Published On: Wed, May 13th, 2020

Mingo under fire about airport reconstruction and CFO contract

SXM Airport - PJIA - 2020040501 JH

~ Motion passed to have supervisory board evaluate CEO within four weeks ~

PHILIPSBURG – The current state of affairs related to the reconstruction of the airport is “an embarrassment,” airport-director Brian Mingo “is lying to the parliament,” and the airport “is failing to properly manage the reconstruction.” Those are some of the sentiments members of parliament expressed during a rather contentious meeting with Prime Minister Silveria Jacobs and airport director Brian Mingo.

At the end of a lengthy meeting, UP-MP Rolando Brison tabled a motion that got the support of most MPs, with the exception of MP Sarah Wescot-Williams (UD) and PFP faction leader Melissa Gumbs.

Through this motion, parliament demands that the government requests of the airport “a concrete performance plan for the reconstruction of the airport.” The motion also demands that the airport holding updates the government about the evaluation of director Mingo within four weeks.

The motion states that procurement for the reconstruction will begin in the third quarter, that the actual work will not start before the beginning of 2021, and that the project will not be completed before January 2022. “One can reasonably hypothesize that such delays have cost and will continue to cost St. Maarten millions of guilders in potentially lost revenues, as well as millions in potential construction sector revenue,” the motion states.

Parliamentarians were generally unhappy with the answers Mingo provided to their questions and the answers they did get were more often than not considered to be unsatisfactory.

Mingo said that the airport has secured $192 million in funding for the reconstruction project – $72 million from insurance payments, $50 million each from the World Bank Trust Fund and the European Investment Bank, and another $21 million in crisis liquidity support.

Activities at the airport are at an all-time low. The terminal building is “in hibernation mode” and contractors have been asked to reduce their services and charge accordingly. “All outstanding will be paid and all employees remain on the payroll,” Mingo said.

Lack of funding has delayed the progress of the reconstruction effort, Mingo furthermore said, but now that funding is in place, steps can be taken towards a solution. A so-called Bill of Quantities (an overview of material and services needed for the reconstruction) will be ready in early July. This bill is required for the bidding process.

When MP Christophe Emmanuel asked for clarifications about a service level agreement the airport signed in January 2019 with Schiphol, Mingo said that this agreement contains confidentiality clauses and that he needs legal advice about what he will be allowed to disclose.

Emmanuel hammered on the difference between technical support and advice from Schiphol, but Mingo did not clarify. “Can I please get an answer?” Emmanuel said in the end, to which Mingo responded that he had been quoting from a confidential contract.

Mingo did provide clarity about the status of the Chief Financial Officer Schiphol made available last year in August. Gerben Stavast returned unexpectedly to the Netherlands for personal reasons. “He has indicated in October 2019 his wish to resign but he has not resigned yet,” Mingo said. “He will vacate his position once this is possible.”

Emmanuel later fueled his dissatisfaction with Mingo’s responses by saying – without providing specifics – that the airport director had been lying to parliament.

DRAFT MOTION -Airport RB-page-001

DRAFT MOTION -Airport RB-page-002

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Relevant links:
Draft motion MP Rolando Brison
Heyliger-Marten not impressed by airport’s response to Parliament