Richardson still undecided about leaving National Alliance

POSTED: 09/8/11 12:01 PM

One casino company replaces another

GREAT BAY, St. Maarten / By Donellis Browne and Hilbert Haar – Minister of Tourism, Economic Affairs, Transportation and Telecommunications Franklin Meyers says a casino license for Millenium Star N.V. was never a whipping tool to get National Alliance Member of Parliament Frans Richardson to pledge support to the United People’s (UP) Party/Democratic Party government. The announcement came on the same day that Richardson said that if he chooses to become independent he won’t be supporting the coalition.
“If I decide to leave, I will go as an independent,” Richardson said on the sidelines of a meeting with the Development Bank of the Netherlands Antilles.
Both the minister and the MP clarified their positions in separate statements on Wednesday because of continued suggestions that Richardson was leaving the National Alliance faction because he’d been guaranteed a casino license. On Wednesday morning Meyers said that could never be, because Obensio Fleming – Richardson’s campaign manager for the September 17 Island Council election – is the person who submitted the application for the license. The minister did admit that Richardson would indirectly benefit because the new casino will be housed in a building in Simpson Bay that he and his partner owns.
After The Today Newspaper reported that Richardson was going to leave the National Alliance last week, the MP was not available for comment. When other media did reach him later, he added fuel to the story by offering a “no comment” statement.
Meyers believes the controversy around the permit is unjustified and reflects a campaign by some to make the administration’s decisions look like back room deals.
“We are starting out in a new country. Country St. Maarten is just under a year old and one of the things that irritates me is that there are those select few that seem to think that every time a decision is made in St. Maarten for a St. Maartener that a back door deal or its under the table and of course it gives the perception that that’s the only manner in which we operate and that’s not true,” Meyers said.
The minister also said, “Outside of politics and outside of our everyday lives as legislators and executors we all have our life, we all have our families, like everyone else to provide for and I think we must not mix up the two things.”

Meyers also confirmed on Wednesday that the license for Millenium Star N.V. has been signed. The affixing of his signature signals the end of the procedure to grant a license and ends a one year wait by the company’s principal. Fleming submitted his request for a license in September 2010 after the government withdrew the license granted to Golden Palm N.V. The government of the day and the one that followed it on October 10, 2010 were unable to immediately grant Millenium Star N.V. a license because Golden Palm N.V. had appealed the withdrawal of the license. The court has since ruled that government was right to withdraw the license and because Golden Palm N.V. did not exercise its right of appeal on time, the government was able to grant Millenium Star N.V. a license.
“Because it falls in the regulations of 10 standalone casinos Golden Palm N.V., will now be out and Millenium Star N.V. will now be in,” Meyers said.

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