St. Maarten Development Fund established to replace AMFO

PHILIPSBURG--The St. Maarten Development Fund (SDF), soon to become the primary source of funding for non-governmental organisations (NGOs) locally, was established on Wednesday.

This fund will fill the gap when the Antillean Co-Financing Organisation AMFO and Reda Sosial close their doors at year end.
The articles of incorporation were signed by board members at the office of Notary SPS. Heading the funding agency is Richelda Emmanuel with board members Marinka Gumbs and Joy Arnell.
The board is working on the 2012-2013 year plan and policy framework, staffing and setting up of the office and pursuing working agreements with existing financing agencies AMFO and SKAN Fonds.
SDF will open an office on 1 August. Funds for its operational cost have been earmarked in the 2012 budget.
Prime Minister Sarah Wescot-Williams attended the signing ceremony. She had explained during the Council of Ministers press conference that SDF's role is "seek and administer social funds."
Community development and social issues are important to government as they are crucial for the development of any nation, she said, adding that success depends on government, NGOs and the business sector joining forces.
"Much emphasis" will be put on "joint, integrated and inter-sectorial approaches" for social development. The role of the NGO field in this is "crucial. This is why continuous support must be given to this sector to strengthen the organisations and to finance their endeavours."
The prime minister continued: "The survivability of this sector is sustained through the vision and passion of community-minded citizens, but ultimately can only realistically function through financial contributions of individuals, companies, financing organisations and government."
In May the Dutch government had announced that the governments of St. Maarten and Curaçao had not yet responded to its proposal for a phased takeover of the AMFO.
A Dutch subsidy of some 6.5 million euro (NAf. 15 million) has been given annually to AMFO. Ongoing AMFO-funded projects will be completed in 2013. The end of the Dutch subsidy for AMFO has been known since 2009.
In September 2011, former Dutch Kingdom Relations Minister Piet Hein Donner had requested the cooperation of the prime ministers of Curaçao and St. Maarten for a gradual transfer of the Dutch donor facility of AMFO.
From the start of AMFO in 2004, The Netherlands has been the only donor and has made some NAf. 180 million available to AMFO for the financing of NGO projects directed to the youth, elderly, sick and disabled, teenage mothers and integral neighbourhood approach among others.

Picture: Prime Minister Sarah Wescot-Williams (second left) watches as Marinka Gumbs (right) signs the notarial deed establishing the St. Maarten Development Fund (SDF). (L to R) SDF Board Member Joy Arnell, Notary Henry Parisius and SDF President Richelda Emmanuel also witnessed the signing. (DCOMM photo)

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