Published On: Fri, Nov 3rd, 2017

Reconstruction fund still up in the air

Staatssecretaris-Raymond-Knops - cn js

THE HAUGE – If there are going to be elections in January in St. Maarten then it seems that there will no longer be an agreement between the Netherlands and St. Maarten about a multi-million fund for the reconstruction after Hurricane Irma, John Samson writes on Caribisch Netwerk.

The Parliament in St. Maarten sent the Government led by Prime Minister William Marlin home on Thursday, because Marlin does not fully agree to the Dutch conditions. But State Secretary Raymond Knops (Kingdom Relations) only wants to make a deal with a government that will be in office for a longer period of time. The Netherlands fears that after elections, decisions the Parliament took on Thursday can be annulled.

That the Parliament in Philipsburg agreed to the strict Dutch conditions for the reconstruction fund is not enough for Knops. “The majority that is there today is not certain for the coming period. So that creates a politically uncertain situation. That is exactly the reason why I would like to know what the Governor’s position on all this is.”

The State Secretary wants to take a position after his talk with the Governor, the head of the Government and the Dutch Representative in St. Maarten, Chris Johnson. “So far the Kingdom Council of Ministers is supporting me, also in the things that I am still going to do,” Knops said, adding that he is extremely serious about a quick realization of the reconstruction fund and that he wants to prevent a new postponement. “Helping the people in St. Maarten; that’s what this is all about.”

It is possible that Knops’ decision implies that the Netherlands is going to intervene in St. Maarten, but the State Secretary did not want to get into that suggestion with journalists on Friday.

“We want that the Dutch money is going to be spent correctly. We do not want to be too light-hearted about that. The conditions stand.”

Knops expects that he will visit St. Maarten the earliest two weeks from now to get to know local politicians and to discuss the island’s reconstruction.

Photo caption: Kingdom Relations State Secretary Raymond Knops after Friday’s meeting of the Kingdom Council of Ministers. Photo Caribisch Netwerk / John Samson