THE HAGUE–Dutch State Secretary of Home Affairs and Kingdom Relations Raymond Knops said on Thursday that he was happy with the approval of the Integrity Chamber legislation by a majority of the St. Maarten Parliament.
“Approval by the Parliament is an important step to get to work with St. Maarten’s recovery and to help the people with the rebuilding of their livelihood,” he said in an initial reaction.
He stated that now it was important that the National Ordinance was also ratified by the Governor of St. Maarten and the country’s Minister of General Affairs. He said he understood that this signing could take place by the end of this week.
Once the National Ordinance has been ratified, the St. Maarten Government will have complied with the conditions for the Reconstruction Fund, said Knops. “Then we can really start with the recovery which is so direly needed for the people,” he stated.
The establishing of the Integrity Chamber was a condition of the Dutch Government to start the disbursement of the 550 million euros in the Reconstruction Fund. The Integrity Chamber is deemed important to tackle possible integrity breeches within the St. Maarten Government.
According to The Hague, this is a guarantee that the money for the reconstruction, a sizable amount twice St. Maarten’s annual gross domestic product (GDP), does not end up in the wrong pockets. The funds will not be transferred directly to the island government, but spent through the World Bank.
The other condition, an agreement to strengthen border control with Dutch Royal Marechaussee members and the Dutch Customs, has already been met.
Member of the Second Chamber of the Dutch Parliament Ronald van Raak of the Socialist Party (SP) stated in a reaction that he was glad that “another important step” had been taken with the approval of the Integrity Chamber legislation. “The people in St. Maarten are waiting, let the reconstruction start soon,” he said.
The Second Chamber’s Permanent Committee for Kingdom Relations will be informed about the financial aspects of the Reconstruction Fund during a closed-door meeting on December 21. Three top civil servants of the Ministry of Home Affairs and Kingdom Relations BZK, and the Dutch representative at the World Bank Frank Heemskerk will give an update.