December 17, 2020
What are the facts? Fact is that on September 6, 2017 St. Maarten was struck by a category 5 hurricane named “Irma”.
Fact is that the islands infrastructure suffered some 90% damage.
Fact is that prior to the passing of said hurricane, St. Maarten was on her way to 3 consecutive Budgets. Fact is that the Dutch did give some support. Fact is that thanks to the insurance pay outs and the savings from individuals and businesses we were well on our way to pre-Irma condition.
Fact is that the Dutch government offered a grant of 550 Euros. Fact is that former Prime Minister William Marlin based the proposed conditions coined them an “Indecent Proposal”. Fact is that because of this a negative media blitz was started against him by the Dutch government because of the stance he took which led to his resignation.
Fact is that the Dutch government placed the World Bank as an intermediary to manage the Reconstruction Fund with the knowledge that St. Maarten did not have the capacity nor the expertise to deal with such a complex Institution. Fact is that because of this many projects have yet to be executed. Fact is that had this not been the case there would be no huge bureaucracy which has prevented job creation and much needed tax revenues for government.
Fact is that covid19 disabled not only the entire global economy therefore St. Maarten of course was not spared. Fact is that government in anticipation of job losses and economic fallout immediately came up with the National Stimulus Plan to assist individuals and businesses using her own funds. Fact is that St. Maarten lost in cruise tourism alone some $ 250 million.
Fact is that the Dutch government told St. Maarten that the assistance of 80% support was too high and should be reduced to 60%. Fact is that St. Maarten’s government started to float a bond of Naf 75 million. Fact is that the committee of Financial Supervision brought out a negative advice against such which discouraged potential investors.
Fact is that on October 21 of the current year a bond of 50 million guilders had matured which was extended twice to November and again this month. Now it is being said once we sign it will be extended for 15 years. Fact is that St. Maarten could have used part of the Naf 75 million to pay off the bond. Fact is that any foreign loan has to be guaranteed by the Dutch government. Fact is that St. Maarten is in dire need of financial injection.
Fact is that the Dutch government demanded reduction in salaries from Parliamentarians, Ministers, civil servants, workers of government owned companies retroactively and the list goes on. Fact is that refusal to adhere to these conditions will mean no financial support and in turn the government cannot meet its financial obligations.
I am totally against the conditions set by the Dutch government but as someone said, the fact is, when you hold the blade and they hold the handle, you are at a disadvantage. It is best to take a step back in order to make a comeback. We can’t change the past and this is a fact.