MARIGOT–A delegation of technical experts from the European Union (EU) commission on reconstruction began a working meeting on Tuesday with elected officials and Préfète Déléguée Anne Laubies to look at the damage inflicted by the hurricanes in September, prior to releasing EU funds in order of priorities.
The meeting was followed by a tour of the French side to view the worst affected areas. In the morning, the delegation visited Training Institute GRETA, Le Beach Hotel in Marigot, and Spinnaker Restaurant.
In the afternoon, the focus was on Parcel AW34 on Orient Beach and FORE Training Institute in Grand Case, all of which suffered devastating damage from the hurricanes.
President Daniel Gibbs told the delegation in his introduction that the estimated reconstruction bill for St. Martin is 3.5 Billion euros, of which 2.5 Billion is to be used for priority actions and 700 million euros for emergencies.
“We need to understand that our economy has come to a dead halt due to the complex repercussions on the lives of our citizens and businesses,” he emphasised. “The success of our reconstruction and economic recovery plan depends directly on the accompaniment of the EU and the French State. In this highly degraded context the Collectivité of St. Martin intends to work in a fully transparent and accountable manner.
“European Commissioner Corina Crétu has already announced the allocation of additional funds to St. Martin. We now hope that the specific requests we have made in Paris, Brussels and recently in French Guiana will soon be recorded, he added.
“This technical meeting will allow us to take stock of the European funds available for the reconstruction of St. Martin. I will be particularly attentive to the intervention of the members of the delegation regarding the specifics for revising our Operational Programmes (PO). I remind you that the objective for us St. Martiners is to quickly get the creation of these new “reconstruction” phases within our PO. We really need things to go fast so that we can mobilise the credits in the next few weeks.
“With regard to the INTERREG Caribbean cooperation programme of which St. Martin is one of the partners, the idea is also to create a priority Reconstruction of St. Martin clause on the INTERREG Caribbean Programme – Transnational Component. The region of Guadeloupe has already committed itself to mobilising specific funds for the reconstruction of St. Martin on this Caribbean programme. There too we need to go fast to act quickly.
“We are also studying the possibility of transferring the 10M euros available on the St. Martin – Sint Maarten cross-border cooperation programme within this new priority reconstruction plan. This would allow us to cooperate with our entire cross-border area, from Sint Maarten to Anguilla, through St. Barthélemy and St Kitts-Nevis. It will also benefit from European co-financing of 95%, against a maximum of 85% today for similar projects.”