Upcoming budget amendment presentation crucial for Ministry of Justice Function Book

   Upcoming budget amendment presentation  crucial for Ministry of Justice Function Book

Minister of Justice Anna Richardson (third from left) and her team in the House of Parliament on Friday.


PHILIPSBURG--The Ministry of Justice’s Function Book awaits enactment by National Decree, Justice Minister Anna Richardson informed on Friday. “The legislative procedure is contingent upon the upcoming budget amendment approval by the Parliament of St. Maarten, scheduled for presentation by Minister of Finance Ardwell Irion in the coming weeks.”

Minister Richardson and her team of policy and legal advisors planned to give an update on the status of the Function Book to Parliament on Friday. However, due to the lack of quorum at the scheduled Justice Committee of Parliament meeting, the presentation could not be delivered as intended.

Back at the Government Administration Building, Minister Richardson decided to have a press release issued to inform the public at large about the status of the Function Book. “I remain committed to ensuring that vital information reaches the justice personnel promptly,” Richardson said.

A dedicated team at the Ministry of Justice worked diligently to finalise an updated Police Law and new salary scales for the St. Maarten Police Force, in collaboration with the Committee of Civil Servants’ Unions (CCSU). “This inclusive approach ensured that all relevant parties had a voice at the table,” Minister Richardson said.

The Police Law and new salary scales must be formalised alongside the Function Book of the Ministry of Justice, given the integral role of the Police Force within the ministry. Extensive discussions were held with key stakeholders, including the Council of Ministers, the Advisory Council and all unions.

In December 2022, an attempt to have the legislative package signed was made, but it became apparent that a complete debt calculation was required, Minister Richardson recalled. “The ministry’s Financial Controllers Department, led by Saskia Thomas-Salomons, undertook a meticulous process to calculate retroactive payments and future financial obligations for over 760 active and inactive employees.”

Two formal committees, the Placement Committee and the Appeals Committee, were established to address staff placement within the new Function Book and handle objections, respectively. The process is ongoing, with provisions for potential changes and an additional 15% factor to account for inactive personnel.

The estimated total wage cost to the employer is NAf. 38,772,609, with additional factors bringing the total budget required to NAf. 44,588,500. Contributions to the pension APS and social premiums, as well as wage tax and net wages, have also been calculated.

Minister Richardson emphasised that the initial covenant agreement for a five-year repayment period was no longer feasible due to the significant debt. “A new agreement was reached during meetings with unions in July 2023, extending the payment disbursement plan to 10 years,” the minister said. “This plan includes provisions for vacation days and retired personnel of the ministry.”

Considering the annual disbursement plan, Richardson was advised that “an estimated four to six million in retroactive payments should be reserved over the period of seven to 10 years.”

The calculations and placement process will undergo review by Government Accountant Bureau SOAB, which will lead to a findings report at the end of the placement procedure, ensuring transparency and accuracy, Minister Richardson said. “My administration is committed to completing this essential task and awaits Minister of Finance Ardwell Irion’s presentation of the upcoming budget amendment to move forward with the legislative package.”

The Daily Herald

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