PHILIPSBURG–St. Maarten Marine Trades Association (SMMTA) has submitted a letter to both Prime Minister William Marlin and Tourism and Economic Affairs Minister Ingrid Arrindell about its concerns about the possible transfer of all the waters of Simpson Bay and Simpson Bay Lagoon directly to Port St. Maarten.
The Association raised the issue of the possible transfer publicly in August pointing out that it is understood that the transfer will be executed via a concession agreement similar to the existing concession the Port has for Great Bay.
SMMTA has made several presentations and issued various objections over the years to the Council of Ministers and Parliament about “the direct conflicts of interests and questionable financial and possible criminal activities of the Port Group of Companies,” the Association cited in its letter to Marlin.
“We had hoped that by bringing these issues to the attention of the Council of Ministers that something would be done to look into how our country’s assets are being managed prior to granting any additional concession rights to a government-owned company that continuously hides behind an iron curtain of lawyers and non-disclosure agreements rather than act in a transparent manner,” said SMMTA.
In response to SMMTA, Port said in a press statement that the Association presents itself as “the voice of St. Maarten’s marine industry that works together with other industry groups and all levels of government to provide a strong and consistent say for the marine industry,” but contrary to its mission statement, SMMTA “fails to cooperate, let alone directly communicate, with one of the island’s key promoters of the marine industry: the Port and its subsidiary the Simpson Bay Lagoon Authority Corporation (SLAC) N.V.”
Earlier this year, SLAC placed a two-page advertisement in the print media in which it responded to a press release by the SMMTA, the Port pointed out. In that advertisement, SLAC dealt with the role that it plays in relation to Simpson Bay Lagoon as well as the difficult circumstances and restrictions under which it has to operate.
“Although the SMMTA announced that it would respond in multiple press releases on the misrepresentations presented by SLAC, “nothing was ever heard from the SMMTA again,” said the Port.
Anything that the Port does is “done in the best interest” of the country, “whether that concerns the Port at Great Bay or the Simpson Bay Lagoon.”
The Port added that it is a common known fact that Simpson Bay Lagoon and Simpson Bay’s environmental and infrastructural state “are in much need of an improvement.” The Port “remains committed to achieve this, one clear example being the construction of the Simpson Bay Causeway, a US $50 million plus investment to improve the traffic situation in the Simpson Bay area”.
Source: Daily Herald
SMMTA addresses concerns on lagoon transfer to Ministers