Emmanuel: PM must come clean with Parliament and the people

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~ Asks if corporate changes at PJIA imminent ~

PHILIPSBURG, Sint Maarten — The Prime Minister of St. Maarten has to finally tell the truth and lay it all out on the table for the people of St. Maarten, says Independent Member of Parliament Christophe Emmanuel after what he called an “embarrassing showing” by the PM and the Minister of Finance in the Netherlands. He said the message from the Kingdom Council of Ministers was clear and to the point: “No, go home.”

MP Emmanuel said that after trying to go around State Secretary Knops to get the agreed upon liquidity support, the Prime Minister of St. Maarten had to stand next to Knops in an awkward and belittling press conference because the Dutch government made it clear that it had no time for her antics and she should continue dealing with the State Secretary.

“The PM cannot just cry foul and say Knops’ decision was unjust. We know this. The bigger question is, are you still going to give in and give him what he wants despite your shouts of injustice? And, again, what does he want specifically to satisfy his hunger for good corporate governance?”

The MP stressed that the Prime Minister has to be clear and honest with Parliament and the people of St. Maarten about what is next, in particular as it relates to the airport and what the expectations are when it comes to government meeting or not meeting its financial obligations. He also called on the Minister of Finance to update the public on the SSRP, salaries, student payments etc. “This situation is not an envious one for government, but this government brought it on themselves. It was made worse with they admitted they have no solutions,” Emmanuel said.

“We must know what the State Secretary wants with the airport. If you listen to the PM and Knops, this is the focal point. Both Knops and the PM keep dancing around the subject without being specific. I suspect that they are running from being specific because both know that whatever they are hiding will not go down well,” MP Emmanuel said.
He noted that the PM in her press conference hid behind confidentiality again and added that it is about “people”. “What exactly does this mean? It is confidential because it is about people? What is about people? What is Knops asking you to do with ‘people’ at PJIA or on PJIA boards? What is Knops asking you to do with ‘people’ on the holding board? Is he asking you to do something with the corporate structure at PJIA?

“Is it the intention to make the operations board of PJIA untouchable by transferring certain authorities to it? You are having a meeting this week with the Holding Board of the airport, will you inform them of corporate structure changes? What precedent will you then be setting? Based on Knops version of good corporate governance, is he saying that the CEO has to be suspended for his spending? What is happening with the agreement with Schiphol? Be truthful for once and come clean with the country,” the MP said.

He added that the talk about “proper corporate governance at PJIA” is an obvious smokescreen anyone can see through. “We have had good corporate governance at the airport for years. It is not about that. It is about whose definition of good corporate governance will now be imposed at PJIA.”

He continued: “Our version of good corporate governance means proper profiles being put in place, the involvement of the Corporate Governance Council, adherence to the established corporate structure and so on. All of which the PM herself has said is in place and/or being adapted. On the other hand, I suspect that Knops version of good corporate governance is doing whatever it takes to remove the holding board and give control of the airport to Schiphol via the incompetent supervisory board and its serial spending CEO. But we won’t know until the Prime Minister remembers that she took an oath to represent the people of St. Maarten and tell the truth.”

Emmanuel said the current fiasco with liquidity support could have been avoided had the government of St. Maarten simply told the Dutch to keep their money and come together with Parliament to seek out solutions. “Instead, they did nothing and admitted they have no solutions and no plan B, a complete failure of leadership.”