Building permits: 3 times more in Sint Maarten than in Saint-Martin

The building and public works industry, one of the pillars of the island’s economy, is more dynamic on the Dutch side.

For the IEDOM which presented the 2015 annual report on the economy in Saint-Martin, "the building and publics works industry remains in difficulty". "From the end of 2007, the sector’s activity experienced a marked slowdown in connection with the early signs of the economic crisis and in a context where the latitude of the Collectivité had been substantially reduced since its statutory evolution", according to the report. And since 2009, "the sector has not recovered".

Today, the building and publics works industry accounts for 7.6% of the paid employment in the private sector against 9.8% in 2009. Or 10.8% in 2008. In 2015, the building and public works industry employed only 485 employees whereas it employed 2.5 times more eight years ago.

This is due to the drop in public and private orders. The recent big projects for the media library and the school revitalized companies, but "business is still slow."

The number of building permits issued is proof: 73. That’s 52 less than in 2008. However, compared to last year, the figure is up by 15.9%. Since 2010, it had never been so high (it was 75). In parallel, there are more requests and they rose once more above the 100 mark and reached a total of 107 in 2015, which had not happened since 2011 (except in 2013).


The island’s Dutch side also observed an increase in the building and public works sector in 2015. ”The construction sector showed signs of recovery in 2015 compared to 2014”, according to a report by the Central Bank of Curacao and Sint Maarten on the economy in 2015. “The added value of this sector grew by 3.3% due to a recovery in private investment”, while no public works project was planned, explained the drafters of the report. This seems to confirm a trend observed during the first quarter of 2016 with again an increase in private projects (a residence in Maho and the renovation of the building of the Central Bank of Curacao and Sint Maarten in Philipsburg).

On the Dutch side, the number of building permits is three times higher than on the French side with 219 permits issued in 2015, including 68% for residential purposes and 16% for commercial purposes (the distribution of permits has not been given for the French side). However, this is 15% less than in 2014. It should be noted that even at the beginning of the years 2000, the number of building permits granted by the Commune of Saint-Martin was never as high, or even the requests. In 2005, 192 requests had been filed for 132 authorizations.

Estelle Gasnet