TEATT Minister Ludmila de Weever.
PHILIPSBURG–Minister of Tourism, Economic Affairs, Transport and Telecommunication (TEATT) Ludmila de Weever made it clear on Sunday that the TEATT Ministry will not condone intimidation of its controllers who are operating within the rights and duties of their job.
The minister said in a press statement that “unsubstantiated accusations” levied at controllers will also not be tolerated and she noted that an internal investigation has already started based on such allegations. Her statement came on the heels of a video that was circulating showing Chairperson of Parliament, United People’s (UP) party Member of Parliament (MP) Rolando Brison questioning inspectors who had gone to control District 721, Simpson Bay.
“While the Ministry of TEATT encourages investment and participation in the St. Maarten economy, it is not sufficient reason to ignore St. Maarten’s laws and safety requirements. TEATT would like to remind everyone that the rule of law applies equally to all who live and seek to do business in St. Maarten, and that it will apply it equally to everyone,” De Weever said in the release.
She said the TEATT Ministry had announced recently that it would step up general controls to ensure that businesses are adhering to St. Maarten’s economic rules and regulations. Many of these controls are in response to public complaints received for various infractions.
TEATT has diligently worked to restore economic activity during the crisis, but in a responsible manner within the law. Restoring the economy is a top priority, but it will not be done at the expense of good governance and fairness, the release stated.
The inspections are done by staff who have specific duties and the authority to close businesses found in violation of the country’s laws. Part of these duties include the routine checking of businesses for the relevant permits and licences to operate, as well as responding to complaints. This is being done in the interest of the public good.
Repeated failure of a business to obtain the legally required documents, fulfil its obligations and operate within the conditions of the licences will result in fines and closure.
According to the release, numerous establishments were shut down last week for gross violations, including that a permit to sell liquor at the establishment has not been granted; a permit has not been granted for this establishment to sell food, weak liquor and alcohol-free beverages; the establishment does not have the required permit visibly displayed as required by law; either the type of licence granted, the name of the permittee or the age prohibition (or some combination thereof) is not clearly marked either on top of or on the side of one of the outside main entrance doors; the establishment makes music or provides performances or other actions for the public, or provides the opportunity to dance or allow dancing without a permit; and the establishment carries out businesses other than those permitted by the minister.
These violations fall under the supervision of TEATT. They do not cover other potential violations that are the responsibilities of different ministries, such as, but not limited to building permits, sufficient parking space, health inspections, fire and safety inspections, work permits for foreign employees, Social and Health Insurances SZV contributions and tax registration.
“The Ministry of TEATT will not condone intimidation of controllers who are operating within their rights and duties of the job. Unsubstantiated accusations levied at controllers will also not be tolerated,” it was stated in the release.