Talks have started since Friday’s Kingdom Council of Ministers meeting on a third tranche of liquidity support from the Netherlands. This development came after the Committee for Financial Supervision CFT gave a positive advice on St. Maarten’s efforts to meet requirements for the – already received – second tranche of financing.
The latter has not quite been fully accomplished yet, mind you, with certain execution and legislation said to be pending, while the 12.5 per cent cut in public sector employment benefits needs to remain in 2021. Moreover, it must be applied at all government-owned entities and those that depend on subsidy for at least half their income.
But the news is no doubt reassuring for many who feared the worst if no additional soft loans could be obtained by government. Doing so still means having to accept far-reaching austerity measures and tough conditions including a proposed reform body that is to oversee the restructuring process.
However, both other Dutch Caribbean countries Curaçao and Aruba were able to reach agreement. Prime Minister Silveria Jacobs called for affording St. Maarten the same negotiating room.
It has become evident that the tourism economy will take a while to recover to even near pre-coronavirus levels, which makes continued payroll assistance for companies and those left jobless by this unprecedented crisis indispensable during months to come. Without it, the social consequences include widespread business closures and mass dismissals resulting in abject poverty accompanied by fast-rising crime and delinquency.
That is something nobody should want, neither in Philipsburg nor in The Hague.