Published On: Tue, Aug 23rd, 2022

Minister Doran sticks to negative opinion about Ombudsman-report

PHILIPSBURG — In a public meeting of parliament that lasted four hours Minister Egbert Doran (Public Housing, Urban Planning, Environment and Infrastructure, or VROMI) stuck to his opinion that the Ombudsman report about the tender for solid waste collection for the period 2021-2026 is incomplete and unbalanced.

PFP faction leader Melissa Gumbs tabled a motion of no confidence against the minister. If the motion gets the support of the majority in parliament Doran will have to leave office. At the end of the deliberations, the meeting was adjourned for ten days and that’s when the motion will come up for a vote.

Part of the debate focused on one of the bidders for solid waste collection, Avyanna, a sole proprietorship that is owned by a family member of Doran. Avyanna failed to submit a bank statement with its bid and was therefore disqualified. Yet, the company managed to win the bid for a parcel.

MP Rolando Brison (UP) demanded a clear explanation from the minister about the reason why certain documents had not been submitted to the office of the Ombudsman. “This is the most conflicted I have been since I became a member of parliament,” Brison said.

Hyacinth Richardson (NA) qualified accusations of bid rigging as “nonsense.”

Minister Doran acknowledged that there is no tender legislation in place and that the country desperately needs such legislation. This statement was later challenged by MP Raeyhon Peterson (PfP) who noted that tendering does not need a national ordinance, but a national decree containing general measures.

Doran said that, after the contract for garbage collection had been awarded, the ministry received two complaints from among the 26 bidders. “Because 92 percent had no complaints we considered the tender a success.”

Answering questions from MP Christophe Emmanuel, Doran said that he had never called the Ombudsman a liar. “She concluded that the tender was not transparent and not fair without substantiating this conclusion with proven facts. The ministry does not share the conclusion of the Ombudsman.”

To a question from MP Sarah Wescot-Williams the minister responded that, in his opinion, the Ombudsman-report will have no financial consequences for the government.

MP Melissa Gumbs emphasized that fixing the tendering issues can only be done by establishing a national decree containing general measures, a piece of legislation usually referred to as Lbham (Landsbesluit houdende algemene maatregelen). “The policy that was published in January does not even stipulate under which conditions a bidder is disqualified,” she said, before reading the PFP-motion of no confidence.

PFP-MP Raeyhon Peterson said that the debate would most likely show “a display of political showmanship, because the coalition structurally lacks accountability.”

Peterson also brought the long-time absence of a member of parliament to the attention of his colleagues. He did not mention the name, but the MP in question is National Alliance veteran William Marlin who has been several months off-island for medical treatment.

Article 49, paragraph 3 of the Constitution stipulates that parliamentarians lose their seat after an uninterrupted stay of more than eight months abroad. “I think this should be limited to three months,” Peterson said. “The honorable thing to do is to let the next person in line take that seat. But what I hear is that this young professional should be kept out and that the seasoned politician has to come back.”

Dimar Labega, the number 9 candidate on the National Alliance list for the 2020 elections, is next in line if Marlin’s seat were to become available. Marlin won 387 votes in the 2020 elections, Labega 115.

Peterson furthermore pointed to what seems to be a brain drain at the already understaffed ministry of VROMI. The evaluation committee for the solid waste collection tender began with seven members, but in the end there were just three left. Peterson: ‘The financial controller of the ministry was the first one to leave. I personally know her and she stands for integrity. She has in the meantime left the ministry because of the obvious corruption that is taking place. Since the minister took office, already ten people have quit.”