MARIGOT–President Daniel Gibbs signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between the Collectivité and French State while attending the fourth Inter-Ministerial meeting on reconstruction of St. Martin in Paris on Tuesday, November 21.
The protocol signing titled “Cooperation for exemplary and solid reconstruction” follows the operating protocol signed between Gibbs and Prime Minister Édouard Philippe on November 6, and is based on the conclusions of the Préfet in charge of the reconstruction of St. Martin, Philippe Gustin, whose report was presented to the Ministers at the meeting.
His report contains several recommendations for the reconstruction programme where it concerns investment.
According to the Collectivité’s release, Gibbs told Ministers the protocol will help to strengthen the resources of the State in St. Martin.
“For St. Martin to be strong, we need a strong State for a strong Collectivité. It must be nothing less than a win-win partnership with the State,” he said.
Among major points addressed in the protocol one is on urban planning issues. Gibbs asked that the partnership with the State be clearly defined, “with respect to the competences of everyone, and not forgetting the debate on standards and competences, which should not overshadow debate on the resources.”
The protocol also addresses the topic of regional cooperation. The State will strengthen its resources as far as controlling immigration is concerned. The President emphasised the Collectivité will play its part, and on cooperation stated his objective is to create a United Congress for optimal cooperation.
On future investment, President Gibbs reminded that priorities in terms of public funding must be on water and sanitation networks, port infrastructure, and reconstruction of schools.
“In order for reconstruction to succeed we trust that St. Martin will fully benefit from the credits in the major investment plan announced by the state on September 26, 2017.”
Concerning implementation of this protocol, cooperation between services will be carried out through establishing of agreements for assistance to control work between the State and Collectivité.
The State, together with its operators and public institutions, will strengthen its local engineering capacities for assistance and support to the Collectivité, and to the decentralised State services, will drive all reconstruction-related operations.
For its part, the Collectivité will establish a social evaluation of households in precarious situations to permit access to more suitable housing. It will put in place a short-term priority intervention plan with notably a census of provisional lodgings and urban zones where reconstruction is possible.
In terms of project funding, the Collectivité will propose, by March 31, 2018, a multi-year investment and catch-up plan, covering the period 2018-2023, and prioritising priorities and projects.
On this point, President Gibbs indicated that he would be at the meeting to identify structural projects, but also hoped that other points would be mentioned, some involving legislative changes such as the intervention of the National Agency for Urban Renovation ANRU in St. Martin, but also the need to set up national equalisation schemes in insurance and reinsurance.
The Protocol also clarifies that special attention be given to the reconstruction operations of schools by the State which is committed to promoting projects in the areas of ecological and energy transition, and vocational training.
Like the first protocol this investment protocol is signed for a period of three years. The conditions for implementation are made via decisions of a monthly follow-up committee comprising the Inter-Ministerial Delegate for the reconstruction of Saint-Barthélemy and St. Martin, Préfete Déléguée for St. Barthélemy and St. Martin, the President of the Collectivité, as well as a member designated by the Chamber of Commerce CCISM representing professionals involved in the reconstruction.
Finally, the Committee will prepare a quarterly review of the implementation of this second part of the Protocol to be discussed, in the presence of the President of the Collectivité in the Inter-Ministerial Committee for the Reconstruction of St. Barthélemy and Saint-Martin and communicated to the elected representatives of the Collectivité of St. Martin.
President Gibbs acknowledges substantial progress in the reconstruction of St. Martin in this protocol. He welcomed a new step forward but was waiting for certain points to be clarified, particularly in terms of funding. He will remain vigilant about the continuation of negotiations with the State, for a sustained and lasting reconstruction of St. Martin in a win-win partnership.