~ PM making sure UPP supporters are taken care of while existing booth holders are being victimized.~
PHILIPSBURG:--- The St. Maarten Carnival Development Foundation (SCDF) has been boasting that Prime Minister Leona Romeo Marlin is considering to give (SCDF) a contract to manage the Festival Village. A few months ago representatives of SCDF held a meeting with Romeo Marlin and representatives of the Council of Ministers and it was promised that SCDF will be granted the contract to manage the Festival Village as of May 2019.
Already the President of SCDF Alston Lourens has been informing the booth holders, that are presently operating in the Festival Village under the SOG program that SCDF will be managing the Festival Village as of May 2019.
SCDF also started to eliminate their longtime booth holders for the 2019 carnival season. Already a petition is online as the long-standing booth holders are contesting the decision taken by SCDF. It should be noted that SCDF has been seeking the management of the Festival Village for years now but was denied by previous governments in order to avoid a conflict of interest as SCDF is charged with the organizing of carnival and not the management of governments owned facilities.
Internal advice from various government departments had strongly advised the Council of Ministers not to grant the management of the Festival Village to SCDF. Strong reasons are their financial statements and financial reports are not in order. Previous Ministers of TEATT had to overrule the advice of the Finance department not to grant the annual subsidy until they receive SCDF financial reports.
SCDF dispatched an email on May 12th to the booth holders about their decision to recruit new booth holders even though giving the current booth holders credit for their excellent services over the past years.
It should be noted that SCDF President Alston Lourens is a strong supporter of the UP/UD and awarding SCDF Festival Village management is a sort of payback since Lourens campaigned heavily for the snap elections that was held in February 2018 and previous years. Clearly the management of Festival Village to SCDF is a political payback even though illegal. The present booth holders in the Festival Village are very much concerned as SCDF has proven to be an organization that is not transparent and very shady in the way they treat the booth holders. Should the PM push through on her promise to grant the Management of the Festival Village to SCDF then this will be met with strong protest from the public of St. Maarten at large due to the negative proven track record of SCDF and its members.
Carnival 2019 is the 50th celebration of carnival celebrations on St. Maarten and already there is some uproar.