PHILIPSBURG–Minister of Public Housing, Environment, Spatial Development and Infrastructure VROMI Christophe Emmanuel on Monday dismissed claims that a US $12,000 monthly contract had been given to former Member of Parliament (MP) Maurice Lake to serve as advisor for the board of Utilities Company GEBE. He also debunked assertions that hefty contracts were given to clean around the metre walls of the utilities company.
“No contract. None whatsoever has been given to maintain the metre walls at the tune of US $900,000. No contract has been given. It’s not true,” Emmanuel told Members of Parliament (MPs) during a meeting of the Central Committee of Parliament on Monday.
Regarding the reports that a contract had been given to Lake, the Minister said: “Absolutely not. No contract was given to the individual at all.” Emmanuel said a proposal had been submitted to GEBE offering Lake’s services, but no contract had been granted. The minister said he is unaware of what services Lake is offering to GEBE. “But it’s for GEBE to reject or approve whether they have use for the services or not. I did not instruct and I did not ask or request anything to GEBE for the individual. Lake made a proposal to GEBE and I don’t see anything wrong with that. Whatever services he is offering is for GEBE to accept or not.”
The minister was at the time responding to queries made by United People’s (UP) MP Tamara Leonard on the issue. In a letter to the minister, Leonard asked whether there had been hefty contracts given for removal of debris, grass and weeds from around metre boxes along the public roads. She also asked about a contract for Lake totalling some US $12,000 per month for the post of advisor to the board. Emmanuel said while he did not yet receive Leonard’s questions officially, he wanted to respond to what had been placed in the media about the matter.
Emmanuel said in an effort to be proactive, he had made a request to GEBE, not instruct them, to spruce up metre walls. He said it was up to GEBE to make a decision on the request. “I did not instruct GEBE to do anything. I asked,” he noted. The minister said he had made similar requests to Princess Juliana International Airport SXM to fix and maintain the guardrails along Airport Road and similar requests to TelEm Group.
MPs were told that a definite figure for the GEBE metre project is not yet known. A budget amendment of NAf. 500,000 had been worked on until a definite figure is known. The Distribution Department is looking into this and will approach contractors who are prelisted for the project. Emmanuel said he did not have any discussions with GEBE about the figures.