Labega’s appointment to move forward despite negative advice

POSTED: 06/13/11 1:14 PM

St. Maarten – Shareholder Representative for the Princess Juliana International Airport Theodore Heyliger announced on Sunday that the appointment of a permanent director at the Princess Juliana International Airport Operating Company should be finalized this week. The Corporate Governance Council has advised against Regina Labega to the post because she is one of the suspects in an ongoing embezzlement investigation.

Heyliger considers the Corporate Governance Council’s negative advice a pity and said he continues to maintain that she is innocent until proven guilty. The minister also expressed his confidence in Labega, saying she’d “basically run the island’s economy” as Director of Tourism for several years.

“The candidate (Labega) has been basically running the economy under numerous administrations, so if the candidate is bad now, why was she not bad a few months ago or a few years ago,” Heyliger said.

Speaking on Sunday’s For the Record with Eddie Williams on Radio Soualiga 99.9 Choice F.M Heyliger stressed the importance of appointing a full time director to make key investments and to finish important processes.

“We have to look at expansion, customer service and immigration clearance. We’ve lost 15 to 20 percent of our in transit business and we need to reposition ourselves. So it is my belief that all this commotion needs to be resolved because we need to update the master plan, we need the taxi way, we have to make sure we don’t lose private jet customers by upgrading our Fixed Based Operation Terminal and we need to finish pre-clearance discussions with US Immigration and Customs to put us back in the top notch position,” Heyliger said.

All of these points are important because of a feared competition from neighboring islands. St. Kitts has improved its Fixed Base Operation to cater to private jets and the Canadian company that’s been awarded the contract to manage the Grand Case airport has announced it wants to expand the run way there to accommodate planes up to the size of a Boeing 737.

Corporate Governance Council

This latest advice and the fallout has led Heyliger to also point that he’s no fan of having “another advisory body that basically brings the government owned companies back into the bureaucracy of government.”

“Having another set of advice is just another strain and we are basically defeating the purpose of elections. No advisory body got elected by the people based on plans that they presented to the people. The Corporate Governance Council, and other advisory bodies can give advice and that can be taken or not taken. At the end of the day it is the politicians that get up and request the people give them a mandate. Once you’ve been elected you can’t hide behind a lot of advisory body and not run the country. You have to have the ability to solve issues and put people in positions and not be scared. It is a situation to be looked at,” Heyliger said.

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