PHILIPSBURG:--- The Minister of VROMI Christopher Emmanuel said in response to questions posed by SMN News regarding the explosive open letter that was published as recent as Wednesday in one of the local newspapers. Minister Emmanuel said if he had to dissect the letter one would find that it is full of inaccurate information.
The Minister said he chooses not to respond to the letter but instead is working with Vidanova to finalize the agreement he has with them to construct 160 homes for first time home owners. The Minister said the representatives of Vidanova will be in St. Maarten in May 2017 to further update him on the progress on the project. He said while in Curacao last week the agreement was a done deal. He said at the moment Vidanova is currently negotiating with the landowners to finalize their agreement. Minister Emmanuel further stated that the President of SMUC Ludson Evers contacted him and informed him that the workers of GEBE, TELEM and UTS are somewhat concerned about the investments of their pension fund and they will not be getting anything out of this investment. He said that the workers even contacted Vidanova and expressed their concerns and they also wanted homes that will be constructed. The Minister said that he made clear that Vidanova used the funds to invest elsewhere, they even opened a bank and are giving out loans but never have they invested in the people. Emmanuel said this is the first time that Vidanova has decided to go along with his ideas on the project and since the workers that contributes to the fund are concerned he agreed with Vidanova that 60 of the homes will be reserved for employees that contribute to the funds, however, he made clear that those homes will only be given to first time home owners since that is the sole intention of the project which is to give workers on St. Maarten the opportunity to own their own homes.
SMHDF board members agrees to make their position available
As for the board members of the St. Maarten Housing Development Foundation (SMHDF), the Minister said some of them have agreed to make their positions available.
Emmanuel stressed that he has problems with the management of SMHDF which he has said on a number of times. The Minister further explained that only today “Wednesday” he was contacted by someone who made a deposit of $8,000.00 for a home since April 21st 2016 and to date the person cannot move in the home, he said the person told him that SMHDF told the person the only reason there is a delay is because the Minister has a letter on his desk which he did not sign off on. He said upon checking he did find a letter that reached government last month. He said the letter was sent last year June by SMHDF which reached government last month and that letter is asking government to do a “change of purpose” on the property which the stand alone homes were constructed on. The Minister said that SMHDF got land to build apartments.
He said that SMHDF has to get the proper permits before they construct homes and apartments. He said that another concern is the way people are being treated especially the person that paid them $8,000.00 and to date he cannot get his home and he has to answer to the bank.