Published On: Tue, Sep 24th, 2019

Hands off

StMaartenNews EditorialThe times they are a’changin and so is the political makeup of St. Maarten’s government. Once upon a time – and not all that long ago – appointments to key positions, be it as policy advisors or in executive roles – did not depend on what you knew but on whom you knew. In other words: cronyism and nepotism ruled in those days.

Now we have young professionals in those positions who earned their spot based on their qualifications. That’s not only good for those youngsters, it also benefits the quality of the civil service and that of the supporting staff that helps ministers do their jobs.

Whatever the new team of ministers will look like – assuming that indeed NA-leader Silveria Jacobs has been appointed as formateur – they ought to keep in mind that cronyism and nepotism are practices of a bygone era and that they should respect the capable people that are currently at their disposal.

This is one way to counter the continuing instability on the political level where governments change color on average once every fourteen months. If the key operators in the civil service remain where they are, they are the ones that will provide the continuity the country so desperately needs.

To make clear to citizens that this will really happen, ministers should adopt a transparent way of dealing with new appointments and with the way they move civil servants around in the organization.

A good starting point would be to present the cabinet staff each minister is going to work with. Highlight their names, their track records, their qualifications, their responsibilities and (if applicable) their relationship to each individual minister. (Note: such a relationship does not necessarily disqualify anybody for a position). If a minister choose to move someone to a different position, provide solid motivation.

This way of doing business will most likely inspire other young professionals who are currently either working or studying abroad to come back to the island and contribute to the development of the nation.

If ministers look hard enough they will find plenty of competent young professionals to support them. And what’s more: those well-performing support staffers will make their ministers look good too.

So for now the message is: hands off from our young professionals in the civil service. Let them do what they do best. That is the best way to guarantee continuity and stability in government. Success almost guaranteed.