SINT MAARTEN (POND ISLAND) - During the first week of July 2019, the project "Technical assistance to the Ministry of VROMI" was successfully completed by VNG International (International Cooperation Agency of the Association of Dutch Municipalities) and the Ministry of Spatial Planning, Environment and Housing on St Maarten (VROMI).
The project was set up in the aftermath of hurricane Irma (September 2017) to eliminate backlogs that came into existence at the Ministry of VROMI in the post-Irma period. The project, started in November 2018, worked – on request of the Ministry of VROMI - with three VROMI departments: Permits, Domain Affairs and Inspection (environmental and building inspections).
Dutch municipal officials have been sent to Sint Maarten for longer periods of time in order to provide the needed extra capacity and staffing at VROMI in order to tackle the backlogs and prevent them as much as possible for the future.
During a closing session, the Dutch municipal officials involved in the collaboration presented their findings, their work undertaken and the achieved results in the presence of the Minister of VROMI, the Secretary General of the Ministry of VROMI and the Netherlands Representative Office in Philipsburg.
Results of the collaboration include an increase in the number of successfully conducted environmental inspections and accompanying reports, an increase in the number of building permits issued and a support in the backlogs in the renewal procedure for leasehold contracts.
Important to note is a spin-off of the work undertaken by the Dutch experts, together with their colleagues on St Maarten, making some recommendations on existing procedures and regulations, efficiency of current work processes and cooperation between the various departments within VROMI.
During the final meeting, the Secretary General of VROMI indicated that a number of these recommendations will be followed up on in order to further strengthen the ministry's operational capacity.
The Minister of VROMI, Mr. M. Giterson, thanked the VNG-International for their assistance.
As proof of the appreciation the workers send by the several Municipalities to assist were given a small present to underscore the appreciation the Ministry of VROMI has for the assistance given by the Dutch Municipalities via the VNG-International.