Minister Lake stops Foga infra-project: Contractor started work but no funds are available

POSTED: 08/1/13 12:50 PM
Vromi-Minister Maurice Lake.

Vromi-Minister Maurice Lake.

St. Maarten – Vromi-Minister Maurice Lake has ordered his secretary general Louis brown to draft a letter instructing a contractor that started work on the Foga infrastructure project, while there is no approved capital budget available for this work, to stop working until further notice.

“To be very specific the Foga infrastructure project that was tendered publicly seems to have been given an awarding letter to the contractor on the last day in office of the former minister (William Marlin -ed.) and thus committing the government for 6 million guilders ($3.35 million) while there are no budgetary funds available at this point in time.”

Minister Lake notes in his letter that “everyone including the former minister is well aware that the capital funds on the 2013 budget at present are not approved and thus not available.”

It has come to the minister’s attention that the contractor asked for an advance on the project, using a bank guarantee as collateral. “I must inform you that I will not support this action or payment. I will be instructing the finance department to seize any and all payments as they are not in accordance with the financial approval of the project and the responsible manner in which government deems to operate. If the contractor wants to file a complaint or start a court case that is his right and the responsible minister for awarding the letter will have to bear the consequences.”

Minister Lake concludes the letter stating that no works can start at this moment. “If any works started I would like to see the relevant permits. No excavation permits and or waivers may be approved pending my personal approval.”

The building permit for the project was requested on December 5 of last year, but there is no signed permit yet. “The contractor has no valid permit to do any work,” Minister Lake notes.

He furthermore points out that the letter awarding the project was granted on Marlin’s last day in office, “while the advice of the ministry clearly had a decision point not to grant this work until the loan was approved so capital expenses could be financed.” The letter was signed “against all advise and decision making policies,” Lake stated.

“Remarkably the minister did not approve other works that were capital expense-budgeted due to the non-availability of capital budget,” Minister Lake stated. “To make matters worse the contactor handed in a bill for advance payment using collateral of a financial institution to start a project for which there are no funds available.”

Minister Lake announced that he would review the whole process of awarding projects shortly “This reeks of serious mismanagement and maliciously trying to indebt the government. I have no problems with projects being awarded to those that qualify but not the way this was done.”

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