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DH | Peterson to present motion today ‘to break PJIA financing impasse’

SXM Claude “Chacho” Peterson

PHILIPSBURG–St. Maarten Christian Party (SMCP) Member of Parliament (MP) Claude “Chacho” Peterson said he will be tabling a motion to break the financing impasse of Princess Juliana International Airport (PJIA) during the continuation of the Parliament meeting on the gateway facility today, Monday.

The motion is intended to “take away the uncertainty created by the motion of no confidence of September 25, passed by the new majority of nine in Parliament.”

In a press statement on Sunday evening, Peterson said the motion would consider all the issues preventing or obstructing the financing of PJIA from being completed, and would resolve that the agreements with all relevant parties in the financing of PJIA using the Recovery Trust Fund and European Investment Bank (EIB) loan be signed by the present caretaker ministers without delay.

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“Even though the new majority of nine in Parliament were adamantly against this financing option for PJIA, I truly hope that this motion will get unanimous support showing the stakeholders, specifically the bondholders, the airport workers, service providers and the people of St. Maarten in general that as Members of Parliament we are capable of putting country above self,” Peterson said.

Peterson posed four questions to caretaker Finance Minister Perry Geerlings last week on the financial situation at the airport and he has since received a response.

In his response to the question on the steps taken to remedy the situation at the airport, Geerlings provided a “detailed chronological outline” of the steps undertaken by parties to finalise the financing agreement for PJIA using the Trust Fund and EIB loan.

Referring to the minister’s answer, Peterson said it had become evident that as early as October 9, the bondholders had required a declaratory motion of Parliament resolving that the caretaker ministers could sign a binding/irrevocable agreement on behalf of the government of St. Maarten.

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“This would be in addition to the national decree from the governor and the unqualified legal opinions stating such. In keeping with good governance principles, the ‘formateur’ was approached by the Director of the National Recovery Programme Bureau (NRPB) [Claret Connor – Ed.] and the caretaker minister of finance to provide such on behalf of the new majority in Parliament.

“Almost one month later, the formateur chose to defer to the governor’s role in the process and has elected not to take the initiative to bring such a motion to the floor of Parliament to appease the bondholder’s requirements in order to finalise the desperately needed financing for the daily operations and reconstruction of PJIA,” Peterson said in the release.

“I have no other choice than to ask myself: Does the new majority of nine in Parliament have any plan to rescue our airport and protect the livelihood of their workers and service providers? Every day lost is another delay towards securing the funds needed not only to rebuild the gateway to our economy, but more importantly to be able to secure the income of more than 1,400 workers who directly or indirectly depend on a salary derived from PJIA.”

Peterson alluded to a statement made by PJIA Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Brian Mingo on November 1, that, “If the present World Bank and EIB funding is not completed soon, and the funding is not available by December 1, 2019, the business will not be able to comply with its liabilities.”

The MP said, “The instability created by ship-jumpers and the clearly vindictive political motion which resulted have once more threatened our ability as an island to work in the best interest of the people. I believe it is time we treat the PJIA reconstruction financing as an issue of national interest and put politics aside.”

It is under this premise that Peterson will present his motion today. He thanked Geerlings for providing answers to his questions expediently, but noted, “Regretfully, the [Chairperson] of Parliament did not share the urgency to reconvene the urgent public meeting on the state of affairs of PJIA during the non-meeting week of October 28 to November 1 as requested by the SMCP faction.”

Bron; Daily Herald

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