NRPB develops strategies to counteract challenges | THE DAILY HERALD

Claret Connor.

PHILIPSBURG–The National Recovery Programme Bureau (NRPB) has developed a number of strategies over the past months to counteract the different implementation challenges being encountered.

NRPB Director Claret Connor said he recognises that government faced challenges in the early implementation of the different Trust Fund projects. Ensuring that projects are strategically planned in ways that are sustainable and resilient to future disasters took more time than originally anticipated. Specific challenges remain due to the relative complexity of some of the projects, the lack of experience with the applicable social and environmental standards, as well as the local market’s limited capacity to respond to tender opportunities and the capacity constraints within the government and the NRPB to the manage the projects.

The strategies to counteract the challenges include an increased amount of support from the World Bank in the form of hands-on technical assistance, the accelerated recruitment of NRPB staff and training and information sessions for local businesses so that they are better prepared for tender opportunities.

The NRPB said in a press release on Sunday that it is also intensifying its efforts to increase public awareness about the recovery process and the different Trust Fund projects. Community outreach activities for schools, businesses and the public are also being prepared to explain the tasks of the NRPB and to speak with residents about the next phase of the recovery process.

In March 2019, NRPB moved into its own office space in the former Labour Affairs building at Walter J. Nisbeth Road #57. NRPB carries the day-to-day responsibility for the implementation of projects of the Government of Sint Maarten that are financed by the Government of the Netherlands through the Sint Maarten Trust Fund. The Trust Fund, set up by the Government of the Netherlands and the World Bank in April 2018, supports the recovery efforts of Sint Maarten for the next seven years.

NRPB is responsible for ensuring that Trust Fund projects are implemented in an effective and accountable manner. This includes the preparation, coordination, execution and evaluation of projects. In addition, NRPB can help Government identify and prepare projects that can be financed through other sources of funding, such as the national budget and European funding.

When the Trust Fund was established, it was evident that the Government of Sint Maarten does not have the capacity or expertise to fulfil all the requirements of the Trust Fund projects, it was stated in the release. The NRPB was created by Parliament to add the necessary support for the implementation of the different projects. With input from the ministries, NRPB handles all technical, administrative, legal, financial, procurement and safeguards responsibilities to ensure effective implementation of the Trust Fund projects.

The NRPB is headed by Connor and reports through the Minister of General Affairs to the Council of Ministers (CoMs). The NRPB also serves as the single point of coordination for stakeholders of the Trust Fund projects.

Proposals for Trust Fund projects come from the CoMs based on the National Recovery and Resilience Plan, which was approved by Parliament in September 2018. As the CoMs decides to submit a new project to the Trust Fund, the NRPB helps the ministries with the preparation of a project proposal, which is then submitted to the Steering Committee of the Trust Fund.

The Steering Committee consists of one representative of the World Bank, one representative of the Government of the Netherlands and one representative of the Government of Sint Maarten, which is former Prime Minister Marcel Gumbs. The Steering Committee meets at least twice a year to discuss existing projects and proposals for new projects that could be financed by the Trust Fund.

Approved Trust Fund projects move through a number of stages that include identification, preparation, project appraisal, approval, implementation, completion and evaluation. The NRPB and the ministries are closely involved in all stages of the projects. From project conception to execution, Sint Maarten is always in the driver’s seat, the release said.

The World Bank’s role is to offer assistance in order to ensure that the implementation of projects takes place in an effective and accountable manner.

Currently, there are more than 50 different Trust Fund activities, in various stages of implementation. These include activities that serve to strengthen emergency services, the repair of social and privately-owned homes, and the suppression of fires on the landfill.

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Source: The Daily Herald