Published On: Mon, Nov 6th, 2017

Minister Lee about late payments: “Attempt to intimidate, bully and slander me”

PHILIPSBURG – Recent accusations that Minister Lee is delaying the payments to truckers, heavy equipment operators and workers that are cleaning up the island after hurricane Irma, are simply not correct, Lee said in a press statement.  “The accusations are a shameful attempt to look for a scapegoat that allows them to diffuse blame as well as serving a political objective of tarnishing the reputation of Minister Lee.”

“I have absolutely no problem paying companies or workers that have participated in cleaning up the island.  I am not the cause of delaying payments to the cleanup crews.  Actually, the sooner the money is paid, the sooner that money will be circulating in our economy,” the statement reads. “The timely payment for goods and services is a critical part of getting our economy functioning.  The economy is in serious trouble and needs the cash injection of money that will come mostly from insurance payments and from government spending.  So, of course, I don’t have an issue with paying as quickly as possible for actual work done.”

The underlining of the word actual suggests that there at least some invoices have been submitted to government that deserve closer scrutiny.

“The fact that I question the cost of the phase one of the cleanup campaign is very different than objecting to paying for work done.  If the actual costs were double of the original estimate, wouldn’t that be a reasonable question?  If the documentation was submitted with discrepancies, wouldn’t that be a reasonable question?” Minister Lee stated, “Questioning the costs and lack of accountability should not be confused with an intention to delay payment of invoices for cleanup efforts post Irma, it is definitely not my intention to delay payments to hard working individuals like the first responders, civil servants, cleanup crews and many more that neglected their own personal conditions to serve their country.”

“This is simply an attempt to intimidate, bully and slander me. Sadly, I believe this is only the beginning of a vicious campaign to discredit me.  I don’t have anything to hide and welcome the opportunity to bring light to the issues.  I have sworn an oath to the people of St Maarten to protect them.  Especially in this time of limited financial resources, I have an obligation to ensure that money is not wasted, misappropriated, stolen, squandered, or misspent,” the statement continues. “Every guilder needs to be spent wisely, efficiently and practically.  Again, paying for all actual services, goods and services provided to government should be done as quickly as possible.  This not only includes cleanup workers but every individual and company that works for the country contracted by government.”