We are now about to bid 2020 farewell, and for many, we are saying goodbye to a challenging year. Nevertheless, it has been another year of life, another year of love, and another year of laughter. With the utmost gratitude to the almighty God, I bid 2020 farewell, taking this time to address the people of St. Maarten, on behalf of the Council of Ministers, and wishing all our residents and visitors a Blessed and Happy 2021 filled with gratitude and faith for a brighter future.
I am most grateful for another year with no significant natural devastation. We had our challenges as a nation, and the world faced their biggest challenge as of late; combating a global pandemic, COVID-19. With this challenge, St. Maarten now understands how to deal with COVID-19 compared to when we started our response measures back in March. This hurdle required much change and adjustment to the way we do things. However, we must continue to move forward, embracing our new normal safely and responsibly so that we may protect our most vulnerable.
This year, I am proud to say that there has been more cohesiveness between the executive and legislative branches of government. In the interest of St. Maarten, we have put politics aside, and with the common goal of best will and prosperity for our island and its people, we have put our country’s needs first.
For many, 2020 meant a loss of income from an economy that was on its way to recovery from the devastation of Hurricanes in 2017. Despite all these challenges, the government of St. Maarten continues to work with our Kingdom Partners for the betterment of our people and the sustainability of our nation’s economy.
Our 2021 goals remain the same; a sustainable and self-sufficient economy, the strengthening of our financial institution, and meeting our Sustainable Development Goals. Taking into account the lessons learned from Hurricanes Irma and Maria, and the global pandemic, the government has noted the need for diversification of our economy and the need to stimulate entrepreneurship, especially amongst our young people.
I’d like to acknowledge the different strides made by all our local artists this year, to put St. Maarten on the map all over the world. In many ways, our music, our art, our artistry remains a large part of who we are, and we love sharing that with the world. In doing so, I continue to encourage persons of all walks of life of the many opportunities COVID-19 has brought about for doing business in a new, futuristic, and even more, efficient way, not limited to 37 square miles but globally. Honestly, COVID-19 has given us the opportunity to find alternative means to create income, fully utilize the internet, and realize its full potential to do so.
We are so grateful to all our front-liners who continue to selflessly ensure that St. Maarten remains safe and moves forward. These men and women in uniform include but are not limited to the Police Force, VKS, Customs, the Immigration Department, the Fire Department, the Ambulance Department, CPS, our nurses, doctors, teachers, sanitation and hygiene workers, and the many employees of our government-owned companies. Your continued dedication to service is invaluable to St. Maarten. Thank You!
I humbly thank all of our hardworking civil servants who contribute every single day to our nation’s success. As such, I’d like to thank the Department of Communication for ensuring that St. Maarten and the world continue to be informed of the latest developments as well as the Collective Prevention Services for ensuring that we maintain our grip on our present COVID-19 situation locally. When we speak about capacity building, growth, and the future, we are talking about all the contributions of our government employees.
A special thank you goes out to all our partners within the Dutch Kingdom for all their support this past year. We look forward to continued cooperation on all levels in the New Year. May 2021 bring us more opportunities to continue developing, defining, and fostering our partnership. There is still much space for growing and learning as partners. St. Maarten remains committed to our development by working with our strengths, overcoming our weaknesses, learning from our partnership, and maintaining our identity.
As I conclude this address, I thank the people of St. Maarten for your faith, endurance, support, and belief in me as I continue to lead, together with our Council of Ministers with the support of our Parliament during these challenging times. Government’s major priority remains your safety and that of our most vulnerable while ensuring that our economy begins to stabilize and regain the pre-pandemic levels we were achieving post-Hurricane Irma.
I once again wish all St. Maarten residents your families both at home and abroad, as well as our visitors a Blessed, Happy, and Prosperous New Year
God bless you, and God bless St. Maarten.