On March 6, 2020, Government of Sint Maarten began implementing the measures and travel restrictions to control the spread of COVID-19. The World Health Organization declared COVID-19 a global pandemic on March 11, 2020, to which Sint Maarten responded with further tightening of its travel restrictions and public health measures. On March 22, 2020, our ports were closed for transportation of persons however, remained open for cargo operations. The pandemic continues to expand, with more than 175 countries having reported cases of COVID-19. The COVID-19 viral outbreak has already brought considerable human suffering and major economic disruption, prompting governments worldwide to act swiftly and forcefully with targeted public-health responses and supportive macroeconomic policies.
With the closure of its borders, the economic activity in Sint Maarten has drastically declined and is further projected to have continued adverse effects on the major economic pillar, tourism. The CBCS forecasts an economic contraction of approximately 30 percent of our GDP if borders remain closed for six (6) months. As a result, the impact is not limited to the rapid increase of unemployment, but includes businesses and individuals failing to meet financial obligations, increased government budget deficits due to a sharp drop in tax revenues and increasing expenditures putting pressure on the balance of payments and foreign reserves coming under pressure.
Based on the above elucidation, Sint Maarten is in dire need of financial assistance to implement measures to assist affected groups, mitigate any potential spillover effects and restore growth, and confidence. The Government of Sint Maarten has put together a Relief and Economic Stimulus Program that captures direct relief for the following:
Payroll support for businesses that are impacted;
· Income support for Sole proprietors, vendor license holders, bus and independent taxi drivers;
· Income support for unemployed;
· Liquidity support for the government;