Not everyone is happy about the current plans to rebuild Princess Juliana International Airport (PJIA) with a loan from the European Development Fund (EDF) and grant from the Dutch-sponsored Trust Fund managed by the World Bank for US $50 million each. The grant will be made available to St. Maarten and borrowed by the government-owned company as well, under favourable conditions.
Some object particularly to the – indirect – influence this gives the Netherlands over the island’s main gateway. They refer to persons with connections to Amsterdam’s Schiphol Airport appointed to the supervisory and executive boards, although in the latter case with a local counterpart.
But a recent meeting between the Ministry of Tourism, Economic Affairs, Transport and Telecommunication (TEATT) and the Ombudsman (see Monday paper) revealed that a formal response to a systematic investigation into the Procurement Management Policy (PMP) of the airport’s operating company PJIAE is still pending.
“The PMP is insufficiently transparent at the level of the functionally responsible governing body for PJIAE/government. The evaluation criteria used in the tendering and selection of bidders appear not to be accessible to interested (third) parties and the public in general,” reported the Ombudsman.
That raises the question whether these shortcomings noted during the inquiry would not create a potential problem with the various parts of the reconstruction project. With all due respect, but in that sense the “outside” oversight and involvement via among others the World Bank with its strict rules, extensive procedures and best practices might not be such a bad thing.
In fact, it could well prove a blessing in disguise.