DP faction questions role of harbour

POSTED: 02/23/15 12:45 AM

St. Maarten —The role of the harbour is being questioned by the Democratic Party faction and party advisor Emil Lee noted that the harbour is a conglomerate but yet it is proven almost impossible to get separate financial statements for the various entities that fall under the harbour. According to Lee there are consolidated statements for the harbour but it is not possible to get a financial statement for the different entities.

“The harbour on one hand is a critical strategic asset just like the airport. These are the ports of entry to our country so obviously they enjoy a certain status within the community and within the government. So on the one hand they are a strategic asset, on the other they are regulators and now they are also apparently competitors as well with preferential concessions from government. So are you a strategic asset?  Are you a regulator or are you a competitor and developer? I think especially in Doc Martins case they are seeing that they are fighting a legal battle with an entity and that entity basically has all the money in the world and as a small developer it gets to the point where it’s basically a David and Goliath situation. How long can they expect to really fight an entity such as the harbour?” Lee questioned during a Democratic Party press conference. He believes the community must decide what the role of the harbour should be and how “far their tentacles should reach.”

DP faction leader Sarah Wescott-Williams also called for clarification on issues pertaining to the harbour. She noted that in the harbour’s 2013 financial statements to parliament several references to developments in Simpson Bay were picked up. “For example the harbour announced very clearly in its 2013 financials that they are going to be focusing on the developments in the Simpson Bay lagoon and the greater Simpson Bay area. Could it be a surprise that we would ask what are these developments?” Wescott-Williams is not impressed that her faction and the St. Maarten people should receive second hand information from “a government that touts being a participatory government and consultation and dialogue.”

“Are we going to witness another development like we had with the Doc Martin development in town where government gave out a building permit and then the harbour says ‘wait a minute that’s our area and unless you get permission from us you cannot develop.’ Is that what we are going to see happening in Simpson Bay where clearly a request for water rights at the upper part of the bay at Simpson Bay is in at government? So we are asking government what is your position on this request?” According to the DP leader this request was submitted to Vromi department since last year. “We can’t wait until it happens and then say no that was the jurisdiction of the harbour. Inform the people. Let the people know. The people of Simpson Bay have been asking this question to government and have not received an answer. We had hearings on the zoning plans, for example; was that made clear? No absolutely not.” Wescott-Williams asks government to provide the answers to the questions and to state clearly what is the role of the harbour in these developments.

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