Sarah and PFP concerned about Peterson’s dismissal | THE DAILY HERALD

PHILIPSBURG–United Democrats (UD) Member of Parliament (MP) Sarah Wescot-Williams and the board of the recently launched Party for Progress (PFP) have separately expressed concern about the removal of Raeyhon Peterson from his position as Acting Head of the Department of Domain Affairs.

  Wescot-Williams in a press release asked caretaker Public Housing, Spatial Planning, Environment and Infrastructure VROMI Minister Christopher Wever why Peterson had been stripped of his duties. She asked why this action had been taken against “a young local professional.”

  “Given the ministry that is involved, the department in question and the civil servant [Peterson – Ed.] whom it [concerns], this question is even more pertinent, as the letter [of his dismissal] does not provide the slightest indication. The minister has to provide this explanation and promptly. Until then, it will be noted as the NA/USP/Mercelina/Brownbill’s [National Alliance/United St. Maarten Party/Mercelina/Brownbill coalition’s] first act of blatant political victimisation.”

  Wescot-Williams asked what had led to this decision, whether this was a disciplinary measure, whether the minister had ascertained whether the proper procedures had been followed to relieve a civil servant of his/her duties, whether the civil servant in question had been heard, whether there were plans to act against any other civil servant in the ministry of VROMI in like manner and, if so, who is or are these and what is the legal position of Peterson following his termination.

  In a separate press release, PFP said it had learned, with frustration, of the removal of its party member and candidate from his position. The board took note of news reports citing that Peterson was “highly political” and questioned the timing of his demotion.

  “This comes just two weeks after PFP’s launch, the only political moment in Peterson’s life to date. Peterson, to date, has never received a warning nor was he ever approached regarding his performance. Furthermore, if there were issues related to his performance, he has not been granted his right to a fair hearing regarding this decision; it was simply communicated to him in an un-numbered memo.

  “Under his management, Domain Affairs has thrived, despite being consistently understaffed. The memorandum itself is weakly worded and terribly inadequate and does not provide any motivation or reason for this sudden, potentially political demotion at a critical point in government’s operation.”

  PFP said it is most concerned, however, about the clear lack of checks and balances that will now exist in the Department of Domain Affairs if Wever’s decision stands.

  “As many may not be aware, the process within Domain Affairs is that requests are submitted via [the Ministry of] General Affairs, where it receives a booking number and is then sent to the relevant department. Once it arrives at Domain Affairs, the request is reviewed and advised upon by the department. After the advice is drafted, it is signed by the Acting Department Head.

  “Thereafter, it is sent by the Department Head to the Secretary-General, whose role is to sign it and send it to the Cabinet of the Minister for final evaluation by policy and legal advisors. If the minister agrees with the advice from the department, it is then signed by the minister, constituting a final decision; the Department of Domain Affairs is not mandated to make any final decisions on the issuance of land, land swaps, sales or long lease.

  “If Peterson’s removal stands, then Minister Wever has made a decision that removes the critical check by Department Head and places the responsibility of the entire process in the hands of the secretary-general, which the board believes is against the law. PFP believes it is crucial that people are aware of the process and the actual responsibilities of all parties involved, as it’s clear that false information remains the order of the day.”

  The board also questioned whether other civil servants in the party’s membership should be concerned about their positions following this surprise demotion.

  “Nevertheless, PFP fully stands behind Mr. Peterson and is pleased to inform the public that the Party for Progress is not allowing this to detract from its mission of community engagement and dialogue, and is still contesting the 2020 election.”

Source: The Daily Herald