The present council of Ministers led by Prime Minister Leona Romeo Marlin have all gone ahead and agree to funding provided by the Dutch Trust Fund managed by the World Bank and a European Bank loan to reconstruct the Airport at the tune of some 100 Million plus US Dollars. They were awaiting the approval of the budget for 2019 to be passed in order to begin work. The budget was approved and to date nothing has happened.
Now there are big discussions among political parties including some in the governing coalition of a second proposal from VIDA NOVA for reconstruction and the inclusion of an option to accommodate US preclearance that has been long on the table way before the hurricane of 2017. But a press release from the now leader of the largest coalition member UD Ms. Sarah Wescot Williams states she has been left confused. The following is in part taken from her press release…
“The latest statements from Government Ministers have even me confused and I can just imagine the general public. Given the status of such a project, I can imagine that we also have international partners scratching their heads. Rather than requesting a meeting of Parliament on the topic, I have chosen the route of formally asking the Parliament’s approval to question the Minister(s) in a meeting of Parliament, specifically for that purpose. Making use of this right of “interpellation”, is shorter, more direct and Ministers must come to Parliament prepared. This right is enshrined in our constitution and worked out in our Rules of Order.
The request from a member to have an interpellation must be motivated. My request is further motivated in the letter as submitted. The questions are usually sent to the Minister(s), once Parliament decides to call the Minister(s) in on the topic. But I have already provided these to Parliament in my request for an interpellation.” She states in her release.
While there are differences of opinion in the Council of Ministers, The opposition NA party held a press conference last Friday announcing they too are in support of preclearance being handled as a priority but what is absent is a parliamentary debate to answer the concerns of the people over the details. On the basis of Wescot Williams’s release, she further clarified…
“The reconstruction of the Princess Juliana International Airport is a matter of ongoing debate and concern. Statements by different minsters have unfortunately not contributed to putting to rest the prevailing sentiment that the plans to reconstruct the airport, the airport’s financing and the US preclearance plans, are not synchronized between the airport companies and their shareholders. In other words, we don’t seem to have our act together”, she conclude.
So then Confusion Prevails over who will finance and when, as time fly by and the all-important gateway remains in an inadequate state, much to the shame of all of us.