PHILIPSBURG:--- According to information provided to SMN News certain key players that were in negotiations to construct a new hospital is trying to put pressure on the current coalition to allow them to move ahead with the planned project. SMN News understands that the $100M building were going to be financed by an Austrian Company while a wing of the hospital will be used by the investors that were planning to build a separate hospital in Simpson Bay for medical tourism.
SMN News asked Prime Minister William Marlin about the current situation and the negotiations regarding the construction of a new hospital. Marlin said he did not have all the information but the Minister of Health Emil Lee did inform the Council Ministers that he reversed the decision that was taken by the former government until he gets more information on the project. Marlin based on the little information he got is that some $70M was to build SMMC while another $30M was to construct a wing at SMMC for the investors that wanted to do medical tourism. The Prime Minister further stated that permission was given by the Gumbs Cabinet to SZV to continue ongoing discussions without requirement for public bidding. This decision was reversed by the Marlin Cabinet on Dec 22, 2015.
SMN News contacted Minister of Health and Labor Emil Lee who stated that he did send a letter to SZV informing them that SZV is instructed not to enter into binding commitments regarding the construction of a new hospital at this time, until he receives a proper business case and plans indicating that the quality of care in St Maarten. This is in line with the tripartite approach to create a financially sound health care system that provides all residents equal access to quality and affordable health care.
Minister Lee also made clear that when a decision is made on how best to proceed in a fiscally responsible manner that is in the best interest of the people of St Maarten, the construction of the hospital will have to go on public bidding as was always the intention of SZV. For clarity, while we have no issues with continuing discussions any prospective developers as long as the process continues to be transparent and open. Minister Lee expressed satisfaction with the ongoing discussions and presentations received so far.
As for the new hospital Minister Lee said that he is in the process of verifying financial information and clear scope of work. There are elements of the project that still need to be clarified. He said he is currently engaged in constant discussions with the tripartite about the future of the hospital, health care reform and felt it was a bit too premature to release any information.