Opinion: Interesting stuff

POSTED: 08/16/13 1:17 PM

The only question that did not get a clear answer was this one: why did former Finance Minister Roland Tuitt convene a press conference to vent his opinion about the country’s financial state of affairs? Tuitt has plenty of interesting stuff to offer – the main issue being the 100 million guilders the government did not collect from Devry Inc. for the purchase of the American University of the Caribbean.

The deal between the university’s previous owners and Devry went down in 2011, when the first Wescot-Williams cabinet was in office with Hiro Shigemoto as Finance Minister. In August of that year there was a party-like event at the University where Devry CEO Hamburger announced the $20-million investment plans.

Under the previous owner there was also an issue with the way faculty members received their salaries. At least part of it went through a Cayman-construction whereby part of the salaries were paid from an entity in the Cayman Islands for work faculty did in St. Maarten.

Tuitt said yesterday that the new owner, Devry Inc. pays all of its taxes in St. Maarten, though it remains unclear whether the university still uses offshore entities to duck part of its responsibilities. No action was ever undertaken against the previous owners for the apparent tax evasion.

At this moment we obviously have to take Tuitt’s word for it that the government originally stood to collect 34.5 percent of the purchase price. If this is true – and we have no reason to doubt the statement – the logical question is now: what did Devry do with this handsome windfall of $57.5 million?

Did all this money disappear into the university’s coffers? And with a soft treatment like this, how meaningless and cheap does that promise to invest $20 million in Cupecoy suddenly sound? After making that investment, there is still $37.5 million left.

Tuitt opened an interesting can of worms here. There is a lot of money involved and that usually inspired conspiracy theorists. We are not there yet, but for the sake of transparency it seems a good idea for the government to explain exactly how it has been doing business with Devry and who benefited from this deal.

Returning to the beginning of this piece, we still wonder why the former minister chose this particular moment to air his views. Again, they are interesting, but one could also pose the question what his beef with the government is.

Tuitt said yesterday that he has no political ambitions. His post in the second Wescot-Williams cabinet was his second tour of duty in the executive branch of government and he has never been a candidate on any political list.

Maybe then, we ought to take his statements as a-political and as an effort to get things moving in the right direction. Sooner or later the motives that inspired Tuitt to organize his press conference will surface – and then we will be able to assess what it all really means.

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Comments (1)

 

  1. Its politics says:

    We know its political, don’t have to wait for that. If NA is in, he is in again, and some of them just love being in politics, why? Status, daggeldvergoeding when travelling, and that’s their favourite, lol., benefits in excess, car, gasoline, driver, and i can go on. Attractive package who would want to leave that?. That’s why they will almost go to the extreme to get in or stay in. William Marlin was the best example given so far with his ” mexican standoff “.