Not an option

Not an option

It’s been awfully quiet surrounding the still-needed implementation of recommendations to comply with international standards to fight money-laundering and terrorism-financing. A Parliament debate on related changes to the Penal Procedural Code was postponed in mid-December at the request of Justice Minster Egbert Doran and little has been heard since. In all fairness, it already became clear earlier that several legislators had problems with certain parts, including some not considered relevant to the compliance requirement.

Two weeks earlier the minister had been told during a meeting of the Caribbean Financial Action Task Force (CFATF) in Antigua that a public statement would be given against St. Maarten for missing the deadline to address remaining shortcomings. He said at the time there would be no consequences because others had not been advised to take countermeasures as a result, although that might change at the next gathering in May if nothing was done.

At last Wednesday’s press briefing Prime Minister Silveria Jacobs announced that this same statement had led to Postal Services St. Maarten (PSS) losing its money transfer service with Aruba and Curaçao. The other two Dutch Caribbean countries now apparently see it as a risk because PSS lacks a compliance officer.

In addition, the matter was again listed as priority among the tasks Governor Eugene Holiday gave “formateur” Jacobs in forming the next NA/UP government based on their coalition agreement following the January 9 early parliamentary election. The governor even convened a session for political leaders with the local bankers’ association to get that point across.

The newly-elected legislature takes office on February 10 and credentials for the incoming members are to be approved this Wednesday. Meanwhile, neither exactly when the next cabinet will be installed nor the names of candidate ministers are yet officially known.

Regardless, keeping this CFATF issue on the back burner much longer is certainly not an option.