Minister Gumbs Gives Breakdown of ANG 90 million CAPEX Allocations | SOUALIGA NEWSDAY

SINT MAARTEN (GREAT BAY) - Minister of Finance Marinka Gumbs has given a breakdown of how the ANG 90 million Capital Expenditure (CAPEX) included in the 2024 national budget has been allocated for projects that the various ministries must execute.

Speaking at a press conference she convened here recently, Minister Gumbs said that ANG 60 million was a loan that St. Maarten must repay over 20 years at an average interest rate of three percent.

The remaining ANG 30 million was a grant, which she broke down as follows: 7.2 million financed by the Netherlands for phase 1 of the prison (research phase); 5.8 million for a much-needed new ERP software system financed by the Netherlands via TWO; 16.2 million for a new tax system financed by the Netherlands via TWO.

Minister Gumbs stressed that “the 90 million guilders is solely to be used for capital expenditures and not to cover any operational costs of the country.”

Giving a further breakdown of how the CAPEX funds have been allocated, the minister disclosed that the Ministry of Public Housing, Spatial Planning, Environment & Infrastructure (VROMI) received the lion’s share of ANG 41,041,435.00.

This amount is earmarked mainly for road projects, upgrading of the Prins Bernhard Bridge, and the sewage network expansion, a project that is co-financed by the National Recovery Project Bureau (NRPB).

The Ministry of Education, Culture, Youth and Sports (ECYS) received ANG 7,208,607.00. This will fund numerous projects, from purchasing hard and software for schools, digital tracking software for school bus transportation, to the upgrading of the Raul Illidge Sports Complex in Cay Hill.

Other projects covered by the CAPEX allocation include the John Larmonie Center renovation and expansion, Phase 2 of the Prins Willem Alexander School, and additional space for NIPA to accommodate an administration office, student engagement center with cafeteria, nursing simulation lab, and the culinary and hospitality services.

Minister Gumbs also said that the Ministry of Tourism, Economic Affairs, Traffic and Telecommunication (TEATT) got ANG 5,900,632.00 primarily for product development and improvement, which includes the Marketplace.

The Ministry of Justice received ANG 4,236,691.00 toward the Technical Application for Immigration, a system that will result in faster passenger processing, using a three-layer passport verification that includes face recognition, and which will minimize the risk of forgery of national documents, said the minister.

The Ministry of General Affairs was allocated ANG 2,290,600.00 to purchase hard and software for ICT and some vehicles.

The least allocations went to the Ministry of Finance, ANG 136,067 for the restoration of the canteen at the Receiver’s Office, which was damaged by hurricane Irma and has not been in use since.

The High Councils of State got ANG 40,000.00 to purchase a vehicle. In total, about 31 vehicles will be purchased by the various ministries using CAPEX funds.

Responding to a question about the possibility of shifting some of these allocations around, the minister said the process to get CAPEX requires approval by Parliament and advise by CFT.

“The advice of CFT was based on the current allocation and the underlying supporting documents. Making changes to this will affect our credibility and potentially hamper receiving much needed CAPEX in the future,” Minister Gumbs said. “Hence, shifting within the CAPEX projects is not advisable. Besides, it is very important for us to show financial discipline.”

“I respect and I remain committed to the execution of the projects for which the funds are available and allocated,” she said, adding that she will make her own desires for CAPEX known in the budget for 2025.