PHILIPSBURG–United St. Maarten Party leader Member of Parliament (MP) Frans Richardson said on Friday that Finance Minister Michael Ferrier’s statement about the lack of funds from the Netherlands was an admission that United Democrats (UD) had misled the people of St. Maarten for political purposes only and refused to stand up for them.
Richardson also said that the spin of the Dutch that St. Maarten’s progress thus far had “somehow to do with them,” is a false narrative. Credit, he said, should go fully to the people of St. Maarten.
Ferrier reportedly told Dutch newspaper de Telegraaf that having to comply with strict regulations of the World Bank, which manages the Dutch Recovery Trust Fund for which the Dutch government has reserved 470 million euros (about US $580 million), is no easy task.
“We have our hands full to rebuild St. Maarten and at the same time we have to comply with the strict norms of the World Bank. We have to do everything with a small group of people. In the Netherlands they say, “How come you are not ready yet, why don’t you make use of the funds?” We have not been able to touch the money,” Ferrier was quoted as saying in de Telegraaf.
Richardson reminded that his party had explained over and over during the election campaign that the picture UD was painting about getting funds right away was false.
“We warned that by choosing to use the World Bank as a go-between for a supposedly equal partner in the Kingdom would delay much-needed funds for St. Maarten because St. Maarten in its current state would have major difficulties in meeting World Bank criteria,” Richardson said.
“We warned that if the leaders of this country do not hold one head for its people to get the much-talked-about relief, another hurricane season would be upon us with no relief in sight. What did the UD say? They made it sound like they were the only people capable of securing the funds. Today the UD Finance Minister is throwing his hands up after criticising the involvement of the World Bank in about two weeks ago on the floor of Parliament. Where are the funds today?”
He said that while the people of St. Maarten have not received financial relief, a few things have become clear.
“Liquidity grants have become loans, the Integrity Chamber is coming out of the hurricane aid funds, we have to pay for extra police help, and only emergency funds have been made available. These are quite some accomplishments for the UD. In the meantime, we are about to greet a new hurricane season,” he said.
Richardson also noted that whenever Dutch politicians and other officials are on-island, they travel with entire PR crews to make it seem that St. Maarten’s recovery after the hurricanes was due to Holland’s intervention and help.
He said that, on the contrary, the reconstruction of St. Maarten is due first and foremost to the hard work and resiliency of the people. He said credit goes to the banks that stepped up to offer grace periods for loan repayments and assistance at very low interest rates and to the various insurance companies that have made sure citizens get back on their feet.
“Let’s give credit where credit is due: the reconstruction of St. Maarten and our recovery thus far is to the credit of the people of St. Maarten. The funds are still sitting at the World Bank. What you see in St. Maarten is the hard work and sweat of its people, business owners, volunteers and others. That is who should get the credit,” Richardson said.