It is logical that there is a socio-economic fallout due to the COVID-19 virus. Not too long ago, wars fought in faraway spots had little or no effects on the daily lives of other nations large or small. Terrorism, cybercrime, germ-warfare is the new reality we face. These are man-made disasters. St. Maarten has risen time and time again following many devastating natural disasters. We can use our collective experiences in this regard once again to emerge healthier and stronger. Parliament can keep asking many questions. We need concrete actions now.
We are once again faced with massive un-/under-employment issues. Private organizations look at government for leadership and as a facilitator to mitigate the inevitable economic downturn. We can overcome this uncertain period short- to mid-term if we act now.
Trust fund monies are used for all sorts of projects. Funds were rightfully invested in the one-time Emergency Income Support and Training project. It merits reactivating this program on short term.
A more sustainable and structural scheme or “safety net” is needed going forward to temporarily assist the expected large amount of layoffs. This is the “Un-employment fund regulation”. To date, we still do not have in place an unemployment benefit support system. This scheme remains vacant under our present laws.
Parliament must present, debate and enact at least one initiative law by means of a short legislative (spoed procedure) process in consultation with labor unions and employers organizations. Following Hurricane Irma, we urged for an unemployment benefit law be considered and introduced.
This new law will help mitigate the financial burden of businesses now and in the future, while keeping our fragile economy on the rail track. Slower, yet moving.
Additionally, government must execute post-haste almost 3 years after Hurricane Irma devastated our island, the 15 to 25 million dollars promised by previous governments, never delivered Trust Fund small business support.
Saba is an example how this much- needed aid to businesses on St. Maarten that qualify can be provided fast and in a transparent manner. No need to reinvent the wheel, we can improve it.
While most of our beautiful island will be slowed down, collectively, Government, including Parliament, both of whom still collect a full salary of 10,000 dollars a month, can jump-start a two-month (2-month) island-wide clean-up campaign facing our upcoming hurricane season. Parliament, including opposition, must set political differences aside for the sake of the well-being of all our people and business that are good corporate citizens.
There’s so much debris left on rooftops all over including in Philipsburg. Thousands of car wrecks on the roadsides and on private properties. Regrettably our nation is littered with beer bottles, soda cans and other trash outside grocery stores and everywhere else.
Link One continues to be a constant eyesore and health hazard.
Lack of mobile toilets for taxi-/bus-drivers and others (some taking a leak in plain sight) increases the health hazards. Before the clean-up campaign concludes, that includes recycle bins, Parliament must have in place an updated National Decree to fine violators who insist on littering our beautiful island.
Four years ago we made a statement that stands to this day, Quote: “Economic standstill, apathy, fear – perceived or real – are no options because it makes the lives of our citizens even more difficult, especially in uncertain times.” Unquote.
There’s always a silver lining at the end of dark clouds. “Regeren is vooruitzien” is a popular Dutch saying.
We shall overcome this period as well, and emerge as a cleaner and healthier St. Maarten if we have the vision and courage to act expeditiously and if we care.
Leader, People’s Progressive Alliance (PPA)