Philipsburg, Sint Maarten — Member of Parliament MP Sidharth “Cookie” Bijlani has expressed serious concerns that new policies proposed in the Council of Ministers can have severe consequences for an already ailing St. Maarten economy.
He said in a press release issued Sunday the focus should be eliminating some of the cumbersome procedures that the community is burdened with, such as applying for permits. “Consider creating a one-stop service, so people don’t have to come and go then come back every time they want something done within Government.”
He said these are easily achievable and goals that do not cost a lot but will help rebuild the economy. Today many people are concerned that some procedures form an impediment to attracting foreign investment to St. Maarten. According to MP, Bijlani Countries such as Aruba has many top brand hotels, which contribute to them being able to have high visitor arrivals even in these difficult economic times. “If we take a moment to work on simplifying some of the processes to apply for business licenses, that simple act will lead to job creation and increased economic activity, attract branded hotels and create significant opportunities for our people.
He is also calling on the Government to look seriously at the systemic targeting of specific businesses within the community while leaving others untouched. At this moment, our goal should work with companies to get them to the standard that they need to reach, not to close them down. “When we close a company because of a document they paid for but we as Government did not have the proper process in place to print and hand to them, we are destroying the livelihood of dozens if not hundreds of people.
“I would like to see training programs put in place for inspectors and Civil Servants in general, but this training should concentrate on Customer Service. We are in an economy driven by the hospitality industry, and we must be hospitable to businesses if we want to be ahead of the other islands,” said Bijlani.
He also urges Secretary Generals and Ministers to do all they can to stop those who misuse their authority and abuse policies, as their actions put a terrible light on hard-working Civil Servants.
He was also critical of the proposed amendment of a policy requiring Dutch Naturalized citizens married to foreigners to earn Naf.3000 instead of Naf.2000 before their spouse can come to St. Maarten to live with them.
“What happens if a foreign national living here for five or six years has had a reduction in salary due to the pandemic and his residence permit is up for renewal, and the yearly gross is now less than Naf.36,000? What solution is there for such cases?”
MP Bijlani reiterated the call to have a better administrative process and said even Civil Servants complain about the overlap in tasks and the unnecessary lengthy processes that could be simplified to make everyone’s life better.
“This is an opportunity to reset the way we do things, so it makes more sense, and we can make things more accessible. I believe in doing so, compliance in all areas will increase,” said Bijlani.