Published On: Fri, Feb 22nd, 2019

Motions of no confidence defeated

Minister of TEATT Stuart Johnson & Prime Minister Leona Marlin-Romeo in Parliament 22 Feb 2019

PHILIPSBURG – Two motions of no confidence – one against Prime Minister Leona Romeo-Marlin and one against Tourism and Economic Affairs Minister Stuart Johnson – failed to get majority support in parliament on Friday morning. Both motions, tabled by the opposition factions of the National Alliance and the United St. Maarten party, were rejected with seven votes in favor and seven votes from coalition members against.

USp-MP Rolando Brison called Minister Johnson “the biggest threat to our tourist economy” but that did not convince any coalition-MP to give the motion a majority.

Fourteen of the fifteen members of parliament were present in the meeting. United Democrats-leader Theo Heyliger – who was arrested earlier in the week – sent a notice of absence.

Christian Party MP Claude Peterson said that he voted against the motion to send the prime minister home “to secure help for the airport. St. Maarten cannot handle any more instability,” he said.

The motions formed the closing part of a meeting about the $100 million financial support for the reconstruction of the airport.

Prime Minister Romeo-Marlin and Minister Johnson and airport CEO Brian Mingo proved answers to questions MPs had asked in previous meetings on February 4 and January 21.

Romeo-Marlin was confident in her presentation, referring to support from labor unions and the hospitality and trade association SHTA for the agreement with the World Bank and the European Investment Bank about the $100 million aid package.

Mingo informed parliament that repairing the 15,000 square meter roof of the airport terminal comes at a cost of $15 million ($1,000 per square meter) and that the airport is currently working with a monthly cash shortfall of $1.2 million. The airport is scrambling to put the money together for its February-payroll. Mingo estimated the cost of establishing US Pre-Clearance – a government priority – between $60 and $80 million.

Passenger arrivals at the airport were around 1.8 million before Hurricane Irma. Currently the airport handles just 40 percent of that volume – 720,000 passengers.