Signing the St. Maarten SEI and ISR

 Signing the St. Maarten SEI and ISR

Commissioner Wescot-Williams and the Representative of the Netherlands in the Netherlands Antilles, Mr. Rob Vermaas, signed the Implementation Protocol of the Social and Economic Initiative (SEI) in St. Maarten today. On this occasion, the protocol of the Cooperation Program Institutional Strengthening and Reinforcement (ISR) 2008-2012 was also signed by Commissioner Roy Marlin and the Representative of the Netherlands at the Administration Office in Philipsburg.The Netherlands has reserved a total of 26 million guilders in the Transition Agreement of February 2007 for the St. Maarten SEI. As St. Maarten also wants to deploy part of the regular cooperation funds for the implementation of the SEI in the coming years, the total Dutch contribution to the SEI is 32 million guilders. The Island Territory of St. Maarten, too, will contribute in all another 26 million guilders. For the St. Maarten ISR Program 2008, the Netherlands will make more than 8.5 million guilders available.

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The objective of the Social and Economic Initiative is an improved financial and economic situation at the start of the new constitutional status of St. Maarten within the Kingdom of the Netherlands. The ISR focuses on the smooth development of the transition of the Island Territory of St. Maarten to the status of Country, with special attention for the institutional reinforcement of the public administration.

Social and Economic Initiative

Investing in social and economic development is highly important for St. Maarten in the structural tackling of poverty and offering perspectives to the total population of St. Maarten. This position is shared and supported by the Netherlands. In this light, it is incorporated in the Outline Agreement of 2005 and the Final Declaration of 2006 that the Netherlands will make extra funds available for a Social and Economic Initiative (SEI) for each Island of the Netherlands Antilles. The St. Maarten SEI is subdivided into eight policy areas: Spatial Planning & Traffic Congestion, Development of SME and Economic Diversification, Tourism Marketing, Labor Market & Education, Regulation, Government Finance, Data and Social Issues. In this SEI, 33 measures/(large) projects have been incorporated. It is a matter of, among other things, decreasing serious traffic bottlenecks, improving the processing of waste, providing training programs for entrepreneurship, investing in school capacity and reinforcing the Inspectorate for Health and Security. Furthermore, it will be necessary to invest in decreasing administrative expenses, integrating information systems, building approximately one thousand public houses and improving the sewer system in the districts.

Institutional Strengthening and Reinforcement

The Island Territory of St. Maarten focuses in 2008 especially on the reinforcement of the governmental and administrative systems, such as hiring experts in the areas of spatial planning, education, economy, general affairs and legislation; training personnel, good basic registrations, creating a public service center, reinforcing the financial management and auditing, IT and monitoring (checks and balances).

Some activities that in the mean time have already been launched are, among other things, hiring experts for the development of rules and regulations, policy development and reinforcement of the financial function and implementing organizational developments.

The Netherlands will make almost 100 million guilders available for the period 2008-2012 to St. Maarten for the cooperation themes Education & Youth, Security, SEI, ISR and others. Twenty percent of this is intended for the theme ISR. St. Maarten has decided to add 14 percent of the cooperation funds for the project New Revenue Service, on account of which the total percentage for ISR amounts to 34 percent. This means that the total amount for the ISR program for 2008-2012 is approximately 30 million guilders. In the period 2008-2012, St. Maarten will also contribute to the implementation of the program from its own resources.

For further information: Information Service of the Island Territory of St. Maarten and Mrs. Mariëlle Capello, spokeswoman for the Representation of the Netherlands, tel. (?) 434 3209 and (?) 510 0477.


Additional words by Commissioner Sarah Wescot-Williams concerning the SEI agreement.

This signing is of extreme importance. We have spoken about this program since 2005 in several accords, and finally in 2007 it was approved by the Kingdom Council of Ministers. There are 8 important areas that were concentrated on, acquired from workshops that took place on St. Maarten among various public and private entities. Now that the program could start, we have to execute accordingly, and to monitor and evaluate these programs so that the best could be had. We are headed in the direction we want to go.

Additional words by Commissioner Roy Marlin concerning the ISR agreement.

Commissioner Marlin pointed out that the ISR program is essential for St. Maarten. At times, previous programs were not fully utilized due to bureaucratic hindrance, but we are at the point where projects will be fully executed and the financing for such projects properly funded. We have the administrative organization now in place that could execute these projects in a timely fashion and according to the rules and regulations. I commend everyone involved.