Post Irma reconstruction: Slow progress in St Maarten, funding may be insufficient

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Last May, the Algemene Rekenkamer, the Dutch Supreme Audit Institution (ISC) (the equivalent of the Court of Auditors in France) updated its report on the progress of post-Irma reconstruction in St Maarten.

In 2018, she found that "little aid funds had been spent". As a reminder, the total cost of the reconstruction of the Dutch part has been estimated at around 2 billion euros. The Netherlands made € 550 million available, including € 470 million through the World Bank.

The budget for the year 2020 has been revised upwards to allow the financing of two ongoing projects: the renovation of infrastructure (public services, housing in particular) required an additional 46,2 M € (total of 83,9 M € €), emergency waste management requested an additional € 20,9 million (total of € 41,8 million). The total amount of the World Bank's 2020 envelope ultimately fell from € 183,7 million to € 236,1 million.

At the end of 2020, the World Bank had € 92,0 million disbursed. Most of this amount, € 78,9 million, was devoted to carrying out reconstruction projects. € 52,9 million of disbursed funds have been spent.

For the ISC, progress in the reconstruction of Sint Maarten has been slow. Out of a total of 379 dwellings to be restored, only 44% have actually been restored. As for the 19 damaged schools, at the start of 2021, work was only completed for three of them.

To date, projects with varying objectives were in preparation and in execution for a total amount of € 338,2 million. However, reconstruction is far from being completed and the initially planned budget risks exploding; the renovation of public services already requires an additional € 60 million. Therefore, the SAI believes that the funds allocated by the Netherlands will not be sufficient to cover the remaining reconstruction projects. In the second quarter of 2021, a steering committee was to discuss the distribution of the resources of the trust fund.

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