Parliament still to call continuation meeting on Harbor Related Matters and payments made to Daily Herald Reporter.
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Philipsburg:— The Parliament of St. Maarten is yet schedule the continuation of a meeting that was called late December 2012 where the Minister responsible for harbor affairs Romeo Pantophlet had to provide parliament with answers on a number of issues regarding the Harbour Group of Companies.
The fourth agenda point of that meeting which was added by Member of Parliament Louis Laveist has to deal with the payments the harbor made to a reporter of the Daily Herald. The reporter, according to the CEO of the Harbour Group of Companies Mark Mingo in an interview with SMN News, was providing freelance work for Harbour Group of Companies and even though the reporter was being paid $6000.00 to $8000.00 each time she submitted an invoice, she was not on the company’s payroll. She also did not have a company registered on the Dutch side of the island.
On Wednesday at the Council of Ministers’ weekly press briefing, SMN News reporter asked the Minister of Tourism, Economic Affairs, Transportation, and Telecommunication to clarify a number of issues that were raised by the Members of the United Peoples Party faction on Monday at a press conference. The UP faction members said that one of the Members of Parliament who is directly involved with the Ministry of TEATT (or who appointed the Minister) is the director of a construction company that belongs to his father and the Harbour Group of Companies awarded a contract to the company without putting the project on a bid. Minister Pantophlet said he had no knowledge of such and if the Harbour Group of Companies awarded contracts to companies he would not know simply because he is not involved in the day to day operations of Government owned companies. However, SMN News learnt that the company that is owned by the father of Member of Parliament Romain Laville “Joe’s Construction Company” is working as a sub-contractor at the harbor under another company that secured a job at the harbor. As for MP Laville being a director of Joe’s Construction Company which was established several years ago, SMN News understands that Laville was made director of his father’s company way before he entered politics simply because he is the only child for his father.
Daily Herald Reporter Breaking Working Permit Stipulation and possible Tax Evasion might come into play.
SMN News reporter also questioned the Minister of TEATT about the Daily Herald reporter Alita Singh who is working for the harbor while working for the Daily Herald and holding the harbour portfolio at the Daily Herald. SMN News published several press releases that were written by Alita Singh on behalf of the United Peoples Party to which the Daily Herald paid no heed except to say they too received the press releases that had Singh’s name in the properties of each document. The Daily Herald in one of its editorials also stated that the reporter did not inform them of the duties she was providing for the Harbor Group of Companies and since they became aware of Singh’s side jobs they took away the harbor portfolio from Singh.
However, the work permit that Singh obtained from the government of St. Maarten clearly stipulates that Singh is only supposed to work for the company who signed for her, meaning the Daily Herald. Minister of Labour Cornelius de Weever in an invited comment said that work permits are issued to the employers and based on the LAV legislation if the employee works for another company or person apart from the employer who requested the work permit then they are operating against the law. “Whether or not the person is doing freelance work for another company and is not on their payroll, work is work,” another Minister told SMN News on Wednesday.
Therefore, in researching this matter SMN News was told that the government of St. Maarten can revoke Singh’s work permit immediately while they could also check to see if the reporter in question has been paying her share of taxes from the extra monies she has been collecting from the Harbour Group of Companies over the years.
The Minister of TEATT in responding to the questions said that the CEO of the Harbour Group of Companies did inform him that the reporter in question was not on the government owned company’s payroll and that she was providing freelance work for the harbor. Minister Pantophlet said he was not sure if the reporter was paid directly or if she was paid through a company. After the press conference, Minister Pantophlet said that after checking with the CEO of the harbor he was told that the reporter was paid directly because she would send invoices to the Harbour Group of Companies for the work she provided for them. This was done in order to hide or cover the reporter who is also a strong supporter of the UP Party.
For the sake of clarity on the operations at the Harbour Group of Companies, over the years SMN News interviewed the CEO of the Company Mark Mingo and this is what Mingo told SMN News after we broke the story on Singh and her connections to the harbor. The interview with Mingo is beneath this article.
LAST UPDATED ( THURSDAY, 21 MARCH 2013 03:59 )