SINT MAARTEN (PHILIPSBURG) - Algemeen Pensioenfonds Sint Maarten (APS), the General Pension Fund of Sint Maarten has been invited to Parliament to present on Tuesday August 14th.
APS’ current local loans, investments and upcoming projects have a value of 369 million guilders. In the presentation to Parliament, APS will highlight the impact of Irma on the Fund, the fast tracking of projects and the “harsh realities” of the complexities of the Sint Maarten capital market and how APS addresses these with its strategic investment policy and project management procedures.
Managing Director of APS, Nadya Croes-van Putten will be presenting APS’ financial position, investment policy, strategy, and overview of the project portfolio of the Pension Fund.
APS makes local and international investments as a means to secure its funds for current and future pension payments to its 4400+ participants. Last month, Minister of Finance Perry Geerlings was given an introduction presentation by APS. The presentation in Parliament on Tuesday will provide Parliament with further insight into the Pension Fund and the various project management phases that an investment undergoes.
“It is important for our Government to be informed on the role of APS and the impact the Pension Fund can make towards the development of the country within the coming years. We aim to secure the pensions of our participants, and in doing so, contribute to an improved and sustainable economic status for Sint Maarten.
“The type of investments we are making will positively affect the current and future generations of this country. The returns will remain in Sint Maarten, unlike many overseas investments; Sint Maarten can be less dependent on foreign debt. We are clear in our strategy and vision, and it is important for our Government to be fully informed and engaged.” - Nadya Croes-van Putten, Managing director of APS
APS internal figures show as per June 2018, the total APS pension asset of 692 million guilders consists of 369 million guilders in the local investment portfolio and 248 million guilders in the international portfolio. In the presentation to Parliament APS will further highlight the growth and the development of the local investments, including new projects. Hurricane Irma had a minimal impact on the Fund and its investments.
According to APS’ upcoming presentation, two of the “harsh realities” of Sint Maarten’s capital market are; 1. There is enough money to invest, but not enough projects to invest in, 2. When you do find a project to invest in, it is either too big or too risky for one investor alone.
These “realities” have resulted in the country being reliant on foreign investors, who are in the lead when it comes to the country’s economy. “Unfortunately, a bulk of the returns do not remain in the country, revenues flowing back out of the country.”
APS has embarked on several large local real-estate development projects, own projects and receive financing requests for projects. APS takes pride in the assessment and due diligence procedures that are meticulously carried out in order to ensure that risks are managed effectively, without losing sight of the main investment goals of the Pension Fund.
“Our main goal is to achieve a good return on investments with an acceptable amount of risk. Not every “good” project fits the risk appetite of a pension fund.” Post-Irma several projects have been fast-tracked, however, the strict the project management procedures remain.
APS has to ensure that; adequate value in the function and the cost is guaranteed – contractors are asked to apply value engineering to their proposals to reduce costs and time, conditions exist for an efficient and timely building process, the project is financially solid to avoid unnecessary cost-overruns, and that the risks are properly identified and mitigated. “We take the necessary time to ensure that sound investments are made.”
Ongoing real-estate development projects include the Mary’s Fancy Plantation monument, this project was delayed due to the passing of hurricane Irma. “This project is a national heritage site and once completed, will include a restaurant and luxury boutique hotel. The next phase is the preparation of the demolition plan while preserving the monument.”
The next real-estate project is the Oryx Hills residences in Cay Hill. Oryx Hill consists of 62 residential units, creating affordable housing options, for which 300 persons have expressed interest. The groundbreaking event for the construction will take place on Tuesday, August 14th in the afternoon at 4pm. Construction is expected to be completed by summer 2019.
More investment projects of APS include private investments totaling 40 million guilders. APS also has a financing commitment of 32 million guilders with the SMMC in the New Hospital. Included in its investment portfolio of 2018, APS has established the first Sint Maarten Investment Bank, which will be launched January 1st, 2019. For 2019, APS aims to commence with two new large projects of its own; 1. APS office building, 2. A public parking facility.