PHILIPSBURG--While St. Maarten is going through its second major crisis in three years, the solutions to the coronavirus pandemic must be sustainable, said Party for Progress (PFP) faction leader Melissa Gumbs.
Sustainability was the thread connecting Gumbs’ speech during the closing of the Parliamentary year 2019-2020 on Monday. According to her, sustainability means meeting current needs without making it difficult or impossible for future generations to meet their own.
She said this concern is why PFP has been cautioning against selling shares of government-owned companies without proper consultation. “It is what we meant when we cautioned against the eager rush to treat country assets like chiclets, at a time when most countries are holding on to these and focusing on new ways to generate money that do not involve selling the lightbulbs to pay the light bill.”
She called on government to present concrete, sustainable solutions to the country’s current problems. She also urged government to engage with the Dutch government diplomatically instead of with “arrogance … because of political and world history.”
“Conflict is not sustainable. People cannot eat it or spend it. … I don’t have to imagine the frustration that the average citizen feels with this merry-go-round of weak to non-existent decision-making, forced reform and wild rhetoric,” said Gumbs.
The COVID-19 pandemic has exposed St. Maarten’s history of unsustainable development, she said, adding that “auto-pilot governance” cannot be the “order of the day.”
“Administrations need to push themselves to be more proactive and less self-centred, with any efforts made to haul their respective countries out of this crisis in a responsible and sustainable manner,” said Gumbs.
She hopes that MPs work towards building unity and understanding each other’s viewpoints in the next parliamentary year.
Referring to recent debates about the Council of Advice and the Social and Economic Council SER, Gumbs said she also hoped to “see a departure from the recent attitudes of fear or paranoia towards the country's advisory councils.”
“This is the second time we have this opportunity in front of us as a young country, to make the difficult choice to change the way we have operated so far and chart a smarter and more sustainable way forward. And this is what I ask of this government,” she concluded.