Philipsburg – The Ministry of Public Health, Social Development and Labor (VSA), through the assistance of the Sint Maarten Trust Fund, has started the process of designing and developing an Integrated Social Registry System (ISRS). Once completed, this system will be a primary resource in effectively providing social assistance to the vulnerable residents of our communities.
On Wednesday, October 14, 2020 in the presence of the Minister of VSA, the Honorable Richard Panneflek, a contract was signed between the Director of the National Recovery Program Bureau (NRPB) Claret Connor, and Mr. Alain Roper, Managing Partner of Computech N.V. The NRPB, as the project implementing unit of the Sint Maarten Trust Fund, will oversee the development of the ISRS by Computech N.V. Once fully developed, the ISRS will be able to enhance the Government’s efficiency in providing social assistance following disasters or other shocks.
The ISRS comes as a request of the VSA Ministry, the ministry that coordinates a variety of social services and benefits. At present individuals, oftentimes lacking proper information about certain social programs, travel to the Government’s Administration Building more than once, wait in lines, and repeatedly have to provide the same documents. On the other side, the Ministry faces higher administrative costs, duplications in processes, and lack of coordination in determining eligibility for the various programs. The Integrated Social Registry System will improve the capacity to better coordinate these social programs. “The system will enhance the delivery of existing services and programs by regulating the help, support, direction and cooperation as effectively as possible; it will allow the ministry to know if people are potentially eligible for one or more services. It will also reduce the administrative burden when applying for services. The ministry will be able to respond more quickly and effectively in case of a disaster, it will allow the ministry to improve governmental policies and improve new services and programs tailored to needs of the people.” Explained Joy Arnell, Secretary General of the VSA Ministry.
A second benefit of the system will be to support in the identification and registration of the island’s most vulnerable. Post disaster, the most vulnerable will be able to receive a more immediate assistance as their location and status would have been registered previously. “We see that once again through the Trust Fund, we are able to build resilience into our recovery,” Connor noted at the signing of the contract. “Having a system like this in place will save valuable time and effort in reaching those that need the assistance most after future disasters.”
With the signing of the contract, the team at Computech N.V. will work hand in hand with VSA and Government’s ICT department to deliver several capacities of the ISRS over a period of time while working towards the project completion date of May 2022. Representing the company at the contract signing, Roper indicated that, “Computech is determined to successfully accompany the Government of Sint Maarten on its quest to improve citizen engagement, empower employees and deliver data driven services with this new Integrated Social Registry System. This system will provide the government with accurate up to date data on household’s socio-economic needs and will allow the Ministry of VSA to be proactive and have foresight in delivering services to their clients.”
Computech N.V., a Sint Maarten based professional services company, has been providing IT consulting and services on the island since 2000. “I am especially elated that we were able to procure a local company to embark on this project with,” observed Minister Panneflek. “We have talented individuals and companies right here on the island. I encourage everyone not to be intimidated by the process. Many of the contracts awarded through the Trust Fund have been to local entrepreneurs and companies. We need to all participate in the recovery of our beautiful island.”
The Integrated Social Registry System is part of the second component of the Emergency Income Support Training Program (EISTP) under the Sint Maarten Trust Fund. The first component, which consisted of the training of unemployed and underemployed persons in Sint Maarten in the wake of Hurricane Irma, concluded in September 2020 after successfully completing its goal of training more than 1800 participants. The Project is financed by the Government of the Netherlands, managed by the World Bank and implemented by NRPB.