PHILIPSBURG: — Since the budget debate started last week there have been a war taking place on Facebook regarding the cost to decorate the New Government Building for the upcoming holiday season. On the social media various amounts are being mentioned, some persons stated and even newspapers stated that government paid $80,000.00 for the decorations all of which will remain government property. However, SMN News learned that the amount spent on the decorations amounted to $78,000.00. Indeed, the amount is far too much especially when the country has financial constraints and Ministers were forced to cut their budgets and spending in order to meet the requirements of the CFT. However, there are some key questions that need to be answered, one being who was responsible for this project? SMN News learned it was arranged by Erno Labega the DMO, what was Labega’s role in this gross misspending and did he really check to see if some fake companies scammed government?
Besides that, it appears as though the Members of Parliament have amnesia when it comes to spending of government monies and when they ask pertinent questions.
In 2011 Artemia Event Planners were paid $55, 895, 00 for the St. Maarten’s Day decoration which was merely the decoration of some light posts and the Festival Village the materials used for that event remains the property of Artemia Event Planners. When SMN News posted that invoice, a former Minister who was at the time a UPP Minister brought in consultants from Curacao to investigate who exactly leaked the documents to SMN News, to date no one has been prosecuted for leaking public documents, yet the government had to pay the overseas consultants.
Information provided to SMN News showed that the Port of St. Maarten paid Artemia some $1.2 for the grand opening of the Causeway, again all materials used in that event remained the properties of that company.
The same company was allegedly paid almost USD6M for various events, but so far none of this was brought up or even debated in parliament or even addressed by government.
The owners of the same company owe government taxes for several companies for over eight years, yet the government, or the concerned Members of Parliament that are asking about the misuse of government funds with the decoration of the government building. The MP is indeed doing her job as a Member of Parliament, but it would be good if that MP calls for a meeting to discuss all that was paid to Artemia and why they are not paying government taxes for all the companies owned by the owners of Artemia.
While this article is not meant to cover up or defend the government, one of the things that are expected through this is article is to have a debate on all misspending of government monies and hold those responsible for it.
Click here to view invoice for 2011 SXM day decorations
Source: St. Martin News Network
Who scammed government for Government Building Decorations?