SINT MAARTEN (PHILIPSBURG) - The Ombudsman recently concluded the last of the three Systemic Investigations, initiated after the hurricanes of September 2017.
The third systemic investigation related to the functioning of the Rent Tribunal (RT). The previous two systemic investigations were regarding the Disaster Management Plan and the Dismissal Advisory Committee.
After providing a Preliminary Findings Report, the Final Report was submitted on November 28, 2018 to the Acting Chairman of the Rent Tribunal and the Prime Minister.
The Ombudsman concludes in her report that though the systemic investigation assisted in bringing the serious challenges of the RT to adequately execute its task to the forefront, and understanding reached between government and the RT regarding steps to address and alleviate the most pressing matters on short term, the Ombudsman observes that this has not yet resulted in tangible decisions from the Council of Ministers and improvement of the critical situation.
Based on the abovementioned, the Ombudsman has made the following recommendations to the RT and government:
- Government should establish the proposed and subsequently approved organizational structure of the RT, including realistic remunerations by National Decree;
- The RT along with government should establish an annual budget, which includes all resources necessary that will allow the RT to effectively and efficiently execute its task pursuant to the law;
- The Minister of General Affairs should promptly take the resolutions of the Hearing held on 20 September 2018 at the Bureau of the Ombudsman and subsequent follow up from the RT, to the Council of Ministers for decision-making;
- The RT should actively engage various stakeholders, including government, to discuss the identified changes, proposed based on their experiences and practical circumstances, to the National Ordinance Rent;
- The RT should continue periodical dialogue with the Joint Court of Justice to ensure that the relevant procedural matters between the two institutions remain in sync;
- The RT should formally establish and implement the draft Rent Tribunal Process Handbook, as well as a standardized form to facilitate the intake and outline of information pertaining to a Hearing.
The Final Report was also submitted to Parliament considering the nature and importance of the investigation for the public. The Ombudsman has requested a status report from the RT on the recommendations within three (3) months from the date of the report.
The Final Report is available for download via the website: www.ombudsmansxm.com, under the ‘Articles and Presentations’ tab.