The Trust Fund Steering Committee (SC) meeting commenced on Monday, March 7, 2022, with the Prime Minister of St. Maarten, Honorable Silveria E. Jacobs present with the team of the National Recovery Program Bureau (NRPB) team for the first physical meeting at the World Bank main office in Washington D.C., since the start of the pandemic in March 2020.
Present at the SC meeting was the St. Maarten Steering Committee member Mr. Marcel Gumbs, World Bank Country Director for Latin America and the Caribbean Ms. Lilia Burunciuc, Director of the NRPB Mr. Claret Connor, and the NRPB technical team. Dutch Steering Committee member Frans Weekers attended the meetings virtually due to unavoidable circumstances. The St. Maarten delegation also included management and key technical staff working diligently to ensure the to-be discussed projects were properly prepared, in conjunction with the technical staff of the bank.
Although quite busy, Mr. Koen Davidse, the World Bank Executive Director whose portfolio includes several countries amongst others, the Netherlands and Ukraine, also took time for a one on one meeting with Prime Minister Jacobs before attending the opening of the meeting on Monday.
The various topics up for discussion were the allocation of the additional financing Emergency Recovery Project 1 (for sport facilities, school gyms and new MET Office) and the additional financing for the Emergency Debris Management Project, the formalization of the potential housing project, and the potential waste water project.
The second day of meetings on Tuesday was intense with deliberations on the possibilities by the technical teams with the St. Maarten and Dutch Steering committee members aimed at coming to a consensus on the way forward with the projects, taking into account feasibility, availability of needed funds and realistic timelines and the current situation and challenges with deliveries around the world.
Prime Minister Jacobs also joined the technical team on a tour of a DC housing project which utilized public land, and multi-layered investment constructs which ensured a mixed housing inventory catering to all income levels. Within the project, the possibilities exist for townhomes and apartment buildings for purchase, rent at market value or subsidized rental. The inclusion of key amenities such as parking, community centers, schools, churches, small businesses and supermarkets were all part of the planning and execution of this project.
On Wednesday, the SC meetings culminated with decision making in the Steering committee, which saw the confirmation and support of the proposals brought forth by St. Maarten and supported by the World Bank, resulting in a consensus for the continued implementation of the current projects, as well as preparation of the projects above for which needed funding had been set aside in 2021.
Prime Minister Jacobs would like to thank all stakeholders in the Steering Committee, especially the dedicated technical teams of St. Maarten and the World Bank for all the preparation that went into making this week’s series of meetings of the SC a successful one which would have a positive impact on the island for years to come.