Economic Advisory Council President Julien Gumbs. (Robert Luckock photo)
MARIGOT--Economic, Social and Cultural Advisory Council (Conseil Economique Social et Culturel (CESC)) President Julien Gumbs expressed his New Year wishes to the population this week for “health, fulfilment and success.”
He began by reminding that the island’s history and culture have made it what it is today. “We are a proud people, courageous and capable of adapting in the face of adversity, open to the world and welcoming. Whether some detractors agree with that or not, we are that people and the many challenges that have arisen or will arise will never change this reality.
“This strength to remain true to ourselves by taking ownership of the future, the wisdom of our elders and the energy of our youth must serve our unity, solidarity and performance.”
He said economic activity is recovering, the rate of bookings is up, public orders are on the increase, as are service activities, as demonstrated by turnover tax revenues (Taxe Général sur le Chiffres d’Affaires (TGCA)), which were up in 2022 and seem to be heading towards an optimistic forecast for 2023.
Gumbs pointed out a number of developments in 2022 that bode well for the territory: Festival of Languages and Cultures, Gastronomy Festival, Fete de la Mer, bilingual classes in schools, workshops in neighbourhood associations such as Nature Valley, an increasing number of young people attending Sciences Po, inauguration of the Local Mission, strengthening of the Red Cross, the quality-price shield and more.
Projects in the pipeline include a new home for senior citizens, separation of the Territorial Fire and Rescue Service STIS from Guadeloupe, construction of the two colleges 600 and 900, establishing a branch of University of the French West Indies, etcetera.
“Reconstruction continues slowly but surely, without forgetting the actions undertaken to improve our environment, such as the clean-up campaigns on land and sea or the waste-sorting bins,” he said. “A small, timid nod was made in the direction of agriculture with the resumption of activity at the slaughterhouse; our healthcare offer, certainly still insufficient, but is in constant progression with the opening of new services.
“We are seeing young St. Martin professionals in increasing numbers; our network of associations is full of good intentions, but unfortunately with little quantifiable implementation due to a lack of resources and supervision.
“We have challenges to be met in terms of energy, water and sanitation, road network, public transport, environment and ecological transition, agricultural production and digital services, to name a few.
“These are all arguments that plead for an encouraging vision of our future, but let’s not deceive ourselves, because, in addition to an uncertain world situation, if we want to maintain this optimism we will have to be vigilant, efficient, united and supportive.”
He said he has a special thought for those persons who were suspended for non-vaccination for COVID-19 and went from full employment to very precarious situations. He appealed to the State authorities to find a favourable response to this issue for the people concerned, as soon as possible.