St. Maarten Housing Development Foundation (SMHDF) director Helen Gumbs-Salomon did not come to Parliament Thursday at noon as requested, due to the late notice received. The urgent way the meeting was called did not allow enough time to properly prepare.
Several members expressed disappointment, as this was not the first time that management had been asked to appear before the legislature to no avail. The truth is that they are not obligated to do so.
It’s Minister of Public Housing Spatial Planning, Environment and Infrastructure VROMI Christopher Wever who is accountable to the elected representatives. However, this regards an autonomous foundation in which he cannot directly intervene.
As a result, writing down the questions posed was about all the minister could do. He will have to pass them on to SMHDF and await the answers, but can’t force the director to attend the public session’s continuation either.
These things are a consequence of putting such important institutions “at arm’s length” of politics to prevent undue influence and favouritism. Instead, management is to be kept in check by a board of capable persons.
So, perhaps the latter can also be invited to provide their take on what is happening at SMHDF. After all, as those officially in charge of its supervision they too have a responsibility.
Regrettably, boards of government-owned companies and institutions are often used for appointments based on party affiliation rather than relevant capacity, knowledge and experience. That is a big mistake, because these are independently-operated entities that require effective control.