PHILIPSBURG – The Sint Maarten delegation returned over the weekend after what was deemed a successful meeting of the Steering Committee of the Sint Maarten Recovery, Reconstruction and Resilience Trust Fund. The meetings which concluded on April 26th in Washington D.C. is one of the scheduled biannual meetings to report on progress, accelerate implementation and agree to prepare new projects from the Dutch financed trust fund managed by the World Bank.
Among the mission from Sint Maarten were Prime Minister Leona Romeo Marlin, Sint Maarten Steering Committee representative Marcel Gumbs, National Recovery Program Bureau (NRPB) Director Claret Connor and Senior Policy Advisor Abel Knottnerus. This meeting precedes the next ad hoc meeting of the Steering Committee which is scheduled to take place in Sint Maarten on May 16, 2019. The steering committee members are committed to ensuring that the agreed acceleration implementation modalities of the home repair program and other key activities of the Trust Fund are progressing well.
Prime Minister Romeo Marlin expressed her satisfaction with decisions taken at the meeting, especially as it pertained to the quickening of the pace of the home repair program. “During the meeting I made it clear to all stakeholders that there is a need for more tangible results for the people of St Maarten. Thus, moving forward I expect to see more activity surrounding the execution of the planned projects.”
At the Committee meeting updates on the current four approved projects totaling US$128 million were shared. Highlighted were the achievements of the Emergency Income Support program where 900 people have already received income support, while the training and certifications program to improve their skills, are continuing; repairs to the St Maarten Medical Center (SMMC) roof and the installation of the new alarm and fire detection systems; repairs to the Philipsburg and Simpson Bay police stations and progression in the repairs of 109 social homes in the Belvedere Housing Community.
The procurement of equipment and material to aid in the management and safety of the landfill and preparation for the commencement of the works of the 13 shelters to be repaired before the peak of the hurricane season was also shared.
A report on advance preparations of four additional projects totaling an amount of US$150 million was also reviewed. The projects: airport reconstruction of the terminal building; support to small businesses; waste and sewage management; and a budget support operation to strengthen public financial management, improve social insurance sustainability, and support fiscal resilience were all projects approved at the last steering committee meeting in December 2018.
Approved new initiatives include the preparation of new projects that will deal with road connectivity on the island, including the key emergency road from the South Reward area to Dutch Quarter (known as Link 6), a Digital Government project to enhance the efficiency of public services for citizens and businesses, and an assessment on the financial situation and the possible credit access of large hotels.
“We are moving forward,” NRPB Director Connor concludes. “At the end of this period in our island’s history we will boast of a newer, more resilient, sustainable and better paradise. These projects are not only about the rebuilding of the visible damages but also about how we can ensure that when the next disaster comes, we will not be in the same vulnerable position that we were left in after the passing of hurricanes Irma and Maria.”
Photo from left to right – Marcel Gumbs (Sint Maarten Steering Committee Representative), Axel van Trotsenburg (World Bank Vice President for Latin America and the Caribbean), Prime Minster Leona Romeo Marlin, Dutch State Secretary Raymond Knops, Tasheen Sayed Kahn (World Bank Steering Committee Representative) and Frans Weekers (Dutch Steering Committee Representative).