Reader’s Opinion: Advice (retrieving info on Govt owned companies)

POSTED: 03/4/15 12:42 PM

Over the past months, we have witnessed the first elected parliament of Country St. Maarten attempt to get information from government-NVs to better enable them to inform the population on the goings on in these institutions. We witnessed the charade with Gebe where if they didn’t outright lie to parliament they truly altered the truth with their spin. But in the not too distant future we will revisit Gebe who according to what they claimed have holding tanks and are in a total unknown purchase and transport system in acquiring the petroleum needs.

I was fortunate to receive the Platt’s Oil gram Price Report and almost everything they claimed is refuted in the report. After a thorough review you will be provided with the truth. And then in the last week there was the same futile attempt to get information from the Harbor Group Of Companies. As is the case with the others, the Harbor Group claimed all kinds of constructions and nondisclosure clauses and corporate privilege to avoid coming clean. However don’t hold this against the Harbor Group or any other government-owned company or foundation for our parliament must do things correctly.

Every citizen knows by now that if the procedure is done correctly parliament will have to call on the shareholder representative to give the information and this person in turn addresses the directors. As always, there may be privileged or confidential information that can’t openly be divulged. In that case, if a closed door session is necessary then let it be but these companies belong to the people and we must know what is going on there. More so because they make all kind of claims not to pay dividends to government.

Another instrument available to the law maker is the parliamentary enquiry or enquete. In this way people can be made to give information under oath. The Audit Chamber can also be called upon to get clarity on the workings of these companies and ultimately if all fails ask for a judicial investigation. One thing is sure even though parliamentarians leave the building feeling proud of themselves for having attended the meeting while achieving nothing the people are not impressed and it will all come to a head very soon.

The people are sick and tired of the good old boys club mentality where it seems that we agree on how far to push in expectation of equal treatment when my turn arrives. Then there is the St. Maarten Carnival Foundation that receives a huge contribution from the taxpayer in subsidy but to date there is no accountability. What we know is every year gate prices continue to rise and they claim to have lost money. Maybe before we turn the taxpayer’s hard-earned money over to these people we can demand to review their books.

And while we are at it find out why the Heineken Regatta should bear the name of SXM Regatta. After all the taxpayer is also fleeced for this. Can somebody please take a stand in the favor of our people before it is too late? An old African adage proclaims “the river runs crooked because it doesn’t take advice.” Maybe parliament can show that they are not as bad as the river and that the people count even outside of campaign times.

Elton Jones

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