PHILIPSBURG:— As a Member of Parliament, I would like to commend the Minister of Education for the tough measures taken against NIPA Board for not cooperating with Government and submitting their audited financial reports. I have been very critical in Parliament in the previous public meetings that if the NIPA Board did not cooperate the only way to get their attention would be to put their subsidy on hold and have SOAB audit them, until Government makes the necessary changes in its policy for subsidized institutions. An audit by SOAB would bring a lot to light of the Institution in which the students, staff and Management have been complaining for months.
I have never expect certain individuals to act this way on the current Board of NIPA. There is already the unlawful dismissal of the Director and so many other issues such as clarity to the staff’s pension. Do the worker’s pension payments go towards the St. Maarten Pension Fund APS?
This is a serious issue which needs to be looked into among Foundations and School Boards. A Government subsidy should not be used for paying court cases because that money is earmarked for the school programs and payment of operational expenses. Legal expenses are only a part of the operational expenses and cannot be used because of inefficiency by Management to usurp the rights of the personnel.
The NIPA crises is a proper wake up call for Government and board members at other foundations and government owned companies, who feel once appointed by Government they can do as they please and that they can’t be held accountable for their actions. The type of steps taken by Minister Jacobs makes the board members behave more responsibly in carrying out their duties instead of playing politics with their appointments. Some of them are not working in the general interest of the institution and St. Maarten
I am looking forward to the Minister of Education presenting Parliament with her written updated report about NIPA. I am also looking forward for Parliament to start addressing the structure and changes of the articles of incorporation for Foundations and Government Owned Companies. I am also not too impressed on how the current Supervisory Board of two members without a Chairperson is handling the affairs of Cadastre, and not adhering to Government’s request to present their financials and other requested documents to the Ombudsman. Government needs to restructure these Boards and Foundations to better serve the general interest of the foundation and St. Maarten.
This phenomena is happening not only at NIPA, but at the St. Maarten Housing Foundation, Cadastre, but also on other Boards. We can’t continue using the same old articles and policies. Government needs to restructure the monster they have created with these Foundations giving them the full arm’s length authority and by doing so allowing the Board Members to feel like they are their own little Government and are untouchable and subsequently not adhering to the rules set by Government to receive subsidy.
Government also has to understand they can’t use Boards for political decisions and that there needs to be checks and balances set within these institutions to prevent wasteful spending. Government needs to enforce the law and put the proper checks and balances in place in these foundations and government owned companies. They have to be updated and held accountable, since integrity, transparency, screening and accountability are at the forefront of Government.
Independent MP Maurice Lake
Source: St. Martin News Network MP LAKE commends Minister Jacobs approach on NIPA.