Geerlings asks for tools to speed up recovery | THE DAILY HERALD

THE HAGUE–Finance Minister Perry Geerlings is positive about the meetings with Dutch stakeholders in the recovery in the past few days. In addition to presenting the National Recovery and Resilience Plan (NRRP), he also discussed possibilities to speed up the recovery, Geerlings said during a press briefing at the Cabinet of the Minister Plenipotentiary of St. Maarten.

  He had meetings with representatives of the General Audit Chamber, the Dutch Central Bank, members of the Kingdom Relations committees of the First and Second Chambers, the Ministry of Finance and the Ministry of Home Affairs and Kingdom Relations. An important message was that the estimated cost of the NRRP is much higher than covered by the Trust Fund.

  “Being the Minister of Finance, I can’t just wait for the approval of projects by the World Bank. Many recovery projects are not financed through the Trust Fund, but still need to be carried out. The same goes for the other ministers,’’ Geerlings said.

  As an example, he mentioned the Tax Office. There are various ways to improve tax compliance, ranging from improved customer service to addressing tax evasion.

  “There is a second economy in St. Maarten: People arriving with a container, selling building materials and leaving again,’’ he said. But tackling this problem requires an investment, while the government has no money.

  Geerlings therefore also discussed possibilities to support such projects, which would improve St. Maarten’s ability to structurally improve its own income and claim more ownership of the recovery.

  “We wish to speed up the recovery and need the tools to do so,’’ Geerlings said. A possibility would be another gift or a loan, which would require some flexibility by the Committee for Financial Supervision.

  While no commitments were made during this visit, Geerlings said he was happy that the topic is on the table and will be discussed during future meetings.

  He also discussed technical assistance by experts in various areas. Several requests were finally approved by the Ministry of Kingdom Relations over the past few days, while others are still pending, Geerlings said. As an alternative, St. Maarten has set up a system to exchange technical experts with Curaçao and Aruba.

Source: The Daily Herald