.

If we are to move forward, with some of the limitations we now have, we have to leave room open for creativity and flexibility. We cannot continue to turn down all other approaches without presenting measurable alternatives in its place.

Mr. Chairman, I hope that with this, there is additional clarity on where we are and where we are headed.

What is expected of us is that we adequately prepare for the new status. And so, Mr. Chairman, I look forward to further clarifying issues that may need more explanation.

I thank you.