PHILIPSBURG, St. Maarten – Residents and businesses on St. Maarten are called on to help keep the foreign exchange reserves ((United states dollars) in balance by turning to the country’s little used official currency – the Netherlands Antilles guilder.
The severe drop in tourism means “no more US dollars coming in,” Finance Minister Ardwell Irion announced at the press conference with the St. Maarten Bankers Association on Wednesday morning at the Government Administration Building.
“Use our local currency as much as possible, the guilder, to keep the balance of foreign exchange at a respectable, comfortable level,” Irion said before turning over the microphone to Bankers Association Chairman and Head of Windward Island Bank (WIB) Derek Downes.
Picking up the narrative, Downes said, “Foreign exchange will reduce, in terms of coming in, and we will need to have foreign exchange available for imports. We need to import medicines … food … fuel for GEBE to keep the lights on.”
“So as much as possible that you can use the guilder currency. Use the guilder currency, because that will reduce any pressure on the foreign exchange reserves that we can have those reserves available to the needed supplies made on the island,” Downes told the press.
The Netherlands Antilles guilder is exchanged between NAf 1.77 to NAf 1.82 to one US dollars. Residents or businesses who convert their dollars to guilders are faced with the worst rate of exchange.
The St. Maarten economy primarily runs on the US dollar, a situation that has arose from its heavy dependence on tourism coming from the United States. For now, all ports of entry are shut to tourists leaving the country to fend for itself in the face of a severe economic slowdown Prime Minister Silveria Jacobs as described as possibly worse than Hurricane Irma, the monster storm the hammered the island on September 6, 2017.