De Weever: ‘Justice budget not ideal but realistic post Irma’

PHILIPSBURG–Minister of Justice Cornelius de Weever said the Justice Ministry budget focus within the governing period is the facilitation of a quick, comprehensive and efficient post-Irma recovery of all Justice entities that fall under its responsibility, to enable these entities to continuously work towards ensuring, securing and maintaining public safety, securing law and order in the broadest sense, while other core tasks and objectives are also covered.

He was speaking during the first round of the country budget meeting on Monday morning.

“I would like to take this opportunity to publicly commend and thank all staff members of the Ministry of Justice for their continuous hard work, in particular for carrying on despite suffering personal losses, and in many cases going beyond the call of duty in service to St. Maarten and its citizens post-Irma.

“As is the case with our entire island, including all of Government’s Ministries, the departments of the Ministry of Justice have been severely affected by Hurricane Irma. The Customs department, police, prison, Miss Lalie Centre, the Courthouse, and Joint Court of Justice building suffered substantial damage, ICT [information and communication technology – Ed.] facilities have been lost, the vehicle fleets of various departments were destroyed,” De Weever said.

The Justice Ministry is looking at the implementation of policy initiatives and feasible recommendations of the reports mentioned in the Policy Paragraph of this year’s Justice Budget. The Minister said the report is essential in his efforts towards rebuilding, strengthening the entire Justice system and meeting the Ministry’s obligations.

This includes, for example, expanding the Police Force, improving the prison system and addressing juvenile delinquency, and thus requires investing in current and future personnel. The fact is that maintenance and strengthening of the Justice system calls for and depends on a phased growth of the Ministry’s annual budget for a number of years, he said.

“The 2018 Budget which I am requesting you to approve is not at all an ideal budget for the Ministry of Justice. It is, however, based on the reality of the state of our finances and is in essence almost the same Budget which was allocated to the Ministry in 2016 and 2017.

“As such, this Budget yet again offers the Ministry of Justice very limited room for growth, while at the same time much is expected from the Ministry where it pertains to recovery, security, maintaining law and order, resocialisation, victims-services and combatting juvenile delinquency, etc.

“The overall recovery of the Ministry and its efforts towards meeting its objectives will be dependent on securing access to the Recovery Fund and our abilities to pursue cost-effective ways and means of carrying out our tasks.

“Having made the aforementioned statement, I assure you that I am confident that with the support of the management team and all the staff members within the Ministry of Justice we will find ways to make do with the limited budget and continue to work towards ensuring, securing and maintaining public safety, security and law and order,” said De Weever on Monday.

Source: The Daily Herald