Dutch funding for Amfo ends this year – St. Maarten silent about assuming responsibility

POSTED: 05/16/12 1:04 PM

St. Maarten – Up to now St. Maarten has not given any indication about the Dutch proposal to gradually takeover the subsidies from the Antillean co-financing organization Amfo. Over the past eight years, Amfo has pumped more than 180 million guilders ($100 million) for the financing of non-governmental organizations in the former Netherlands Antilles. Projects that received Amfo-financing target the youth, the elderly, ill and handicapped citizens, teen mothers and district upgrades.
This year the Dutch subsidy for Amfo comes to an end, the Ministry of Home Affairs and Kingdom Relations stated in a press release issued yesterday. Curacao and St. Maarten have to make up for the difference. The Netherlands funded Amfo annually with 15 million guilders ($8.3 million); Ongoing projects will be completed in 2013.
“Minister Spies counts on it that Curacao and St. Maarten honor the agreement to take over the subsidizing of Amfo from 2013 on and to give priority to combating poverty and improving the perspective of the youth,” the press release states. Minister Spies says that the continued funding for Amfo is also important for the sustainability of projects non-governmental organizations already have completed with Amfo-money.
That the Netherlands would cease to subsidize Amfo in 2012 was already known in 2009. “The €1.7 billion (about 4945 million) debt relief program enables Curacao and St. Maarten to assume responsibility for this foundation from 2013,” the press release states.
The Dutch government reacted positively when Amfo asked to prolong the last advance payment. Piet Hein Donner, the predecessor of Minister spies, asked the Prime Ministers of St. Maarten and Curacao in 2011 to cooperate with the gradual transfer of the Dutch donorship for Amfo. But so far, neither St. Maarten nor Curacao has clarified their position on this issue.
Among the projects that depend on Amfo subsidies in St. Maarten are after school activities of the No Kidding with our Kids Foundation, the Ahead Center of Excellence, the Language Learning Institute Foundation, the Victorious Living Foundation, the Beyond Writing Foundation, the Sifma’s Op Stap program, the Dutch Quarter Community Center, the Alpha and Omega Projects Foundation, the Library’s Bibliobus project, Windward Islands Educa RRR (an enrichment program for the elderly) and the afterschool program of the Belvedere Community Foundation.
Without continued financing from the Antillean co-financing organization Amfo – or from alternative sources – the majority of the sixteen NGO-projects in St. Maarten would have to reduce their current activities to 30 percent. That was the conclusion at a meeting of concerned NGOs during a crisis meeting at the Belvedere Community Center in February. “Without a solution the social infrastructure will suffer severely,” Amfo’s General Manager Reinoudt Karsdorp said on that occasion.
Amfo finances currently sixteen projects of non-governmental organizations in St. Maarten to the tune of 5 million guilders ($2.77 million) a year. St. Maarten does not have the resources to take over this financial burden, Karsdorp said.
The projects help 4,900 citizens and that there are 150 jobs at stake. “Without proper funding the majority of NGO’s would cease to exist, and the social infrastructure will suffer. In the end this will affect the quality of life in St. Maarten,” Karsdorp said.

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