The Bank has not yet, however, been able to estimate real GDP growth for Sint Maarten during the first quarter of 2017 due to a lack of data, particularly inflation, stay-over tourism, and public finances data. During the first months of 2017, the government of Sint Maarten encountered many issues with its IT system causing a delay in the compilation and provision of fiscal and economic statistics. In addition, the enormous damage that Hurricane Irma inflicted on Sint Maarten’s infrastructure in September 2017 will likely further delay the compilation and provision of data. Consequently, the Bank’s Quarterly Bulletin for the first quarter of 2017 does not include an analysis of the real sector and public sector developments in Sint Maarten.
The speed of reconstruction is crucial to turn Sint Maarten’s economic contraction into growth, the Bank emphasized, and it further cautioned that if post-disaster reconstruction is slow, the economic contraction will be deeper and longer lasting. The pace of reconstruction and recovery of Sint Maarten will depend to a great extent on how fast insurance claims are settled and on the investments of the public and private sector to restore Sint Maarten’s production capacity. The quality of reconstruction also is important, the Bank suggested. Sint Maarten will have to invest in the upgrading of homes, public infrastructure, and commercial properties so that they can better cope with future hurricanes and, hence, reduce disaster risks.
However, the country of Sint Maarten alone will not be able to cover all the costs of reconstruction, the Bank said, and pointed out that it is imperative that the Netherlands and international entities such as the European Union support the reconstruction of Sint Maarten