MP Meyers sounds alarm over funding for NGOs

POSTED: 02/5/13 12:15 PM

St. Maarten – There are close to 500 jobs at stake if the St. Maarten development fund is unable to distribute funds to non-governmental organizations, United People’s party interim faction leader Sylvia Meyers stated in a press release issued yesterday.

Until the end of last year, non-governmental organizations – or NGO’s – were funded by the Antillean co-financing organization Amfo, but this source has dried up. Already in February of last year the GO’s got together in a well-attended meeting in the Belvedere Community Center. But according to Amfo’s general director Reinoudt Karsdorp there were 150 jobs at stake, not the 500 Meyers-Olivacce mentions.

Karsdorp explained at that meeting that Amfo financed 16 projects for 5 million guilders ($2.77 million) per year. He noted that some NGO’s would have to reduce their activity-level to 30 percent without funding and that this would have a severe impact on St. Maarten’s social infrastructure. The projects combined serve the needs of about 4,900 people.

Meyers-Olivacce referred in her press release to statements made by the NOG’s umbrella federation Sunfed that claimed in November that 240 full-time and 225 part-time jobs were at stake.

Amfo surveyed the sixteen projects to get a handle on their situation after 2012. It appeared that ten of the sixteen projects did not have any other source for funding than Amfo. “The best NGO had 50 percent of its current budget secured and that came from the government of St. Maarten,” Karsdorp said last year. “Most of them have maybe 20 to 30 percent of their budget covered for 2013, and not a single NGO has a one hundred percent solution for 2013. Most would have to diminish their activity-levels to 30 percent.”

Meyers-Olivacce correctly points out in her statement that funds have to be allocated to the St. Maarten Development fund from the 2013 budget for distribution to the NGO’s. “However, it’s now the beginning of February and the 2013 country budget still has not been sent to parliament and we have been hearing this story since last year,” the MP noted.

Meyers-Olivacce wants to know whether there is a transition arrangement in place for the year 2013: “The minister of finance is responsible and should provide transparency to the NGO community and the people of the country to where we stand on this very important issue that impacts thousands of our people.”


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