Philipsburg; The Minister of TEATT informed the Ombudsman that the recommendations provided in the Final report regarding the complaint of the Market Vendors are accepted as issued.
On Monday 22 of January 2018 the Ombudsman received a response of the Minister of TEATT dated 12 January in reaction to the Final Report drafted by the Ombudsman regarding the outcome of the investigation of the complaint filed by the Philipsburg Market Vendors post hurricane Irma. The then Minister of TEATT, the Honorable Melissa Arrindell-Doncher, informed the Ombudsman that the recommendations are accepted.
Upon investigation of the complaints filed by some thirty Market Vendors about the removal of the kiosks in Philipsburg, the Ombudsman concluded that the standards of proper conduct Reason, Active and adequate information provision, as well as Reasonableness and proportionality were not observed by the Ministry. As such the Ombudsman recommended: to ensure that proper reasons, motives and grounds be observed, provided and explained to the citizen in general, and the complainants in particular in all pending decisions; and to inform complainants in writing about the steps taken and the action plan regarding the relocation of the Marketplace structures, with copy to the Ombudsman. Copies of the steps to be taken and action plan were not enclosed. However a status report was promised no later than 15 March 2018.
The standard of proper conduct Reason provides that actions taken by government should be carried by facts and logic communicated to the citizen. Proper reasons, motives and grounds should be provided and explained to the citizen with all decisions made by government. A public body cannot act on the basis of its own discretion nor can it act randomly, as such every decision and action of a public body has to be properly motivated.
The standard of Reasonableness and proportionality entails that an administrative body is obliged to weigh interests in reaching a decision and to observe the principle of proportionality. This requires that the negative consequences of an action to achieve a certain goal may not be disproportionate to the interest of the citizen.
A public body is required to conduct a thorough and adequate investigation into the relevant facts and circumstances; adequate information should be gathered.
Subsequently, the acquired facts have to be weighed against the interests of the citizen; the outcome may not be unreasonable.
The standard of proportionality provides that the consequences of a decision made, or action taken by a public body have to be proportional to the goal it is meant to serve. A public body is to employ the measure that interferes the least with the interest of the citizen. And the goal has to justify the means used (proportionality). When coming to a decision the public body has to be well aware of its impact.
Providing Adequate Information to the Public
Active and adequate information provision requires – in the interest of managing the affairs of the citizens – administrative bodies to actively and upon request provide adequate information to the public. Providing adequate information can clear up the air between public bodies and the citizens. In general an individual is more willing to accept a situation when there is an explanation, or the outcome of a request is motivated. To ensure a high level of credibility in public bodies, transparency is essential. Being open and clear in providing adequate information regarding plans and actions of the government, that affect the interest of the citizen is a requirement for enhancing the credibility of public bodies. That administrative bodies are required to actively and upon request provide adequate information to the public, entails on the one hand the duty to provide citizens with information upon request. As well as the duty to inform the citizen on its own initiative about proceedings that have a direct effect on them. Proper information provision creates legal certainty for all.