PHILIPSBURG–The clean-up of the country post-Hurricanes Irma and Maria will cost taxpayers some NAf. 16.4 million if the figures given to Parliament by caretaker Finance Minister Richard Gibson Sr. are on point.
Gibson Sr. told the legislature on Tuesday that the first phase of the clean-up had a price tag of some NAf. 7.8 million. This amount should have been paid out already by the Ministry of Environment and Infrastructure VROMI.
The second phase of the clean-up has a bill of some NAf. 5.6 million, an amount which is yet to be paid out by the cash-stripped Government.
A third phase is on the drawing board and that will come with a price tag of some NAf. 3 million.
Members of Parliament (MPs) were directed by the Minister to direct all follow-up questions on the clean-up to the Minister of VROMI.
MP Theo Heyliger (United People’s (UP) party) labelled the cost for the clean-up “weird.” He calculated that for a 90-day period the country would have shelled out some NAf. 182,222 per day. “That’s US $100,000 per day. … With government paying NAf. 12.50 per hour we could have employed the whole island,” Heyliger said.
Countering Heyliger’s argument, MP Frans Richardson (United St. Maarten Party (US Party)) said if the streets had not been cleared of debris, the temporary garbage dumps not removed and the country had not been readied for the return of cruise ships Heyliger would have blasted Government.
“Everything comes at a price,” Richardson said, pointing out that the French side of the island has spent “eight million euros and still counting” for its clean-up. “There was a job to be done. The people worked very hard and they must be paid.”