PHILIPSBURG—The Netherlands’ Representative in the Steering Committee of the Recovery Trust Fund for St. Maarten managed by the World Bank Mr. Frans Weekers and Director of Reconstruction in The Hague, Mr. Hans van der Stelt held what has been hailed as a “positive meeting” with Finance Minister of St. Maarten the honourable Perry Geerlings on Friday last week.
The Minister discussed several topics relating to the recovery of St. Maarten with the two Dutch representatives, which includes possible financing of some of the priority projects outlined in the St. Maarten United Christian Democratic Coalition’s 2018 – 2022 Governing Program entitled ‘Building a Sustainable St. Maarten.’
The intention is to find ways to fund priority programs that are part of the Governing Program, which are not mentioned in the National Recovery and Resilience Program NRRP, as critical projects covered under the USD$550 million Trust Fund.
Some of the projects identified for consideration include the complete reform of the Tax Department and reform at the Public Finance Department to improve financial management of the Country. On the subject of Tax Reform Geerlings said, they also broached the subject of options for financing the preparation of necessary legislation to realise Tax Reform, and fund the introduction of much needed new technology and additional human resources, and the construction of our own Tax Inspectorate Building.
Minister Geerlings said, “We also spoke about the Airport Bridge Loan, and I am happy to report that all parties remain very committed to seeing it to fruition. I must say this does offer a level of comfort as it gives us a light at the end of what could have been a very dark tunnel for the airport.” He was referring to the financial precarious situation at the Princess Juliana International Airport, and the Council of Ministers’ effort to resolve the problems by accepting an offer from the World Bank Trust Fund and EIB to fund the Airports reconstruction to the tune of USD$100 million.
Of that amount, USD$50 million will be in the form of a loan and another USD$50 million as a grant.
Minister Geerlings has in the meantime facilitated critical liquidity support to the Airport of USD$5 million, which allowed Airport workers to receive their salary for January and avoid a full default on the Airport’s commitment to its bondholders amongst others. Friday’s meeting was held inside the Cabinet Office of Finance Minister Geerlings at the Government Administration Building in Philipsburg.