MP Claude Chacho Peterson visits the St. Maarten General Audit Chamber

PHILIPSBURG:— On Monday, August 20th, Member of Parliament and SMCP Faction Leader, Mr. Claude “Chacho” Peterson and Faction Staff Mr. Benjamin Bell, met with the Chairman of the Board, Mr. Ronald Halman and Secretary-General, Mrs. Joane Dovale-Meit of the St. Maarten General Audit Chamber (GAC) to get and orientation of the organization and receive a tour of the new offices at the request of the MP.
The discussion concerned the role of the GAC as one of the High Councils of State and their history, services and reports.
Some of the points discussed during the meeting was the importance of getting up to date with the Annual Financial Reports of Government so that they can be debated in Parliament in a timely basis. This matter has been mentioned by the GAC in their annual report. Other topics discussed included, the handling of the Budget in Parliament which, in the opinion of the MP, should be available digitally in both English and Dutch, the need to implement a good ICT system synchronized across all Ministries to improve Government’s efficiency, and provide better customer service to the public in general.
Of particular concern to the MP is the need to live up to Article 1 sub. 2 of the Constitution, which states the official languages are Dutch and English. He commended the GAC for realizing the importance of having all the information and reports in both languages on their website. For the past decades, we have seen a shift, endorsed by Government, to go towards English education streams in most of our schools. It was noted during the presentation by the Minister of Education Mr. Wycliff Smith in Central Committee meeting on August 17, handling the Law on Study Financing, that most of our students go to the USA, Canada and a large portion of those who go to the Netherlands attend English Universities to pursue their higher education. The MP believes it is important to make sure that we are not creating second class citizens by sending away our students only to limit their access to top Government functions just because they do not command the Dutch language. Mostly at a time when increasing our professional capacity among our people in the civil service is critical to achieving a sustainable St. Maarten especially post Hurricane Irma.
MP Peterson was very impressed with the efficient minimalist layout and modern décor of the GAC’s new office located on Juancho Yrasquin Boulevard 10, Unit 4 -5, Philipsburg. The GAC has demonstrated resilience and efficiency in rebuilding after hurricane Irma. The storm destroyed their original office on E. Camille Richardson Street. The new office was selected for its hurricane proof features which include a concrete roof and hurricane shutters. It was also important to note that the GAC makes use of so-called cloud-computing. Using the ‘cloud’ allowed the institution to continue their work even though they lost all their office equipment. MP Peterson believes this is a model which should be adopted not only by Government but also by Government-Owned companies, entities and foundations as well as the private sector. The ability to retrieve vital information to start back operations soon after a disaster is a very important step in Hurricane and Disaster preparedness.
MP Peterson and Mr. Bell applauded the GAC for their continued efforts to educate the public via their website and via their Facebook page. The creation of easy to understand educational videos posted on Facebook are very helpful and the public should make use of them to become informed citizens. He fully intends to stay in touch with the GAC and make use of their reports and advices of this High Council of State. He encourages St. Maarteners and St. Maarten People to visit the Website at and Facebook page: General Audit Chamber Sint Maarten

Source: St. Martin News Network