Prime Minister Silveria Jacobs announced on Monday (see related story) that Dutch State Secretary of Home Affairs and Kingdom Relations BZK Raymond Knops had deemed an explanatory letter from Parliament President Rolando Brison about the accusatory United Nations (UN) petition against the Netherlands in the context of recent agreements signed with St. Maarten “sufficient” clarification. That is good news, because it could mean continued much-needed liquidity support with as condition implementation of a “country package” containing restructuring measures.
The latter is to be supervised by a new Caribbean Body for Reform and Development COHO, but the draft Kingdom Law for such must first be revised based on critical comments from the Council of State. In the meantime, joint talks with The Hague at a technical level to prepare execution of the agreements reached have – nevertheless – remained ongoing.
Concern was rightly expressed by several elected representatives about last week’s statement by the Netherlands Red Cross that the food aid programme under its coordination on the island paid for by the BZK ministry will finalise at the end of April. This also caused some confusion, as the Dutch state secretary had earlier said financing for the effort would be extended until July 1.
Prime Minister Jacobs explained that the St. Maarten Development Fund (SMDF) – as one of the entities already involved – and the Ministry of Public Health, Social Development and Labor VSA were working on an alternative with funding from the Netherlands. One important aspect was said to be an assessment to prevent misuse and overlap when providing relief assistance.
That all sounds reassuring, but the deadline mentioned for the current 10-month campaign that reportedly benefitted 4,800 households or 15,000 residents is less than two weeks away, making this too a matter of great urgency.