St. Maarten Prime Minister Silveria Jacobs (left) and caretaker State Secretary of Home Affairs and Kingdom Relations Raymond Knops at the Binnenhof in The Hague after today’s Kingdom Council of Ministers meeting.
THE HAGUE–The Kingdom Council of Ministers, today, Friday decided to hold off the payment of the earlier agreed upon NAf. 39 million in liquidity support to St. Maarten.
Caretaker State Secretary of Home Affairs and Kingdom Relations Raymond Knops confirmed this as he and St. Maarten Prime Minister Silveria Jacobs came out of the so-called continued consultation (‘voortgezet overleg’) of the Kingdom Council of Ministers.
Knops stated that the agenda point with regard to the payment of the fifth tranche liquidity support for St. Maarten was “amply discussed.” He told reporters that the Kingdom Council of Ministers decided to hold over the April 23 decision to allocate the liquidity support based on his proposal to defer the actual payment until good governance was restored at the Princess Juliana International Airport.
Knops said that Friday’s decision was also taken based on a letter that he received from the Royal Schiphol Group (RSG) on Thursday evening. “In that letter it was stated that even though the St. Maarten government has taken positive steps to solve the problems, The RSG didn’t consider this sufficient to stay at the airport,” he said.
The Kingdom Council of Ministers has given Knops, Dutch caretaker Finance Minister Wopke Hoekstra and Dutch caretaker Prime Minister Rutte the mandate to authorise the actual transfer of the liquidity support when good governance is sufficiently restored at the airport, a decision that will also be based on information of the RSG. Knops said no specific follow-up meeting of the Kingdom Council of Ministers was needed to pay the liquidity support.
Prime Minister Jacobs said she was highly disappointed. “I am definitely not happy with this decision. I feel that the decision was already made earlier on April 23 and that we should not be punished for challenges and issues that popped up after that date,” she said, noting that she didn’t have a problem with adding these challenges and issues to talks about future liquidity support.
“I find it very unfortunate that the rules of order are being destroyed by making a second decision on something that was already decided on. I had expected some understanding and support in the continued consultation, but unfortunately the decision of the Kingdom Council of Ministers earlier that morning did not change,” Jacobs said.
Jacobs said that by not transferring the liquidity support, The Hague duped “the people who need it the most. It does not touch on corporate governance at the airport or other issues that we are currently fixing at the airport.”
Knops responded to Jacobs’ remarks by stating that good governance had always been a “red thread” in the collaboration with St. Maarten, not only now during the talks about liquidity support, but also with regard to St. Maarten’s reconstruction after Hurricane Irma.
“We attach much value to the opinions of the RSG and how to run an airport based on good governance. The task that the St. Maarten government now faces is to get things in order as soon as possible. The sooner the better. Hopefully, we can take a positive decision within short about the payment of the liquidity support based on an assessment of the RSG,” Knops said.
Source: The Daily Herald https://www.thedailyherald.sx/islands/kingdom-govt-suspends-payment-to-st-maarten