PHILIPSBURG–The General Pension Fund APS said it has been invited to Parliament to make a presentation today, Tuesday, August 14.
In the presentation to Parliament, APS will highlight the impact of Hurricane Irma on the fund, the fast-tracking of projects and the “harsh realities” of the complexities of the St. Maarten capital market and how APS addresses these with its strategic investment policy and project management procedures.
APS’ current local loans, investments and upcoming projects have a value of NAf. 369 million.
APS managing director Nadya Croes-van Putten will be presenting APS’ financial position, investment policy, strategy and an overview of the project portfolio of the Pension Fund. APS makes local and international investments as a means to secure its funds for current and future pension payments to its 4,400 plus participants.
Minister of Finance Perry Geerlings was given an introduction presentation by APS last month. The presentation in Parliament today will provide Parliament with insight into the pension fund and the various project management phases that an investment undergoes.
“It is important for our government to be informed on the role of APS and the impact the pension fund can make towards the development of the country within the coming years. We aim to secure the pensions of our participants, and in doing so, contribute to an improved and sustainable economic status for St. Maarten,” Croes-van Putten said in a press release.
“The type of investments we are making will positively affect the current and future generations of this country. The returns will remain in St. Maarten, unlike many overseas investments; St. Maarten can be less dependent on foreign debt. We are clear in our strategy and vision, and it is important for our Government to be fully informed and engaged.”
APS internal figures show, as per June 2018, that total APS pension assets of 692 million guilders, including 369 million guilders in the local investment portfolio. In the presentation to Parliament APS will further highlight the growth and the development of the local investments, including new projects. Hurricane Irma had a minimal impact on the fund and its investments.
According to APS’ upcoming presentation, two of the “harsh realities” of St. Maarten’s capital market are: There is enough money to invest, but not enough projects to invest in, and when you do find a project to invest in, it is either too big or too risky for one investor alone. These realities have resulted in the country being reliant on foreign investors, who are in the lead when it comes to the country’s economy.
“Unfortunately, a bulk of the returns do not remain in the country, revenues flowing back out of the country.”
APS has embarked on several large local real-estate development projects, own projects and receives financing requests for projects. APS takes pride in the assessment and due diligence procedures that are meticulously carried out to ensure that risks are managed effectively, without losing sight of the pension fund’s main investment goals, it was stated in the release.
“Our main goal is to achieve a good return on investments with an acceptable amount of risk. Not every ‘good’ project fits the risk appetite of a pension fund.” Post-Irma several projects have been fast-tracked, but the strict project management procedures remain.
APS has to ensure that adequate value in the function and the cost is guaranteed, contractors are asked to apply value engineering to their proposals to reduce cost and time, conditions exist for an efficient and timely building process, the project is financially solid to avoid unnecessary cost-overruns, and that the risks are properly identified and mitigated. “We take the necessary time to ensure that sound investments are made.”
Ongoing real-estate development projects include the Mary’s Fancy Plantation monument; this project was delayed due to the passing of Hurricane Irma. “This project is a national heritage site and once completed, will include a restaurant and luxury boutique hotel. The next phase is the preparation of the demolition plan while preserving the monument.”
The next real-estate project is the Oryx Hills residences in Cay Hill. Oryx Hill consists of 62 residential units, creating affordable housing options for which 300 persons have expressed interest. Construction is expected to be completed by summer 2019.
More APS investment projects include private investments totalling 40 million guilders. APS also has a financing commitment of 32 million guilders with St. Maarten Medical Center (SMMC) for the new hospital. Included in its investment portfolio of 2018, APS has established the first St. Maarten Investment Bank, which will be launched on January 1, 2019. For 2019, APS aims to commence with two new large projects of its own: APS’ office building and a public parking facility.
APS will make its presentation during a meeting of the Finance Committee of Parliament at 1:00pm today. Minister of Finance Perry Geerlings will be present along with APS representatives.
The public can follow the session in person at the House of Parliament located across from the Courthouse in Philipsburg. The session will also be carried live on St. Maarten Cable TV Channel 115, St. Maarten Government radio 107.9FM; 98.1FM,
www.pearlfmradio.com and Parliament’s Facebook page: Parliament of Sint Maarten.
Source: The Daily Herald https://www.thedailyherald.sx/islands/79532-aps-to-present-investment-strategy-to-parliament-today