PHILIPSBURG, Sint Maarten – United People’s (UP) Party Member of Parliament (MP) Maurice Lake congratulates Dr. Emiko Bird-Lake in her achievement of being the first Sint Maarten-born Cardiologist, adding that she is a role model for the nation’s youth.
MP Lake further added that he would like to see a better plan of action and incentives put in place by Government when it concerns local professionals returning home to work as well as those who are already here working on the island.
“We have a lot of local professionals who work in Government and the private sector who are still waiting to get some type of response or incentives from Government (especially from the Personnel Department) for returning back to the island after their studies to help build up this country.
“I am very concerned of this trend where we focus and give better incentives package for other professionals from abroad, rather than focus on what we can do for our own local professionals who come back home. We are working in reverse order here. That’s why as an MP in Parliament, I am very adamant of getting rid of the Expat Law in the public sector and adjusting it in the private sector.
“If the private sector wants an expat professional let them pay the price and other incentives for them. I am looking forward to receiving an upgraded draft of the “instroombeleid”, incentive policy, from our Prime Minister, and would hope that all outstanding requests are dealt with expediently by our HR Department.
“We need to look into these outstanding requests from our returning professionals, and to offer more attractive incentives other than a year of 10-15% toelage on your salary, transportation cost, and a one way ticket back to St. Maarten. We need a structural return home policy. Otherwise it is Government itself who is contributing to the “brain drain” phenomena here on our beautiful island.
“An expat professional gets a high salary, transportation cost, house rent, and hardly pays any wage taxes. We need to change this trend and start focusing on our own local professionals by offering better incentives instead of just congratulating them.
As an MP, I went through this experience of coming back home with three Master’s Degrees, often being labelled overqualified, walking in the hot sun for a year, working odd jobs to help my mom and living back home and having to pay my own transportation cost back home to contribute to developing my Country.
“Only by the grace of God and a strong family back bone, hard work and some local professionals and Leaders such as the late Vance James Jr. and MP Heyliger, was I given the opportunity to serve and give back to my Country. That’s why I have a passion to see to it that others don’t go through what I went through in life.
I just would like for Government to upgrade their incentive policy which was never done before for our local professionals as well as building affordable housing for them as well.
“The Public and Private sector have set back a lot of our local professionals when they applied for certain positions in Sint Maarten. It seems we love to setback our local professionals. It’s a Country shame on how we treat some of our top local professionals in the different fields and discourage them and then they have to turn to find work in other Countries.
“We have local professionals who returned back home and are still at home without work or on the waiting list of Government to get a deduction on their scholarship payments for returning back home to work to contribute towards the national development of Sint Maarten.
“Government doesn’t have money for them to get a deduction on their scholarship but can easily entertain payments for the expat professionals.
“Imagine Government is requesting for certain jobs that the person must have over 10 to 15 years’ experience in which we know our local professionals don’t have that type of experience. The expert in anything was once a beginner.
“I am just highlighting some of the setbacks that our local professionals are facing in Sint Maarten. They have come to me asking how and where Parliament can assist so others don’t have to go through the same thing. That’s why we need to invest in our local people through training, education and the recognition of best practices and individual achievements according to our Governing program. I am looking forward to the Minister of General Affairs and the Minister of Education to make this change based on our Governing program.
“We need to lead by example and offer a better incentive package for them to return back home and we need to start now,” UP MP Maurice Lake pointed out.
The MP added: “We also have to stop demeaning our own local professionals such as in the case of Denicio Richardson and other local professionals. I don’t understand why his court case has not been finalized as yet, but yet in the meantime other cases are being entertained.
We need to raise the bar and take this Country to another level,” MP Lake concluded.