Philipsburg– This is a great initiative of the St. Maarten Chamber of Commerce and I must commend them very strongly for the establishment of this Business Centre. In my opinion it can be the beginning of many young potential entrepreneurs entering into small business. And this would be a great thing, after all small businesses are the back bone of every economy and we have seen small local businesses virtually disappeared over the years. These small businesses once established properly would provide jobs and revenues for the coffers of the government and we will be in charge once again of our economy.
However, it is of vital importance that we must also take into consideration the existing Small Business Development Foundation that also has a vital role to play in the development of small businesses. Therefore, I am suggesting if it has not taking place as yet a crucial meeting should be organized between these two organizations in order to avoid the overlapping of services being offered. As a matter of fact the services that these prestigious organizations are offering should be supplementing each other and not competing against each other. In my opinion each one of them would definitely contribute positively towards the establishment of local small businesses here on St. Maarten.
In 2013 the OSPP suggested the establishment of a loan guarantee program and a letter was forwarded to the present Minister of Finance, Mr. Hassink. As a political party we believe that one of the greatest disadvantages that our young potential entrepreneurs have are not being able to come up with the financing to set up their businesses. And this is not uncommon in the business world as many start up and existing businesses depends on bank loans to move their businesses forward. Unfortunately, for most young business entrepreneurs here on St. Maarten they lack the collateral in order to obtain the type of financing required to do business. No banks are willing to provide those young entrepreneurs with an unsecured loan, meaning a loan without putting up some type of collateral be it real estate, a savings account or some other valuable asset. Therefore, it behooves the government to come up with some type of funding to set up this loan guarantee program to assist these young entrepreneurs. If the government does not have the vision to provide this guarantee program then in our opinion the Chamber of Commerce Business Centre and the Small Business Development Foundation would never reach their potential and neither would those aspiring small business entrepreneurs.
We have also forwarded the proposal of the establishment of the loan guarantee program in the past to the Chamber of Commerce, the SHTA, the Bankers Association, The Small Business Development Foundation and as mentioned before to the government of St. Maarten. We can openly report here that Mr. Hassink did respond and would have taken it up with the former Minister of Economic TEATT as he agreed that it would stimulate the development of more small businesses.
If we can effectively bring these three great ideas together we would experience a boom in the establishment of small businesses, one that St. Maarten has never known before.
Once again we have recently forwarded a letter to the present Minister of TEATT, Minister Claret Connor and copied to the Finance Minister, Mr. Hassink and the members of the parliament of St. Maarten regarding the establishment of this loan guarantee program and suggested that the funding for the program should come from the government owned companies, NV GEBE 1,000,000.00 guilders; St. Maarten Harbour Group of Companies 500,000.00 guilders and the Princess Juliana Airport NV 500,000.00 guilders. This loan guarantee funding should be administered by some of the members that were on the 1995 hurricane relief program based on the Dutch funding provided to St. Maarten.
All hands should be on aboard if we truly want to create jobs, generate more revenues for the coffers of the government and work towards controlling our economy as our forefathers have done in the past.