Washington, DC, March 31, 2023 — The Steering Committee for the Sint Maarten Trust Fund (SXM TF) yesterday expressed satisfaction with the progress and efficiency of the ten ongoing projects and reiterated its support for three new projects under development.
The Committee met for three days at the World Bank Headquarters in Washington, D.C. Representatives of the Government of Sint Maarten – led by the Honorable Prime Minister, Silveria Jacobs, including the Minister of Finance, the Honorable Ardwell M. R. Irion, and the Minister of Public Housing, Spatial Planning, Environment and Infrastructure (VROMI), the Honorable Egbert Doran – met with representatives of the Government of the Netherlands and the World Bank to advance the Trust Fund’s mandate.
High on the agenda was an evaluation of the Trust Fund’s ongoing projects, many yielding positive and tangible results. The Committee learned, for example, that through the Emergency Recovery Project (ERP-1) the Trust Fund provided disaster-resilient infrastructure, repairing over 500 homes and upgrading 11 shelters and six schools. Along with internal improvements, the Trust Fund has also transformed the façade of the iconic Princess Juliana International Airport, which Hurricane Irma severely damaged. The airport is set to install recently received jet bridges and reopen the departure hall later this year, as part of its reconstruction plans. Further, the Enterprise Support Project (ESP) has empowered women-owned businesses, above the regional average, in addition to enabling access to finance and economic recovery for 176 micro-, small- and medium-sized companies.
“The work being undertaken under the Trust Fund is crucial for building Sint Maarten’s resilience,” said Lilia Burunciuc, World Bank’s Director for Caribbean Countries and Steering Committee Chair. “Over the past three days, the Bank met with the Governments of Sint Maarten and the Netherlands to agree on how we can best support these goals and I’m pleased that good progress is being made in this direction.”
The Housing Project, currently under development, along with the Wastewater Management Project and the Mental Health Project, will advance to the next phase following the Steering Committee’s consideration. The World Bank and the National Recovery Program Bureau (NRPB) will work closely with key stakeholders – the Sint Maarten Housing Development Foundation and the Ministry of VROMI – to finalize the project’s design and activities, with the goal of creating a blueprint for sustainable and affordable housing.
The Mental Health Project – the first of its kind for the World Bank – seeks to improve the quality of mental health service delivery in Sint Maarten for all psychological disorders, including substance abuse. The Wastewater Management project will enhance the sustainability and resilience of wastewater services in Sint Maarten, focusing on the densely populated areas around the capital, Philipsburg.
The Committee agreed that all three projects will support fundamental needs within Sint Maarten and contribute to the country’s sustainable economic and social development. Notably, the projects will mobilize substantial private financing with demonstrable effects beyond the Trust Fund period.
“Access to additional funding for projects has been a high priority for the Government of Sint Maarten and finally being approved is a tremendous relief and a crucial step towards achieving our goals. With this support, we can now focus on finalizing projects that have proven to enhance our infrastructure and way of life. We are grateful for the positive outcome of these proceedings,” said Sint Maarten Prime Minister Silveria Jacobs.
During the meeting, the delegation from the Government of the Netherlands presented recommendations and conclusions from their Policy Review which was recently submitted to the Dutch Parliament. The review, led by independent evaluators, concluded that establishing the World Bank-led Trust Fund was a good solution, and its implementation has led to good results.
“Important progress is made on the Trust Fund’s projects, including the Netherlands priority projects of the airport, the wastewater, and the landfill projects. In addition, institutional reforms are being implemented and by leveraging the Trust Fund’s money with external financiers, the impact of the reconstruction projects is expected to become even bigger for the people of Sint Maarten,” said Frans Weekers, Representative of the Netherlands to the Steering Committee.
Another high point of the meeting was the signing ceremony of the Emergency Debris Management Project (EDMP) grant agreement. EDMP received US $60 million in additional funding from the SXM TF to cover a financing gap under the parent project for improving debris management in communities and at the landfill and, strengthening the institutional capacity of the government to execute technical activities.
Overall, the Steering Committee agreed that the Trust Fund’s projects all serve critical recovery and development needs within Sint Maarten. The Committee will reconvene in late October 2023.