PHILIPSBURG--Prime Minister Leona Romeo-Marlin has taken note of the concerns by United Democrats leader Member of Parliament (MP) Theodore Heyliger on Sunday about Princess Juliana International Airport’s precarious financial state. She said the government is aware of the situation and has been working with the World Bank to get an immediate loan for the airport as soon as possible.
Heyliger sounded an alarm and said the airport has been using its financial reserves to make payroll at the end of the month and has dipped into the same dwindling nest egg for urgent repairs. “The airport has done all this without laying off anyone,” he said.
Romeo said that Marcel Gumbs, as St. Maarten’s representative on the World Bank recovery fund steering committee, had meetings about the immediate loan on Monday and Tuesday.
“The meetings were fruitful and as soon as we get the approval for the loan, we will be able to assist the airport with its financial situation,” stated Marlin on Wednesday during the Council of Ministers press briefing.
Minister of Labour Emil Lee explained that the funds received from the airport’s NAGICO insurance policy had gone into a bondholders bank account and cannot be used for operational expenses.
“The bondholders have not released these funds for operational use. They are waiting for the rebuilding to take place with funds earmarked for that purpose before releasing the funds,” stated Lee at the press briefing.
Heyliger said on Sunday that parliament and government should be prepared to get criticism from the Committee for Financial Supervision CFT and, perhaps, even another instruction from The Hague for taking a stance for the airport. “But it’s also time to safeguard our people and the country.”
Romeo said government is doing all in its power to safeguard the viability of the country’s airport.