the Governor's Speeches

Back to Speeches Indexnov 02, 2012

The Principles of Good Governance 2012 (The High Councils of State Symposium)

Delivered by His Excellency acting Governor Reynold Groeneveldt
at the Occasion of High Councils of State Symposium on:
The Principles of Good Governance 2012

Our honoured Guest Professor Jaime Saleh, Madame Prime Minister, Sarah Wescot-Williams and the Members of the Council of Ministers, The President of Parliament, Rudolphe Samuel and Members of Parliament, Members of the Councils of High State, Dignateries of French Saint Martin,  Principals of Business, Secretary Generals, Civil Servants, Distinguished Guests, Ladies and Gentlemen;

As His Excellency Governor Holiday is out of the Country I am extremely honoured to attend this Symposium in my capacity as the Acting Governor, and to direct some introductory remarks to this distinguished gathering on the topic to be handled today,

Firstly, I would like to make use of this opportunity to thank the Chairpersons and Vice-Chairperson of the High Councils of State for organizing yet another Symposium. I recall the very successful Symposium that was organized last year on the Role of the High Councils of State and the Checks and Balances. At that time it was promised that this should become a yearly event and I am extremely happy to see that this promise has materialized in another Symposium this year with the very appropriate theme "The Principles of Good Governance".

October 10th 2012 marks just two years that Sint Maarten became a Country within the Kingdom of the Netherlands. We can now look back over the last two years and begin to evaluate how we are doing as a new Country. I would like to state for the record that we, as a Country, have reason to be proud of ourselves for what we have been able to accomplish thus far. I would like to thank and congratulate our leaders, the civil servants and the people of Sint Maarten for the progress that we have made up to now.

If you could recall, Sint Maarten had to make great efforts to convince our partners in the Kingdom that Sint Maarten deserved to become a Country. Some suggested that we cannot be a Country, that we are too small, we do not have the financial capacity or we lack the necessary human resources to function as a Country.  It was stated that in the shortest possible time period Sint Maarten would find itself, in severe financial difficulties and political and administrative chaos.

Now after two years we can all attest to the fact that none of the above is currently the case. We have risen to the occasion and we have made sure to dedicate ourselves to the tasks before us and we have focused on building our Country, although we became a Country in a very dis-advantaged position.

Other partners in the Kingdom had over a 100 years to put their Governmental apparatus in place to serve the needs of their community, Aruba has been a Country for more than 26 years, while Curacao inherited a Governmental structure that served the Netherland Antilles during the last 60 years. Sint Maarten was required to put a Government Structure in place in a matter of 2 years, and that we have been able to be at the point that we are right now, deserves a special mention and an applause for ourselves.

Let me hasten to mention that we should not for one moment think or believe that we are "there". We still have an enormous amount of work to do and we still have a long way to go. I believe that we have reached to this point in our development because of the good work of amongst others our Political leaders, the High Councils of State and of course a dedicated and hardworking Civil Service. However, we have to remain focussed and make sure we remain on track and not let ourselves be carried away as this will result in us losing our concentration and focus and become derailed from the process of Nation building and Good Governance.

It is therefore highly appropriate and highly important that at this time the High Councils of State have chosen the theme of Good Governance for the topic for this year's symposium. I believe that the choice of the Honorable Prof. Saleh as today's Keynote Speaker is completely justified, since he is the most qualified person to address us on this topic. Prof. Saleh has a vast amount of professional experience as a Judge and former Governor of the Netherlands Antilles, he is also very familiar with Sint Maarten.

I am sure that Prof Saleh will also implore upon you how extremely important the Principles of Good Governance are for the proper functioning of any Government and certainly for the Government of Sint Maarten today and beyond. These principles -have developed since the 19th, century, but were mentioned as such for the first time by the Dutch Committee De Monchy in 1050- should be embraced as our Guide and Compass in making our decisions. Every member of Government in the Executive as well as the Legislative Branch and the entire Civil Service should become familiar with these principles and apply them on a daily basis in the execution of our duties.

It should become a standard practise and an automatic feature in the established procedures, that decisions are prepared with due diligence and bearing in mind the principle of legality, that the accurate information is gathered and adequate advice is prepared before a decision is taken, that the other party or parties are heard and their concerns or objections be taken into consideration, even when it is not always required by law to do so, equal cases should be dealt with equally and unequal cases should be dealt with unequally, that acquired rights are respected, that government does not abuse it's power and follows the proper procedures, it should be normal that a decision is properly motivated with the reasons and considerations that have influenced or led to the decision taken.

Checklists  should be developed and established to make sure that all the required Principles of Good Governance are observed when preparing decisions as part of our daily routine. Such an instrument should be one of the tools used by Government officials and civil servants in order to guarantee the highest possible standard of decision making.

in order to achieve this we have to be trained and made familiar with these Principles,  learn how to apply these principles and make them part of our decision making progress. I am therefore very happy and elated with the Symposium and the chosen topic. I am quite confident that the Keynote speaker will inspire your thoughts on this topic and that his remarks and suggestions will lead to us embracing the suggestions I made before. By doing this we will be assured that we can continue on the part of building the nation Sint Maarten, that we as Government will render the best possible service to the community at large and stay safe from the pitfalls of irresponsible decision making which will defer us form making the right progress and create chaos and hardships in our community.

I am confident that we will have a very fruitful and enlightening experience this morning and I look forward to the outcome that will result from such an important exercise here this morning.
In conclusion, I would like to thank the High Councils of State for taking the initiative to organize this Symposium. I also would like to thank Prof. Saleh for accepting their invitation to come and deliver the keynote address. I commend all of you who are present here this morning for deciding to attend this Symposium. I look forward to your continued commitment and further contributions as we continue to build our Country our Nation, Sint Maarten.

May God bless you and God bless Sint Maarten.