Mike Franco discusses corruption, roads and water-catchment project | THE DAILY HERALD

Government Commissioner Mike Franco inspecting the overgrown water-catchment system at Sandy Road.


ST. EUSTATIUS–Government Commissioner Marcolino “Mike” Franco sat down with The Daily Herald and discussed a range of topics that included the road and water-catchment projects, as well as corruption as it relates to government.

“A lot of people from outside want to know if money was stolen and put it in wrong pockets,” Franco said. “That is not the only way corruption is being defined. Corruption includes a lot of things and some of those things we have encountered. Using your power to use funds for other purposes than it was intended is also a matter of corruption.”

The same goes for placing persons in certain positions because of their political affiliations. “Yes, we have seen this, taking people from certain positions, because they are not doing what you would like them to do.”

While not specifically searching for cases of corruption, Franco said the government commissioners encountered these things while doing their job.

He also said that persons come to him stating that they have performed a job for government but didn’t get paid. “In one incident a person had to receive back-pay by law, and never received it. We have just arranged that the payments be made.”

No thorough investigation into the island finances has been held as yet. Internal accountant Versant and an external accountant are looking into the annual accounts of 2016 and 2017.

‘The investigation results are not ready as yet, so we cannot say anything about that at the moment. Finances were not in order, so we do not have annual accounts in as yet,” Franco said.

During a recent trip to the Netherlands, Franco spoke with State Secretary of Home Affairs and Kingdom Relations Raymond Knops about his first impressions of St. Eustatius since he took over the island government in February.

He also sat in at the Caribbean Netherlands (CN) table, where all Dutch ministries come together to speak about issues concerning Bonaire, Statia and Saba.

Franco said Statia is “very high on the agenda” because of the situation on the island after the takeover. “At this moment we are able to talk to all ministers about what the island needs and what they can give to us for to uplift the island.”

One thing they discussed were the state of the road network and how to rebuild them, he said. During meetings with the Advisory Board, non-governmental organisations and one-on-one meetings with Statians on Wednesdays it was concluded that people wanted Dr. H.A. Korthalsweg/Mansionweg fixed first.

Research showed that this road is the largest catcher of rainwater running down from The Quill volcano. Franco said that all water catchments will be dug out again and new catchments will be made alongside the road leading to the solar park to be used for agricultural purposes there.

“It is going to be a project with several ministries involved. The Ministry of Agriculture is interested to dig the water catchment. The money they have to avoid erosion can be added to the project and they can build the road,” Franco said.

Problem is that the road needs to be widened as it currently is too narrow as two cars cannot pass each other.

The properties along the long road do not belong to the island government, so they have approached the owners to see if they are willing to sell for a reasonable price. “We are hopeful that the owners cooperate and sell for a reasonable price to give the island good roads,” said Franco.

Commissioner Franco said they were forced to halt the construction of a building at a historical location at “Deep Yard” on Paramiraweg because by law research has to be carried out before construction can take place. Even though permission was granted by the previous government, Franco said there were concerns about whether the request had been processed in the right way. The construction was suspended until research has been carried out.

Source: The Daily Herald https://www.thedailyherald.sx/islands/77182-mike-franco-discusses-corruption-roads-and-water-catchment-project