NA pummels Minister Richardson with questions about airport

POSTED: 05/20/14 10:26 PM

St. Maarten – The meeting of Parliament yesterday morning about the airport was short-lived because Minister of Tourism and Economic Affairs Ted Richardson said he needed time to gather information from the airport to answer the barrage of questions National Alliance leader William Marlin asked in the ten minutes that were available to him in the second round of the meeting. Parliament will reconvene about the airport-issues in the second week of June.

The questions asked by Marlin and by NA-MP Louie Laveist focus on a variety of issues. The initial meeting was triggered by a number of leaked documents, for instance about what the airport paid for the bronze pelicans that adorn the nearby roundabout ($254,000), and how chairman of the board Clarence Derby successfully claimed nearly $8,000 in damages for a briefcase that was stolen from him during a business trip at the airport in Berlin.

The NA wants to know whether there is a reimbursement policy for these events, and it also wants to know how the airport commissions projects to contractors.

MP Louie Laveist said that “a lot of stuff is stolen from board members and management,” a remark that suggests that there is a generous compensation scheme in place at the airport. The facts confirm this: Derby claimed – and received – close to $8,000 for the briefcase that was stolen from him. He said that the briefcase contained, amongst other valuables, close to $3,000 in cash. The NA wants to know whether this claim is based on a police report. UP-leader Theo Heyliger was with Derby at the time. He tended to Derby’s briefcase while the latter went to get some coffee at the Berlin-airport. A team of criminals – consisting of a blond lady who distracted Heyliger and an unknown man – snatched the briefcase.

This newspaper has established that there are no laws that obligate employers to compensate their personnel for such losses, especially not when there is negligence on the part of the employee (or in this case, the chairman of the board) in play.

Prime Minister Wescot-Williams said recently at a press briefing that there is no policy in place for such occurrences on the government level for civil servants on business trips. The government deals with these incidents on a case to case basis, she said.

The questions from the NA-faction had to do with the contracts the airport awards, the procedure it follows for awarding them, and the costs involved. Marlin also posed a question about the by now famous pelicans at the airport roundabout, asking how much they had cost ($254,000 – ed.), whether they had been made in St, Martin or elsewhere and whether it is true that they had been broken and repaired.

Laveist also addressed the sponsorships by the airport. He pointed in particular to the Hennessy show, for which the airport paid $22,000 in sponsorship while its chairman of the board Clarence Derby was one of the show’s promoters.

Laveist furthermore asked confirmation for the costs of the airport roundabout ($450,000), and the $6 million investment in the arrival hall upgrade.


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