Prime Minister Marlin updates on several issues

Former Prime Minister Mr. William Marlin


PHILIPSBURG – Prime Minister (PM) William Marlin made some remarks in Wednesday’s, March 15, Council of Ministers Press Briefing, and updated on several issues.

Last week his Ministry received the Ransomware Report, which will be discussed tomorrow (Thursday) in a special meeting of the Council of Ministers along with the Secretary General of ICT, and some others along with the Council of Ministers.

ICT Technicians have said that at least they know how the virus entered into the system. A specific computer was mentioned, and during their research it was ascertained that the virus came from 4 specific computers.

One of the recommendations that will be discussed is limiting accessibility from certain sites such as Yahoo, Hotmail, Facebook, etc. Also they recommended looking into the possibility of having separate servers for the systems for the Civil Registry, and for the Central Administration System.

However, the Secretary General of General Affairs has in the meantime filed a case with the Public Prosecutor on the attack, “so if someone is maliciously attacking government system and hacking into it, or trying to plant viruses, and enter into it, it’s a criminal offense and we have decided to file a case,” the Prime Minister warned.

On the issue of the post office a meeting was held, and a decision will be taken on the way forward, but so far the recommendation to the Council of Ministers would be to appoint former Minister Dennis Richardson as a change manager, where he will look into the main problems the post office is dealing with.

“All the commercial activities and the post office were basically taken out and the profitable part of the post office was left with the St. Maarten postal services and the money making things were taken out. Secondly, we inherited all of the staff. I think it’s only 34 people, and the actual operation and the responsibilities of the post office does not require that many people. So you have an operation that is doomed to bankruptcy if you are not generating enough funds to maintain the cost of operation. So Mr. Dennis Richardson will be asked to look into it and make recommendations on downsizing of the staff,” the PM explained.

Some of the personnel have been working for government for over 30 years, “so we may have a package that will consist of phasing out some of them through some sort of early pension scheme, or we will move some of them to different government departments. We will look at the possibility of placing some of them there for the duration of their time as a public servant and right size it so that you can streamline the operations to suit their responsibility,” PM Marlin continued.

The situation at the Civil Registry was normalized over the weekend. Their two-day closure had nothing to do with any virus. “There was a foul odor coming from one of the rooms. They called the Fire Department to make sure that no equipment or no electricity shortage was the case. When they did a search, they recommended that the place, particularly the ceiling, be thoroughly cleaned because there were leftover droppings from rats and rodents, and so a company was brought in to clean up the place over the weekend,” the PM said.

On Monday, operations were fully back up and running, so their systems were not affected.

As for the meeting with Ronald Plasterk about the Integrity Chamber, “I also said that we had agreed that no information will be shared about the meeting, but I’ve taken note of a letter he had sent me appeared in one of the newspapers. So since I have been asked the question, let me be proactive. I think if the letter from Plasterk to St. Maarten was published, I think it is only fair that the reaction from St. Maarten to Minister Plasterk also be published,” Prime Minister Marlin stated.

Therefore, the PM made copies of the letter that was presented to Minister Plasterk, while in Aruba and said that letter would be shared with whoever was interested in having a copy

The letters are in Dutch, however, the PM expressed confidence in the ability of the media to disseminate that information to the public in English.