PHILIPSBURG:--- In a shocking display of political maneuvering, MP Rolando Brison recently wrote an article in various media attempting to shift the blame for the Bearing Point scandal onto the shoulders of the previous DP/UD minister. However, the truth of the matter remains crystal clear - the current NA finance minister cannot escape his responsibility in this grave matter.
The scandal, which revolves around the implementation of a new tax system platform from Bearing Point, is yet another example of financial mismanagement, and potentially wasted funds. The consequences of the court ruling against Sint Maarten have serious implications, with the island now having paid a very significant one million guilders, which is merely a prepayment for a total damage claim which currently sits at 12 million guilders and is increasing by 50.000 guilders per month.
What is most alarming is the lack of action taken by the current finance minister when he learned of the situation. If he truly believed that the contract was signed under wrongful pretenses, it was his duty to act swiftly and decisively. Instead, he chose to remain silent, leaving the people of the country in the dark about the unfolding crisis. It is evident that TRUE transparency and accountability are not priorities for this coalition, as they attempt to shift blame and evade responsibility. These terms are not to be thrown around lightly. Actions speak louder than words, and the fact that very little has been said or done (we don’t know, because there is an abundant lack of transparency) over the past 4 years says enough.
As citizens of Sint Maarten, we must not be fooled by such weak attempts to absolve ourselves of accountability. The current NA finance minister had an obligation to take immediate action upon discovering the “questionable” contract. “Questionable” because of? If this industry-standard tax system was truly not the right fit, we, the people, would expect an in-depth analysis would have taken place, wherein an IT Systems Architect would have given his or her professional opinion on the matter. If indeed the currently proposed system did not meet the future vision of this Council of Ministers one would expect Bearing Point to have been approached and a potential scope change to be discussed, or some other means of negotiations to have taken place. Instead, he chose to turn a blind eye, and now seeks to point fingers elsewhere. In a subsequent council press briefing the finance minister alluded to not having caused this problem. That is very much so up for debate, however, it is your responsibility to have resolved it in an amicable way. It is not the former DP/UD minister currently in office, it is you! Thus, making it YOUR responsibility. Being a minister is no easy task, and this misconception must be dispelled from the minds of aspiring politicians on the island. The ministerial position, especially in St. Maarten, carries an immense amount of responsibility, and one must fully accept this fact along with the consequences that come with it. This role should not be taken lightly, and if one is not up to the challenge, one should graciously step aside for someone who is prepared to take on this significant responsibility.
In the worst-case scenario, Country St. Maarten would be burdened with an exorbitant cost of at least 12 million guilders to settle with Bearing Point, on top of having to pay another vendor for their tax system. Can you imagine the magnitude of 12 million guilders? For all the passionate basketball fans who attended the battle of the fittest basketball games, that amount could provide state-of-the-art cooling facilities. It could also bring about a top-notch court and brilliant lights for the players to excel. This mismanagement of funds must end. The people of Sint Maarten deserve leaders who prioritize their welfare, act with integrity, and uphold transparency in all matters. It is time for us to demand accountability from those in power and to ensure that our elected representatives uphold the highest standards of governance. Let us not be swayed by empty words, false promises, last-ditch efforts, and political games, but instead, let us stand together and demand the transparency and honesty that our country deserves. The Bearing Point scandal is a stark reminder of the urgent need for change and a call to action for all citizens to hold their leaders accountable for their actions and inactions. Only through collective determination can we pave the way for a brighter and more accountable future for Sint Maarten.