Prime Minister in Central Committee: “PSS cannot survive on postal services alone”

POSTED: 02/19/13 12:53 PM

Honorable Prime Minister Sarah Wescot-WilliamsSt. Maarten – Prime Minister Sarah Wescot-Williams attended a central committee meeting of parliament yesterday, to discuss the operations of Postal Services St. Maarten (PSS) N.V. As shareholder representative for the government-owned company, the leader of government gave updates on the embattled company which was established after 10.10.10 following the dismantling of the Netherlands Antilles and the local branch of the Nieuwe Post Netherlands Antilles (NPNA).
Parliamentarians asked a series of repetitive questions about the establishment and operations of PSS, as well as its predecessor NPNA in which St. Maarten has 25 percent shares.
This left United People’s Party parliamentarian Johan Leonard to remark that the central committee meeting had turned into a governing “coalition meeting.” He referred to the fact that most of the questions that had been posed in a 3-hour long question period had already been posed in writing to the PM and Minister of General Affairs, who came to parliament to respond to them. It makes no sense for MPs to just rehash the same issues, Leonard reasoned.
In September 2012, Jules James (UP) posed 33 questions to the Prime Minister on the operations of PSS.
They were subsequently answered but the prime minister said that she saw the need to still clarify once again matters regarding PSS since several developments had occurred.
Before attending the meeting, the prime minister had already submitted a formal document to the central committee on Friday. It contained a synopsis of the government-owned company, excerpts of its articles of incorporation and chamber registration as well as concession agreement.

During her presentation she referred to the document repeatedly, as if to remind the legislators that the answers to many of the questions, they spent a great deal of time asking on Monday were already in their possession. However, the majority of the questions centered on the controversial resignation of PSS director Denicio Richardson.
Independent MP Frans Richardson said that PSS had gotten a bad start, which was now being reflected in the current condition of the company.
A number of MPs agreed that when the NPNA, which still continues to operate on St. Maarten as Soualiga Service Point, decided to remove its materials and assets from all postal locations, this only added salt to the wounds of an already injured company.
The prime minister emphasized that the fact that St. Maarten has 25 percent of the shares in the former federally owned company does not mean that the country has “25 percent shares in every car, desk and whatever else of the NPNA. Not every piece of equipment either. In discussions of what was happening at the time, we looked at every possible option that we would have had legally to address the situation. The bottom line was that we had none. We could not have prevented a company from doing what it felt was necessary to do with its assets.”
She added that like many others, she was very emotional about the situation of the NPNA.
“In the transfer of support and assistance agreement between the entities, it was agreed that a listing would have been made for which PSS would have responded as to taking over of such, under what conditions and paying what amount. At the end of the day that agreement was never arrived at between the management of PSS and NPNA.”

The company cannot survive on postal services alone, the prime minister stated, since global trends show a drastic decline in traditional forms of communication. PSS must become innovative.
The company’s concession was granted for the postal services only; however PSS is allowed to do other activities. Non-postal services are commercial activities and thus not given a monopoly, the prime minister said.

The prime minister said that she has received several queries on why the government did not bail out PSS or make provisions in the budget so that it could expand its operations, especially when NPNA left that company almost desolate with the retrieval of its assets.
“You do not find in a budget for government, just like that, an amount for a government-owned company. However PSS is unique in that it is the only company with a concession to carry out traditional services and clearly those activities alone cannot keep any company afloat. It is not so that there is a special place in government’s budget for PSS or any other government-owned companies.”
Wescot-Williams added that it is not impossible for government to give some form of financing to PSS. This would hinge on a review of the company’s entire financial administration.
The government accountant bureau Soab conducted a quick scan of the facility last year. The data is now being analyzed. The prime minister requested parliament’s patience in awaiting a separate report on the financial state of affairs at PSS. She said that new financial information had surfaced and she was still verifying this before making it public.

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