Court suspends Emilio Wilson decision on appeal: Maurice Lake still in favor of purchasing estate

POSTED: 05/12/14 2:45 PM

St. Maarten – Minister of Spatial Planning and Infrastructure Maurice Lake said yesterday that he welcomed the Joint Court of Justice’s ruling on Friday which suspended the earlier court decision of the Court of First Instance that forced government to purchase the Emilio Wilson Estate within 90-days or face stiff penalties.

“I still fully support government purchasing the Emilio Wilson Estate, and will continue to work towards this being done in an open and transparent manner, and according to the proper procedures,” Lake said.

“The new court ruling allows government to work in a proper way to make sure things are done according to good governance and not via haste which has resulted in a number of disturbing things related to the purchasing of the estate.

“An overview is needed of what was done in the past by the previous Minister of VROMI.  The Foundation Governments Accountants Bureau (SOAB) has been asked to conduct a full investigation into the processes and procedures followed where government was committed to purchase the estate for Naf.30 million, even though at the time there was no approved national budget.

“The Council of Ministers decision dated July 6, 2012; MR060712 agenda point: 4 relates to purchasing 360,000 square meters at $45 per square meter for a sum of $16.2 million.  The letter of agreement drafted by the former Minister of VROMI made mention of an area of 370,000 square meters which is 10,000 square meters more for the sum of $17 million.  We have to question on whose authority did the former Minister of VROMI William Marlin act with respect to the additional 10,000 square meters?  This means an additional $800,000 or Naf.1.4 million to be paid by tax payers,” Minister Lake continued.

“Then we have the whole story about the registration of a letter of agreement under number 1114/10 which was registered under Ministry of General Affairs, but not under Ministry VROMI; however, it’s not really about the registration of the letter,” Lake said. “It’s about the procedures that we as representatives of the people follow; the decisions we make and the execution of these decisions, which if we are careless in our actions can put this country in very serious financial predicament that would have serious repercussions for foreign investor confidence, on-island business sector confidence and the overall economy.

“In the case of the purchase of Emilio Wilson Estate, it is my responsibility as the present Minister of VROMI to ensure that all the facts are in place before I commit government to such an enormous capital expenditure.

“I have been given a mandate by the Council of Ministers to execute matters pertaining to the Emilio Wilson Estate and I am committed to do so with all diligence, transparency and integrity in the best interests of the people of this country,” Minister Lake said over the weekend.

 

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