PM: If no agreement on refinancing COVID loans, repayment will be postponed by a year | THE DAILY HERALD

PM Silveria Jacobs

PHILIPSBURG–If an agreement between St. Maarten and the Netherlands on how the COVID liquidity support loans will be refinanced is not reached by the mid-July deadline, the repayment will be postponed by a year.

    However, Prime Minister (PM) Silveria Jacobs said she is aiming to have an agreement, as parties would like to avoid a postponement and have a clear way forward. She addressed the matter in response to a question during the live Council of Ministers press briefing on Wednesday and clarified part of her statement to The Daily Herald on Thursday.

    “We all agreed that the loans cannot be due come October 10. So, … if we don’t have an agreement as to how exactly it will be refinanced, it will be pushed off, but we want to be able to have an agreement before that,” she explained. When asked on Thursday what she meant by “pushed off,” Jacobs told this newspaper, “We are avoiding a one-year postponement. By ‘pushed off’ I mean postponed for a year. All parties would like to avoid that and have a clear way forward.”

    She had told reporters on Wednesday that “we have a work group [that is] working on St. Maarten’s proposal. We got the … framework within which the Dutch government is willing to work. We are preparing our response. We have another week or two before we must be able to submit that. So, the goal is to ensure that we have one [an agreement – Ed.] before the deadline – because it is important for their budget handling – by the time they have their recess in the middle of July.

    “So, we have just a little more time to be able to, let’s say, bring our proposals, tighten our proposal to ensure that we can cover as many bases as possible taking into consideration all the risks, but of course as St. Maarten, we would like to see as MP [Member of Parliament] George [Pantophlet] constantly [says] that there is some level of cancellation of the debt especially seeing that on the … floor of the Second Chamber in Parliament in the Netherlands, that the former State Secretary mentioned that this was a possibility once we were living up to our obligations as it relates to the country packages.

    “And St. Maarten’s review up until now has been very, very positive. In fact, we are doing much better in terms of keeping up than other countries. So, we’re still hoping, and that will form part of our proposal, … but we will put forth the multiple options and have those negotiations within the next coming weeks. So, once those are finalised I will be able to update, but know that the Dutch government is open to not making it directly payable and pushing it off if we don’t have an agreement before then.”

Source: The Daily Herald