Work on new St. Maarten Government building beginsPOSTED: 04/5/16 8:59 PM
“We want civil servants to move in as soon as possible”
St. Maarten News – SZV will begin tomorrow with the finishing touches on the new government administration building on Pond Island. On February 5, the government signed a landmark agreement with SZV and pension fund APS about the building and the impression was that it would soon be followed by action. However, there were no visible activities around the building since then.
“Because a Member of Parliament was indisposed, there has been some delay,” says SZV interim-director Glen Carty with a reference to the arrest of independent MP Silvio Matser; this led to a postponement of the handling of the 2016 budget – and the transfer of the government administration building to SZV was part of that budget.
“We did not want to take a risk by investing in the building while the transfer of the building had not been approved by the parliament,” Carty says. “The work will begin tomorrow, but we have done already a lot of work behind the scenes.”
Carty said that the interior lay-out of the building requires adjustments. “It was built for five Commissioners at the time, not for seven ministers,” he says. “So now, after seven or eight years, the layout requires adjustments.”
SZV has also inspected the building’s wiring to make sure that rats did not throw a spanner in the works.
The target is still to get civil servants into the building by August or September the latest. “SZV wants civil servants to move into the building as soon as possible so that we can start collecting rent,” Carty says. “We are getting a net 6 percent return on our investment.”
SZV bought the building for 45 million guilders and agreed to invest another 15 million into making it ready for occupation. The government pays 6 percent of SZV’s investment in rent: 300,000 guilders per month and it has the option to buy the building back when the time and the finances are right.
Out of the deal, 20 million guilders goes to pension fund APS and the government has pledged to earmark the money it stands to receive from the division of assets of the former Netherlands Antillestowards the remaining debts to SZV and APS.
Currently the government pays 1.2 million guilders per month for buildings in the private sector. Prime Minister Marlin expects these expenditures to go down several hundreds of thousands of guilders once civil servants have moved into the new building on Pond Island.
“I used to call this building the white elephant with the green hat and the most expensive chicken coop in the world,” prime Minister Marlin said in February at the signing of the agreement with SZV and APS. “But it will be the most beautiful building of St. Maarten – the home of the government.”