May 24, 2023 -The Daily Herald News -CAY HILL–Independent Member of Parliament (MP) Christophe Emmanuel has written to Minister of Public Health, Social Development and Labor VSA Omar Ottley seeking “factual and transparent” information regarding the ongoing and long-delayed St. Maarten General Hospital.
The minister, Emmanuel said in a press statement, continues to speak in parables when it comes to the construction of the hospital. Emmanuel said nobody knows exactly when the people of St. Maarten will actually get a new hospital which, at its current pace, could take more than an additional five to six years.
“The minister’s latest statement is that he is not satisfied with the construction. After I pointed out over and over again that something is amiss. The minister also touted an improvement from about 15 workers to about 43 workers at the hospital site. The question is what difference has the increase in workers made on the project? It is still in the same shape,” Emmanuel said.
He noted that the project is still on the basement and foundation level, the same it has been for five years. “It took five years to get 45 people to work on the project, how long will it take to get 100 people there? That is the minister’s target. The minister said until FINSO puts 100 people on the project, government will be reluctant to grant whatever permits FINSO needs. Really? And then what?”
The MP continued: “Can the government even do that legally? If you don’t grant the permits needed, are you not further delaying the project? Why has FINSO not been able to hire people even after additional financial injections of millions of dollars? Is FINSO in financial problems? What were FINSO’s deliverables before the so-called renegotiation of the initial contract? Did they meet their deliverables? What are the new deliverables now? What penalties are in place if FINSO do not meet deadlines? When can the people of St. Maarten realistically expects their hospital to be completed?”
Emmanuel said there are so many questions to be answered, but the minister is still walking in circles and speaking in parables instead of being straight with the people. “The minister said last week that, ‘the amendment to the contract has been signed. Now, there are some technical aspects that are being handled as far as designs and who will take care of what.’”
Emmanuel asked “What on earth does this mean? What does this amendment entail and why was it needed? Has the design changed? Are we getting what was promised and shown in videos? How does all of this play into the persistent delay of the project?
“This was the fourth amendment to this contract and FINSO in the meantime are completing hospitals and other works all over the world. Those projects do not seem to be affected by conflict in Europe, only on tiny St. Maarten. Every time you look up, FINSO is asking for more money. The minister has to come clean, put FINSO’s feet to the fire and be transparent with the Parliament and the people of St. Maarten,” stated Emmanuel.