Dutch government puts €550m into fund for post-hurricane Sint Maarten

Still showing damage on Sint Maarten from Dutch defense ministry footage

The Netherlands is pumping €550m into the special fund to rebuild its former colony of Sint Maarten following the devastation caused by hurricane Irma.

The first payment will be made to the island authorities as soon as they agree to the establishment of a special chamber to ensure the cash is spent properly. In addition, the Netherlands want border controls to be stepped up to make sure the work goes to local firms and local workers.

The establishment of the fund ran into trouble earlier when the then-prime minister William Marlin refused to accept that the Dutch authorities would have final say on the integrity chamber.

Since then, the government has fallen and an interim administration is in charge.

‘It is a lot of Dutch tax money,’ junior home affairs minister Raymond Knops said. ‘People are still without a roof over their heads and the Netherlands wants to help, but it is a gesture with strings attached.’

Earlier estimates had put the size of the fund at €260m.