Declaring the hurricane season over before the official end on November 30 would be tempting fate, but it does seem like the island is out of the woods regarding tropical cyclones for 2020. As bad as this year has been due to the unprecedented coronavirus-crisis, being spared any major storm damage is something to be thankful for.
But there is more. Compared to the current COVID-19 situations in, for example, Europe and North America, St. Maarten is relatively well-off.
In addition, with the help of loans from the Netherlands, the local government has given qualifying businesses payroll subsidies for up to six months – be it several months later – to prevent widespread closures and mass layoffs, while workers left jobless due to the pandemic and others received financial support. Not every country certainly in this region can say that.
Dutch means were also used to provide relief in the form of grocery parcels or vouchers and meals through various non-governmental and volunteer organisations via the Red Cross. Prime Minister Silveria Jacobs in Thursday’s paper reported requesting technical assistance from the United Nations Development Programme to help set up a more structural foodbank and today’s edition has a story about grants and backing for civil society organisations (CSOs).
On the other hand, tireless efforts continue to restore the tourism economy on which the livelihood of the population depends. That may not always be very visible, but should become apparent once visitors start returning in numbers.
So, while circumstances including far-reaching conditions for further liquidity support remain far from easy, the truth is that they could have been a lot worse,