SINT MAARTEN (PHILIPSBURG) – Representatives of the Chamber of Commerce and Industry (COCI) Board and Executive Management met with Princess Juliana International Airport Operating Company N.V. (PJIAE) management team regarding the involvement of local companies during the rebuilding process of the airport.
COCI and PJIAE have a good understanding and awareness of the local business landscape, and therefore the ‘inclusion’ of local partners in the rebuilding is essential during these challenging economic times for the country.
The COCI board made a request in 2018 and again in 2019 for government-owned companies to consider including local contractors wherever possible in the rebuilding efforts after the damages caused by hurricanes Irma and Marina in September 2017.
COCI took part in the Sint Maarten Reconstruction Information Session that took place in The Hague, the Netherlands in September 2018. The Information Session was organized by the Netherlands Enterprise Agency (NEA) of the Government of the Netherlands and the Netherlands in Business.
The objective of that trip to the Netherlands was to get the message across that Sint Maarten is open for business; that the Sint Maarten business community must benefit from the rebuilding of the country via the multi-million dollar Dutch-provided fund managed by the World Bank; and to build a strong bridge between the private sector of Sint Maarten and that of the Netherlands due to the opportunities which are endless when we look at the knowledge exchange capabilities.
When PJIAE noted the request of the COCI for structured involvement of local contractors in our island’s rebuilding process and government owned companies, PJIAE was the first to approach COCI to initiate this process and get the ball rolling, PJIAE said in an invited comment.
The Airport Terminal Reconstruction Project is an essential renovation project for the PJIAE which was severely damaged by the 2017 hurricanes. The reconstruction of the airport terminal which was completed in 2006, also includes further major upgrades with fully automated border control, extra escalators at all gates that would improve passenger experience, upgraded check-in counters, a relocation of car rental booths, and additional retail / food and beverage spaces offering local products.
“During the meeting, the Airport representatives explained the process that was to be launched for the reconstruction of the damages caused by hurricanes Irma and Maria. The chamber would like to point out that PJIAE as a Government owned company is going the extra length to promote and encourage local contractors to take part and register their company to be eligible for possible joint ventures or subcontracting with larger or main contractors,” the COCI Supervisory Board said on Tuesday.
“It is very important to have local companies participate, not only for the economic value of keeping the capital on island, but also the knowledge of maintenance of the airport infrastructure, since the airport will need to be maintained continuously in order to meet international standards on both safety and quality.
“I hope all stakeholders understand the importance of this, and of course that it becomes a successful reality. PJIAE is pleased to collaborate with COCI on this endeavor,” the PJIAE Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Brian Mingo, said on Tuesday.
COCI has created a special registration online portal where the local interested companies are requested to register their company. Companies can visit the Chamber website at: www.chamberofcommerce.sx
There will be a pre-qualification requirement. This prequalification requirement regards the provision of compliance documents from companies to ensure they are in good standing with various government and country St. Maarten standards of doing business.
Earlier this year before any signs of COVID-19, the Chamber indicated that 2020 would be the year of ‘compliance,’ and explained in its statement at that time why a business being in compliance is so important.
COCI in 2018 urged all local businesses to do an overall self-assessment to ensure that they are in good standing with various government and semi-government entities, and to join forces where possible to take advantage of current business opportunities.
COCI advises companies to make sure the following areas are up to date in order to prepare for partnerships: Checking liability policies; Meeting with the bank to determine the financial position and means of the company in the case of equipment purchase, additional payroll, operational costs, etc.; Update the company’s information, and/or register at the SZV, Labor Office, COCI, and Tax Department.
Some additional pointers are: Update the company’s website or any social media profile(s); Profile the company: products and/or services, experience, staff, references, résumé, past partnerships, etc.; Start looking for partnerships and sign a project-based Memorandum of Understanding (MoU).
The COCI Supervisory Board adds that this opportunity and projects that will be on the market for companies to partake in various biddings, is one of the most important factors. The Government and Government owned companies have already implemented these requirements of doing business to business (B2B).
“The collaboration initiative between the Chamber and PJIAE on this project is to give companies the opportunity to register and be part of the reconstruction process. The project initiative does not guarantee any company that will be selected to be a subcontractor or be able to partake in the bids.
“It only allows them the pre-qualification to a platform of local companies who are considered eligible for partaking in the various bidding and project executions. The Chamber Executive Director Jude Houston as well as the Supervisory Board President Benjamin Ortega sees this as a much needed avenue to assist the local economy especially after the national downturn as a result of COVID-19,” the Supervisory Board said in its statement on Tuesday.