PHILIPSBURG--Minister of Education Wycliffe Smith says the contractor building the four new classrooms at St. Maarten Vocational Training School (SMVTS) will be paid. The minister will also be meeting with the contractor this week to discuss the progress of the construction of the classrooms and the expected completion date.

  Smith confirmed on Wednesday that the contractor had stopped working on the project because he was awaiting payment of invoices submitted. “As all government contractors know, invoices are allowed eight weeks for due processing. Currently, there are two invoices that have been submitted by the contractor,” the minister told reporters at the Council of Ministers’ press briefing. 

  The first invoice was submitted “some time ago with errors” and after making corrections, it was re-submitted seven weeks ago during the Carnival period, Smith said. The second invoice was handed in four weeks ago.

  “I am mindful of the need for timely compensation for contractors as this impacts their ability to pay salaries to their employees, as well as to meet their personal and company financial obligations. The Ministry of VROMI has assured me that the first invoice will be paid on schedule,” Smith added. “I say the Ministry of VROMI because, due to the required technical expertise and supervision, that ministry handles construction projects on behalf of the government, including the Ministry of Education, Culture, Youth and Sport though the funds are provided from our budget. This is similar to the manner in which the Ministry of TEATT (Tourism, Economic Affairs, Transport and Telecommunications) is responsible for school bus transportation.”

  Smith said as Minister of Education, he is keen on the realisation of this construction project in a timely manner and he will be meeting with the contractor this week to discuss the progress of the construction of these classrooms and the expected completion date.