Annual Update 2019 VNG International


‘The technical assistance provided to the Building Permits Department has proved to be very useful for critical projects. Technical assistance needs to bring renewal and a vision for the future. Especially the support in how to issue permits based on principles, without unnecessary details but with clearly defined and legally binding regulations, has proved to be very useful. Technical assistance has helped better articulating our needs.’

Mr. Louis Brown,

Secretary General of the Ministry of VROMI, Government of Sint Maarten





‘Environmental norms:

make it short, snappy and simple’






‘The municipal support to the Permits Department has been going very well. The VNG International experts have worked on handling the backlogs that occurred after Hurricane Irma, and have brought new improvements to the department. They have supported us in enhancing efficiency, for example by creating a process diagram for the issue of permits in the current situation, and have provided a concept advice to the Minister on how to increase the efficiency of this process. Next steps will be to look at making the collection of process fees more efficient, and speeding up the estimation process.’

Mr. Charlon Pompier,

Act. Head of the Permits Department, Ministry of VROMI, Government of Sint Maarten




Developing Sustainable and

Resilient Cities and Communities by strengthening local government


Featured Project

Sint Maarten, Technical Assistance to the

Ministry of VROMI


Hurricane Irma struck the Leeward Islands of St Maarten, Saba and St Eustatius on September 6, 2017. Irma caused tremendous damage to houses (especially roofs), infrastructure (roads, airport

and port), the power and water supplies, as well as communication lines. The psychological impact was enormous as well; people still suffer from post-traumatic stress symptoms because of the damage and the fear for their own lives confronted with during and after the hurricane.


Relief and reconstruction efforts started immediately after the hurricane struck. This also included support from various countries and municipalities within the Kingdom of the Netherlands. For example, Dutch municipalities donated over 1.5 million Euro for support to reconstruction purposes, while the Dutch Ministry of Home Affairs pledged much needed financial support and expertise for the rehabilitation efforts.


Many people see opportunities after Irma not only to re-build, but also to improve public services and move towards a better  functioning, cleaner, and safer environment. However, where emergency support has been particularly efficient on Saba, it seems to have been more challenging on St Maarten. It is therefore that support projects have been initiated together with St Maarten to assist the rehabilitation efforts on the island and not only rebuild damaged infrastructure but also make the community more resilient for possible future incidents.


In this context, our project aims to contribute to enhanced resilience of the Leeward Islands to deal with future disasters after hurricane Irma in 2017. The specific objective of the project is to provide assistance to the Ministry of  Public Housing, Spatial Planning, Environment and Infrastructure (VROMI) on St Maarten to:

  • Assist VROMI's Permits Department in handling the backlog in building permit requests;
  • Assist VROMI’s Department of Domain Affairs to deal with complex requests of long lease and collection of fees;
  • Assist inspectors of the inspection department of the Ministry of VROMI with inspection requests, as well as the general inspection of compliance with building regulations and environmental norms;
  • Assist VROMI in the development of a quality management system with well-developed work processes and procedures.

The project is financed by the Netherlands Ministry of Home Affairs  and has a duration of 9 months (November 2018-July 2019).


Results achieved under the project so far include:

  • An increase in the number of inspections carried out and the number of inspection reports drafted. The project’s experts have tackled 56 cases so far, hereby reducing the backlog at the Inspection Department. This in addition to mapping activities, issuing of formal warnings, and handling of complaints which have also increased thanks to the project;
  • An increase in the number of requests for building permits being processed by the Permits Department within VROMI (6 permit requests have been tackled by the project’s experts in the period until the end of February 2019). In addition, recommendations have been provided with regard to the introduction of a more open permit format. This provides more flexibility than the traditional extensive and detailed manner of arranging and describing permits and provides private entities more freedom and room to operate (for example, in how companies would like to tackle environmental risks of their operations);
  • Advice and recommendation on rules and regulations regarding building procedures and building norms have been shared with VROMI to improve legal developments in the field of construction.