SINT MAARTEN (PHILIPSBURG) – “No governing program or a clear ministerial list of priorities continue to place our country at risk as we go through this pandemic,” says Stuart Johnson former Minister of Tourism, Economic Affairs, Transport and Telecommunications (TEATT).
“Port of St. Maarten and Princess Juliana International Airport (PJIAE) are our biggest assets but fail to meet the needs of our people and our country.”
PJIAE’s restoration must include US Pre-Clearance and it would be unacceptable if this sitting coalition Government allowed it to be excluded.
In media reports both the National Alliance and United People’s Party endorsed US Pre-Clearance especially during my tenure. The US Party also endorsed it and it’s a known fact it was deeply rooted in the UD/SMCP Governing program.
“Now more than ever, we continue to lag behind our neighbouring islands with our tourism product and we must be more competitive as a country.”
During my tenure, envisioned was a fully restored PJIAE with US Pre-Clearance, widening of the Simpson Bay Bridge to further accommodate our marine sector, upgraded Philipsburg Vendors Market, upgraded Simpson Bay Market and a upgraded Dr. A.C. Wathey Cruise & Cargo facility.
To date, our port and airport fail to pay its concession fees to Government along with several other Government owned companies.
“This is unacceptable and reason why during my tenure I promoted a new vision to immediately squash this issue and propel our country further.”
Imagine being able to collect concession fees versus nothing being collected as is the case now, and a solid guarantee to maintain all employees with their benefits.
“While this sitting Coalition Government conveniently is blaming everything on the pandemic, the failure to even have a Governing Program, speaks volumes. If we are in financially challenging times, then the Government itself must act differently and not hide behind a smoke screen.”
At Government owned companies, management level positions and their company vehicles must immediately be parked up.
No new vacancies should be filled externally, in times like these as we must learn to promote from within the ranks and fill vacancies internally. Thus, honouring dedication and strong commitment within the company.
Additional perks such as company credit cards and miscellaneous expenses should come to an immediate halt. Additionally, all non-essential third party contracts should be assessed for continuity or termination, during this financially challenging time.
“If your broke, then act broke and be broke or stop playing on the emotions of our people”, Johnson stated.
Lastly, a full audit of each Government owned company should be prioritized by this coalition Government.
“We cannot boast of having two world class ports of entry while our people are still suffering. I echoed those words to our tourism stakeholders as TEATT Minister and they remain valid still today,” Johnson concluded.