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Integrity Inquiry Into The Functioning Of The Government Of Sint Maarten
This Report represents the culmination of an independent assessment of Sint Maarten’s integrity architecture in accordance with global integrity standards and leading practices.
Sint Maarten obtained its status as an autonomous country within the Kingdom of the Netherlands on October 10, 2010 (“10/10/10”). One of the early challenges facing the newly constituted Government of Sint Maarten (“GoSM” or “Government”) was developing independent institutions that were capable of administering to the domestic affairs of the country. This was not an easy task, and one made all the more challenging by certain characteristics, such as limited human and financial resources, that are common in small island communities such as Sint Maarten.
Communities where social, political, and economic ties develop over multiple generations pose a challenge for establishing a system of good governance by the rule of law. In such environments, informal relationship networks often govern how business and politics are conducted, and supersede formal rules and procedures. The primacy of informal relationships allows those in positions of political and economic power to use their networks to advance private interests at the expense of the public good.
Nearly four years have passed since the GoSM assumed responsibility for the domestic affairs of the island, and progress towards establishing a system of governance grounded in the rule of law has been slow and uneven. The country has witnessed a number of high profile allegations of public corruption in recent years that, whether true or not, have cast a shadow over the real and substantial progress that it has made in forming an autonomous government. Perhaps the most damaging examples that have surfaced include allegations of corruption, conflicts of interest, and unethical conduct by Ministers and elected officials whose conduct has undermined the perception of Government integrity.
The repeated nature of these allegations appears to have eroded public trust in the GoSM and highlights the lack of accountability in public administration, as well as the difficulty that Government leaders have encountered in addressing this problem. The visible lapses in public integrity that plague the GoSM have raised considerable concern about the quality of governance in Sint Maarten, and have prompted a call for an independent integrity assessment to benchmark existing policies, procedures, and practices against global standards. Such integrity assessments are becoming increasingly common practice in the international community as governments seek to improve their reputation and strengthen domestic political support by demonstrating their commitment to aligning their public integrity framework with internationally-recognized leading practices.
On September 30, 2013, the Council of Ministers of the Kingdom of the Netherlands (“Kingdom”) by Kingdom Decree charged the Governor of Sint Maarten with the responsibility to conduct an Integrity Inquiry (“Inquiry”) to identify shortcomings and provide recommendations into the proper functioning of the Government of Sint Maarten (“GoSM” or “Government”) as required in a democratic state governed by the rule of law. The Kingdom Decree resulted from concerns of the Council of Ministers of the Kingdom based upon media reports, public questions, perceptions about integrity and reputation, and perceptions from reported integrity breaches by politicians in Sint Maarten.
The Governor of Sint Maarten (“Governor”), thereafter by Governor’s decision dated December 4, 2013, established a three-person Steering Committee supported by a professional secretariat to allow for an independent, impartial and effective process. The Steering Committee, Dr. Marten Oosting, Chairman, and members Mr. Jaime Saleh and Mr. Miguel Alexander, have extensive backgrounds and careers in law, public policy and good governance assessments across the Kingdom and former Netherlands Antilles. On December 20, 2013, the Governor issued an Invitation to Tender to engage an international accounting firm with experience and expertise in conducting forensic integrity inquiries to execute the assessment.
On February 21, 2014, PricewaterhouseCoopers (US) International LLC (“PwC”) was commissioned by the Governor of Sint Maarten (“Client”) to perform an independent Inquiry into the GoSM. The scope of the Inquiry extended to the programs and activities of the public administration sector including the Government and State-owned Companies (“SoCs”).