PHILIPSBURG–Port St. Maarten has registered a US $9 million loss, a shortfall Government will have to cover, disclosed Finance Minister Richard Gibson.
The shortfall is partly blamed on two major cruise lines having opted to move away from the country to other ports of call in the Caribbean. Overall, that shifting of itinerary has cost the local economy some NAf. 90 million. Some of that amount represents passenger spending, which stands at some $191 per person.
The recorded loss shows the need for Government-owned companies to submit their financial statements for the previous year to Government by the middle of the current year, Gibson told Parliament on Monday. The same should also be the case for the companies’ investment plans.
Government-owned companies should not show a loss and their investment policies should indicate how projects will be executed. “The plan should not have losses,” said Gibson.
Payment of dividends should be on the agenda for all companies, the Minister said. He singled out Princess Juliana International Airport SXM for not living up to its dividend obligation for several years. “The airport has not been paying dividends under the pretence they have a loan, but they are making a profit, but they are not paying,” Gibson said.
Government-owned companies are also operating “in a vacuum,” with Government as shareholder only learning about the direction of the companies at the annual shareholders meeting. “It is a black hole.”
National Alliance (NA) Member of Parliament Rodolphe Samuel questioned how home-porting of cruise ships will help to boost Port St. Maarten’s revenues.
Democratic Party (DP) leader MP Sarah Wescot-Williams queried why Government had to cover the losses of its companies in the country’s budget.
MPs will receive their answers today, Tuesday, when the budget debate in the Central Committee of Parliament resumes in Parliament House at 10:00am.
Source: The Daily Herald https://www.thedailyherald.sx/islands/62079-port-registers-loss-of-us-9-million