PHILIPSBURG–Prime Minister Silveria Jacobs said in her New Year’s message on Monday that it is her belief that 2020 will bring about renewed confidence in government.
Jacobs said 2019 was not a year without challenges for St. Maarten.
“There had been delays in achieving key recovery objectives, including the reconstruction of our airport, the payment of key personnel, finalising laws for the CFATF [Caribbean Financial Action Task Force – Ed.], and the pace of our roof repair programme. 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,” she said.
“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 Programme Bureau. There are more projects to follow and more prospects for the people St. Maarten and local enterprises.”
In terms of successes, she said that 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 organisation 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, who are also in the same boat, is essential to St. Maarten’s own hurricane and general disaster preparedness effort.”
She said 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 per cent 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, she said there are vacancies in the government apparatus and there are opportunities for 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.”
This year, she added, will bring about a new election, and although this was not in the plan, it is the reality that St. Maarten faces.
“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 neighbours. In the meantime, this government will continue working for you, in the best interest of the people of St. Maarten, for as long as we have the honour of doing so.”
As the interim government, Jacobs said the 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 PJIA [Princess Juliana International Airport] 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.”
She said New Year’s is a time to reflect and set goals. On behalf of the Council of Ministers, she wished everyone a happy and prosperous New Year.
Bron: Daily Herald