PHILIPSBURG--To support St. Maarten’s reconstruction, recovery and resilience objectives “it is essential to ensure the safety and security of our people,” said Governor Eugene Holiday in his speech at the opening of the new parliamentary year on Tuesday.

“This is particularly important considering the increase in violent crime and the increasing threat of cross-border crime,” he said. “Notwithstanding the limited available financial resources, government deems it imperative to continue to invest in the strengthening of its law enforcement.”

To do this, Holiday identified several priority areas, including upgrading the facilities of the Philipsburg, Simpson Bay, and Cole Bay police stations, as well as the Immigration offices and systems. He also noted there needs to be recruitment of additional personnel to reinforce the Coast Guard.

Regarding the penal system, he said the renovation of the facilities at the Pointe Blanche prison and the need for a new prison should be a priority.

“We must, as a people, government and parliament, be focused and relentless in our pursuit to realise a cohesive reconstruction, recovery and resilience agenda. In this 10th parliamentary year we cannot afford not to get it right among ourselves, with the Netherlands and with our partners in the region. We must shoulder our responsibility and act with a sense of urgency and common purpose,” said Holiday.