Opinion: Back to court

POSTED: 07/8/14 2:59 AM

As was already made public in the daily newspapers of June 26, the owners of the Emilio Wilson Estate offered to make a donation of  $1 million out of the purchase price to be received to be distributed amongst community projects in return for a fixed due date of the down payment agreed upon.

Minister M.A. Lake confirmed, by e-mail of June 16, government’s willingness to set such due date on July 31, in return for a pay back of $ 1.5 million out of the purchase price. Owners confirmed their agreement on that condition. It was further agreed that the Minister of Finance would present the draft budget amendment 2014 to parliament on June 30.

During the weekend prior to June 30, both Minister Lake and Mr Th. Heyliger verbally confirmed to owners that everything needed for a timely down payment had been arranged and they reassured owners that the first payment would be made before July 31.

On June 30, the Minister of Finance was indeed present in parliament to present the amendment of the 2014 budget. This meeting did not take place however due to the majority of members not signing in. According to a press release by one of the members of parliament on Friday July 4, members of the UP party were present in the parliament building, but they did not sign in, for the Monday morning June 30 meeting. This leaves owners to wonder what were the reasons not to take the opportunity to handle the budget amendment.

 

Minister Lake informed parliament during the Monday June 30 and Wednesday July 2 meeting that the purchase of the Emilio Wilson Estate had been renegotiated with owners, resulting in a better deal for country Sint Maarten. In reply to a question from a member of parliament whether the renegotiated result was confirmed in writing, Minister Lake replied that such confirmation was being handled in the Council of Ministers.

Owners are however already in possession of an e-mail confirmation by the minister reading that the minister of finance would present the budget amendment to parliament on June 30 and make the down payment by the end of July. Neither in the discussion between Minister Lake and owners, nor in his subsequent e-mail, did the minister mention that the Council of Ministers had to give its approval. In fact, Minster Lake had indicated during a meeting on June 4 that he was mandated by the Council of Ministers to deal with all matters pertaining the purchase.

Since Tuesday July 1, owners have been trying, without result, to get a confirmation from Minster Lake concerning the due date of July 31. If that date will not be met, government forfeits the pay back. Owners have no information on the reason why a necessary quorum was not obtained for the budget amendment meeting. The lack of information leaves owners no other option than to approach the court again due to the recent developments.

 

Mark Meijjer

The author is the attorney for the owners of the Emilio Wilson Estate

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