What actions will Parliament take when they are being lied to by Ministers?
PHILIPSBURG:— On Friday, April 6th 2017, the Minister of VSA Emil Lee told the Parliament of St. Maarten that he did not give the director of SZV Glen Carty permission to spend monies from the AOV funds to construct the new hospital, instead he said the decision was taken by the Minister of General Affairs (Prime Minister William Marlin and Minister of Finance Richard Gibson Sr.) a blatant lie told to the members of Parliament.
The two letters sent by the Director of SZV Glen Carty to Minister Emil Lee and his response will be published under this article for sake of transparency.
SMN News got hold of the letters Minister of VSA Emil Lee sent to SZV director Glen Carty dated August 5th, 2016 informing Carty that the Council of Ministers gave him the approval to use the AOV funds to create a capital reserve fund to the tune of NAF 144M for the construction of the New General Hospital including consultant fees. This approval was based on a letter Carty sent to the Minister dated August 5th, 2016. (take note both the request and approval are dated August 5th, 2016.)
Amazing is that on August 5th, 2016 (the same day Carty sent his letter laying out how much monies SZV would need to the create a capital reserve fund for the New Hospital, the Minister sent back a letter to the Director of USZV giving him the approval to create the fund to the tune of NAF 144M.
Indeed the September 26th parliamentary election was not far away so the Minister of VSA Emil Lee responded the same day to Carty giving him the green light to use the AOV funds, the way he (Carty) laid out in his letter to Minister Lee. When analyzing the letters it is clear that the Minister just copied and paste the context of Carty’s letter in his approval letter. Moreover, from July 27th, 2016 to August 5th, 2016 — a nine day period the Minister gave the approval to utilize some NAF 144M for the New General Hospital project.
Also, the Minister said that it is two Ministers namely Marlin and Gibson Sr. gave the orders to spend the AVO funds, but in his letter, he stated that it was the Council of Ministers that that approved the investment.
Clearly, Minister Lee lied to the members of the Parliament of St. Maarten and he also incriminated his coalition partners from the National Alliance fraction. Unless the Minister could provide other documentation that was sent to the Council of Ministers other than the July 27th letter that has the note stating that the project was approved on August 4th.
Not to mention that the Council of Ministers did not give any approval on how much of the AOV funds could be invested in the New Hospital project prior to the letter sent to Carty on August 5th.
Clearly, if any decision was taken by the Council of Ministers it was on the letter sent by Carty on July 27th 2016 showing SZV’s willingness to invest in the project and to also purchase SMMC buildings and long lease in which they stated that the funds acquired from the purchase will be used to pay the debts SMMC has with SZV and its taxes.
However, Carty sent a very broad letter on July 27th, 2016 expressing SZV interest in purchasing SMMC, the long lease and to also construct the New General Hospital. In that letter the Director of SZV did not mention the amount of money SZV was willing to spend on the project, they clearly indicated that they will do so at market price. On that very letter, someone wrote a small note on it stating that the Council of Ministers discussed the request and approved it, that note was dated August 8th, 2016. Bear in mind the July 27th letter is not a request but instead, the director of SZV expressed the institution’s willingness to invest, it is not a request for the capital reserve fund.
Yet in the Minister’s approval letter dated August 5th he said a decision from the Council of Ministers was taken from the letter Carty sent on August 5th, 2016.
Asked by Parliament in last week’s meeting how much money from the AOV fund was spent on the New Government Building while SZV did not have a contract or purchase agreement the Minister claimed not to know even though this entity falls under his Ministry.
So far SZV spent more than two-thirds of the AOV pension funds which can well jeopardize the pension fund.
The documents (letters) that SMN News got hold of and are under this article were all submitted to the Landsrecherche when the former chairman of the Supervisory Board Dr. Michel Petit filed a complaint against the Director of SZV Glen Carty and the Minister of VSA Emil Lee for over-reaching. Yet the Prosecutor’s Office did not see the need to investigate this case or to protect the AOV fund which belongs to pensioners. The main focus of the Prosecutor’s Office is to lock up known people on St. Maarten and label them with all sorts of crimes which they have to live with for years before they could get their day in court, while white collar crimes or administrative crimes go unnoticed at the expense of the people.
It should be noted that the Director of SZV does not need to get any approval or instruction from the Minister as to how to manage SZV funds (social and pension funds) since the Director has a clear guideline as to what he can and cannot do. However, he is accountable to the Minister VSA.
Lying to Members of Parliament or denying them information cannot be accepted in a country that is striving to develop its economy and in turn its people.
More documents and advice surfaced when SZV transferred the construction of the New General Hospital to SMMC which will be funded by SZV and other financiers.
Further research shows that the Council of Ministers only got information regarding the investment on September 13th, 2016 based on an advice which was prepared by the “stafbureau” of the Ministry of VSA. The advice bears the DIV number GOV-16 -006776. That advice was signed by Hensley Plantijn and Joy Arnell. The advice includes several documents such as the business plan, a letter from the Minister of Finance to the CFT informing them how St. Maarten/ Ministry of VSA intends to finance the New General Hospital and the returns it expects from this project.
Another letter that surfaced is a letter sent by the former chairman of the supervisory board Dr. Michel Petit on March 30th, 2016 informing the Minister of the violations in investing the AOV funds and the need to have this regulated by an LBHAM.
SMN News also took specific articles from the SZV ordinance where it clearly states that the Director has to report to the Minister, but all financial decisions is to be taken by him, this can be found in article 18
Article 3 of the said ordinance outlines SZV’s tasks, which clearly exclude real estate and investment in buildings since it is not within the scope of SZV.
Article 22 paragraph 6 states that SZV is authorized after approval from the Minister to create a fund for financing special third party projects within the sector that is related to objectives and goals of SZV. However, paragraph 7 of the said article states that even though the Minister has to determine the amount of the special project fund that amount has to be indicated in the director’s performance contract.
Article 19 stipulates that the performance contract with the director has to be established after the annual budget has been approved. Remarkably this required performance contract which establishes the amount of money allocated to the special project fund was signed on September 22nd, 2016, four days prior to the September 26th parliamentary elections. Another major point that has raised eyebrows, is the signing that took place on September 19th during the evening hours between SMMC and SZV for the construction of the New General Hospital, again this mysterious agreement the Minister told parliament on Friday that he did not have a copy of that document because he was not a signatory to the agreement even though he was present at the signing while no media were invited to the special event.
Clearly based on the documents SMN News obtained, it is obvious that the Minister violated several articles of the SZV ordinance even when preparing the performance contract for SZV director where it states that the money allocated for the capital reserve for the New General Hospital has to be included when an approved budget of SZV is presented and approved by the Minister. What is even scarier is that the performance contract was signed off on September 22nd, 2016, yet mentioned is made of the capital investment fund in the letter sent out on September 12th to revoke the letter of August 5th. While the letters indicated August 5th, 2016, the Council of Ministers actually took the decision on September 13th, 2016. SMN News research shows that all paperwork was done within a few days prior to the September 26th parliamentary election.
Another document that surfaced during SMN News research is a letter sent by the former chairman of the supervisory board Dr. Michel Petit dated March 30th, 2016 informing Minister Lee the need to have legislations in place before the AOV fund could be invested. The former chairman was very clear in his letter to Minister but the Minister did not follow the advice/warning given to him and went ahead with his plans to invest money from the AOV fund without the proper legislations in place. This, of course, pushed the former chairman of SZV to resign from his position since he saw that the AOV fund could be depleted which would ultimately hurt pensioners.
SMN News also wrote an article in September 2016 and attached an email that was sent by the SZV legal advisor Jeroen Veen dated December 18th, 2015 to Minister Lee informing him that it was necessary for him to have the necessary legislation in place before the AOV fund could have to be invested. Veen in his email went as far as informing the Minister that the legislation has to get the approval of parliament and also must be signed off by the Governor St. Maarten, none of which was done.
The Minister of VSA Emil Lee and SZV Director Glen Carty clearly violated the following with regards to the financing of the New General Hospital.
- • USZV Director violated Article 20 of the USZV ordinance by not submitting a draft annual budget and draft performance agreement before April 1st, 2015 for the fiscal year 2016 for approval by the Minister. The Minister of VSA also violated article 20 of the USZV ordinance by not approving the 2016 budget by October 1st, 2015.
• Article 22 paragraph 7 of the USZV ordinance by stipulating, signing contracts and spending monies before the performance contract was signed.
• Article 25 AOV ordinance by investing money from the AOV fund without of having an LBHAM in place.
This concludes that in the rush to have everything in place for the New General Hospital prior to the election the Minister did not adhere to the law that regulates SZV and its operations. Article 22 of the AOV ordinance stipulates that if the solvency of AOV fund is jeopardized then country St. Maarten has to guarantees payments of AOV without restrictions.
During the Parliament meetings held thus far the Minister is not forthcoming with the answers he was asked to provide.
Member of Parliament Franklin Meyers asked the Minister for the names of the resorts and other institutions where water testing was conducted, but instead of turning over that information to Parliament the Minister of VSA chose to tell Parliament that 15% of the places where water was tested came back positive with E-coli and legionella. Will Members of Parliament do their jobs and ensure that Ministers comply with their requests or will they just sit back and relax and allow the Ministers to dictate what they get or know when it comes to the affairs of their country.
Source: St. Martin News Network
EXCLUSIVE: Will the Parliament of St. Maarten fail the people, Prosecutor Office already turned a blind eye.