SINT MAARTEN (PHILIPSBURG) – On Monday September 21st , Dutch State Secretary of Kingdom Relations Raymond Knops informed the Second Chamber of the Dutch Parliament, that he had charged some “independent experts” to start an evaluation of the policy regarding relief efforts on St Maarten, Saba and St Eustatius, after the Irma disaster, the Sint Maarten Consumers Coalition said in a statement.
“The review is aimed at providing as broad a picture as possible of the effectiveness and efficiency of expenditures already made for the reconstruction of the Windward Islands. It is also deemed necessary to outline the effectiveness and efficiency of the implementation structure set up for the reconstruction of St. Maarten, in theory and practice.
“Knops explained in the letter and we quote: “This policy review can, (…), be seen as an intermediate step, in which learning and identifying points for improvement are central,”. The evaluation also includes accountability for the choices made for activities and expenditures already incurred. A final evaluation of the policies related to the reconstruction of St. Maarten, Saba and Statia will take place after the completion of the reconstruction activities on December 31, 2025.
“The Kingdom of the Netherlands has participated in three major United Nations conferences on Disaster Risk Reduction! As you can deduct from the underlined scope of the evaluation in this article the State Secretary Knops does not evaluate how the Kingdom has prepared for disaster risks in St Maarten, Saba and St Eustatius. He only wants to evaluate how the relief money was spent after the Irma disaster! Let us compare for example the way in which the Netherlands after the disaster in 1953 the Dutch has addressed the disaster risk for another disaster. They have built the Delta Works, which is called “one of the seven wonders of the world” and they have reinforced the existing natural barriers against rising sea levels! What did the Dutch do on our islands to reduce the risks of disasters of hurricanes, tsunami’s, earth quakes or pandemics? Nothing!
“From the Daily Herald article of yesterday we quote: “The reconstruction of St. Maarten will be evaluated by a hired “external independent evaluator”, who will be supported by the core team, which has the World Bank’s trust and that of the stakeholders in St. Maarten. The Dutch government has appointed Ted Kliest as evaluator. A supervisory committee chaired by Sjef IJzermans monitors the quality and progress of the audit. The committee consists of representatives of the relevant ministries in the Netherlands. How “independent” are these Dutch evaluators?
“Why Knops did not ask the United Nations Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Disaster Risk Reduction Ms MIZUTORI Mami, to prepare a team of specialists to review: “how the Kingdom of the Netherlands has been reducing the risks of disaster and has responded to the disasters caused by hurricane Luis in September 1995, and hurricane Irma in September 2017”? At least the United Nations would have come up with a team of experts who do not wear “Dutch glasses”, and who could look more objective to preparations and response of the Kingdom in times of disasters in the Caribbean part of the Kingdom!
“If Knops does not ask the United Nations expert on disaster risk reduction to do such an evaluation, as Consumers Coalition we want to recommend the government of St Maarten to have the Kingdom government and the World Bank evaluated in their preparation and response to the natural disasters St Maarten has been going through.
“We also recommend Parliament to insist with our government to demand such a more objective evaluation of the disaster risk reduction we are entitled to!” the SMCC appeals in its statement.
Dutch State Secretary for Kingdom Relations Raymond Knops