None of the governments of Philipsburg have learnt from their foolish mistakes of allowing deceitful investors to twist their arms, nor have they acquired the knowledge to govern the country from a position of managerial principles. Due to this irresponsible practice to satisfy each other’s greed and the unreliability of the court’s rulings, the population is left to suffer these grave consequences.
From this premise, it is so disheartening to see how government is permitting Planet Hollywood Beach Resort to construct this monstrous building, when the country is deemed to gain very little. Assessing the pattern of investors who have invested in the country after the advent of Mullet Bay Resort, St. Maarten has not benefited much. In fact, the island has been destroyed, stripped of its natural beauty and environmental integrity.
Case in point: Is it not a fact that the air circulation in the Fresh Pond has been drastically altered after the Great Bay Hotel was built, which in turn prohibits the natural flow of excess water to the sea? And, hasn’t this bad decision caused a lot of flooding in Zagersgut because of the amount of dirt that deposits at the bottom of the pond following every downpour?
How was government forced to correct its silly oversight of this nagging problem? Government spent thousands of dollars to dredge piles of dirt from the bottom of pond and was further compelled to build a bridge to help dump extra water into Great Salt Pond. As a result, this created a situation where it’s up for debate if there is indeed a salt pond or two adjoining fresh-water ponds.
How can the population forget the famous water fountains that cost thousands of dollars to install and maintain, in the hope to improve the air flow in the pond? As time passed, the water fountains disappeared. Was the investment justified or the problem corrected? No! This is why the population is suffering from these poor judgements of greedy politicians and unscrupulous investors.
In relation to Planet Hollywood Resort, when has bigger become better? It is so depressing to see that only Steven Johnson is fighting against the injustices of government and the investor regarding this matter. How can the rest of Little Bay inhabitants sit back and allow government to okay such plans to erect this gigantic hotel that will block their view and reduce the value of their property significantly?
Repeatedly, the people have heard that this investment will create jobs. Yes, it will, but for whom? Would locals have preference, paid according to their qualifications and be given the opportunity to grow within the organization, or lumped together into one scale? It is routine that unethical proprietors pay most of their employees minimum wage, because government does not have the balls to stand up for its people.
On top of this gross failure of government to defend the workers’ rights, some unions have become almost completely useless. Gone are the days when the community felt the relentless pressures and negotiation skills of union leaders like Patricia Pantophlet, Willy Haize and Eldridge van Putten. The thought of their absence has often led me to wonder: What would the labour climate be like today, if these giants were sitting at the negotiating table?
Apart from this investor’s promise to provide “jobs” for the people, what is government demanding or compromising, and at what cost to the country and its people? Just three years ago, an ex-Minister of Finance announced that a particular hotel uses three different credit card machines to document its sales; which puts government at a disadvantage to collect the correct amount of room tax.
Was that hotelier reprimanded? Heaven knows how many others are practicing the identical thing. But, it is customary that investors do whatever they please because government is too cowardly to touch any one of them. Besides, nowadays rooms are being sold abroad and so that revenue goes directly to the parent company. Again, what are the demands of government to justify its decision?
The fact that the population is restricted from entering Great Bay Beach from the cemetery side is already an indication that the people are not valued. And, the fact that the resort is all-inclusive signifies that the investors’ sole interest is about making money. The fact is that the previous building was already an impediment to the environment, the lot should remain vacant and be given back to the people.
Everything starts subtly and then it escalates to the point where it’s difficult to control the problem, until it becomes the norm. If the negotiations started out shady, the end result is going to end up exactly that way.