PHILIPSBURG, Sint Maarten — On December 14th, the General Audit Chamber of the Netherlands released a focus study on the contribution of the Netherlands to the recovery and reconstruction of Sint Maarten. This report recognizes some of the challenges that the Government of Sint Maarten is experiencing in the recovery process.
“The past months have taught us that the preparation and implementation of Trust Fund projects takes much more time and capacity than Sint Maarten and the Netherlands originally anticipated. The implementation of the projects is challenging, not because of a lack of will or commitment of the political leaders and civil servants of Sint Maarten, but because of the extreme constraint of capacity on the island and the complex procedures of the World Bank”, Prime Minister Leona Romeo-Marlin remarked.
Yesterday, the World Bank published its report on the status of the Trust Fund, providing a full overview of all activities that have been executed with the World Bank between April and November of this year. The World Bank’s report acknowledges the implementation of recovery projects on Sint Maarten is challenging, due to capacity constraints within Government and the limited capacity of the market to respond to the demands for goods, works and services in a flexible and rapid manner.
Prime Minister Romeo-Marlin observed that for some people the report of the Audit Chamber may be a reason to question why the Netherlands has chosen the World Bank to assist Sint Maarten in the recovery process or to blame the Government of Sint Maarten for delaying the recovery of the island.
“As Prime Minister, I do not want to turn our recovery process in a political blame game and I reiterate that the Government of Sint Maarten has and will remain fully committed to the cooperation with the World Bank. While we did not chose the World Bank, we are grateful for their support and ongoing commitment”.
Prime Minister Romeo-Marlin emphasized that “all parties should continue to work together towards solutions, without ignoring the challenges that the Government and our hard-working project teams face on a daily basis. I’m counting on the people of Sint Maarten to protect the recovery process and the cooperation with the World Bank from cheap politics, and I’m counting on the Netherlands and the World Bank to assist the Government of Sint Maarten as much as possible in providing technical expertise in an expedient manner”.
In the past six months, this Government has made significant progress in the cooperation with the World Bank, and managed to ensure that more than 250 million dollars is committed to the preparation and implementation of recovery and resilience projects.
The Prime Minister of Sint Maarten noted that she is especially proud of the Interim Recovery Committee and the different ministries, who had no previous experience with the World Bank, but managed to prepare World Bank projects at record speed. On this point, the World Bank report notes that “all projects currently under implementation were prepared with utmost urgency, in approximately one half to one third of the average time it takes to prepare a World Bank managed project”.
While everyone on Sint Maarten would like to see things get better right now, Prime Minister Romeo-Marlin reminds all involved that “recovery is a process and Sint Maarten is bound to certain procedures, whether we like it or not. Within those procedures, my Government has and will continue to do everything in its power to accelerate the preparation and implementation of the different World Bank projects”.