Dutch Prime Minister Rutte visits Port of St. Maarten

POSTED: 07/25/13 12:45 PM

Rutte HarborMingo very pleased with visit prime minister and delegation

St. Maarten The cruise tourism figures for cruise and cargo movements in 2012 for the three Kingdom countries of Aruba, Curacao and St. Maarten were given to Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte by Chief Executive Officer of the Harbour Group of Companies Mark Mingo, on the prime minister’s visit to the harbor last Saturday.

Rutte was informed that current cargo business activities have stabilized, but the performance needs to be improved.  The harbor group is looking at various options, such as additional shipping links, and from an infrastructure perspective, a breakwater and dredging of the cargo basin.  The cargo software GLS that was a partnership with a Dutch company, was also explained to the prime minister.

The cruise tourism figures are: Aruba 576,578; Curacao 436,068; St. Maarten 1,753,215 and for cargo container movements (full imports) in 2012; Aruba 28,864; Curacao 49,877; and St. Maarten 39,300.

With respect to the cargo services and facilities, Mingo addressed how important training is of human resources to operate the cranes at the port, and was top of the agenda in order to continue to provide safe and efficient services where it concerns the off and on-loading of cargo vessels at international performance levels.  Developments related to the opening of the Panama Canal were also touched upon.

Mingo also pointed out the strategic visionary investment decisions that were taken to accommodate Future Larger Vessels and now the further expansion plans for Pier II.

The prime minister was informed about the long-term strategic planning in relation to real estate and property needed for future expansions in connection with the economic development of country St. Maarten.  Mingo said there must always be room for expansion just as the ports of Amsterdam, Rotterdam and Miami have done, adding that the acquisition of strategic properties is part of a strategic vision of the Harbor Group of Companies.

During the discussion about economic challenges, Rutte was very critical and exchanged ideas on how to deal with challenges.  Mingo said they discussed the Central Bank of Curacao and St. Maarten loan where he explained that the Harbor Group saw this as a strategic opportunity to get a loan from the bank at a lower interest rate which facilitated the Harbor Group of Companies in aligning its position to the benefit of the country.

Mingo added that part of the loan went to cover the construction of the Simpson Bay Lagoon Causeway currently being constructed by a Dutch firm.  The investment in the causeway was a strategic decision to safeguard accessibility to the Simpson Bay-Airport-Cupecoy area in the event of a malfunction of the Simpson Bay Bridge; but also to alleviate traffic congestion; and to also serve as a route when the time comes for the bridge to be replaced.

Mingo stated that he was “very pleased” with the visit to the Dr. A.C. Wathey Cruise and Cargo Facility by Rutte and his delegation of business executives.

“The Port of St. Maarten over the years has been nurturing a close working relationship with members of the Dutch Government.  Various ministers and other representatives of ministries have visited the port and they have all been very impressed with the port operations and facilities that our country has developed.  It is my priority to continue to nurture this positive relationship to the benefit of the port and the people of St. Maarten,” Mingo said.

Rutte and his entourage were given a tour of the port facilities before they sat down for a presentation and luncheon that covered past, present and future investments; cruise and cargo developments; Dutch heritage and historic ties and the Dutch village; port security; real estate; the importance of the marine sector to the economy; and economic challenges.

During the tour emphasis was placed on the joint ventures that have been strategically negotiated with the cruise line partners, Mingo pointed out how important this was for the port and country.

Mingo explained to Rutte about the security mechanisms that the port has in place and how that facilitates the processing of passengers from the larger vessels.  The prime minister was very impressed with how the port handles the large cruise ships and queried about the selling points of the country and why cruise passengers enjoy visiting the destination.

With respect to the harbor group of companies and its internal operations, Mingo explained about the internal checks and balances such as the “umbrella” system that the port utilizes to audit its operations in order to ensure it is in line with good corporate governance.

Political stability was also discussed and the prime minister wanted to know if the political situation back in May and June impacted the Harbor Group of Companies in any manner.  Mingo stated that the harbor’s strategic partners queried about the situation as well as other investment partners, so political stability is key in any modern democratic country.

Mingo and Rutte were  both in agreement that a clear economic policy was necessary; they also discussed monopolies, unfair competition and the non-efficiency of the transportation of goods as potential threats to the Port of St. Maarten.


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