Published On: Thu, Dec 9th, 2021

Just a dime on its side

By Terrance Rey

Whoever doesn’t bother to pick up a dime on the street is certainly doing well in life. But it can also turn out differently. If you leave money on the street, you also miss out on many opportunities in life. It is the same with Sint Maarten. Because there are a lot of opportunities that Sint Maarten misses out on.. Such as subsidies and funds from Europe. Millions are often available to the island to fund projects. All one has to do is do some paperwork and submit it. That rarely happens. That’s why I’ve been saying for years that Sint Maarten is bad at paperwork. And I’m not the only one who thinks that.

For example, there was once a subsidy pot with 14 million euros from the EU available for a polytechnic university on Sint Maarten. The required paperwork was still not forthcoming. Despite repeatedly pointing out a deadline. The required project proposal was always not received. Eventually that money went back to Europe.

For example, 4 million was available for an aquaponics project on Sint Maarten. The government even made a piece of government land available to a foundation. Then things got quiet around that project. I once asked a board member of that foundation about that project and he told me that no one did the required paperwork to submit a project proposal. What a wonderful opportunity they missed out on.

According to a website of the European Commission, there are all kinds of grants available from the EU budget for the European member states and associated countries. These are direct financial contributions from the European Union budget in the form of donations to beneficiaries (usually non-profit organisations) involved in activities that serve EU interests. These grants are usually managed centrally by the European Commission, either directly through its own services or indirectly through EU agencies, executive agencies or national agencies.

Furthermore, I read the following: “Each call for proposals or contract notice has its own criteria, requirements and steps. The call you choose will guide you through the application process. You may, after you have determined that you are eligible because you meet the criteria of the specific call or notice, need to register in a specific database – the explanatory notes to the call or notice will tell you if and how to do that. your proposal will take some time, so be sure to start well in advance. All the documents and templates you need to use are listed in the notes accompanying your chosen call or announcement. Make sure to read them carefully. if you do not, there is a chance that the contracting authority will declare your proposal inadmissible.In order to receive EU funding, certain rules and procedures must be followed.This is unavoidable corpse; after all, we must ensure that every euro is spent transparently and correctly, for the benefit of EU citizens. However, the EU is also continuously working to simplify and modernize its fiscal rules and to improve access to finance so that people can implement their ideas. To be eligible for funding, your application must be submitted in full, succinctly and on time through the electronic submission system. EU-funded programs are implemented in one of three ways: under direct management, under shared management or under indirect management. The application process differs per management method and also depends on the program for which you are applying.”

I have quoted literally all those paragraphs to show that the information on the procedures is indeed available and that it clearly sets out what one has to do to be eligible for those grants. Nevertheless, Sint Maarten misses out on tons and millions in EU subsidies. Purely because it is not possible to write project proposals.

Once a man was recruited to Sint Maarten to supervise EU grant applications. The good man did a really fantastic job. Unfortunately, he fell in love with a Spanish woman and his wife left him. This Dutch technical assistance officer became entangled in the seedy world of sex clubs in which his girlfriend was working and was eventually convicted of smuggling women. He didn’t even make a dime from that trade. He lost his government job. Recently I saw him play dominoes with a group of men while a number of Spanish women were flirting around them. Life on Sint Maarten is like a dime on its side. It can go well, but it can also end badly for you. It just depends on which side of the coin the dime falls.

I don’t know how it will end with Sint Maarten in this way. Meanwhile, the dimes remain on the street. At least, not on Sint Maarten, but in Europe, in the form of unused EU subsidy funds.


This column was originally published in Dutch on DossierKoninkrijksrelaties.nl.

Review article about this column: How St. Maarten fails to pick up millions in European subsidies – UPDATED

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Appearances are deceiving
A lesson from the history of Sint Maarten