SINT MAARTEN (POND ISLAND) – On Friday, January 31ST, Minister of Finance, Ardwell Irion joined a small delegation of the National Recovery Project Burau (NRPB) and SXM Airport PJIAE to the Headquarters of the European Investment Bank in Luxembourg. The main purpose of this high-level visit was to cross the Ts and dot the Is on the 50 million US Dollars loan that the Government of Sint Maarten has signed with the European Investment Bank for Princess Juliana International Airport (PJIA). This loan will be provided to the Airport under very favorable conditions, with a grace period of five years and a subsidized interest percentage of around 2.5 to 3%.
As one of the principal financiers for the Airport Terminal Reconstruction Project, the EIB will be an important partner for the country and the Airport in the years to come. Minister Irion thanked the EIB and especially Ms. Emma Navarro, the EIB’s Vice-President for the Caribbean for the EIB’s support: ‘I am very grateful for this unique opportunity to work with a triple-A institution like the EIB.
“Together with the 72 million US dollars grant from the Sint Maarten Trust Fund, the technical assistance of the World Bank and the release of the insurance proceeds, the EIB’s loan will allow PJIA to return the Terminal Building to its former glory and to look beyond at new horizons. The EIB is a very natural partner for the Airport, as the EIB already finances major operations in almost every major airport in Europe. Hopefully, this loan will be the first in a series of operations of the EIB with PJIA in order to finance future upgrades to our terminal facilities, including pre-clearance’.
During his visit, Minister Irion and Director Claret Connor of the NRPB discussed how the cooperation with the EIB can also become beneficial for other investment projects of the Government of Sint Maarten and its Government Companies.
‘The financing of the Airport project teaches us a very important lesson: we can and should use the Trust Fund to leverage more attractive funding for our island. The availability of over half a billion US Dollars in grant money through the Trust Fund is an asset that we should use to our advantage. We can leverage the Trust Fund to obtain more attractive public and private funding for our projects. The involvement of triple-A institutions like the World Bank and the EIB, makes it more attractive for other financiers to chip-in.
“As Minister of Finance, my goal is always to follow the numbers and to do the math: we already have half a billion, but we need and can get more. My visit to the EIB, being the first official visit of the Government of Sint Maarten to the EIB, serves this purpose as I strongly believe that the EIB can become an important partner to leverage the Trust Fund’, Minister Irion explained.