Published On: Mon, Feb 15th, 2021

Airport holding agreed with World Bank funding-conditions and still turned to Piper Jaffray

PHILIPBURG -- It is about time to get the facts straight about the Princess Juliana International Airport now that politicians use every opportunity to badmouth its management, the role of the World Bank, State Secretary Raymond Knops and the Government of St. Maarten through lengthy press releases that appear without context or fact checks in local media.

Let’s go back to January 2019, more than two years ago. The government announced in a press release on its website that on January 8, 2019, the Council of Ministers had unanimously agreed to approve funding of the airport reconstruction by the World Bank and the European Investment Bank.

Two days after this decision Dexter Doncher, the managing director of the Princess Juliana International Airport Holding (PJIAH) wrote in a letter to Prime Minister Leona Marlin: “On behalf of PJIAH I hereby agree to formalize the assistance for the reconstruction of the airport terminal by the World Bank and the European Investment Bank, and will support the Council of Ministers and the ad-hoc committee in implementing the conditions set by the government of the Netherlands.”

Even though he must have been aware of what these conditions were at the time, Doncher added that they must be “in accordance with applicable law,” the articles of incorporation of PJIAH and serve PJIAH’s corporate interest.

What were those conditions again? The airport would have to undergo an integrity check and a corporate governance risk assessment. Furthermore the airport had to create temporary positions for a term of no longer than two years on the boards of PJIAH and PJIAE.

The government’s press release about the agreement with the World Bank and the European Investment Bank contains an interesting detail: “A more favorable deal was hard to come by,” and that it had opted for the World Bank/EIB-option “upon receiving information from the airport that no other financing would become available through Piper Jaffray or other sources any time soon.”

While this information came, according to the government, from the airport, that same airport nevertheless attended a presentation by the very same Piper Jaffray just 21 days later, on February 1, 2019 about alternative financing for the airport reconstruction. So why would they bother after Doncher had already agreed to the funding offered by the World Bank and the European Investment Bank?

File photo on the occasion of the agreement reached for the 15 million dollar bridge loan for the airport.



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