SINT MAARTEN (POND ISLAND) – Caretaker Minister of Finance Hon. Perry Geerlings has developed a detailed proposal to grow the economy through a stimulus for micro-, small and medium-sized enterprises.
The proposal was developed as part of the World Bank project to enhance financing possibilities for enterprises in Sint Maarten.
It was recently submitted for final approval to the Steering Committee of the Trust Fund.
In November 2018, the Steering Committee of the Sint Maarten Recovery and Resilience Trust Fund approved an Enterprise Recovery Project.
This project aimed to use the lending and credit facilities on Sint Maarten to give tailored loans and grants to eligible Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSME) on Sint Maarten. In principle USD 35 million was approved for this project.
The implementation of this Enterprise Recovery Project turned out to be complex and not feasible on a short-term basis as the financial sector has to be involved as well.
In the meantime, also the Central Bank of Curacao and Sint Maarten has offered help in this respect.
Given the aforementioned concerns the Steering Committee asked the Minister of Finance to explore other opportunities to provide short term relief to SMSE in Sint Maarten.
The proposal of the Minister of Finance uses part of the available budget for a swift and much simpler to implement relief subsidy or grant to micro-, small- and medium-sized enterprises that were affected by the hurricanes to improve their financial position during this phase of the recovery.
USD 10-15 million would be made available once approved, Minister Geerlings stated on Monday.
In the proposal, the amount of relief subsidy or grant will be based on the loss in turnover as reported by the enterprises on their turnover declarations in the 12 months period prior and after to Irma.
The proposal also includes the requirements for the enterprises to be eligible for this economic stimulus. The proposal and plan of approach were submitted to the Steering Committee by Minister Perry Geerlings recently.
The Steering Committee is scheduled later this month and Minister Geerlings asked and hopes for a final decision to execute the project.
After approval, a special team will execute the project. The rules of the relief subsidy, the eligibility requirements for micro-, small and medium-sized enterprises, the application process and forms will be made available at that time via different channels.
The Minister expects approximately 2.500 applications. The execution of the project, once approved, is expected to take some four to five months.
“Finally, and thanks to the efforts of the Tax Department, my team and the Chamber of Commerce, we came up with a proposal that, after approval, will lead to at least some urgently needed financial support to the business community that still struggles to overcome the effects of Irma,” Minister Perry Geerlings said on Monday.