Parliament approves NRRP, National Programme Bureau | THE DAILY HERALD

PHILIPSBURG–Parliament has approved two essential steps in the country’s ongoing post-Hurricane Irma recovery on Monday afternoon – the National Recovery and Resilience Plan (NRRP) and the temporary law establishing the National Programme Bureau that will formulate and guide projects and programmes stemming from the NRRP.

Of particular concern to Members of Parliament (MPs), in particular Silveria Jacobs and William Marlin of National Alliance, was the funds gap of some US $1 billion between monies available to government via the St. Maarten Recovery Trust Fund supplied by the Dutch government and monies collected from insurance and other pay-outs.

Prime Minister Leona Romeo-Marlin, who tabled both laws, said government was “looking into all options” to find funding for the gap. However, she did not give legislators any concrete leads that are on government’s to-do list.

The NRRP estimates that about $2.3 billion will be required for recovery and resilience interventions over the next seven years, if St. Maarten is not confronted with another major hurricane.

The Trust Fund and insurance pay-outs will cover, in the best-case scenario, about 50 per cent of the identified needs in the NRRP. This leaves a major funding gap of at least $1 billion.

The prime minister described the NRRP as a “thorough and knowledge-based document” with its foundation pillars based on tackling the basic needs of the St. Maarten people, preparing the country as much as possible for the peak of the hurricane season and kick-starting the economy. The plan was prepared by more than 170 national and international experts.

United St. Maarten Party MP Rolando Brison, like other MPs, sked whether there was a guarantee that the Dutch government would not withdraw its financial support for the recovery process or “move the goalposts” on the criteria to access funding.
In response, Romeo-Marlin said the Dutch government had “made a commitment” to the country. That commitment has resulted in the World Bank-administered 550-million-euro trust fund.

“I have to trust they will keep to it [the commitment – Ed.], said Romeo-Marlin.
MP Theo Heyliger (United Democrats) asked about the possibility of the purchase of land to construct affordable housing for residents. Housing is a priority for government and is outlined in the just-approved NRRP.

MP Jurendy Doran (NA) questioned why a second “R” had been added to the name of what was originally the National Recovery Plan, now the NRRP. Romeo-Marlin said the plan is not only about recovery, it is about building the country’s resilience for the future.

Housing also tied into the queries of MPs when it came to the approval of the Programme Bureau with MPs Luc Mercelina and Franklin Meyers both decrying the bureau’s projected annual budget of $2.7 million.

The annual budget, they pointed out, would translate into more than $13 million over the bureau’s five-year life span. The high budget comes at the cost of more housing for the community, said Mercelina. Meyers added that that it takes money from people who need it the most.

The bureau will be funded via the trust fund and will have some 21 staff members for whom recruitment is ongoing. MPs called for the bureau head to at least come from the country. All applications are overseen by a recruitment committee with the Council of Ministers to receive the short-listed candidates.

The establishment and terms of reference for Parliament’s ad hoc committee for electoral reform was also approved in Monday’s public sitting. The new committee is now one of more than a dozen established by the legislature.

Source: The Daily Herald