SINT MAARTEN (POND ISLAND) - Prime Minister Silveria E. Jacobs questions follow-through from the Netherlands on liquidity support and requests Prime Minister of the Netherlands Mark Rutte's intervention to address unnecessary delays and have the loan agreement for the liquidity support sent to St. Maarten without any further delays.
St. Maarten has largely complied with all the conditions placed by the government of the Netherlands, and thus, the current delay is inexplicable.
In March 2021, the first delay of the fifth tranche of liquidity support was due to the questions of the Kingdom Council of Ministers (RMR) surrounding the support for this trajectory from the Parliament of St. Maarten. Clarification of meaning of the petition that was submitted to the United Nations (UN) was requested. This matter was ultimately resolved after State Secretary Knops approved the letter from the Chairman of Parliament, providing clarity on the petition; the request for liquidity support for St. Maarten was once again placed on the agenda of the RMR meeting for April 23, 2021.
During this meeting, the RMR decided that St. Maarten will receive the much-needed NAf. 39 million after signing of the implementation agenda for the execution of the country package.
The signing of the implementation agenda was the agreed condition for allocating the fifth tranche of liquidity support. Prime Minister Jacobs met and signed the implementation agenda with State Secretary Knops on Monday, April 26, 2021.
Prime Minister Jacobs stated, "Once the RMR has taken a decision to grant liquidity support, a loan agreement is a necessary step for the release of the liquidity support. So far, we’ve experienced that the loan agreement is sent right away after the decision is taken. This has been the case in the last two RMR decisions granting liquidity support. However, today Friday, May 7, will be two weeks that have passed since the RMR decided to grant St. Maarten the liquidity support and the loan agreement has not yet been received. Once the loan agreement has been received, it will be signed by the Minister of Finance for finalization.”
On both the technical and ministerial levels, contact has been made with the Ministry of BZK to receive updates on the status of the loan agreement. “Contact was made immediately, last week with BZK’s technical staff and the loan agreement was promised by the end of the week, which would have been a week away from the last RMR meeting, and to this day, we have not received the loan agreement,” Prime Minister Jacobs continued.
Prime Minister Jacobs has exhausted every effort to acquire the loan agreement, including reaching out to State Secretary Knops a few days ago. He indicated that he would follow up; however, no prospect was provided regarding when the loan agreement will be finalized and sent. Contact has even been had with the Dutch Representation office here on the island and they too are indicating that they have no information on the status of the loan agreement. So far, the only indication shared from the Ministry of BZK was that key personnel were out on vacation, leading to the delays. No timeline was given as to when the loan agreement would be sent.
Given the fact that there have been no positive responses, nor has the loan agreement been received, Prime Minister Jacobs sent a letter to the RMR addressed to Prime Minister Rutte on May 6. In the letter, Prime Minister Jacobs outlined the experience St. Maarten has had with delays and a lack of communication. She has requested that Prime Minister Rutte intervenes and implores the Ministry of BZK to move forward with the process and facilitate St. Maarten with the loan agreement by today, May 7, so that it may be finalized. This way the funds can be made available to St. Maarten by early next week.
Prime Minister Jacobs hopes for a swift resolution that would ensure the needed liquidity is sent to St. Maarten. This latest delay only puts further pressure on the relationship between St. Maarten and the Netherlands which both parties have agreed to work on.