As a business owner for 16 years; who never changed her business name, Founder and President of different foundations, a mother , a citizen of this country and as a former Minister of VSA, I would like to comment on the different injustices happening in country St Maarten right now and again propose some practical solutions for country Sint Maarten and by extension Curacao/Aruba.
For me it has never matter who is involved, who getting a kickback, who getting paid under the table, who is being used as a puppet, whose being paid for being a stumbling block to avoid positive movements, who is not executing because of showing solidarity to whatever party or whose last name is pulling strings behind the scenes, who has been politically placed as an infiltrator. Even though all the above is our reality whether it can be proven or not, one thing is important “country Sint Maarten and its people”. From experience I can say I’ve seen how people are willing to discredit someone to show loyalty to a party or to execution of their own agenda.
And the media does play its selective role in this as well. At the end whoever want to put your own twist to this plan of execution it’s fine as long it gets executed! This plan for sake of paper space can’t be exposed with details on execution. There’s room for discussion and amendments ofcourse. The intention is to get everyone’s input and reach to a productive solution that can work for the country not that you criticize without contributing with helpful advices.
A lot of people are showing their true color by being opportunistic in times like these where a helping hand should be extended. From Kingdom level down to the business section be reminded that the Pandemic has not erased existing laws nor has it nullified human rights. There are legal channels that have to be walked by one and all, Holland as kingdom partner, country St. Maarten, the business community, employees, unemployed, tourists and even illegals are all subjected to these laws. The budget will continue to be an issue if the core matters are not dealt with. Before anyone start bawling out oh country doesn’t have money….let’s look into some possible solutions that requires nothing or minimum right now.
- To the government, look into the option where pro-soualiga achieved while taking for Holland to court. SXM nor the other islands from the former Netherlands Antilles still falls under article 73. So Netherlands didn’t had the right to provide loans with interest to the countries. As per the UN charter the status was unchanged and therefor Holland was in breach of their basic responsibility towards us. They have this in writing meaning jurisprudence that country SXM can use to sit on table with and negotiate the different loans that were given to us at low interest rates since back then! Based on the above is illegal. Why not recalculate the interest that was paid all those years and have Holland refund the country of St.Maarten and Curacao those monies back?. SXM has all legal grounds as this verdict was rendered in courts! The funds received can assist SXM for a good bit of years while we indeed start cleaning up years of irregularities within the country.
- Preventative measure to avoid going back into this financial hole will be; create a reserve for country St. Maarten. Tax Collection exercise in collaboration with Curacao-Aruba and St Maarten. Because of too much who knows who, political loyalty or disloyalty. Rotate basis between the islands every half of the year starting as of July. Then again every January. Start first with the foreign investor’s labor compliance premiums and TOT. Then control the local businesses. Amend the laws /requirements to suit the country’s coffers and peoples protection based on passed historical data. Have the system updated with real assessment amounts instead of ludicrous unrealistic figures in order to do proper financial planning and budgeting.
- Conduct some financial audits in different institutions to determine the real financial situation within the organizations before starting with the restoration
- SSRP has to be reviewed and audited by an external company as too many irregularities is happening that requires clarification and see who have been abusing the system and have them penalized.
- Close of a collaborative agreement between the islands of Aruba, Curacao and SXM, that one experienced assistant from the PNO within that country comes in to other country and execute the following exercise. Assistant from Cur comes to assist PNO SXM, Assistant SXM goes PNO Aruba, Assistant Aruba goes PNO Curacao. The money budgeted has to be equal and it will be going in and out on each other’s coffers until situation has reach to a normality at least for a year. Nobody loses. Everyone‘s coffers will experience a in and out rotatingly not affecting the end and getting the work done. Not costing the island no money.
- The exercise entails through PNO all the departments within all ministries, check which function will be going on pension the next 1,2 ,3,4 and 5 years and who are the next potential persons in line persons within is ministry based on qualifications and years of experience. For those that are next in line within the ministry but lack a degree it will come out government cheaper to invest in these individuals. You create workflow, avoid disgruntled workers, guarantee continuity and invest in social development of the individual and the country as a whole. Policies have to be introduced as well to make sure that the private sector is in fulfillment of this law; where within the company those next in line can get that opportunity to climb up the ladder before bringing in outsiders with labor permits. Then also check with education department how much students we have that is studying in that direction that could be considered for that position in the event none can be found from within. Where we are lacking people of our own, we start putting out scholarship for those particular studies every year. A policy has to be passed where mandatory at least 50% of the scholarship given out each year should be given to the pillars and sectors that represents the needs of the country with requirements in returning with a placement. Scholarship for Studies where we can have our own lawyers, doctors, mechanical engineers, boat engineers, nurses, judges, teachers, detectives, pilots. Government has to ensure that analysis is based on needs so we can guarantee and encouraging the students returning back with a good salary.
- Execute the Pamela policy as it was made especially to avoid major catastrophe amongst our people and abuse of our people and country.
- Pass the 60-40 law where all businesses have to be in compliance with. 60% of their staff have to be local including minimum 1 in management/supervisory position and the rest IF it can’t be obtained on local market then the rest once sufficiently substantiated and proven unavailability on local market, bring him/her in temporary while lining up an unemployed person that can take over after 1 year and sent back the temporary worker. This in order to decrease the unemployment pool. With companies that
- Business sector: supermarkets and restaurants which are heavy cashflow sectors should be reviewed as to their operation. Reduce the 5% TOT to 3% but implement the POS system as a requirement which will generate high and guaranteed cash influx into the coffers and people avoiding of scamming the country.
- All Chinese supermarket must have 1 person from country sxm from the unemployment pool working in shelf packing, 1 in meat section and 1 at the cashier (POS system)
- All local business people hook up to an organization that can represent and defend the all you rights within the economy: SMBA or IBTA
- Introduce laws /policies that local farmers gets first preference to sell their produce and give them 6 months tax exemption and after that they fall in the category of 1-3% TOT category. This will not cost government money, create job for people that are home that have big yard space and are unemployed and create cashinflux in the coffers. Since its Chinese has majority of the supermarkets, the requirement has to be you can’t own a supermarket and sell to yourself. So locals can get a chance to be on the receiving end as well. So 1 group grow only spinach, group that grow bokchoy, 1 group that grow bush tea, 1 group that grow only potatoes etc etc. This can be done from home in their own backyard so no big investment is required and no burden is put on the people. A certain quantity has to be produced in order to increase possibility of more people falling in the group. This creates work on all front and puts the people in a better position as well. So once it reach to the point that it’s self-sustainable we levy a tax on those particular veggies that are home grown.
This plan is far from the end but it is too extensive to elaborate on just paper as exposing details will require us to give it out in report form. But just for editorial purposes these are some of the many solutions. Food for thought but there is a lot that can be done with limited or no budget all it takes is to discuss, interact, unite, agree to disagree, legislate and execute.
This plan might not be the perfect one and will require some unpopular decisions but it is open for discussions. Government stay focus on the main purpose, Protect our people, Feed our people, Empower our people, Defend our people and demand respect by actions not by grandstanding. All what people want is a decent living and being able to feed their family. Let’s Start making a move to stimulate the economy!