MARIGOT–President of the Collectivité Daniel Gibbs on Thursday responded to a flood of French-side media coverage around SEMSAMAR and the in his view “many untruths” published with a press statement so the people of St. Martin can benefit from the “correct facts” and understand the challenges regarding the future of the mixed-capital company.
“First of all, my team and I oppose the misleading arguments that speak of dismantling versus strengthening the general direction of the company,” he said. “These are two very distinct topics for us. To assume a link between the proposal of appointing a chief executive officer (CEO) at the head of the SEMSAMAR and a possible dismantling is an unfounded argument put on the media scene to create confusion.”
He reminded that SEMSAMAR was created in St. Martin in 1985 and is a company that is part of the St. Martiners’ life, part of the island’s heritage and the pride of the territory.
“I affirm that there is absolutely no question of dismantling the shareholding of this structure to give it to any random organisation. To those who advance such arguments I ask them to come and prove them,” he said.
However, faced with the challenges of reconstruction of the territory, faced with the difficulties of the administrators to impose their ideas within the structure, he said it seemed relevant – and the current statuses allow it – to give to the president of the board of directors the possibility of integrating the general management. This proposal supports the decision taken at the last board of directors meeting to appoint a firm of experts whose role will be to assist and advise the elected officials in their missions.
He said SEMSAMAR must play a key role in the reconstruction of St. Martin and, for the sake of efficiency, it is essential the future CEO works alongside the general management. SEMSAMAR has multiple activities in several territories, has solid experience in St. Martin and is an asset necessary to meet the population’s expectations.
“Returning the governance to St. Martin is a strong political decision that we fully assume which has been taken in the best interest of our fellow citizens,” he continued. “The reorganization of the governance is not a new idea, as we had mentioned it in 2016 in our electoral programme. Irma just accelerated the process.
“Among the unjustified attacks, I note that opposition Councillor Louis Mussington talks about ‘a deal made with the Elysée Palace’ and allows himself to accuse me of lies. May I remind that in this situation the French State is a partner and is working closely with its services for the reconstruction of St. Martin.
“Within the framework of the reconstruction protocols, the Collectivité has had multiple exchanges and discussions with the State on various subjects, the SEMSAMAR’s situation being one of them. The press has sufficiently related these exchanges to support my remarks. Therefore, the Collectivité’s relations with the State are frank and we have the opportunity to make our views known.
“Mr. Mussington may be used to ‘making deals’ with his political friends, but until proven otherwise, this has never been our way of doing things. As for the supposed lie, I do not see what he’s talking about. My method is precisely frankness and transparency.”
Gibbs said he has taken note of the motion voted by co-shareholder, the Region of Guadeloupe and judges it to be irrelevant. He said he was surprised to see that even before presenting to the Territorial Council the deliberation proposing the installation of a CEO within SEMSAMAR, the Region had anticipated the eviction of the current Director-General.
“I question the opportunism of the Region of Guadeloupe by making conclusions on a subject that is not even on the agenda of our upcoming Territorial Council meeting on Thursday, December 13. Should the Director-General be evicted, note that it would be the sole responsibility of the board of directors and its members to make that decision and not the Collectivité’s.”
Reorganized governance and implementation of projects with a strong local anchorage in St. Martin will put SEMSAMAR at the centre of the concerns while maintaining the same interest given to the projects of the other territories, Guadeloupe, Martinique and French Guiana, he assured.
“I am convinced that our partners can understand this strong expectation from St. Martiners and even more since the passage of [Hurricane – Ed.] Irma. Because it is a fact, SEMSAMAR is not as present in St. Martin as it was before. In the early 2000s there were four operation managers whereas today there is only one.
“St. Martiners have seen it and they have long called for change. For the first time, a majority of elected officials have the courage to propose this change. In fact, what we want is to give an elected member of St. Martin the opportunity to fulfil an executive role. Our decision to change the governance of our mixed economy company will therefore be maintained.
“We consider the opinion of all our co-shareholders is important; some have expressed their concerns. As for the financiers, the governance of the SEMSAMAR must be able to regain their trust. I wish for the reorganisation of the governance to be done in consultation and collegiality among the members of the board of directors in due time.
“For the time being, we are assuming our responsibilities by proposing to lay the foundations for this new governance in the interest of the SEMSAMAR, the Collectivité of St. Martin, which is the majority shareholder, and its co-shareholders.”
Source: The Daily Herald https://www.thedailyherald.sx/islands/83384-president-gibbs-clarifies-semsamar-situation