I am moved to take aim at the long and complicated process of selling, purchasing and transferring companies on St. Maarten. The unnecessary bureaucracy in Philipsburg is discouraging local and foreign investors to easily invest in small and large businesses. It's prohibiting an easy flow of transfer and sometimes it becomes so complicated and the back and forth is annoying. With that investors prefer to go elsewhere, where the process is far easier and does not require the number of documents being requested from each department involved.
We need to move forward and away from the complicated, time- consuming, back-and-forth process we have as a norm. Remember we want their investment because it helps greatly with our economy. The last thing we want, is to discourage investors willing to spend and invest their resources here on our island. We want them to spend to create jobs and add to our economy.
Also, too many departments and too many heads are involved with the process and decision-making. Every department has a long list of requirements which should not be necessary. Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Economic Affairs, Labour Department, SZV and Tax Department processes and requirements could be simplified with a common-sense solution that will benefit everyone, especially the investors and the economy of St. Maarten.
The Chamber of Commerce and Industry should be the sole department that deals with openings, closures, transfers and changes within companies. With a system connected to Economic Affairs, Labour Department, SZV and the Tax Department, any updates made in the system at the Chamber of Commerce, the four other departments will be notified with a click of a button from the Chamber of Commerce. It's called technology. Business and Director’s licences should also be requested and approved at the Chamber and not Economic Affairs. This simplified system would also clear up much confusion that I have personally witnessed and seen happen to individuals over the past few months.
We are living in the age of making life easy. Technology is supposed to make life easy. Many islands right here in the Caribbean and countries around the world have a far less complicated system where investors can easily enter and close a deal as a new director of the company and that is all thanks to technology. Why does 16 square miles of 37 square miles have to have such a high level of bureaucracy, that is only hurting our island today and will continue to do so in the future, if solutions are ignored? I have seen investors scratch their heads in disbelief with the system we have in place.
There is a serious complicated problem and it's prohibiting the growth of our island. There is always a way to move forward from the confusion, a better way of getting things done and we can start with this solution to make investing on St. Maarten easy. Let's make it easy for our investors, let's build the confidence of investors by not just winning them over with lucrative tax deals and holidays, but also with less bureaucracy in Philipsburg, from which foreign investors and local entrepreneurs can benefit. Let's make it easy for them to invest and move St. Maarten forward.
Former UP & Democratic Party candidate