It was good to read that the Law Enforcement Council in its recently published 2018 report (see related story) said St. Maarten certainly showed willingness to strengthen law enforcement but was unable to do so in a structural manner due to its financial issues. The latter obviously refers to the still-ongoing recovery from a direct hit by the strongest Atlantic hurricane ever measured less than two years ago, something critics both at home and abroad tend to sometimes overlook too easily.
However, this newspaper had warned since the process leading up to country status per 10-10-10 about the proposed organisational setup and diagrams regarding the ideal functional occupation in the new public administration. These probably looked good on paper but would require enough both monetary and human resources that might not always be available.
The same thing goes for the Plans of Approach agreed on in different areas monitored by a Progress Committee: Executing these recommendations implies a hefty burden.
While that shouldn’t be an obstacle impossible to overcome if really needed such as in this case, it does mean setting priorities also in the budget as the council rightly points out. This translates into tough choices, because government may not simply ignore its other important responsibilities and, for example, jeopardise education to focus on the judicial system.
That the police stations and other facilities of the emergency services could be fixed and upgraded with grants from the Dutch-sponsored Trust Fund managed by the World Bank was helpful, but more permanent expenses require sustainable income to cover. This ought to be recognised by all involved, as the country has already been borrowing many millions in the form of liquidity support from the Netherlands since arguably its worst national disaster on record.
On the other hand, the continued closure of Miss Lalie Youth Care and Rehabilitation Centre is so detrimental that it can no longer continue. There is currently no legal detention option for minors other than a few days at the most in police cells, and word has gotten around among teenage delinquents as well as older criminals using hem.
The latter is hardly a desirable situation. Justice Minister Cornelius de Weever recently told Parliament the centre would open for the new schoolyear. There is less than a week left.