Always keep that in mind

Always keep that in mind

Parliament will discuss the status of the St. Maarten Stimulus and Relief Plan (SSRP), its assistance programmes and COVID-19 loans from the Netherlands with the conditions tied to such. Prime Minister Silveria Jacobs and Finance Minister Ardwell Irion are expected to join the urgent virtual meeting called by opposition members.

They will hopefully provide an update, because their recent talk with Dutch State Secretary of Home Affairs and Kingdom Relations Raymond Knops did not go very well. That is a concern, because on Friday, June 12, Aruba and Curaçao received a second part of the second tranche of liquidity support from the Netherlands after they met a 20 per cent own contribution requirement for wage subsidy to prevent widespread business closures and large-scale layoffs, whereas St. Maarten had not yet complied.

Although the earlier-mentioned video conference call between them ended abruptly, both Jacobs and Knops since thankfully declared their willingness to continue talks on helping St. Maarten and its people overcome this unprecedented socioeconomic crisis. Borders reopen for tourists on July 1, but it will take some time before the dominant hospitality industry even partially recovers.

Until then financial assistance granted by The Hague will remain indispensable for all three Dutch Caribbean countries; if not, they risk falling into a state of deep, abject poverty with all possible consequences including mass migration to the European part of the kingdom. Everyone, including the Dutch government, should always keep that in mind.