PHILIPSBURG, Sint Maarten — On April 20th, 2023, MP Grisha Heyliger-Marten sent a letter with questions and recommendations to the Minister of Tourism, Economic Affairs, Transport and Telecommunications (TEATT) regarding St. Martin’s food security and economic diversification in light of developments within the Dutch Kingdom and globally.
In her letter, Heyliger-Marten refers to the findings of a research report commissioned by the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs which was issued on November 22nd, 2017 by consultancy firm ECORYS. The report was entitled: “Aruba, Curaçao and Sint Maarten – study on price developments and logistics in the region”.
Upon Heyliger-Marten’s request, a meeting of Parliament’s TEATT committee was convened on the report matter on November 19th, 2020.
“Considering the many important developments that have taken place since that TEATT committee meeting within the Kingdom and globally, and seeing that the Atlantic Hurricane seasons is approaching, it is important that both Parliament and Government start taking concrete action to ensure food security and affordable prices for the people of St. Martin”, Heyliger-Marten stated in a press release on Sunday afternoon.
“I believe that the recommendations listed in the ECORYS report, in conjunction with the related objectives in the Governing Program 2020-2024 should be the basis for this” Heyliger-Marten said.
“We cannot continue to rely on just one or two supply routes that are controlled by one or two parties who control the market. Geo-political shifts are taking place globally, which effect St. Martin. We need to pro-actively anticipate these developments, and make use of the opportunities that present themselves to ensure economic growth and development in the broadest sense of the word”, according to Heyliger-Marten.
In her letter to the Minister, the MP asked the following questions:
- Can you provide Parliament with your substantiated opinion on the findings of the ECORYS report?
- Taking into consideration the larger context of (a) the findings and suggestions of ECORYS, (b) the three significant developments I mentioned above, and (c) the attached letter of former Minister for Kingdom Relations Plasterk to the Dutch House of Representatives, can you provide Parliament with a specific and detailed overview on how you and your Ministry intend to achieve the specific objectives outlined in the introduction and paragraphs 6.2 and 6.3 of the “Governing Program 2020-2024” in conjunction with those outlined in the document “A Path to Economic Recovery & Sustainable Growth”?;
- Which specific role, if any, do you see for the Ministries of General Affairs and Finance in achieving these objectives in conjunction with those outlined in the document “A Path to Economic Recovery & Sustainable Growth”?;
- Which specific role do you see for the Dutch Ministries of Kingdom Relations, Foreign Affairs in achieving these objectives in conjunction with those outlined in the document “A Path to Economic Recovery & Sustainable Growth”?
- What would be required from the Parliament of St. Martin in terms of legislation or other (supportive) action to achieve these objectives in conjunction with those outlined in the document “A Path to Economic Recovery & Sustainable Growth”?
Heyliger-Marten’s main recommendation to the Minister is to initiate consultations with the Ministries of General Affairs and Finance, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in the Hague, and representatives of the private sector and relevant civil society organizations on St. Martin in order to ultimately jointly execute one or more joint public/private sector missions within CARICOM, and specifically the (co-operative) Republics of Trinidad and Tobago, Suriname, and Guyana. In this regards, she specifically referred to a similar initiative undertaken by the Island Government of St. Eustatius in 2017.
According to Heyliger-Marten, the recommendations will lead to increases in St. Martin’s food security, employment, and economic diversification, as well as a decreased dependence on the current sources of goods and other products.
“I trust that the Minister will consider my letter and its contents in the constructive and cooperative manner in which they are intended, and look forward to him meeting with Parliament to have a discussion about moving forward”, Heyliger-Marten concluded.