Today’s news of a bond issue of 75 million Netherlands Antillean guilders by the Central Bank on behalf of St. Maarten is obviously most welcome. This will not solve all the country’s monetary woes in the current unprecedented coronavirus-related crisis and negotiations with the Netherlands on continued liquidity loans undoubtedly remain necessary.
However, it may at least afford government some much-needed breathing space to deal with short-term cashflow issues. The same – by extension – can be said about the private sector because there will be means for further payroll support to prevent multiple business closures, mass dismissals and widespread poverty.
The latter would in turn lead to a steep drop in tax revenues and insufficient funds to keep the public administration going. Allowing such a spiralling decline also in the quality of life on the island to happen is simply not an option.
Especially now that COVID-19 numbers appear to be going down again, immediate efforts must also be geared towards reviving tourism and making the best of the upcoming high season for the stayover, cruise as well as yachting industries. The economic fallout of 25 per cent and 16.2 per cent rise in unemployment Governor Eugene Holiday mentioned in his 10th anniversary of 10-10-10 address confirm there is a lot of work to do in that sense and many additional layoffs at this point would only make matters worse.
To be sure, St. Maarten seeking alternative funding should in no way negatively impact talks with The Hague regarding a third tranche of financing once conditions for the already-received second tranche have been met. After all, Aruba did the same thing and is still at the table to get more assistance.
And, as several well-known Dutch politicians love to say, what is good for the goose is good for the gander.