Opinion: Very very strange (Emilio Wilson Estate)

POSTED: 08/18/14 5:13 PM

On June 30 the budget amendment 2014 was scheduled to be handled by Parliament. That meeting could not go through due to lack of a quorum. Next to the President, only three other Members of Parliament were present. According to MP William Marlin the UP party was present in the parliament building, but chose not to sign in for the meeting. Therefore the NA didn’t sign in either.

The rules of order of Parliament dictate that a general meeting, that cannot go through because of lack of quorum, has to be rescheduled and held within 4 x 24 hours after the cancelled meeting. Nevertheless up to now, 6 weeks later, the meeting still has not been rescheduled. Recently MP Roy Marlin requested the President of Parliament to reschedule such meeting. So far a new date remains unknown.

The owners of the Emilio Wilson Estate requested the President on August 8, 2014 to inform them why a second meeting has not been convened.  They never received a reply. The owners also approached the faction leader of the UP Party to clarify why his party chose not to sign in for the meeting. The faction leader refused to give an explanation, other than that the UP party’s presence is not required to handle the budget amendment. Has the one anything to do with the other? Why has the President of Parliament not rescheduled the meeting? Is it because the UP party does not want to handle the budget amendment to protect the environment and the people’s heritage?

It is all the more remarkable because the Minister of Vromi, also member of the UP Party, during the afternoon Parliament meeting of June 30, 2014 informed Parliament that he had renegotiated the purchase of the Emilio Wilson Estate under considerably better conditions for country Sint Maarten. The owners had offered a donation of $ 1 million for charity purposes in return for a speedy execution of the sale and purchase agreement prior to July 15, 2014. The Minister of Vromi requested a pay back of $1.5 million. The latter was accepted by owners under the specific condition that they would receive a down payment before July 31, 2014. In order to meet this condition the Minister of Finance agreed to handle the amendment to the budget before June 30, 2014.

On July 10, 2014 the owners met with the Council of Ministers. During that meeting it was agreed that owners would still consider the pay back of $1.5 million if the budget amendment was to be passed through Parliament ultimately on August 15. The Secretariat of the Council of Ministers as well as individual ministers have inquired since about the date of handling. So far without result.

Although the UP party was well aware of the benefit of $1.5 million of handling the budget amendment in time, it chose not to appear and not to reschedule the postponed meeting. This also is the more remarkable because both the Minister of Vromi and the UP party leader reassured owners the day before the scheduled Parliament meeting of June 30, that everything was set to go.

Is the purchase of the Emilio Wilson Estate the reason for the UP Party to frustrate the handling of the budget amendment? Already in 2010, the faction leader of the UP Party, then the Minister of Vromi, came to an agreement with the owners regarding a purchase. An agreement that the minister however never signed. In September 2013 the faction leader of the UP party initiated a meeting, attended by the Ministers of Vromi and Finance,  during which an agreement was reached that government would purchase an additional  2 hectares from the remaining 6 hectares that owners were to keep. So on the one hand the UP party for years has been negotiating and agreeing on purchasing the Emilio Wilson Estate, whereas on the other hand it lets all possibilities go by to formalise such purchase.

What also is astonishing to the owners is the fact that the Nature Foundation, as well as other green activists, political parties and some of the media, who have vigorously protested in the past against the development of the estates and let no stone unturned for the protection and purchase of the Emilio Wilson Estate are not raising their voices about this whole affair.

In the past monies were the issue to buy the land and now that the Cft has given its green light for the purchase, these groups remain deafening silent. Owners find this very, very strange.

 

Mark Meijjer

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

 

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