Two stories in the newspaper inspire hope that the 550-million-euro Trust Fund made available by the Netherlands to help St. Maarten rebuild from the devastating passage of Hurricane Irma in September 2017 will be used effectively. Over two years later, the complaint that too little is happening too slowly has become the prevailing narrative.
The National Recovery Programme Bureau (NRPB) announced the tender for the salvaging, decommissioning and disposing of around 80 boat wrecks in Simpson Bay Lagoon and Mullet Pond. Supervising the removal of shoreline and shallow water debris is also included.
This project has been long in coming and realistically won’t start until next year, possibly even after the high season. It’s nevertheless important to help revive the marine industry that took a big blow from Irma as well.
The second case is outgoing Finance Minister Perry Geerlings’ proposal to stimulate micro-, small- and medium-size businesses with US $10-15 million in relief subsidy or grant based on loss in turnover in the12 months following Irma compared to the year before. He expects some 2,500 applications, so the impact would certainly be widespread.
One ought to keep in mind that the minister not only has caretaker status but is making this announcement on practically his last day in office and the new interim government being installed today could – understandably – have something to say about the matter. That doesn’t mean it’s a bad plan and should not be executed.
Take for example draft amendments recently submitted by acting Prime Minister Wycliffe Smith to bring the Electoral Ordinance and Law on the Registration and Financing of Political Parties in line with the Constitution regarding the dissolution of Parliament and calling snap elections. This is something Governor Eugene had also given as task for the transitional cabinet to be presented by “formateur” Silveria Jacobs.
In general, St. Maarten would do well to step away from making political footballs of major issues including the airport, hospital and dump, by embracing what’s ultimately best for the country and its people, regardless of whom that came from. It’s high time to get over the crab mentality.