PHILIPSBURG–General pension fund administrator APS says its main focus in the coming years is to become an active and fast contributor to the reconstruction of St. Maarten, to help boost the economy which was devastated by power-Hurricane Irma.
APS Director Nadya van Putten said the fund will contribute to relieving the post-Irma housing shortage in the country by building more homes and fast-tracking the ongoing housing development projects within its portfolio. APS also committed itself to stimulating the economy by engaging local (sub-)contractors in current and future development projects.
This was also the message conveyed to the National Recovery Plan (NRP) work group during the consultations held with stakeholders for its interim report.
APS said it is making the necessary adjustments to some of its development project strategies to contribute to the recovery of St, Maarten by engaging companies specialised in pre-fab construction products and methods that result in houses that meet local building codes and can be constructed in less than a year.
“We are looking at the so-called De Castro property for the construction of such homes. The number of these homes would be limited, but would hopefully help get some members of our St. Maarten population back on their feet,” Van Putten said.
This will be a long-term investment that will generate income and contribute positively to the return of APS’ investment, it was stated in a press release.
“It remains APS’ goal to get homes on the local market that meet the needs of those persons who were looking for a place of their own before Hurricane Irma or may have lost their home to her.
“The shortening of the total project duration for the Welgelegen (Oryx Hills) affordable housing development project is therefore vital and already decided upon. It is our hope that contractors will also come with proven methods that will shorten the total construction time and keep cost at an acceptable level. The assignment will be awarded to one general contractor who is expected to work with as many local subcontractors as needed,” she said.
Both local and international contractors are to be invited to participate in the bidding process simultaneously. APS is hoping that contractors show interest and will take into consideration the nature of this project (affordable housing) and submit competitive price bids.
The APS Parking and the Office Park development projects will also be fast tracked, as the need for office and commercial space is at an all-time high due to businesses and Government organisations being displaced/disrupted by the storm.
APS said it will maintain its high standards in safeguarding the future pension entitlements of its members. Even when projects are expedited and re-prioritised, investments will be done in the same sound and value-creating way in the long-term interest of the fund.
“In this way, APS is dedicated to maximising their contribution to a speedy recovery of the St. Maarten economy, the tourism industry, the labour market and quality of life on our island,” the release said.