NA MP George Pantophlet.
PHILIPSBURG--With ten billion euros budgeted for the Dutch defence, National Alliance (NA) Member of Parliament (MP) George Pantophlet believes that the government of the Netherlands can afford to cancel St. Maarten’s debts.
“What I am asking [is – Ed.], since the Second Chamber [of the Dutch Parliament] is planning to make billions [of] euros more available for war, the around US $664 million owed to the Dutch government by the people of St. Maarten can be cancelled,” Pantophlet said in a press statement.
“This amount only represents 10 per cent of the present Dutch defence budget and can become less, once more funds are invested. Prices are increasing everywhere (they were already on the rise) and this is also affecting the economy of St. Maarten negatively, especially as it relates to transportation cost, which in turn will increase the already-out-of-control food prices. Oil prices are steadily on the rise and one does not know when this will stop. At present, St. Maarten is paying NAf. 12.7 million annually to the Dutch government and this amount is scheduled to increase in April upcoming in order to repay the added COVID-19-related liquidity support.”
He said the Dutch government could use as a valid reason for cancelling the debt, the two International Monetary Fund (IMF) reports in which they mentioned that the only way for St. Maarten and the other countries to return to a pre-COVID-19 status is by having the loans turned into donations or gifts. “I have had discussions with new State Secretary of Kingdom Relations and Digitisation [Alexandra van Huffelen], the CFT [Committee for Financial Supervision and] members of the First and Second Chambers on this issue. Rescheduling of the debt is only extending our debt beyond the 100 or more years it will take to repay it, interest-free and all. Debt cancellation is the only option if the Dutch government really wants St. Maarten to be financially independent. Let us call it a sort of reparation,” he said.
The MP said it was with great interest that he read an article about what is happening in Ukraine, currently being invaded by Russia. “The Second Chamber had returned from an early recess to discuss this very serious act. The Second Chamber wants to invest more money in defence. They have already invested 10 billion euros in its military apparatus for defence in this governing period and, as I mentioned before, intend to invest billions more, according to ruling parties such as D66 and VVD – in fact, it was said ‘whatever it takes’. The discussions were heated as party leader [of] Forum for Democracy Thierry Baudet was called an accomplice to a war criminal, and in turn Baudet said that China is the real enemy. Minister of Defence Kajsa Ollongren said she will come up with some figures, but does not want to throw something out there because of pressure,” Pantophlet recounted.