New administration building saga: Government ready to move in the fall

POSTED: 01/17/14 12:41 PM

St. Maarten – The government intends to move into the new government administration building on Pond Island this year, before the court-imposed term to do so runs out. In November, the government lost a court case against developer RGM whereby de court ordered St. Maarten to finish the building and to begin using it within twelve months. Violating the court ruling carries a penalty of $5,000 per day. No maximum has been set. From December on, not moving into the building could cost the treasury $150,000 per month.

Answering questions from independent MP Frans Richardson, the government indicated that a financing agreement with pension fund APS is in the works. “Financing by APS is necessary to finish the building’s interior and to equip it,” the answer states.

The government expects that work on the building will be completed by August or September. From that moment on, departments will begin moving into their new digs on Pond Island. “No matter what, we will move into the building within the term set by the court.”

Answering a question from National Alliance MP George Pantophlet, Finance Minister Hassink stated that the current value of the building is unknown. Developer RGM delivered the project on March 31, 2008 and it has been empty ever since.

The government does not know the value, “because legally it is not the country’s property, but RGM’s. court documents related to the November 2013 court case does not contain any information about the project’s perceived value either. RGM spent $16.2 million to erect the building.

The financing agreement with the pension fund is a lease to purchase plan. When the government has paid the last installment, it will become the owner of what National Alliance leader William Marlin has famously dubbed the White Elephant with the Green Hat. The financing agreement is scheduled to be completed by the end of this month.

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