Plasterk adamant: No funds without conditions

THE HAGUE–The Dutch Government will definitely not let up on the conditions that it has attached to the setting up of a Reconstruction Fund for St. Maarten. The Hague considers the conditions of an Integrity Chamber and a beefed up border control “logical.”

  Dutch caretaker Minister of Home Affairs and Kingdom Relations Ronald Plasterk, in the last days of his tenure, remains adamant: no Reconstruction Fund if the St. Maarten Government of William Marlin does not concede to these conditions. The Dutch will also not provide a ballpark figure that would go into this fund until Philipsburg has said yes.

  “Large expenditures for construction projects are always integrity-sensitive, and in St. Maarten this has appeared to be problematic in the past,” Plasterk said in a statement that was sent to the media on Monday, following Marlin’s confirmation over the weekend that his government will not accept the Dutch preconditions.

  “In the interest of the St. Maarten people, the Netherlands will hold on to the set preconditions, which are supervision on integrity and reinforced border control. Prime Minister Marlin is always welcome for talks, but these logical preconditions will remain,” stated Plasterk. 

  The stand-off between the two governments puts the reconstruction of St. Maarten after Hurricane Irma in grave danger. Not only might the island miss out on much-needed financial assistance from the Netherlands, but also from the European Union (EU), as it is expected that The Hague and Brussels will work together on the execution of the reconstruction aid.

  Sources have estimated the Dutch funds at 200 to 300 million euros, but this amount has never been confirmed by the Dutch Government. Plasterk has said from the start that the Netherlands was most willing to assist with the reconstruction of St. Maarten, but that there would be hard conditions. These conditions are also demanded by the Second Chamber of the Dutch Parliament, which has an important say in this matter.

  Member of the Second Chamber of the Dutch Parliament Ronald van Raak of the Socialist Party (SP): “It is terrible that St. Maarten’s reconstruction has become the subject of political games and the long toes of government representatives. We have to and want to help the people of St. Maarten. But the disaster will become even greater if those hundreds of millions of aid end up in the wrong pockets.”

Source: The Daily Herald