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Emmanuel questions government about “eye-sore” Festival Village.

damagedbooths04032021~ And US $4.2 million owed to Sheriff Security ~

Independent Member of Parliament Christophe Emmanuel has written to Prime Minister Silveria Jacobs about the St. Maarten Festival Village and, according to the MP, the “public eyesore” it has become as well as general operation questions surrounding the government foundation that runs the Festival Village, Stichting Overheids Gebouwen (SOG).
“The facility has been sitting in an eye-sore state since Hurricane Irma with no visible repairs having taken place. Very little, if anything, is known about the Festival Village operations or about SOG. Did the board of SOG get an insurance payout or not? What explanation is there for the state of the facility? Who controls what is happening there? Why has the board never been changed?
“Here we have another government entity that is run like somebody’s personal kingdom. I believe it is essential that we ascertain what is happening at this facility as well as obtain clarity on related matters as they refer to SOG itself,” the MP said.
Two of the issues Emmanuel is seeking clarity on are whether SOG received any insurance funds to repair the village and how is SOG dealing with the US $1.7 million it owes to Sheriff Security. Sheriff Security used to secure the facility for a number of years and currently still has an office on-premises. Additionally, the MP said, the government of St. Maarten in total owes the same security company approximately US $4.2 million (including SOG $1.7). “We need answers on these issues and more.”
The MP said. MP Emmanuel also included several questions about TelEm’s role in the festival and with the SOG and why other telecommunications companies are not allowed commercial opportunities in the Village, which could possibly assist in the upkeep of the facility. He also asked about the other government facilities that SOG manages.
“There have been many complaints made publicly by several groups and organizations who wish to make use of the St. Maarten Festival Village. Their complaints have centered on the procedures and manner in which the facility is operated by the Stichting Overheids Gebouwen (SOG), a government ZBO. Some of these complaints have reached my person and I have a duty to try and obtain answers in the general interest of the public,” the MP said.
“I continue to be flooded with all sorts of concerns from the general public that it feels requires addressing. My duty as a Member of Parliament is to listen to the people who elected me to this position and simply look into these matters. As MP’s we have the power to ask pertinent questions to the relevant Ministers responsible especially when it involves tax-payers money,” he said.

 

To: The Minister of General Affairs

Honorable Prime Minister Silveria Jacobs

Government Administration Building

Soualiga Road #1

Philipsburg

February 18th, 2021

RE: Matters concerning Stichting Overheids Gebouwen

Dear Minister,

There have been many complaints made publicly by several groups and organizations who wish to make use of the St. Maarten Festival Village. Their complaints have centered around the procedures and manner which the facility is operated by the Stichting Overheids Gebouwen (SOG), a government ZBO. Some of these complaints have reached my person and is extremely concerning.

Additionally, the facility has been sitting in an eye-sore state since Hurricane Irma with no visible repairs having taken place. Very little, if anything, is known about the Festival Village operations or about SOG by the public or Parliament. I believe it is essential that we ascertain what is happening at this facility as well as obtain clarity on related matters as they refer to SOG itself.

To that end the undersigned Member of Parliament is seeking answers to the following questions from your person:

  • Who are the members of the board of Stichting Overheids Gebouwen?
  • What is the term of board members and when does the term of the current board expire?
  • How long have the current members of the board ben serving on the board?
  • Is there a supervisory board for SOG? If yes, Who are the members? What is the term of this board? When does the term expire?
  • What is the financial compensation to board members for serving on the boards?
  • What is the financial situation of SOG currently? Please provide financial reports from the last 5 years.
  • Has an audit ever been executed on SOG? If yes, when and please provide audit results/report.
  • Please provide a copy of the articles that govern SOG as a ZBO.
  • What is the annual operational cost of SOG? Please provide a detailed list with cost.
  • Which facilities does SOG currently manage for government?
  • What are the annual management costs for each of these facilities?
  • Were these facilities damaged by Hurricane Irma? If yes, have they been repaired and what was the cost of repairs?
  • How many third party contractors does SOG utilize at these facilities? Please list names and services they provide as well as the cost of their services and how often these contractors provide these services.
  • Does SOG employ permanent employees? If yes, how many? If not, who manages the day to day operations?
  • Why has the St. Maarten Festival Village not been repaired after being damaged by Hurricane Irma in 2017.
  • Has SOG received insurance funds to repair the Festival Village? If yes, please list the amount. If not, why not?
  • What is the total estimated repair cost of the Festival Village? Please list areas to be repaired.
  • Does SOG have a plan of action for the repair and upgrading of the Festival Village? If yes, please provide details. If not, why not.
  • What are the details (financial and operational) of the agreement SOG currently has with persons renting booths in the Festival Village? Please provide a copy of this agreement.
  • How many persons are currently renting booths in the Festival Village and at what cost?
  • Do people who currently rent a booth in the Festival Village form part of an association in the Festival Village?
  • If yes, please explain the working relationship between SOG and its renters.
  • Does SOG derive revenue/income from any other means?
  • How much funds has SOG raised from events held in the Festival Village for the past 5 years? Please list the name of events and how much was paid to SOG.
  • Please detail the entire process of third parties who wish to rent the entire Festival Village for an event. Including costs.
  • Is it true that SOG owes Sheriff Security company over 1 million US dollars for services the company rendered to SOG?
  • If yes, please explain how this debt was built up and why has it not been paid?
  • What are the consequences of this situation for SOG and the Village?
  • In total does the government owe Sherriff Security US $4.3 million?
  • Please explain how this was built up and for what purposes?
  • How is this situation being rectified and is government currently in court with Sheriff Security or an affiliated/subsidiary company?
  • What is SOG's relationship with the TelEm Group of Companies?
  • Is there an agreement between SOG and the TelEm Group of Companies? If yes, Why was this agreement entered into? For what period is this agreement? When does it expire? Please provide a copy of this agreement.
  • Does TelEm have exclusive rights in the Festival Village? If yes, please explain in detail what these rights entail.
  • If there is an agreement between SOG and TelEm, what is the monetary value attached to this agreement? In other words, how does SOG benefit from this agreement with the TelEm Group of Companies?
  • Do third parties who rent the village have to adhere to stipulations outlined in the agreement between TelEm and SOG? If yes, why? And doesn’t this put third parties at a disadvantage?
  • Is it the intention to renew this agreement with the TelEm Group of Companies once it expires?
  • Does SOG have a similar relationship as TelEm with any other company in the Festival Village or any other facility it manages?
  • Is SOG currently engaged in any legal proceedings with any companies or individuals?

Awaiting your swift response to the above questions.

Respectfully,

MP Christophe Emmanuel

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