MP Emmanuel: 650 thousand for school repairs vanished, calls for investigation

Member of Parliament Christophe Emmanuel


PHILIPSBURG, Sint Maarten — Member of Parliament Christophe Emmanuel has called on the Acting Minister of Education, Culture, Youth and Sport Lyndon Lewis to investigate the disappearance of over Naf 650,000 that was meant for the reconstruction and repairs of schools.

MP Emmanuel said it has come to his attention that this is the primary reason why repairs at seven schools, since the passing of Hurricane Irma, are still not completed. Contrary to all the excuses provided by the former National Alliance led government and National Alliance Minister of Education Rodolphe Samuel, “the delay in school repairs boils down to someone stealing tax-payers money and the people need to know how this was possible,” the MP said.

According to Emmanuel, the government of St. Maarten contracted a company by the name of Confident Construction B.V. to execute repair work on six schools. The Vocational Training School, Marie Genevieve DeWeever School, Martin Luther King School, Dr. Alma Fleming School, Oranje School and Ruby Labega School.

The entire project reportedly cost approximately Naf 2 million guilders, with Confident Construction receiving 30% of this payment as an advance. There is reportedly no accounting for the work, if any, carried out by Confident Construction B.V. As a result, MP Emmanuel said, the government had to hire a different contractor to execute the work at Martin Luther King in particular which needed a new roof.

Emmanuel also recalled that the same company was terminated by the NRPB in 2020 for not living up to contractual agreements as they related to home re-construction after Hurricane Irma.

“At no point in time did the former government inform the people of St. Maarten or Parliament of this country that more than Naf 650,000 could not be accounted for. Why not? Children have been going to school in poor environments because someone decided to hell with the children, I’m taking this money. And what has the former government done about it,” MP Emmanuel asked.

The MP wants Minister Lewis to determine who knew what and when they knew it. What was done to recoup this money and has any of it been retrieved? Also, he wants to know how much in total was spent on school repairs, including the cost of the new contractors that were hired to finish the school? Who was tasked with oversight of the projects? And how did this oversight firm fail so badly?

“This is a prime example of why I called the former government the worst in our history. Taxpayers’ money is stolen while we have children and teachers walking out of class to sit under a tree to escape the heat. We have an Acting Minister who came in, hit the ground running and ran right into the mess that the former government left in the Ministry of Education. This was bad governance once again at the expense of our children and the former government tried to hide it. Makes you wonder what else they are hiding. People apparently embezzled half a million guilders and there is no accountability. I want an investigation carried out right away,” MP Emmanuel concluded.