SHTA makes recommendations on mitigating COVID-19 effects

SHTA makes recommendations  on mitigating COVID-19 effects

PHILIPSBURG--The St. Maarten Hospitality and Trade Association (SHTA) board has recommended several measures to Prime Minister Silveria Jacobs, the Council of Ministers, Parliament and Governor Eugene Holiday regarding mitigating the effects of the coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic on its members and their employees.

  In a letter to its members dated March 20, SHTA said it has been busy with anticipating the economic fallout of the pandemic and how it will compound St. Maarten’s still-ongoing recovery process to mitigate business risk for members and the potential harm to the many households they represent.

  In the letter, SHTA outlined the measures it recommended to government. The recommendations include urgently ratifying the Caribbean Financial Action Task Force (CFATF) agreements, noting, “If this is not done swiftly, more difficult payment structures will directly hamper economic activity and thus recovery of St. Maarten.” A letter to this effect was sent to Jacobs and all parliament factions on March 15.

  SHTA said also that it should be included in the Economic Task Force being established. “We stand ready to participate and assist in protecting our investments, our livelihoods and those of our staff (70 per cent of the labour force) in these challenging and changing times.”

  It also called for a reduction in Turnover Tax (ToT) tariff to zero per cent and for the implementation of a payroll subsidy of 90 per cent of the February declaration to the private sector for six months to ensure job security.

  “We estimate costs would amount to NAf. 45 million per month, for a total amount of NAf. 270 million or US $152 million. This money is directly accessible from the established Trust Fund to be spent and shared through our local economy in our recovery efforts. This can swiftly and easily be implemented. It will entice businesses not to lay off any personnel and it will ensure that the hit to tax revenues will be significantly mitigated,” SHTA said.

  “As this crisis is disrupting worldwide travel, it will likely have a longer-term effect on how we do business and what business we do. The SHTA will keep pressing government to comply to the requests above, on a daily basis,” the association said, urging its members to lend their support by advocating for the same measures any time they deem possible.

  “Like all great business disruptions, we have a choice: to either keep our head in the sand continuing the beaten path until it is no longer tenable, or use our hiatus wisely to imagine how St. Maarten can innovate to make use of this disruption to adapt our businesses to a new tourism model that is bound to come out of it.”