The people’s livelihood

The people’s livelihood

Royal Schiphol Group withdrawing from the project to reconstruct Princess Juliana International Airport (PJIA) as threatened (see related story) could put at serious risk its financing of US $100 million. The Netherlands organised the latter via the Ministry of Home Affairs and Kingdom Relations BZK, with half each coming from the Dutch-sponsored Trust Fund administered by the World Bank and from the European Investment Bank (EIB).

Schiphol Group’s May 6 letter to Prime Minister Silveria Jacobs and Finance Minister Ardwell Irion says if proper corporate governance is not re-established “in a structural manner” at both operating company PJIAE and holding company PJIAH by May 26, its advisory role will end per July 15. This follows an April 9 letter expressing concern about especially the process to dismiss PJIAE’s Chief Executive Officer Brian Mingo, addressed to the prime minister and Minister of Tourism, Economic Affairs, Transport and Telecommunication (TEATT) Ludmila de Weever.

Some even suggest this matter might be a reason St. Maarten was yet to receive a loan agreement for 39 million Netherlands Antillean guilders in liquidity support to cover the second quarter as reported in today’s paper.

The “violations” now mentioned by Schiphol Group were not specified, but apparently occurred “in particular at holding company PJIAH and management layers of the airport.” Along with rumoured changes in the holding’s supervisory board, this latest development has cast a shadow on the long-awaited full rehabilitation of the island’s main gateway damaged since September 2017.

To be clear, anything that can further delay or – worse – jeopardise this crucial project altogether is highly undesirable in terms of restoring the island’s pandemic-hit tourism economy that provides the people’s livelihood.