SINT MAARTEN (PHILIPSBURG) - Leader of the United St. Maarten (US) party MP Frans Richardson on Friday said Finance Minister Michael Ferrier's statement about the lack of funds from Holland as an admission that the United Democrats (UD) misled the people of St. Maarten for political purposes only and refused to stand up for them.
Richardson also added that the spin of the Dutch that St. Maarten’s progress thus far had “somehow to do with them”, is a false narrative. Credit, he says, should go fully to the people of St. Maarten.
As reported in The Daily Herald on Friday, Ferrier reportedly told the Telegraaf newspaper that having to comply with strict regulations of the World Bank, which manages the St. Maarten Reconstruction Trust Fund, for which the Dutch government has reserved 470 million euros (about US $ 580 million), is no easy task.
“We have our hands full to rebuild St. Maarten and at the same time we have to comply with the strict norms of the World Bank. We have to do everything with a small group of people. In the Netherlands they say: how come you are not ready yet, why don’t you make use of the funds? We have not been able to touch the money,” the Minister told De Telegraaf.
Richardson reminded that his party, the USP, explained over and over during the campaign that the picture the UD was painting about getting funds right away, was a false one, a lying one.
"We warned that by choosing the use the World Bank as a go-between for a supposedly equal partner in the Kingdom, would delay much needed funds for St. Maarten because St. Maarten in its cuurrent state would have major difficulties in meeting World Bank criteria," MP Richardson said.
He continued: "We warned that if the leaders of this country do not hold one head for its people to get the much talked about relief, another hurricane season would be upon us with no relief in sight. What did the UD say? They made it sound like they were the only people capable of securing the funds. Today the UD Finance Minister is throwing his hands up after criticizing the involvement of the World Bank in about two weeks ago on the floor of Parliament. Where are the funds today?"
MP Richardson said while the people of St. Maarten have not received financial relief, a few things have become clear. "Liquidity grants have become loans, the Integrity Chamber is coming out of the hurricane aid funds, we have to pay for extra police help, and only emergency funds have been made available. These are quite some accomplishments for the UD. In the meantime we are about to greet a new hurricane season," Richardson said.
The MP also noted that whenever Dutch politicians and other officials are on island, they travel with entire PR crews to make it look that St. Maarten's recovery after the hurricanes was due to Holland's intervention and help.
Richardson said on the contrary, the reconstruction of St. Maarten is due first and foremost to the hard work and resiliency of the people. He said credit goes to the banks who stepped up to offer grace periods for loans repayments and assistance at very low interest rates. Also, he added, to the various insurance companies who have made sure citizens get back on their feet.
"Let's give credit where credit is due, the reconstruction of St. Maarten and our recovery thus far is to the credit of the people of St. Maarten. The funds are still sitting at the World Bank. What you see on St. Maarten is the hard work and sweat of its people, business owners, volunteers and others. That is who should get the credit."