Heyliger-Marten reiterates need for SOAB Audit documents on TelEM

Chairlady of the Justice Committee in Parliament MP, the Honourable Grisha Heyliger-Marten


“Urgent letter of complaint sent by SMCU”

PHILIPSBURG, Sint Maarten — Concerns over several yet to be addressed issues at St. Maarten’s flagship telephone Company TELEM between staff and management, still have the attention of President of Parliament the Honorable Grisha Heyliger-Marten, who has sent a second request to Prime Minister Silveria Jacobs reminding her of the September 29, 2021 request for the SOAB Audit documents of TELEM.

Since the first wave of complaints reached Parliament, Member of Parliament for the United People’s Party MP Heyliger-Marten took notice of the employees’ concerns and insisted that Government provide information.

On Tuesday the Court of First Instance in St. Maarten ruled that it was an illegal act for the Telephone Company to stop the employees’’ “Savings plan” without permission from the SMCU. The Court in its judgement determined that the Savings Plan has to be reinstated retroactively from February 2021 with a fine of US$500 per day for each day they fail to comply. “The Court’s ruling further solidifies the need for action to be taken where TELEM is concerned, and this must include urgent delivery of the SOAB Report to Parliament,” said Heyliger-Marten.

This information should come from the Prime Minister, who has responsibility for TELEM as part of her Ministerial Portfolio.

In a press release issued Tuesday evening, Heyliger-Marten said she received a letter from the St. Maarten Communications Union which further strengthened the need for Parliament to get the SOAB Audit information urgently. She also forwarded a copy of the SMCU letter to Prime Minister Jacobs.

According to President Heyliger-Marten, it has been almost two years since the problems between the staff and management of TELEM led to the former marching to the Parliament Building in protest for an urgent meeting with the members of Parliament. And despite the explanations given and ways forward proposed by both the Government and management of TELEM, the recent letter from the SMCU seems to indicate that the crisis has only worsened, she said.

In Heyliger-Marten’s first letter sent last year, she urgently requested an update on the SOAB audit progress at TELEM and officially asked for a copy of the audit documents as soon as they are available. “Regrettably, I did not receive any response to that letter to date, and as far as I have been able to determine, the SOAB audit documents have not been provided to Parliament either.”

In her second letter, sent on Tuesday, March 22, 2022, MP Heyliger-Marten said, “I received the attached self-explanatory letter from the SMCU. The allegations in the letter should be a reason for grave concern for both the Council of Ministers and Parliament. Its contents underscore the need to address the situation at TELEM as post-haste, starting with the mentioned audit.”

Heyliger-Marten told Prime Minister Jacobs in the letter that “the current situation at TelEM is very problematic, unacceptable and cannot continue any longer. Therefore, I am requesting you to urgently provide Parliament with the documents related to the SOAB audit at TELEM.”

She concluded by stating: “TELEM is very important to the community and economy of St. Maarten. In the interest of due process and good governance, I therefore look forward to Parliament receiving the mentioned documents as soon as possible, so that both Government and Parliament can satisfactorily address this issue once and for all.”