Published On: Wed, Dec 11th, 2019

Just a pipe dream

By Hilbert Haar

Wow, the funding agreements for the airport-reconstruction with the World Bank and the European Investment Bank have finally been signed by the current government. That’s good news for the airport and its employees and a feather in the cap of – yeah, of who exactly?

The current government led by Silveria Jacobs delivered some of the signatures, exactly a month after her party, the National Alliance, together with the United St. Maarten party and a few independent MPs sabotaged attempts to appease the bondholders with a reassuring motion of confidence in parliament.

Seen from that perspective, the current government knowingly caused a delay of one month when its members occupied the opposition benches. Now the government wants to claim credits for something USp-MP Frans Richardson labeled in February as “the worst agreement this country has ever signed.”

However, in politics, February is a long time ago and the signing ceremony was a mostly festive affair where everybody – Prime Minister Jacobs, airport director Mingo and World Bank country director Sayed seemed to be extremely happy with all those signatures. Missing from the ceremony was, as far as I have been able to determine from the press releases, a representative of the bondholders.

It makes one wonder: who are these people, why were they being difficult and why did these agreements suddenly not need their signature?

Claude Chacho Peterson 468x60

The signatures that are now on paper imply that all signatories, including Prime Minister Jacobs, have agreed with the conditions attached to the World Bank grant and the EIB-loan, like a (temporary) chief financial officer from the Schiphol Group at the airport and screening of members of the supervisory board.

Those conditions have been the subject of fierce political debate. That’s fine, of course, and maybe how it should be, but it remains remarkable (or predictable – take your pick) that those who were so vehemently opposed to those conditions are now part of a government that suddenly does not seem to have a problem with them anymore.

The public prosecutor’s office just released its zero tolerance policy for the run-up to the elections on January 9. One violation stands out: presenting false information. The penalty for doing that is 20 hours of community service or ten days behind bars.

This makes me wonder and smile at the same time. Will police officers visit political rallies to do some fact checking? And will they impose community service on lying politicians? The thought alone is extremely hilarious but of course, this is just a pipe dream.

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Community service for violating Zero Tolerance policy