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Airport holding puts reconstruction funding at risk

Photo caption: SXM Airport. Photo by Duncan van Heyningen.

PHILIPSBURG — The airport holding is putting financing for the terminal reconstruction project at risk if it continues with efforts to dismiss Chief Executive Officer Brian Mingo and to send the board of the exploitation company (PJAE) home. This appears from a letter the World Bank sent to Prime Minister Silveria Jacobs.

The World Bank shares its “deep concern” about recent developments “that can potentially pose a threat to the implementation of the airport terminal reconstruction project,” Tahseen Sayed, the World Bank’s director for Latin America and the Caribbean Region writes in the letter, dated February 3.

Sayed announces that a “very large tender” has been issued for the project and that bids are expected to come in during the month of March.

But the intention of the holding company’s board (PJIAH) to fire Chief Executive Officer Brian Mingo and to remove the complete board of the exploitation company (PJIAE) “could result in the Royal Schiphol Group’s inability to continue its support to PJIAE,” Sayed notes, adding that key staff and expertise are essential for the project.

The World Bank’s concerns could have “potential adverse effects on management and staffing of PJIAE, on the ongoing procurement process and on PJIAE’s technical capacity to implement the project.”

Sayed therefore urges the prime minister “to take every action to ensure the continued presence of adequate management and staffing at PJIAE.” The director also calls on the government, as the sole shareholder of the holding company, “to take all appropriate measures to avoid any action that would prevent or interfere with the execution of the project.”

Sayed furthermore refers to the obligations of St. Maarten (as the recipient of a $50 million grant from the European Investment Bank) and the airport’s exploitation company (as the project implementing entity) “under the grant agreement and the project agreement signed with the World Bank.”

Photo caption: World Bank signing ceremony in July 2018 with then Prime Minister Leona Romeo Marlin, Tahseen Sayed and World Bank Steering Committee members.

Sayed sent copies of her letter to State Secretary Raymond Knops (Kingdom Relations), Minister of Tourism and Economic Affairs Ludmilla de Weever, Steering Committee members Marcel Gumbs (St. Maarten) and Frans Weekers (the Netherlands), World Bank Group Executive Director Koen Davidse and Claret Connor, director of St. Maarten’s National Reconstruction Planning Bureau.

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