PHILIPSBURG--United Democrats (UD) Member of Parliament (MP) Sarah Wescot-Williams on Thursday evening called on government to provide clarity on the suspension of Princess Juliana International Airport (PJIA) Holding Company (PJIAH) Managing Director Dexter Doncher.
She also demanded an explanation on government’s handling of the issues at PJIA. She said in a press statement issued late last night that she was of the opinion that it would be too simple to assume that with the reinstatement of Brian Mingo as PJIA Chief Executive Officer and with Doncher’s suspension “everything is back to normal” at the country’s main gateway.
In her view, too much "intrigue" surrounds this entire saga from the get-go. “Why suspend the Managing Director now when the PJIAH has openly been on this path since at least December 3 [2020 - Ed] with their letter demanding the resignation of Brian Mingo? This letter implicates the government in a big way, yet nothing was said by the Prime Minister or any other minister for that matter. Why not?” she asked.
“If [Dutch State Secretary of Home Affairs and Kingdom Relations Raymond – Ed.] Knops’ letter is anything to go by, the Prime Minister was repeatedly asked to pay attention to what was going on at our airport, but to no avail. We learnt of the World Bank’s letter of concern following the Holding’s attempts. Still the Holding proceeded to dismiss Brian Mingo with immediate effect and that was more than a month ago. Again, we learnt of the Royal Schiphol Group’s ominous letter. Yet, not one member of government lifted a finger to bring matters back in line.”
She said government cannot be let off the hook with such blatant conspiracy.
“Of great concern is that while we talk about the Dutch/EIB [European Investment Bank] funding/loan for the reconstruction of the airport, which is of course important, there is also that other part of approximately US $21 million that was allocated to keep the airport afloat during the reconstruction; in other words, to pay salaries and the like. Do we not think before we act?”
She said government is in a serious dilemma due to its inability to reconcile its anti-Dutch rhetoric with what is best for the country. The latest back-and-forth is not only a delay for the airport reconstruction and for the pending liquidity assistance/loan, but it is a huge embarrassment that St. Maarten does not deserve as a country. The reconstruction of the airport with Dutch/EIB funding remains a hard pill to swallow for government, she indicated.
Wescot-Williams said. “What I would like to know from this government is whether – as they are now pretending – PJIAH did what it did of its own accord. If that is so, the problem is bigger than PJIA alone.
“I have requested via the formal channels of Parliament that the Prime Minister respond to the following questions with the utmost urgency: Was the MD [managing director] of the Airport Holding Board, Mr. Doncher suspended? If so, on what grounds and under what conditions? Is the suspension with pay?
“When were you and/or other ministers made aware of the letter dated December 3, 2020, from PJIAH demanding that the CEO of PJIA tender his resignation? Were you or any other minister made aware of the actions in the aforementioned letter, before the letter was sent? What actions did you and/or any other minister undertake and when following the letter of December 3, to Brian Mingo?
“When were you and/or other ministers made aware of the letter dated April 7, 2021, from PJIAH, firing Brian Mingo? Were you or any other minister made aware of the actions in the aforementioned letter, before the letter was sent? And what actions did you and/or any other minister undertake and when following the letter of April 7, to Brian Mingo?"
She also asked on whose authority Doncher and PJIAH’s Supervisory Board of Directors had acted in the case of Mingo’s dismissal; and did PJIAH’s Supervisory Board provide government with accurate information, which was shared with parliament, suggesting that parties had solved their differences after the December 3 letter?
She also asked for all of the Council of Ministers’ decisions regarding Mingo’s dismissal and Doncher’s suspension.