POND ISLAND–Minister of Public Housing, Spatial Planning, Environment and Infrastructure VROMI Miklos Giterson recently returned from a working visit to the Ministry of Traffic, Transport and Urban Planning VVRP in Curaçao.
Harry Huisden and Cidy Do Rego of the government accountant bureau SOAB organised the visit with the objective of receiving information and guidance on best practices from the recent successes that VVRP’s Permits and Domain Affairs Departments have experienced. In Curaçao, these departments have initiated comprehensive projects that have yielded positive results within the previous two years, in spite of the variety of challenges facing them.
In addition to Minister Giterson, the St. Maarten delegation consisted of the acting heads of the Departments of Permits and Domain Affairs Charlon Pompier and Raeyhon Peterson respectively. Giterson met with his counterpart at VVRP in Curaçao, Zita Jesus-Leito, where they discussed several ministry-related topics.
Similar to the current situation in St. Maarten, Domain Affairs Curaçao has a significant backlog with regard to the collection of payments for long-lease land. Director Jairo Martis provided some insight to the delegation with a presentation of their current challenges and site visits to various key areas for the department.
The department has implemented information campaigns within the last year with the intention to inform the public of recent developments within the department. Martis demonstrated how current challenges such as the backlog and illegal land occupation in Curaçao were being tackled by his department, most notably by the creation of a task force specifically created to target these two issues.
These initiatives were handled in cooperation with SOAB, which has actively contributed to the realisation of these projects within VVRP.
“It was surprising to see that the department is significantly larger in number when compared to Domain Affairs in St. Maarten,” Peterson said. “I was impressed with the progress they have been able to make in such a short amount of time.”
VVRP’s presentation showcased how the Permits Department in Curaçao functions and how the country intends to streamline and digitise the building permit process, a move that will significantly reduce the time between submission and approval for applicants. This was of particular interest to the delegation, as locally Permits has been dealing with a backlog for a number of years which has only been complicated by the post-Hurricane Irma construction boom.
Until adequate funding can be secured for a large-scale improvement project, decisions to curb waiting times and improve productivity have been made.
“Immediately following Hurricane Irma and until the start of the 2018 season, we implemented a fast-track permit process for roof reconstruction, which many have benefitted from,” Pompier explained.
“Whenever possible, zero-cost decisions have been made in an effort to increase overall output. The Ministry has also requested and has received approval from the Government of the Netherlands to have three technical workers transferred to St. Maarten for a period of four months to assist with the backlog, as well as improve the financial management of the department.”
The delegation visited the site of waste authority company Selikor N.V., where they received a tour and presentation of the organisation and its operations. Giterson expressed interest in the company’s modernised waste collection and waste management activities, and its growth from government department to privatised waste collection agency.
Giterson expressed gratitude to Jesus-Leito and the entire VVRP Ministry for their hospitality, to SOAB for its facilitation of the trip and to Selikor N.V. for its insightful presentation and tour.
“I am very satisfied with this visit,” he said, “and the information we were able to collect. Permits and Domain Affairs are the primary income-generating departments for the Ministry; it is imperative that they achieve an optimal level of functionality. We aim to remain in close contact with our sister departments and continue to share best practices, while also investigating additional knowledge-sources to improve these departments and VROMI as a whole.”
Giterson will brief senior staff at VROMI within the coming week, sharing his impressions of the trip and deciding on initiatives and implementation strategies.
Source: The Daily Herald https://www.thedailyherald.sx/islands/81271-giterson-to-improve-vromi-functionality