PHILIPSBURG:--- Algemeen Pensioenfonds Sint Maarten (APS) has identified a need for Sint Maarten’s own Investment Bank (SMIB). On Friday June 8, 2018, APS hosted a Round Table Discussion on the topic, assisted by financial market experts MGM Source of Aruba for stakeholders from the financial and business community. Prime Minister Mrs. Leona Marlin-Romeo and Minister of Finance Mr. Michael Ferrier were present, in addition to representatives of local banks, insurance companies and institutional investors. The SMIB would help match supply and demand in the country’s financial market. Especially in the aftermath of hurricane Irma, an Investment Bank can recognize and act on investment opportunities that promote the sustainable development of Sint Maarten.
“The SMIB will serve as a partner for economic development inducing ventures on Sint Maarten in an independent manner. The SMIB will bridge the gap that now exists between investors on the one hand, who are looking for investment opportunities, and existing companies and new entrepreneurs in need of financing.”- Nadya Croes- van Putten, Managing Director APS
Dividing a loan over different creditors or “syndicating” to spread risk and pool capital will be one of the main activities of the bank. The SMIB will provide advice and structure more complex financial deals where needed. By doing so the SMIB will serve developers, entrepreneurs, financiers, the Government, Government-owned companies, multinational companies and others. As a result, Sint Maarten will be able to develop new industries and enhance existing ones to become an even stronger player in the Caribbean.
“Institutional investors like the General Pension Fund and others have large sums available to invest in our country. However, good projects are hard to come by, and different investors have to cooperate to spread their risk. The Round Table objectives were to promote discussion, gather feedback from the stakeholders and gauge the interest in the SMIB.” - Nadya Croes- van Putten, Managing Director APS
To elicit discussion, a position paper on the tasks and goals of the SMIB was distributed to the stakeholders and various presentations were held. The event was kicked off with an opening speech by the Chairman of APS Mr. Franklyn Richards and the Minister of Finance Mr. Michael Ferrier, which was followed by a presentation by the Managing Director of APS Mrs. Nadya Croes- van Putten and board member Mr. Arjen Alberts offering insight in the position of the SMIB.
The presentations held during the round table served as further guidance for the discussions. Mrs. Pritha Hariram from the Nederlandse Financierings-Maatschappij voor Ontwikkelingslanden N.V. (FMO), also known as the Dutch Development Bank in the Netherlands indicated through a skype presentation what her experience in FMO has been like and the relevant lessons learned. One example of an Investment Bank in our region, working in- sync with national development is the Aruban Investment Bank. In a pre-recorded video interview, the first Prime Minister of Aruba Mr. Henny Eman, explained what Aruba’s motives were 30 years ago to establish the Aruban Investment Bank (now AIB Bank). Mr. Eman drew a parallel between Aruba’s dire situation when the Lago refinery closed, and present-day Sint Maarten in the wake of hurricane Irma. Mr. Frendsel Giel, Managing Director of the AIB BANK N.V. explained how the bank works today, what the challenges were along the years and what were the main lessons learned to ensure continuity going forward.
“Mr. Giel offered some very relevant words of advice and recommendations for the SMIB going forward. The stakeholders were very positive and engaged toward the initiative, resulting in interesting discussions throughout the afternoon. The preparatory works will proceed to translate the feedback obtained throughout the Round Table and the preceding stakeholders’ consultations, to finalize the business plan and feasibility phase. A firm establishment plan with APS and participating stakeholders will be the result.” - Nadya Croes- van Putten, Managing Director APS
During her closing remarks, the Managing Director of APS Mrs. Nadya Croes- van Putten called upon the Minister of Finance, the Council of Ministers and the stakeholders to join the initiative of APS for the SMIB toward a successful incorporation for the benefit of Sint Maarten. The stakeholders, representing Government and the financial and business community of Sint Maarten all seem to subscribe to the fact that the SMIB would be very valuable for the sustainable development of Sint Maarten, which in turn will serve the community as a whole.