Prime Minister Leona Romeo-Marlin.
PHILIPSBURG–Prime Minister Leona Romeo-Marlin will be visiting Washington DC to participate in the joint International Monetary Fund (IMF), World Bank and International Development Bank (IDB) High Level Conference on “Building Resilience to Disasters and Climate Change in the Caribbean,” which will be held at IMF Headquarters on November 26.
During the conference, she will deliver a presentation on the topic “Furthering existing and developing new instruments to transfer risk” in the context of financial solutions for disaster risk management.
In giving an update on the recovery projects being financed by the trust fund, she told reporters during the Council of Ministers press briefing that as of Wednesday, the Netherlands has made US $134.4 million available to the St. Maarten Trust Fund.
The Parliament of the Netherlands also recently approved a second tranche of US $175.5 million. This tranche will bring the amount of available funding in the Trust Fund to US $310 million. In total, the Netherlands has pledged to donate 470 million euros to the Trust Fund, which is approximately US $580 million. This funding will be used over the next seven years to “build St. Maarten back better,” Romeo-Marlin told reporters.
Three large projects are being implemented currently: the Emergency Recovery Project I, the Emergency Income Support and Training Project and the Hospital Resilience project.
The Emergency Recovery Project I repairs existing public shelters, supports the repairs of severely damaged houses and strengthens the emergency response capacities of the Fire Department and other first responders. The project also supports the St. Maarten Housing Development Foundation (SMHDF) and utilities company GEBE, and repairs a number of critical public buildings, including the Police Stations, the Fire Department and a number of damaged public schools.
Over the past months, the Interim Recovery Committee, the World Bank and the Ministries within government have been working “very hard” to prepare the technical documents for the first tenders of the project.
“I already reported the publication of the tender for the urgently needed repairs of the Police Stations in Philipsburg and Simpson Bay. I’m happy to announce today that the Interim Recovery Committee has also published the tender for the first phase of the roof repair programme that will be financed by the Trust Fund. This programme will support the repairs of severely damaged houses of low-income families and supplements the existing roof repair programmes of the St. Maarten Development Foundation, [Ministry of Public Housing, Spatial Planning, Environment and Infrastructure – Ed.] VROMI and UNDP [United Nations Development Programme].”
She said more tenders are expected to be launched by the Interim Recovery Committee in the coming weeks. She encourages interested parties to keep a close eye on the announcements of tenders. “The necessary information can be found on the government’s website under the National Recovery tab and on the Facebook page of the National Recovery Programme Bureau. Tenders are also published on the Government’s Information page in The Daily Herald,” she said.
Government and the St. Maarten Training Foundation are implementing the Emergency Income Support and Training Project, which serves to help hospitality, construction, and maritime workers who are unemployed or underemployed. Through the training programme, participants are provided with certification opportunities, income support and health insurance.
More than 800 persons are now enrolled in the programme and recently 78 new students began training. Interested persons can still register by contacting the St. Maarten Training Foundation by sending an e-mail to
email@example.com or by calling tel. 1-721-520-7574.
In addition to the projects being implemented currently, the Steering Committee of the Trust Fund has approved the preparation of four other projects in the areas of Emergency Debris Management, Enterprise Recovery, Solid Waste and airport reconstruction.
“On the Reconstruction of [Princess Juliana International] Airport, there has been a lot of rumours in the past week because of unsubstantiated reports by some media outlets. As prime minister, I cannot respond to fake news and false accusations. What I would like to stress is that this government treats the reconstruction of the airport as a matter of the highest importance for the country and the region. In the coming period, the Minister of TEATT [Tourism, Economic Affairs, Transport and Telecommunications], the airport company and myself will continue to work with the World Bank and the European Investment Bank to secure the necessary funding for the full recovery and strengthening of the airport,” the prime minister said.
During the last meeting of the Steering Committee two weeks ago, the Netherlands, St. Maarten and the World Bank agreed to move forward on the preparation of the Airport Reconstruction Project for an amount of US $50 million. Co-financing for another US $50 million is expected to come from the European Investment Bank. The Steering Committee also endorsed an assessment by the World Bank of the airport’s corporate governance, which is expected to generate recommendations on the strengthening of the governance of the airport, said Romeo-Marlin.
“Our goal has and will continue to be that the Airport is fully up and running as soon as possible. This government remains focussed and determined to work with the World Bank in searching for ways to speed up the projects that are financed by the Trust Fund, as the Trust Fund is and will continue to be our main source of funding for the recovery process,” she said.