Behind closed doors

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The General Auditing Chamber of the Netherlands is preparing a report on the recovery aid which after its completion is scheduled to be discussed in a closed door meeting on December 13, 2018. The report is being prepared because numerous complaints have been made about the slow progress of the reconstruction aid. The investigation has to do with the governance and financing structure of the reconstruction process in relation to the Dutch funding and the trust fund. The Chamber talks about the importance of the funding being spent in a careful and effective manner that serves St. Maarten people and mechanisms to make sure the funding ends up in the right place. See article in the newspaper of November 26, 2018. What caught my attention in the article is the familiar phrase “a briefing will take place behind closed doors and afterwards it will be made public”. I continue to have a serious problem with these behind closed doors meetings. We live in a democracy and especially in the Kingdom where emphasis is placed on good governance and transparency. The reconstruction fund indeed has to do with the people of St. Maarten and therefore in the name of transparency the people who are experiencing serious hardships because of this slow process have a right to hear firsthand what is causing the delays. It is not a political matter I hope but one of a social and economic nature and it shows total disrespect for the intelligence of the people of St. Maarten by keeping such an important meeting which concerns them behind closed doors. Are we going to get the exact information disseminated during such a meeting or are we going to get a watered down version? Will the report include figures from beginning to the end? An example how did the 550 million become 470 million? Will we get a complete breakdown of where the funds were spent? On what projects? The people need to be kept abreast as to how much was spent, on what it was spent when it was spent and how much remains. There was a closed door meeting with members of the world bank, to date we do not know what was discussed. What the people would also like to know is how much has the world bank collected to date for services rendered? I am tempted to ask this question of government but since they don’t manage the funds, I am asking the World Bank and or Central Bank of Curacao and St. Maarten to inform the public as to the present status of the fund. It would be Interesting to know if during the planned December 13 meeting minutes will be made in written form or will it be done verbally?

George Pantophlet

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