SINT MAARTEN (PHILIPSBURG) - On Tuesday, 17 May 2022, PFP member of Parliament Raeyhon Peterson sent questions to the Minister of VROMI, Egbert J. Doran, regarding the function of Secretary General of the Ministry of VROMI. Since 16 October 2020, the function of Acting Secretary General has been occupied by Mr. Kurt Ruan, whose primary role in the ministry is as the Department Head of New Projects.
“The appointment of Mr. Ruan to the function of “Acting” Secretary General (SG) was handled in an email from the Minister of VROMI,” Peterson stated in his letter. “This was done after the termination of Mr. Louis Brown, who held the function since 2010. As a critical function within the Ministry of VOMI, it is regulated by law.”
Peterson explains that to be appointed as the SG within the Ministry, candidates must first undergo a screening process. He continues to state that in the case of the “acting” nature of the SG position, article 25 of the LMA is applicable. In short, the article states that the appointment of the “acting-” occupant of the position must occur by the competent authority, which in this case is the Governor, who has the authority to sign national decrees (landsbesluiten) in the name of Country Sint Maarten, the employer of all civil servants. If the candidate in question does not pass the screening, they are not eligible to occupy the position of SG.
“Mr. Ruan has occupied the role of Acting Secretary General of VROMI for almost two years now,” Peterson stated, “yet there has been no further information regarding his appointment aside from the email by the Minister. As a Government that has repeatedly claimed to value good governance, I, and by extension the PFP faction, am curious as to whether the proper procedures according to the law have been followed.”
Peterson questioned whether Ruan has undergone the required screening process to finalize his appointment as Acting SG of VROMI, and requested that the Minister respond with his intentions in the event the screening has not been conducted.
Has Mr. Ruan been appointed as acting-SG of the Ministry of VROMI through a national decree signed by the Governor? If the answer to the question is yes, proceed to question 5. If the answer to this question is no, proceed to questions 2 and further.
Has the screening process for Mr. Ruan been initiated in anticipation of finalizing the appointment of his person as acting-SG of the Ministry of VROMI? If so, since when. If not, then why not? Is it still the intention of the Minister to appoint Mr. Ruan as the acting-SG?
Has the Governor’s office been informed of the process to appoint Mr. Ruan in the position of acting-SG of the Ministry of VROMI? Has the process been started? If so, since when and can we get a copy of the documentation confirming this?
In the case that there is no national ordinance that appoints Mr. Ruan as acting-SG, nor that he has undergone a screening process, what happens to the legality of all documents that were signed by his person throughout his time as unofficial acting-SG of VROMI?
Mr. Ruan is also the head of the New Projects, an operating organization within the Ministry of VROMI. However, it has been noted that a staff member of the organization has since then been appointed as acting head of New Projects. The head of this organization within the LMA has a separate role that cannot be conjoined with the role of an SG within the Ministry, the latter solely pertaining to the policy department of VROMI within the Ministry. Is Mr. Ruan still appointed as the head of New Projects? How will this conflict of interest be addressed once Mr. Ruan is appointed to the position of acting-SG and where will the checks and balances be?
Is it the intention of the Minister to place Mr. Ruan permanently in the position of Secretary General of the Ministry of VROMI, or will he remain acting, and will the function remain open until a suitable candidate is selected?
Peterson’s inquiry should not be a surprise, as of late it has been reported that the morale within the Ministry of VROMI is at an all-time low, with sick leave at an all-time high, and many disgruntled civil servants complaining about a fundamental lack of leadership and internal communication. The now only three (interim) managers within VROMI together currently occupy 7 managerial positions, which has proven to be the basis of a lot of tension in the VROMI workplace.
“It has even come to my attention that some staff members are scared to speak up, in fear of repercussions from management and the cabinet of the Minister. Within the last two years, I personally know of 7 civil servants that have left VROMI, 6 of those working there before I even started back in 2016. That’s very alarming and concerning to say the least. It’s not surprising that there was a job fair for vacant positions, because all the current civil servants are not happy and some of the ones remaining also want to leave. It’s the same old school politics, where civil servants who are not in agreement with the wrongdoings of the Minister are pushed to the side or out of their position, most of the time without even being evaluated. This needs to stop at once”, Peterson concluded.