Ladies and Gentlemen,
Good evening and welcome to this New Year’s reception.
I am pleased to gather here with you in the heart of our Capital City to celebrate the start of 2017. To all present and to the people of St. Maarten, Marie-Louise and I extend warm heartfelt greetings and best wishes for the year ahead and beyond. These are wishes for health, happiness and prosperity for you individually and for our nation. It is a quality of life wish for a brighter future.
In extending these wishes we are cognizant of the challenging external environment characterized by a shifting geopolitical climate, sluggish growth and destabilizing terrorist threats. As a member of the highly interdependent global community, with low growth, crime concerns and financial constraints, we must if we are to create and seize opportunities, address internal issues and position ourselves to respond effectively to global challenges. And we can only do so successfully if we have and share a clear mission.
It is on that note that I shall share my thoughts with you this evening on the topic: Our Mission for Our Nation. In that regard I believe that the motto on our Coat of Arms: “Semper Pro Grediens,” which means: “Always Progressing,” appropriately captures the essence of our mission for our nation. It tells us that our mission is: a continuous responsibility, and even stronger a continuous obligation, to nurture and build an ever improving society, in pursuit of excellence in the quality of life for all. This through (1) Quality Government, (2) Quality Education, (3) Quality Employment, (4) Quality Entrepreneurship, (5) Quality Health and Environmental Care, (6) Quality Law enforcement and Administration of Justice, (7) Quality Infrastructure, (8) Quality Neighborhoods, (9) Quality Cultural Care, and (10) Quality External Relations.
This is, as expected in a democratic society, a multidimensional mission, one I trust that you will embrace. It does not mean that we must throw out the old and start over, rethinking and reinventing everything. But rather that we must build on, upgrade and where necessary add to that which we have. For after all is said and done it is my view that St. Maarten today, though not perfect, is one of the best places in the world to live. It is therefore my intention and it should be yours as well, to work to keep it that way.
Inherent in the Coat of Arms motto and thus our mission is the continuous aspiration to keep pace, to progress, to upgrade, to take our nation to the next level. It is against that backdrop, and considering the challenges and opportunities of our 21st century environment, that I called on the new government during its installation ceremony to take steps to upgrade our nation’s governance operating systems to GoS 21.0.
With 2016 behind us and looking ahead the question before us now is: How do we plan to realize our nation’s mission? I am certain that the answer will vary from person to person, and from organisation to organisation. There will be differences in views and approaches between and within government, the business community and civil society.
Noteworthy, in this regard, is that the new government has announced its plan of action through its Governing Program: Stability for Prosperity. Whatever your answer or plan is, I hereby remind you that we, given the multidimensional interdependent nature of our quality of life, are in this together. This as the guardians of our nation’s mission. We must, as a result recognize, live and act by the guiding principle that our nation – St. Maarten – is bigger than any of us. This principle must therefore be the primary point of departure in all our actions and decisions. Let us therefore, resolve to not breakdown, but to lift each other and thus our nation up. And in so doing, let us reach out to each other to work with each other and tap the full potential of our nation’s resources.
Having said that I hope that you will agree with me that our mission for an ever improving quality of life for all will only be achieved when pursued by us through committed collective action. Action which no one will take for us. Action which only we can take.
Ladies and gentlemen,
To accomplish our mission in 2017 and beyond I call on you to carry on the work of past and current generations. I call on you to dedicate yourself to bring about a new quality shift to fully move the overall, i.e. public, corporate and social, governance of St. Maarten on a 21st century platform, GoS 21.0. This can be achieved by making values centered strategic choices, sustainable designs and smart investments.
As I make this call and you contemplate your responses allow me to give you some food for thought:
- Imagine a revitalized Philipsburg, next to our vibrant Simpson Bay area, making a statement that tells residents and visitors how we wish to be seen. Our capital city displaying our governance, commercial and cultural aspirations. And anchored in its heart by a transparent, accessible, structured and representative north-south “Peoples Avenue.” A Peoples Avenue connecting the Government House to the Court House via the Parliament House in its center;
- Picture realizing the full potential of our nation by actively developing our available human resources to match our needs and by creating an environment to encourage the repatriation of our students and skilled professionals;
- Envision our law enforcement equipped with a comprehensive camera surveillance network, monitored 24-7 to help detect and combat crime and enhance our safety and security;
- Imagine Cay Hill as the axis of a regional health care center with a new modern hospital facility offering expanded health care services for residents as well as visitors from neighboring islands;
- Imagine the clean-up and removal of the dump from the salt pond replaced with sustainable waste management solutions and facilities located outside the Philipsburg area;
- Envision a national parks and recreational program securing open spaces as national squares in Philipsburg for national events, maintaining national trails and allocating and protecting terrestrial terrain for a national park for residents and visitors to enjoy;
- Imagine having a well maintained, decongested land transportation network to move people and goods efficiently alongside our world class air transportation and sea transportation facilities;
- Imagine transforming our information and communication technology infrastructure to an island wide fiber network offering faster and more effective ICT services to keep our businesses competitive and to position us to compete better for the millennium generation of tourists;
- Picture a national renewable energy park helping power our households, businesses and government at lower cost; and (going for the perfect ten)
- Imagine a public finance system that encourages effective spending and ensures that everyone pay their fair share to help fund our nation’s mission.
Thus as you imagine these and other features of our GoS 21.0 upgrade, I call on and challenge each of you to take up and give deeper content to your role in our mission for our nation. This by implementing quality upgrades in the expansion of existing and execution of new programs.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
In closing, as we begin this New Year, let us thank God for watching over and ask for his continued guidance of our nation. At the same time let us as individuals, media, trade unions, businesses and government renew our commitment to an always progressing St. Maarten in pursuit of excellence in the quality of life for all. That is our commitment to a prosperous St. Maarten of economic opportunities, social justice, legal protection and safety. A St. Maarten that is environmentally sustainable, technologically prepared, externally engaged and financially viable. This is a mission which we can only achieve together. We owe this to our community and ourselves.
And as your Governor, I shall continue to work with government and other stakeholders to promote the achievement of this mission for our nation, in service of the people of St. Maarten.
With that commitment, I hereby on behalf of Marie-Louise and myself, wish you and your family a year of progress with health, happiness and growth.
Thank you, God bless you, and may God bless St. Maarten and protect its coast.
Toast: To our always progressing quality of life!
New Year’s Address 2017 by
Eugene B. Holiday
Governor of St. Maarten