Whether you will be heading to a church, to a party, or bringing in the New Year in the comfort of your own home, New Years is a time to reflect and set goals, and as we say goodbye to this year, I would like to take this opportunity to reflect on 2019 for the Government of St. Maarten.
Fellow St. Maarteners and visitors, on behalf of the Council of Ministers, I’d like to wish each and every one of you a Happy and Prosperous New Year.
Firstly, I want to Thank God almighty for another year; one without any major devastation. Once again, God’s mercy has been shown to St. Maarten and I know we can all agree that God is indeed a good God.
However, 2019 was not a year without its challenges for our beloved country. There had been delays in achieving key recovery objectives including the reconstruction of our airport, the payment of key personnel, finalizing laws for the CFATF, and the pace of our roof repair program. But, in the end, there have been many successes to speak of; we finally have been able to sign the agreement to commence reconstruction on our airport. More and more, we are seeing that our homes, businesses and hotels are rebuilding and reopening. It is a good sign that things are going in the right direction, and this we will work to continue into the year 2020 and beyond. In addition, there have been more employment opportunities in Government and via the National Recovery Program Bureau. There are more projects to follow and more prospects for the people St. Maarten and local enterprises.
Speaking of successes, for the first time this December 2019, St. Maarten hosted the Caribbean Disaster Management Agency (CDEMA) conference. The CDEMA conference was important for St. Maarten in terms of bringing key persons to the country, but also fostering the relationship with CDEMA, which is vital given the wealth of knowledge the organization has to offer St. Maarten in terms of disaster management, preparation and recovery. We are in a hurricane belt and continuous support and lessons learned from our Caribbean partners, whom are also in the same boat, is essential to St. Maarten’s own hurricane and general disaster preparedness effort.
Looking back at two years ago after the devastations of Hurricanes Irma and Maria, St. Maarten is open for business and has remained resilient. In fact, according to the Caribbean Journal in a recent article, titled, “St. Maarten leading in the Caribbean tourism comeback,” we have been “leading the way, posting tremendous tourism growth of more than 100 percent in the last year; an essential comeback for the wider area thanks to St Maarten’s crucial role as a regional transit hub.”
For this, I would like to thank the business community and the people of St. Maarten for their efforts, for the dedication and of course for their resilience. We could not do it without each other. As a result of your hard work, opportunities are arising for this St. Maarten and for its people.
While speaking on opportunities, as I’ve previously stated, there are vacancies in the government apparatus and there are opportunities for our students from abroad and other qualified St. Maarteners to fill these positions. We want our students to know that if 2020 is your year to come home, we will welcome you with open arms. Your expertise is needed in government, and in the private sector.
On another note, this year will bring about a new election, and although this wasn’t in the plan, It is the reality we face. The biggest challenge we have faced for the last 10 years, besides the natural disasters of 2017, has been political instability. Our nation, however, is one that is resilient and as the St. Maarten I know it to be, out of this very political instability we will rise to a brighter tomorrow. You see, the choice we make on January 9, 2020 is not just a choice between political parties but a choice of a future for St. Maarten. So, I encourage each and every national to go out and vote. Take every opportunity to direct your future for yourself and your family, friends and neighbors. In the mean time, this government will continue working for you, in the best interest of the people of St. Maarten for as long as we have the honor of doing so.
As your interim Government our goals are simple;
First and foremost, this government intends to ensure the continuation of government. More specifically, its full attention is towards the recovery process, and ensuring our most vulnerable persons get the attention they deserve be it for homes, schools or communities. Furthermore, we are working to secure funds for overdue payments for the Justice workers, and working to allocate funds to the PJIAE workers. I want the people of St. Maarten to know that there are challenges, but this government is prepared to tackle them. We will continue to do our best in communicating these challenges and developments with you.
Finally, we continue to work diligently with the Caribbean Financial Action Task Force to ensure that our country is up to par with fundamental laws, that will strengthen our ease of doing business, and Foreign Direct Investment opportunities.
It is my belief that 2020 will bring about renewed confidence in our government. A year with continued progress and success. We are dedicated and willing to serve you.
I want to take this time to thank all Ministers, for their work in government. While we may not always agree on the way things were done, we acknowledge that this job is not an easy one. Yet even in the face of criticism and challenges, you have served and are serving our country. I would especially like to thank the organization, all the civil servants, despite the challenges they are facing, for their hard work this year. You are core contributors to implementation and continuity, and you are truly appreciated. Without you, there is no way to serve the people of St. Maarten
Additionally, I would like to thank all the members of the uniformed services, including the Police Force, VKS, Customs and Immigration, the Fire Department, and the Ambulance Department for your devotion to serving in the most challenges times and under trying circumstances.
Not forgetting those employees of government-owned companies, GEBE, the Princess Juliana International Airport, the Harbour, TelEm. Your continued dedicated service is invaluable to St. Maarten.
Special thanks to all the members of my cabinet and others who have worked closely with me on a daily basis. Special thanks to the Department of Communication (DCOMM) for all their hard work.
And of course, I want to thank all our Kingdom Partners for their continuous support. May 2020, bring us more opportunities to develop, define and foster our relationship. Last but not least, I’d like to take this opportunity to thank the people of St. Maarten for your faith, endurance and support. Every nation is only as great as its people. On behalf of the Council of Ministers, my family and I, I once again wish a Happy New Year to you and your family.
God bless you, and God bless St. Maarten.