SINT MAARTEN (POND ISLAND) - Minister of Tourism, Economic Affairs, Transport & Telecommunication the honourable Stuart Johnson returned last week from a fact-finding mission at the Department of Economic Inspections in Curacao where he says it is good to note that "Curacao's Economic Inspection Department is structured similarly to the department on St Maarten and does not have a department solely dedicated to Calibration.”
Johnson said on Monday that while Curacao is a larger island, they have less staff for the department than St. Maarten does, and both islands utilize their team to perform multiple functions. This information was provided during the meeting held with the Head of the Economic Inspection Department in Curacao Ronny Cornelius, who also outlined that there is no dedicated Calibration Department within the ministry in Curacao.
Head of the Inspectorate of TEATT Lucien Wilson accompanied Johnson on the working visit.
Wilson said he "fully agrees with Curacao's modus operandi as it is a much more efficient way of operating a department rather than specialization, considering the scale of both of our operations and the size of our islands." He said the island of Curacao is divided into geographic zones, as is the case in St. Maarten
The visit was according to Johnson necessary to learn of some of the best practices that the island of Curacao uses where it pertains calibration. He said, for example, the Economic Inspection Department in Curacao follows a similar work plan that of the Inspection Department in St. Maarten whereby their staff are multifunctional.
In St. Maarten, the Inspection Department has six permanent employees while in Curacao, there are only five. As is the case on St. Maarten, the staff in Curacao are tasked with calibration but are also responsible for controlling Business Permits, price control. They also work based on an established annual work program prepared by the Department, as is the case in St. Maarten.
During the visit, both department heads were also able to discuss some of the challenges faced with Calibration and shared some ideas of a way forward. Johnson said, “Price control and calibration is essential to protecting the legitimacy of economic activity on St. Maarten. It is especially critical for us to continue to routinely control and upgrade our skills as a department and Ministry so that we can better secure our community from unfair practices or unreasonably escalated prices.”
He said the two ministries have agreed to make their visits more frequent and to build a closer working relationship in a bid to creating an even more efficient Inspection Department. "Our goal is not just to police businesses but to provide proper guidance and the services of calibration to ensure that even businesses themselves are not unknowingly giving more for less. Calibration protects both businesses and consumer, and we intend to ensure that the controls remain as effectively enforced as has been done by my ministry," said Johnson.
Johnson said the Ministry of TEATT has invited members of Parliament from both sides of the aisle will be taking a tour of businesses on the island with the staff from the Economic Inspection Department. During the tour which will be conducted on Wednesday the Members of Parliament will have a first-hand look at the work involved in ensuring businesses are operating within the parameters of the law and ensuring that all machines used to dispense goods and services are accurately calibrated.