Published On: Thu, Nov 28th, 2019

Overview of Prime Minister Silveria Jacobs’ First Week in Office

Airport Reconstruction

Prime Minister Silveria JacobsPhilipsburg— Prime Minister Silveria Jacobs reports on her first week in office. The much-lamented woes of the reconstruction of PJIA was the first order of business, with meetings, presentations and the sharing of the many documents to understand the current state of affairs at the Airport. The status of the legal agreements for financing of the airport terminal reconstruction project was presented to the Council by the National Recovery Program Bureau. She further reports that based on the information received, the Council of Ministers was able to give assurances to all stakeholders that getting PJIA back up and running is the top priority for this interim government.

According to the Prime Minister, the most pressing issue for the Airport is the signing of the agreement with the bondholders on the release of the insurance proceeds. She stated that Government will do everything in its power to sign this agreement as soon as possible in order to get urgently needed funds to the Airport. Furthermore, the Government remains confident that the impasse with the bondholders can be resolved within a matter of weeks, if not days. She expressed that government intends to provide the much-needed stability, which will allow St. Maarten to move forward with the reconstruction of the airport and many other important projects to come.

Min. of Justice Egbert J. DoranOn Tuesday morning, the Council of Ministers visited the National Recovery Program Bureau and its Director Mr. Claret Connor to discuss the current status of the different recovery projects that are financed by the Trust Fund. She expressed that this was the first of many meetings to follow. She further stated “it is the intention of Government to keep looking for ways to accelerate key programs such as the home repair program, the emergency debris management project and the repairs of our schools.

Prime Minister Silveria Jacobs further reports that another pressing issue for the Airport was the repayment of the bridge loan of 15 million US Dollars to the Netherlands, which was due by November 15th, 2019. She states that in order to address the burning issue, the Council of Ministers authorized the Director of the Cabinet of the Minister Plenipotentiary in The Hague, Ms. Carol Voges to represent St. Maarten in the Kingdom Council of Ministers. During this meeting, which took place last week Friday, Ms. Voges explained that Sint Maarten is willing but unable to repay the bridge loan until the insurance proceeds are released by the bondholders. She said that at the request of St. Maarten, the new repayment date was approved for January 15, 2020. By date, we expect that the bondholders will have released the insurance proceeds. She further reiterated that this will allow the Airport to payback our Minister of Finance so that in turn Sint Maarten can repay the bridge loan to the Netherlands.

In addition to the meetings on the Airport, Prime Minister Jacobs also had an introductory meeting with the Integrity Chamber and its incoming members as well as the head of the Secretariat Ms. S. Pompier. During these meetings, an update was provided on the status and a timeline was given for follow up actions. The Council of Ministers also authorized the Minister of Justice Egbert Doran to travel to Antigua to defend St. Maarten’s position on another matter: the pending recommendations of the Caribbean Financial Action Task Force.

NRPB VisitShe stated that a letter was approved to reaffirm St. Maarten’s commitment in finalizing all recommendations of the Task Force to combat Money Laundering and terrorism financing. Through this letter, she assured the Caribbean Financial Action Task Force that the proper implementation of all international standards regarding anti-money laundering and the combating of financing of terrorism is top priority for the interim Government. She further explained in the letter that the National Ordinance to amend the Penal Code as well as the National Ordinance to amend Book 2 of the Civil Code were two pieces of legislation that comply with the recommendations of the Task Force and that these laws were recently passed in Parliament. These two laws were enforced on November 20, 2019. The Prime Minister stressed that these laws passed will continue to be very important for St. Maarten to comply with all the Task Force’s recommendations in order to strengthen our local businesses and international relations opportunities.

The Prime Minister also took time to meet with the Chair and the Secretary-General of the Social Economic Council, Mr. Damien Richardson, and Mr. Gerard Richardson. They informed her of some of the socio-economic challenges faced by Sint Maarten and discussed ways to address some of those challenges. She stated that follow up meetings will be held internally with all stakeholders in the interest of improving the working relations between the Social Economic Council and the Government.

Integrity Chamber