PHILIPSBURG – Prime Minister and Minister responsible for General affairs William Marlin, in Wednesday’s, January 25, Council of Minister press briefing updated on several matters pertaining to his Ministry.
He briefly mentioned the survivors of the fire that destroyed their home completely in the Cul-de-Sac area, who are staying temporarily at Paradise inn, and stated that the Department of Social Welfare along with the St. Maarten Housing Foundation are “trying as much as they can to help the victims. The cause of fire is not known, as far as I’m concerned, but that is not important at this stage in terms of getting help and support for the family.”
He also mentioned that in the afternoon at 4:30pm Hasani Ellis will be sworn in as the new Deputy Minister Plenipotentiary in The Hague, at the Cabinet of the Governor.
Work on the new government building is ongoing. “As you can see when you visit the building here, or if you drive by, you can see that work is in full swing,” he said.
After December break, contractors returned to working on the building, and are scheduled to officially hand over the completion of the building by January 31.
Prime Minister Marlin said, “It’s a tremendous change from what it was. The railings have arrived, they are putting those up as well…But more importantly on the inside on floors two and three, work is being done so that the moving in can continue. Most of the people who have to be in the right or northern wing of the building, the top floor have settled in, and now we are concentrating on a moving plan for the second and the third floor. The bottom floor we have also been using, but that too has to be fitted in for the purpose that it will serve.”
An electronic panel is being put in place where it will display any messages pertinent to that day’s events.
Marlin also mentioned a Parliament meeting on Thursday afternoon, where the Prime Minister and Minister of Justice have been invited to Parliament for a discussion on the latest developments in The Hague surrounding the appointment of a quartermaster for the Integrity Chamber.
A meeting is also planned for the way forward with Oyster Pond. “We were hoping to have had a meeting around the second half of January, actually in the week of the 18th. That did not materialize and the discussion now would be on the way forward. For me it through remains a very serious issue,” Marlin stated.
“Because in the meanwhile someone, who has had water rights granted by the government of St. Maarten that was granted a building permit, that was granted a business license, that had been operating the business for several years is now, suddenly hampered in the operation of the business. Who will compensate the business for all of these losses, and if the business goes under what happens then?” He questioned.
“I got a disturbing message from the owner of the marina that they are about to lose a major contract because the charter company cannot operate anymore from the marina, and interestingly it appears as if they’re moving now to Marigot,” he continued.
“So that makes it even more complicated…complicated that it’s an interesting thing because if the French authorities render a business on the Dutch side inoperable, then clients moved their operation now to the French side, all this lends for a good script in a James Bond movie, but in the meantime there are two issues. One, the business aspect of it, and two, the aspect of the relationship between the two countries where one is muscling in on one’s property that actually belongs to the Dutch side of St. Maarten. I am personally taking this matter seriously, and we hope that with the intervention of The Hague and Paris, this matter will be resolved as quickly as possible,” Prime Minister Marlin stated.
Also in February, there will be a Kingdom conference taking place where the four Prime Ministers of the Kingdom will be present. “I would definitely like to get some of the things off my chest. What I do not get off my chest in Parliament tomorrow for sure will be off my chest in that meeting,” Marlin said.
“The relationship within the Kingdom is not what, in my opinion, it is supposed to be. There’s an election in the Netherlands soon, and I don’t know if politicians are gearing up for their political support at home. I think that there should be an understanding as to exactly what this Kingdom is. Is it a Kingdom with four countries in it, or is it an extension of what it used to be? The Dutch Kingdom with its colonies spread out throughout the Caribbean,” Marlin concluded.