WASHINGTON – “First of all I want to express my sympathy to everyone who suffered from the hurricanes this year,” Minister of Finance Richard Gibson Sr. said at a meeting of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) in Washington on Friday adding that the islands in the hurricane belt have to be resilient and find ways to avoid these kinds of damages in the future.
“We believe that the fastest way to economic recovery is to provide financing at low interest rates to the businesses in the private sector….”
“We believe that the fastest way to economic recovery is to provide financing at low interest rates to the businesses in the private sector. That, out of self-interest would be the speediest way to bring back the economy. We are in discussions with the Netherlands about creating such a fund to bring back that speedy recovery,” Minister Gibson said.
He expressed his gratitude through the governor of St. Maarten to the government of the Netherlands for the assistance they gave, the speedy reaction, the military that was made available for law and order, as well as material.
Minister Gibson also pointed out that St. Maarten is recovering faster from Hurricane Irma than it did back in 1995 from Hurricane Luis. “In 1995 it took three years and the country was actually closed off from the outside world. Now one month and four days later electricity has been restored, water is available and schools have reopened. Three days ago the airport opened for business – that’s how we got here. It shows that the steps we have taken since 1995 after Hurricane Luis and Marilyn have paid off and that we are recovering faster than we did then.”
A great part of that is due to the assistance from the outside world, from the Netherlands but also from the United States that took over air traffic control, Minister Gibson said.
He added that the country’s budget will have a 150 million guilders shortfall this year and 250 million guilders next year. “In 2019 it will start to go down again. The rapidity with which we can get back online will influence how fast this will go in future years. Having an insurance fund to protect us in the future is absolutely necessary. We will have a hurricane again and again, and probably again.”