SINT MAARTEN (PHILIPSBURG) – The Party for Progress (PFP) Faction submitted questions to the Minister of Finance, the Honorable Ardwell Irion, on Monday, 17 August 2020. The faction referenced the letter sent by State Secretary Raymond Knops to the Dutch Second Chamber on 14 August 2020.
The State Secretary’s letter informed the Dutch Second Chamber that St. Maarten had not yet met all the conditions for the second tranche of liquidity support, which meant that no discussion could be held for a future third tranche of support.
In their questions to the Minister, PFP queried the discrepancy between the State Secretary’s letter and the Minister’s own comments in a 16 July 2020 Daily Herald article, in which the Minister stated that St. Maarten was ‘on track with most of the conditions’ for the second tranche. The MPs requested that the Minister outline which specific conditions have not been met as yet, as that was not clear from the State Secretary’s letter.
Of special concern for PFP was the question of ‘what happens now?’ They questioned the Minister on the current financial liquidity position of the Government of Sint Maarten, with regards to the country’s ability to cover civil servant salaries and general operational expenses. This has been a recurring query from the faction, both on and off the floor of Parliament: if no, then what?
Rounding out the faction’s questions were inquiries about the motion passed in the July 8th Parliament meeting. In that motion, Parliament urged Government to begin exploring the possibility of having government-owned companies to hold government assets, something that was proposed on the floor of Parliament in that same meeting. As a possible solution, this may impact the AOV pension fund in the event that SZV would be involved. The faction asked the Minister for a status update on that exploration and if Government had rolled out any actions on any information yielded from their exploration.
Finally, the faction questioned how soon this potential plan would result in cash-on-hand for Government, tying this into their earlier question on Government’s current liquidity position. Any initiative involving the sale of government assets would take time, and this causes some concern for the MPs, considering there is no second or third tranche of liquidity support seemingly on the way. The faction also asked what the anticipated cash raise would yield, in the event Government moved forward in this manner, how long this cash would sustain the country for and whether or not a percentage of it would be allocated to continue the SSRP beyond the remaining months of 2020.