PHILIPSBURG–Princess Juliana International Airport and utilities company GEBE are state-owned enterprises and “it is up to the board, the companies and then the government of St. Maarten to determine how they deal with any liquidity issues,” Dutch State Secretary for Kingdom Relations Raymond Knops told The Daily Herald on Friday.
The Dutch government, St. Maarten government and the World Bank, “are looking at what an appropriate solution can be and how this is best addressed,” he added.
With the Dutch contribution to the reconstruction of St. Maarten, among other things, Knops said the Dutch want “to restore and strengthen the economy of St. Maarten, so that St. Maarten can financially stand on its own feet.”
He pointed out that the projects and programmes funded by the Trust Fund contribute to this, but also the reports of the IMF and the regular recommendations of the Committee for Financial Supervision Board CFT. “The government of St. Maarten pursues the same goal, as confirmed in the conversations on Thursday,” he said.
Knops held various administrative meetings in a brief stopover in St. Maarten on Thursday. He had a meeting with the Ministers of Public Housing and Environment VROMI, Justice, and Public Health. He also had a meeting with the chairwoman and vice-chairs of Parliament and a briefing from the World Bank in the presence of Prime Minister Leona Marlin-Romeo regarding the situation of the dump and fire suppression.
Knops said the discussions “went well and gave a complete picture of the complex situation of the dump.” The approach to the dump and waste management are “a high priority of Sint Maarten and also of the Netherlands. We are confident that the World Bank can help plan and implement this project,” he said in response to questions from this newspaper.
As for ongoing World Bank administered projects, Knops said, “Speed is important, but more important is that the right priorities are set and projects lead to a sustainable recovery.” The National Recovery and Resilience Plan (NRRP) “is the roadmap for this. In particular the large and complex, and especially infrastructural projects require good preparation. Think of the new hospital, the restoration of the airport and the approach to the dump.”
St. Maarten, the World Bank and the Netherlands determine, partly on the basis of the NRRP, which projects receive funding from the Trust Fund. More than US $100 million has been made available in the past six months. Some projects are already in progress, such as income support, hospitality training, emergency recovery and current hospital reconstruction.
For other projects such as waste management, tackling the dump and the financial impulse for small and medium enterprises the implementation is being prepared.
Dealing with safety, Knops said the Netherlands and St. Maarten have agreed that the Netherlands will cover the cost of police assistance until July 1, 2019. From July 1 to April 1, 2020, St. Maarten will pay for this assistance.
The Netherlands and St. Maarten have made agreements about short-term actions to improve the situation at the prison. Knops said it goes without saying that St. Maarten will include these agreements in the 2019 budget.