~ And US $4.2 million owed to Sheriff Security ~
Independent Member of Parliament Christophe Emmanuel has written to Prime Minister Silveria Jacobs about the St. Maarten Festival Village and, according to the MP, the “public eyesore” it has become as well as general operation questions surrounding the government foundation that runs the Festival Village, Stichting Overheids Gebouwen (SOG).
“The facility has been sitting in an eye-sore state since Hurricane Irma with no visible repairs having taken place. Very little, if anything, is known about the Festival Village operations or about SOG. Did the board of SOG get an insurance pay out or not? What explanation is there for the state of the facility? Who controls what is happening there? Why has the board never been changed?
“Here we have another government entity that is run like somebody’ personal kingdom. I believe it is essential that we ascertain what is happening at this facility as well as obtain clarity on related matters as they refer to SOG itself,” the MP said.
Two of the issues Emmanuel is seeking clarity on are whether SOG received any insurance funds to repair the village and how is SOG dealing with the US $1.7 million it owes to Sheriff Security. Sheriff Security used to secure the facility for a number of years and currently still has an office on premises. Additionally, the MP said, the government of St. Maarten in total owes the same security company approximately US $4.2 million (including SOG $1.7). “We need answers on these issues and more.”
The MP said. MP Emmanuel also included several questions about TelEm’s role in the festival and with the SOG and why other telecommunications companies are not allowed commercial opportunities in the Village, which could possibly assist in the upkeep of the facility. He also asked about the other government facilities that SOG manages.
“There have been many complaints made publicly by several groups and organizations who wish to make use of the St. Maarten Festival Village. Their complaints have centered on the procedures and manner which the facility is operated by the Stichting Overheids Gebouwen (SOG), a government ZBO. Some of these complaints have reached my person and I have a duty to try and obtain answers in the general interest of the public,” the MP said.
“I continue to be flooded with all sorts of concerns from the general public that it feels requires addressing. My duty as a Member of Parliament is to listen to the people who elected me to this position and simply look into these matters. As MP’s we have the power to ask pertinent questions to the relevant Ministers responsible especially when it involves tax-payers money,” he said.