Did the SSRP hit the mark?
Philipsburg – November 25th, 2022. The General Audit Chamber submitted its report entitled “Efficiency audit: Sint Maarten Stimulus and Support Program (SSRP) for 2021.” This is the follow-up report to the review of the implementation of the 2020 SSRP programs published in December 2021.
The Temporary 2021 Payroll Support Regulation is almost identical to that of 2020. The government transferred ANG 103 million to SZV to implement the Payroll Support program for 2020-2021. SZV spent a total of ANG 97 million. For the income and unemployment support programs, the Government awarded the SMDF ANG 12.58 million in 2021. SMDF ultimately disbursed approximately ANG 9.8 million.
The programs encountered delays which impacted the timeliness of payments to recipients. While the programs were terminated in September 2021, a few payments continued into 2022, due to delays and others related to finalizing objection procedures.
As part of the review, the General Audit Chamber compared the SSRP to a similar program in Aruba. A significant difference between the programs is the process of verifying lost turnover at businesses seeking financial support. To qualify for business payroll support, the verification occurred upfront in St. Maarten. In Aruba, the check on companies was done essentially after the fact. In Aruba, approximately Afl. 73 million (of a total of Afl. 271 million) must be reimbursed by businesses. The estimated amount to be refunded on St. Maarten’s is ANG 266,064, which is still under review.
It was not possible to determine whether the SSRP was effective. Mass layoffs seem to have been prevented. However, without reliable data, this conclusion cannot be substantiated. The General Audit Chamber sees an opportunity for Government to look deeper and examine whether limited public funds were effectively spent. The funds used are loans that must be repaid.
The report is published in both English and Dutch and is available on the website of the General Audit Chamber (www.arsxm.org).