photo: Marcia van Oers

The Hague – The rebuilding of Sint Maarten is taking way too long thanks to the island’s politicians, according to the VVD and the SP. They are preparing for a debate with Sint Maarten’s politicians in January.

“It’s going to be a heated debate because the disappointment in the Netherlands is quite high”, says Van Raak (SP) ahead of the meeting in January between the Dutch parliamentarians and Sint Maarten’s parliamentary members. “The rebuilding efforts are progressing very slowly. The World Bank is a slow organization, but Sint Maarten’s politicians are not doing their jobs.”

‘No idea how many roofs still have to be repaired’
The VVD also blames the politicians on Sint Maarten. “For me it’s very simple”, says VVD representative Bosman. “They need to know what is going on. But if I ask: do you know how many houses still have to be repaired? They say that they don’t.”

“If I were to fly a drone over Sint Maarten, I would know within one month what still has to be done in which neighborhood. It can’t be the case that if I ask in January: hey how many houses left to go? That they don’t know, that would be unacceptable.”

‘This is the last chance for Sint Maarten, which is already slipping away’
Ronald van Raak (SP)

“This is the last chance for Sint Maarten, which is already slipping away”, thinks Van Raak. “We can’t justify the spending of all of this money to the Dutch public if it isn’t yielding any results, except for allegations of fraud amongst other things.”

The rebuilding of Sint Maarten should be about roofs, infrastructure, and income. “But also about proper management”, say SP representative Van Raak. “And that’s quite hard to achieve when half of parliament is either under investigation, or has already been convicted. It’s horrible.”

Low point in relationship between the Netherlands and Sint Maarten
During the meeting in January another sensitive topic will be discussed. According to parliamentarians Franklin Meyers and Theo Heyliger from Sint Maarten’s coalition partner United Democrats, the Netherlands is using ‘gestapo tactics’ to attempt a power grab on Sint Maarten.

These statements constitute a new low in the relationship between Sint Maarten and the Netherlands since the devastation caused by hurricane Irma, according to representatives. “Especially if I look at how Sint Maarten is handling the rebuild. You have these parliamentarians giving unfortunate statements. You are not required to take the money”, reacts Bosman (VVD). “ We didn’t make unreasonable requests.”

Van Raak (SP) had hoped that the rebuild would lead to better relationship between the Netherlands and Sint Maarten. “But the contrary has proven to be the case, and that hurts a lot. For the past fifteen years I have been the Kingdom Relations spokesperson for the SP. I have always put my best leg forward, filled with enthusiasm. But lately I have been very gloomy, and the other spokespeople seem to feel that way too.

Debates in January

From Tuesday the 8th till Friday the 11th of January 2019, parliamentarians from Aruba, Curaçao, Sint Maarten, and the Netherlands will meet each other in Philipsburg. During the yearly Interparlementair Koninkrijksoverleg (Ipko) they discuss different problems and challenges, such as the migration stream from Venezuela, the dispute arrangement, and the goals set by the United Nations.