Parliament unanimously adopted a motion last night backing government in rejecting the “Caribbean Reform Entity” set as requirement for a third tranche of COVID-19 liquidity support from the Netherlands to Aruba, Curaçao and St. Maarten, to control the disbursement of these funds. The establishment of such by so-called Kingdom Consensus Law without the required prior consultation was termed a “takeover in disguise.”
The conditions in the relevant document – available only for perusal by the elected representatives – and the approach to impose these are said to trample on St. Maarten’s Constitution, the Kingdom Charter as well as international treaties. The goal remains to obtain further assistance, but not at the expense of the autonomy and right to self-determination.
There was talk of seeking supplementary financing to secure the people’s livelihood and possibly using assets of government-owned companies and organisations such as SZV to shore up public finances. Other than that, “Plan B” so far has few concrete ingredients except possibly floating a bond.
The counterproposal to be presented during the Kingdom Council of Ministers meeting on Friday should therefore in principle be targeted at securing the soft loans offered, but with more reasonable terms and timeframes that respect the rule of law and do not make such a negative socioeconomic and developmental impact. St. Maarten having just understandably postponed reopening to its predominant tourism market the US by another two weeks does not make its bargaining position in the sense of future cashflow any stronger.
It is good that Prime Minister Silveria Jacobs – backed by the motion – will be travelling to The Hague to personally handle this urgent matter, as are her two counterparts from Curaçao and Aruba. A joint Dutch Caribbean stance has more weight, especially as it –after all – regards three out of four countries in the Kingdom of the Netherlands.