Published On: Thu, Sep 19th, 2019

MP Brison threatens to send prime minister home over mishandling of airport

MP Rolando Brison on presentation MOT in Parliament 20 Feb 2019

PHILIPSBURG – “The biggest impediment to progress at the airport is the prime minister who has displayed poor leadership and incompetence in handling the issues surrounding the airport. She is exhibiting tunnel vision with her reluctance to look beyond the World Bank and the Dutch government for airport financing, and trying to micromanage an airport that is way beyond the scope of her understanding and acumen.” Member of Parliament Rolando Brison states in an exclusive release to StMaartenNews.com this morning.

Brison, rather sarcastically, notes that “the last minster to exhibit this level of blind insistence, Citizen Lee, is no longer her (Prime Minister Leona Romeo-Marlin’s – ed.) counterpart in the Council of Ministers. If the PM does not resolve this issue of airport financing, I will lobby, successfully, with my colleagues in Parliament for her to join Citizen Lee. The country simply can’t afford to lose these opportunities anymore.”

Brison notes various incorrect and illegal statements made by the prime minister in her recent attempt to clarify the in-fighting within her council of ministers regarding the airport and the way forward. “It is clear that since the budget was approved the terms for airport financing have changed, and if they proceed with the financing on October 7th, as she mentioned, without the approval of Parliament, she and her government would be in direct violation of article 12.1 (c-e) and article 46.1-5 of the Accountability Ordinance.” Brison states.

“New terms for airport financing need to be approved by Parliament,” says MP Rolando Brison

“Why did she not secure this compliance first?” Brison asks “The government is not above the law and should have ensured they handled the legal requirements properly. Any partial changes to the terms and conditions must be given to Parliament as well as the General Audit Chamber for our approval pursuant to these laws and this has not been done.”

Brison notes the paradox in information as released by Minister of Tourism and Economic Affairs Stuart Johnson, the Prime Minister and Vidanova about the offer by Curacao-based pension fund Vidanova to buy out existing bondholders and to finance the reconstruction of the airport, including the construction of a US pre-clearance facility. Brison says it shows how much she has lost control of the Council of Ministers and her government.

“Once again the government is showing us they are completely splintered and divided. But as I stated, referring to the poor handling of parliament meetings by the chairlady of parliament, the figure of speech ‘a fish rots from the head down‘ seems to apply for the Council of Ministers as well.” Brison concludes his statement to StMaartenNews.com.

MP Rolando Brison - 20190909Brison had already been quite vocal on these issues. Using his speaking time during the closing session of Parliament on Monday, September 9th, the United St. Maarten Party (USp) faction leader, MP Rolando Brison, besides reiterating the need for a parliamentary inquiry into Mullet Bay, had also addressed what was going on regarding the airport and the issue of pre-clearance.

In an earlier statement to StMaartenNews.com Brison had already pointed out that pre-clearance would allow the use of domestic gates in the United States, a move that would enable St. Maarten to open many more routes.

“Pre-clearance strengthens economic competitiveness and mutual security and benefits travelers by expediting their clearance into the US. Additionally, foreign airports with a pre-clearance facility appeal to more passengers,” Brison had stated.

“That added attraction unquestionably benefits the bottom line of the airport and the economy of the island. Overall, pre-clearance presents an effective business model for foreign airport authorities interested in capitalizing on the increasing demand in the international air travel sector.” according to Brison.

On Monday, September 16th, StMaartenNews.com contacted the office of Cleatus P. Hunt Jr., the United States (US) Customs and Border Protection (CBP) Port of Dallas Director, about the topic of US Pre-Clearance. Hunt has been the liaison officer involved in negotiating the US Pre-Clearance with the PJIA Airport and the Government of St. Maarten. On the invitation of his staff, StMaartenNews.com emailed a series of questions to Hunt regarding the costs, benefits and advantages of pre-clearance, including questions about the facilities that need to be set up, the staffing of these facilities and the issue of sovereignty. StMaartenNews.com hopes to receive answers to these questions in time for a next publication on the topic of pre-clearance as many questions still remain unanswered on this topic in the ongoing debates.

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