MP Sarah Wescot-Williams wants hard guarantees from Government for the Uninterrupted Continuation of the Airport Reconstruction, Since They Condoned Sacking the CEO.”

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Philipsburg, St. Maarten, — MP Sarah Wescot-Williams: “I  want  hard guarantees from Government for the uninterrupted continuation of the airport reconstruction, since  they condoned sacking the CEO.”

Brian Mingo, the CEO of the Princess Juliana International Airport has been fired, with 2 months notice, and relieved of his duties immediately. This act by the Supervisory Holding Board has been long in the making and it would appear the 3-man board now feels strengthened to push through with Mingo’s dismissal,  notwithstanding the warning signs that appeared following their first attempt to dismiss Mingo in December of 2020.

The airport is at such a crucial stage at this very moment that is seems nearly criminal for anyone to  amateurishly mess with the reconstruction. That the Government of St. Maarten would condone such an act is equally incriminating.

One would think that the Holding Board would have reconsidered its approach following their blunder in December, but apparently they did not.

Brian Mingo and the PJIA operating board would have to decide how they respond to this decision of  the Holding Board, but I hold the Government/Shareholder responsible for any and all fallout from this clearly politically motivated decision.

By (condoning) this act, the Government of St. Maarten is calling into question its dealing with the airport, the dealings of the Holding and those of the operating company and I foresee a fallout that will jeopardize the airport, its reconstruction and the many families who rely on the PJIA for their livelihood. This victory, if considered such, will be short-lived.

It is impossible to expect that a project that is at such a crucial stage and a player is forcefully removed, will just move along as if nothing happened. Too many stakes and stakeholders are involved for this to just go down and be over with.

I have questioned the wisdom of this modus operandi by the PJIA Holding Board in December, to which the Prime Minister eventually responded.

This was her answer: “ …On Thursday, January 21, a virtual confidential meeting was held with the Supervisory Board of Directors and the Managing Director of the Princess Juliana International Airport Holding Company to receive insight on the process that was followed that led to the confidential letter that was sent to the CEO of the Princess Juliana International Operating Company by the Holding. Clarification was provided by each member present. It was established that the questions that were raised by one of the Supervisory Board members were adequately addressed. All individuals agreed to work together  in the best interest of the Airport. Underlying documentation was requested which was recently received and are currently reviewed. The Council of Ministers as Shareholder continues to monitor situation to ensure that the Corporate Governance regulations and guidelines are applied properly.”

Before I start accusing anyone of misleading Parliament, I offer the Prime Minister to clarify what transpired between the date the above statement was made to parliament and the decision of the Holding Board of April 7, 2021 to dismiss the CEO of the Airport.

Can the Government assure Parliament and the people  that he decision to fire the CEO will not delay or jeopardize the PJIA, its employees and/or the reconstruction?

Can the Government assure Parliament that if the current Dutch/EIB financing is halted, there is a backup plan? And thirdly, how involved was the minister or were the ministers in the decision of the Holding Board to dismiss the CEO?

In addition to these questions, I wish to  repeat my questions of January 11TH to the Prime Minster on this topic and I also look forward to these answers post haste. These questions relate to the Holding’s letter to Mingo in December 2020.

  1. Please provide me with the Service Agreement between the Airport Operating Board and Mr. B. Mingo. To whom is Mr. Mingo accountable?
  2. What is the vision of this Government for the airport? Please provide this in writing.
  3. Please provide a time line of the airport reconstruction funding, the players in the process and the activities undertaken.
  4. Provide all correspondence with respect to Mr. Mingo’s functioning from ”key” stakeholders.
  5. Who has assessed Mr. Mingo’s functioning? Please provide.
  6. Also provide the airport latest financial data.
  7. Was Mr. Mingo offered a payout? If so, how much and under what conditions? Please provide.

Clearly with all the pressure on the PJIA project from so many different angles from the onset, something had to give, and this it what that appears to be.

“I await an urgent and clear  statement from the government of St. Maarten, namely the Prime Minister of St. Maarten, Mrs. S. Jacobs and Minister of TEATT, Ms. L. De Weever.” concluded the MP in her statement.