Great Bay:--- Member of Parliament Cornelius De Weever has been following the recent developments regarding the integrity chamber for St. Maarten and has the following to say. The words fraud and corruption are not unique to St. Maarten and we should not be used as the poster child for it. Recently we read about another VVD’er former alderman of the city Roermond Jos van Rey and former police chief Gerard Bouman who were convicted of fraud and/or corruption in the Netherlands.
On the floor of Parliament and during the IPKO meetings I have made it very clear that establishing a kingdom integrity chamber ordinance should be the order of the day. Curacao and Aruba also have their own integrity challenges which only illustrates that an integrity chamber is also needed for the entire kingdom. While the kingdom decides to work out the details of the integrity chamber, we in St. Maarten can focus on addressing our own issues and focus on preventive measures rather than punitive.
During the parliamentary debate on the topic of the Integrity Chamber, I mentioned the need to increase compliance within government. That need is now sensed more than before. As I continued to look at integrity from the angle of compliance, some interesting insights came up during my research and talking with those in the field. Our laws are or should be a reflection of our values and norms. Those laws regulate the various relationships we engage in and what those involved can expect from each other. When things go wrong, we have court systems in place to address disputes or render judgments as has been seen with the nullification of the Integrity Chamber Ordinance by the Constitutional Court.
Had we stuck by the rules and did things for the right reasons there wouldn’t have been the need for such a shattering judgement. The more we stick to the rules, the smoother the interactions become and the less burden is placed on judges ultimately as less disputes would arise. In a practical sense it means that decisions from ministers, government or other public bodies will be more consistent and sound, citizens would be more aware of their opposing rights and obligations, thus creating an environment wherein corruption becomes easier to expose.
Are we to take integrity seriously, we need to ensure compliance. Compliance is not an external matter but an internal prerequisite in promoting integrity. Within banking institutions compliance officers are a norm and we should follow suite and establish or appoint a Compliance Commissioner. As the compliance officers within banking institutions, and borrowing from the Cayman Islands Information Commissioner’s Office, the Compliance Commissioner main focus would be to assist the various ministers, governing bodies and other related institutions adhere to the relevant national and international standards, laws and regulations. The second responsibility of the Compliance Commissioner should be to make recommendations for reform in the area of compliance. Thirdly, the Compliance Commissioner refers cases where it appears that a criminal offence has been committed to the appropriate authorities. Last but not least, the Compliance Commissioner should as much as possible publish the requirements of the various laws and the rights of individuals thereunder.
By clearly shifting the primary focus on compliance and not so much on investigations with the sole aim to prosecute offenders, we firstly strive to improve the operations within the various ministries and wider collective sector in a transparent and objective way of measuring performance; the law. When you comply with the law you are half way home. Add ethical behavior to that and we are back on track in bringing back the much needed moral and ethical values to our community. The Compliance Commissioner can temporarily be appointed through an unanimous motion of Parliament, which I will present as a member, and based on its powers to pose questions and start inquiries, while awaiting the establishment of the Compliance Commissioner Office by national ordinance ensuring objectivity, independence and securing financing. I will seek political support across party lines for this motion. Let’s get back on track!