Caretaker Minister of Justice Perry Geerlings (2nd from left) during the signing of an agreement with the unions that represent law enforcement officials.
POND ISLAND–Caretaker Minister of Justice Perry Geerlings signed a ministerial decree to pay out an advance on an expected retroactive payment to a group of members of the St. Maarten Police Force.
Minister Geerlings announced in a press release on Monday that based on a thorough examination of the situation at hand by the Ministry of Finance, the payment of an advance of a certain amount per person that might be entitled to the much-discussed retroactive payment over de last nine years has been processed.
“As stated before, the legal status of our policewomen and men is still not clear after almost 10 years. Neither are the function book and salary scales. There are still differences of opinion between parties involved and, in my opinion, these should be solved as soon as possible,” Geerlings said. “What is clear to me, however, is that a certain group within the Police Force will most probably be entitled to a retroactive payment in the end, in order to correct some things from the past.”
Geerlings said, “Based on the knowledge of today (Monday), I requested an opinion of my Department of Finance on the subject. They worked very hard last week and came to the conclusion that most probably a certain group of the Police Force in the end will indeed be entitled to a certain compensation.
“Till today (Monday), we were busy at the Ministry of Finance to also include the Immigration officers in this agreement. Because they were also working above salary scale for the past years, so they also will be included in the advance payment agreement we have reached on Sunday with the Unions,” he said. “We, the unions, the Ministry of Finance and myself as Minister of both Justice and Finance really worked hard on this achievement, an agreement which was long overdue. My sincere gratitude goes out to all involved in bringing some clarity in this matter.”
The Minister said as the final arrangements are still to be worked out by the parties concerned and put into correct laws and regulations for once and for all, at the moment the final results are still unclear. “As we reserved already an amount from the sale of United Telecommunications Services (UTS) shares for this purpose and also members of Parliament expressed their feelings on this subject, I signed a ministerial decree to pay out an advance on a retroactive payment to a group of members of the St. Maarten Police Force.”
“It contains a net amount as an advance, because the situation should be legally cleared in a correct manner before final calculations can be made. At that moment the advance payment will be deducted from the official final payment via the salary system, as also taxes and social premiums are applicable.
Geerlings warned that not all women and men within the force will be entitled to a compensation, however, and it is because of this probability that also not everyone will be entitled to this advance. He said the Finance Department is in close contact with the unions and other involved parties to prevent mistakes as much as possible.
“I always stated that I’m of the opinion that the brave women and men of our Police Force must be paid as they deserve because of their role in safeguarding our lives in our beloved country,” he said.
Geerlings concluded by saying, “After almost 10 years of not delivering what is necessary in terms of laws and regulations, I decided to give their spirits hopefully a boost by at least paying an advance to those eligible especially with the Christmas and the year-end holiday season coming up soon. I express my gratitude to all women and men in the Police Force and wish you all a blessed Christmas holiday season.”
Caretaker Minister of Justice Perry Geerlings (3rd from left) after the signing of an agreement with the unions.