Govt. to establish Recovery Bureau

POND ISLAND–The establishment of a national Recovery Bureau is one of the first steps the Romeo-Marlin Cabinet intends to take, according to new Finance Minister Mike Ferrier.

That bureau will be tasked with presenting a priority plan to utilise the still-outstanding amount of the Dutch hurricane recovery aid.

Ferrier is “prepared to work” with the public and private sectors to develop the priority plan for recovery by February 15.

“Together, we need to work on getting the reconstruction funds channelled into projects that will help us get back on our feet as soon as possible,” Ferrer said in his first Council of Ministers press briefing on Wednesday.

The country “cannot wait any longer” for priorities to be set and actions to be taken to speed up recovery. That process must include social support to people in tandem with economic stimulation, Ferrier said.

The new cabinet cannot solve all problems facing Government in its brief tenure, he added, but emphasis is on ramping up the recovery process.

“St. Maarten is in a deep hole and the climb out is steep,” Ferrier said as he expressed thankfulness for the committed financial aid from the Dutch Government.
According to Ferrier, the recovery process has “only” started this week. “It’s been over four months since the disaster struck and it’s only this week the work on setting priorities has really begun,” he said. “We need to get the committed Dutch funds into projects to benefit the people and we need to do it sooner than later. … The St. Maarten people are ready for recovery. We must get it done.”

St. Maarten is “in the driver’s seat” for the recovery process, as said by Dutch Civil Mission head Nico Schoof. “I want to take them at their word for that we must be in the driver’s seat,” Ferrier said.

The Dutch Government has committed some 550 million euros to help the country rebuild after the devastation of Hurricane Irma four months ago. Some of the funds were channelled to non-governmental organisations for the jumpstart of social recovery programme and to aid Government’s dire liquidity state.
The bulk of the funds remain uncommitted to any project or plan. Ferrier wants the priority plan to utilise that remainder as soon as possible.

Source: The Daily Herald