Back at the table

Back at the table

It appears St. Maarten may be left “outside looking in” when it comes to obtaining a third tranche of COVID-19 liquidity loans from the Netherlands. Curaçao reported an accord regarding its required “package” of structural measures and the accompanying supervising body, which will now be focussed on economic investment in addition to public spending cutbacks, as supposedly reflected in a name change from Caribbean Reform Entity (CRE) to Organisation for Reform and Development (ORD).

Dutch State Secretary of Home Affairs and Kingdom Relations Raymond Knops for his part told the Second Chamber of Parliament there was no final agreement yet (see related story). He nevertheless expressed optimism about reaching such with not only Curaçao but also Aruba, despite the latter taking steps to arrange alternative funding.

The latter is important because it shows one does not necessarily have to exclude the other. St. Maarten, however, must first comply with conditions for the already-received second tranche to even be considered for further financial assistance from The Hague.

The state secretary said this would not keep back the two other Dutch Caribbean countries, as they were speaking to them individually and at a certain point in time the trajectories will no longer run parallel. He indicated that it would be irresponsible to wait for the last country because the needs are pressing.

This should be a clear signal to political authorities in Philipsburg that the process is continuing without them. The question then becomes if and when the remaining demands for the second tranche can still be met, so St. Maarten may at least get back to the negotiation table and try to secure more means to prevent a deep social crisis with widespread unemployment resulting in abject poverty.