Decision on repayment of airport loans deferred | THE DAILY HERALD

THE HAGUE–The Kingdom Council of Ministers decided on Friday to postpone decision-taking on a proposal regarding the repayment of the 2019 bridge loans for St. Maarten’s Princess Juliana International Airport.
Dutch Minister of Home Affairs and Kingdom Relations Raymond Knops said on Friday after the meeting of the Kingdom Council of Ministers that the decision-taking had been deferred on the request of the St. Maarten government.

Knops said it was not up to him to give the specifics on why St. Maarten had asked this postponement. “I can only say that we honoured St. Maarten’s request not to put the proposal on the agenda of today’s meeting. There was a proposal, but it will be deferred to the next meeting,” he told the media afterwards. The Kingdom Council of Ministers meets once a month.

Asked by the media what St. Maarten could do in the meantime regarding the bridge loans, amounting to US $20 million in total, Knops said he could not comment on that because he was not in St. Maarten’s shoes.
He said the preconditions of the airport loans were “known.” These preconditions included appointments on the airport project team, the appointment of a Corporate Financial Officer (CFO) from the Schiphol Group, screening of the members of the airport management and boards, and a few other corporate-governance-related matters.

St. Maarten Interim Prime Minister Silveria Jacobs announced on Wednesday that government had requested a second postponement of the repayment of the bridge loans that were issued to the airport last year as an emergency measure to secure liquidity support. The repayment was originally due in November 2019. The Kingdom Government then approved a two-month extension on the repayment.

Knops, who had just returned from a four-day visit to Aruba, Bonaire and Curaçao, also addressed the issue of the July 2019 financial instruction for Curaçao, when speaking to the press on Friday. He confirmed that the advice of the Kingdom Council of State regarding the appeal procedure filed by the Curaçao government was in.

“We have received the advice. I will take it into consideration and give a reaction shortly,” he said, adding that this would then go to the next Kingdom Council of Ministers meeting for final decision-taking either next month or the month after.

On the last day of his visit to the islands, Knops gave a press conference in Curaçao in which he addressed what he considered the lack of action in executing Curaçao’s growth accord, Dutch government support and the Girobank debacle.

According to Knops, he was not being blunt when he said that the execution of the Growth Strategy of Prime Minister Eugene Rhuggenaath’s government was going too slowly. “I have to be able to mention the bottlenecks and I have concluded that things are moving too slowly. Too few things have been accomplished in the past half-year.”

He said The Hague had offered know-how to the Curaçao government to help speed up the execution of the Growth Strategy, but Willemstad needed to be open to accept this assistance. “That should be seen as a gesture of wanting to help. We need to help each other more than ever. We need to keep up the speed, because there are opportunities. We also need trust.”
Knops said Dutch expertise many times was seen as “meddling,” while in fact these Dutch civil servants were professionals who could provide useful advice. He emphasised that the ultimate decision-taking was in the hands of the Curaçao government, not the assisting Dutch civil servants.

Knops was highly critical about the Girobank fiasco which has been attributed to failing of supervision by the Central Bank of Curaçao and St. Maarten (CBCS) of the mismanagement at the Giro Bank. “Huge mistakes were made. This is unacceptable and irresponsible, and shows that good governance is a top priority. It involves people’s money for which they have worked hard and must be well-managed.”

Source: The Daily Herald