PHILIPSBURG – The article stmaartennews.com published on Monday under the headline ‘How former Minister Emmanuel helped his friends to pieces of land’ contains a reference to the contract the minister granted to the Soualiga Infrastructure Company for repairs to the damaged walkway of the Prince Bernhard Bridge.
The line ‘Minister of Finance Richard Gibson Sr. signed off on the project on November 30’ created the impression that the finance minister was part of the plot. This is however incorrect: the decision to grant the project is the sole responsibility of former VROMI-Minister Christophe Emmanuel.
The Accountancy Act gives ministers the freedom to grant contract for work below the 150,000 guilders threshold without the approval from the Council of Ministers.
When such contracts come to the ministry of finance, the minister checks whether a project remains within the boundaries of these rules.
“The decision remains the responsibility of the minister of VROMI,” former Minister Gibson told stmaartennews.com on Tuesday.
Minister Emmanuel granted the bridge repair project to the Soualiga Infrastructure Company for 149,768.25 guilders, just below the 150,000 guilders threshold.
“It is not up to the minister of finance to give an opinion about such projects,” Gibson said.
The amount for which the contract was awarded is nevertheless remarkable because the repairs are limited to the pedestrian walkway where a couple of steel plates have to be replaced.
The contractor, who was at the time the contract was awarded not registered at the Chamber of Commerce, received half of the contract value in advance. Almost three months later, the repairs have not been executed yet.
Photo caption: The Soualiga Infrastructure Company gets almost 150,000 guilders to repair the pedestrian part of the Prince Bernhard bridge with a couple of steel plates. Photo Hilbert Haar.