Published On: Tue, Feb 26th, 2019

Knops puts Van Raak at ease about parliament building

Raymond Knops

PHILIPSBURG – There is no proposal at the parliament in St. Maarten to use money earmarked for the reconstruction after Hurricane Irma for “a new expensive parliament, a futuristic project for a salt-crystal building of $145 million,” State Secretary Raymond Knops (Kingdom Relations) wrote in answer to questions from Socialist Party MP Ronald van Raak.

MP Claude Chacho PetersonVan Raak’s question is based on a remark MP Claude Peterson (Christian Party) made in the ad hoc committee of parliament that deals with plans for the construction of a new parliament building. Peterson quipped on that occasion that the country ought to approach the world Bank to finance the project and suggested that designer Delano Richardson ought to add a hurricane shelter to his plans so that people could camp out there “to witness the hurricane and to see debris flying through the glass.”

While Peterson’s remark was picked up as a serious plan to use trust fund money for the construction of the parliament building, the MP later clarified that his remarks were meant to be sarcastic.

That sentiment has not reached Van Raak for some reason and therefore he queried the state secretary about this topic.

Knops noted in his answers that reconstruction money put up by Dutch tax payers is earmarked for the sustainable reconstruction of St. Maarten. “This has to be done in an efficient and lawful manner.”

Asked by Van Raak whether he could exclude that reconstruction-money would be used for the construction of “a futuristic prestige-project for a new parliament” Knops answered in the affirmative.

“The steering group of the trust fund the Netherlands established together with the World Bank for the reconstruction of St. Maarten takes decisions about the financing of programs and projects. The Netherlands will only be able to approve projects that contribute to the reconstruction of St. Maarten – focused on rebuilding and strengthening the economy, the social and physical infrastructure and the country’s governance. Futuristic prestige-projects per definition do not qualify for a contribution from the trust fund.”

Knops furthermore noted that St. Maarten did not include the construction of a new parliament building in its National Recovery and Resilience Plan (NRRP). The trust fund steering group uses the NRRP as the basis for decisions about reconstruction projects.

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