The Netherlands hopes new St. Maarten government works in ‘spirit of fighting corruption’
PHILIPSBURG – Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte said on Monday that the Dutch Government has “trust” that St. Maarten Prime Minister Leona Romeo-Marlin and her incoming cabinet will do two things – “work in the spirit of fighting corruption and, secondly, work hard on implementing the necessary measures to rebuild the island.”
Rutte, who was on a one-day visit to St. Maarten, met with local Government officials including Governor Eugene Holiday and the Council of Ministers, before touring some projects funded by Dutch early recovery money.
“There is a lack of trust traditionally since 10-15 years between the Netherlands and St. Maarten on integrity. That is why we wanted border control and this Integrity Chamber in place before we were willing to spend money, except for the early recovery money,” Rutte told The Daily Herald after touring St. Martin’s Home for the elderly.
Speaking of trust at a press conference held later in the afternoon at Princess Juliana International Airport, Romeo-Marlin said trust works both ways and the two parts of the Dutch Kingdom across the Atlantic Ocean from each other were working on the way forward.
The structural help via the Dutch Recovery Trust Fund administrated by the World Bank “could only start with these two things in place,” Rutte said. “What could be done now is to build on this” through trust in Romeo-Marlin and her incoming cabinet.
Seeing the tremendous rebuilding St. Maarten faces after it was pummelled by monster Hurricane Irma eight months ago, Rutte was asked if he still believes the 550 million euros in recovery aid supplied by his government was sufficient.
His response: “This is what we want to pay into the pot, but, of course, St. Maarten has to pay a lot itself. It is not that we from the Netherlands can pay everything. So, we will spend two times the St. Maarten yearly budget, over half a billion euros. But, also St. Maarten itself has to find the money and has to invest in its future. … It cannot only be done by the Netherlands. That’s impossible.”