PHILIPSBURG — A four-country consultation between the Netherlands, Curacao, Aruba, and St. Maarten was held on Thursday, June 25, 2020, with the main agenda point being the new entity proposed by the Netherlands as a condition for the 3rd Tranche of COVID-19 liquidity support. Documentation for said entity, however, remains pending.
The new entity formed a part of the “take it or leave it” proposal made on May 12, 2020, and confirmed in the Kingdom Council of Ministers meeting on May 15, 2020, in order for the Caribbean countries within the Dutch Kingdom to receive liquidity support.
Since the conditions were accepted, insofar as it does not violate local, kingdom, or international laws, information on this new entity has to date, not been forthcoming, despite the numerous consultations with the Netherlands. However, in yesterday’s meeting, State Secretary Knops verbally explained that the new entity will take the form of a democratically regulated Dutch Independent Governmental Organization.
According to the statements made by Knops and his support staff, the entity will be geared towards financial supervision of the liquidity support, monitoring of the agreements per country and will be result-driven. It will be based upon Article 38, paragraph 2, of the Kingdom Charter which will require a change in Kingdom Law by consensus. However, the structure of the entity remains unclear as the legislative basis is still being finalized according to Knops.
The governments of Curacao, Aruba, and St. Maarten have only received assurances that documentation related to the entity would possibly be sent to the islands by Monday, June 29, 2020, a mere 4 days before the Kingdom Council of Minister is expected to deliberate on it on July 3rd.
During the meeting, Prime Minister Jacobs questioned the effect of the entity on St. Maarten’s autonomy; St. Maarten’s input in the construct of the entity; as well as the expected timeline for implementation. This is in keeping with the letter sent to Knops on Monday, June 15, 2020, whereby, St. Maarten queried the necessity for the entity, its construct, as well as the intention, seeing that the deadline is fast approaching without clarity. St. Maarten’s letter also reiterated that entities were already executing our salary support program (SSRP via SZV) as well as unemployment support (via SMDF) with the necessary audit via SOAB and other independent auditors. The balance of the funds would be going to assist the government’s budget to carry its own responsibilities.
With this latest update, St. Maarten continues to question the need for such an entity (another layer of bureaucracy). If the documentation is received by Monday, June 29, 2020, as verbally indicated, it will leave little or no time for proper consultation at the local level with Parliament, Council of Advice, and the Ombudsman among others, prior to the expected July 3rd, deadline. As such, Prime Minister Jacobs has requested an urgent meeting with Parliament to discuss these matters as soon as possible, to allow the highest legislative body of the country the opportunity to give input on the way forward regarding these conditions and specifically the entity, as proposed by the Netherlands.