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Jul 23rd
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Sustainability and the economy.

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Sustainability and the economy.

Dear Editor,

Lately, the terms economic diversification and sustainable development seem to have become catchphrases amongst current and aspiring decision makers. These terms are often used, but their implementation is sadly seldom truly pursued.
In order to really develop sustainably and successfully diversify St. Maarten's economy we need to accept a few facts; St. Maarten is only sixteen square miles, there is a limit to the extent of physical growth, a carrying capacity (in the sense of construction); Not every square meter of concrete poured or vegetation cleared is a sign of progress; A limit to physical growth, due to our relatively small landmass, does not at all mean a limit to economic growth nor does it restrict us to a one pillar economy. Having said that, St. Maarten's economy will to a large extent, continue to be dependent on tourism, all the more reason to care for our natural resources wisely.
With foresight, innovation and proper management of our (natural and manmade) resources St. Maarten can diversify its economy in a wide range of sustainable ways.
Allow me to offer a brief example of economic diversification which will create long-term jobs and at the same time address environmental issues. St. Maarten's garbage management challenges, for instance, offer a wealth of possibilities. Dozens of trucks dump what our society has cast away as garbage in the middle of the Great Salt Pond every day. The definition of garbage is in essence; a product, an object which no longer functions properly or has been drained of its content and has therefore lost its usefulness and its (economic) value. The truth is that, thanks to modern day technology, what is regularly seen as "garbage" is for the most part no longer useless and therefore not garbage, but rather a resource, a product in itself, which can be reused for other purposes or to produce new products.
Case in point, tens of thousands of glass bottles are imported to Sint Maarten on a monthly basis, many of these could be locally collected, prepared for reuse, shipped back to the bottling company they originated from, crushed for reuse in construction or to make other glass products.
Another example is Electronic waste, "E-waste" which basically refers to used mobile phones, tablets, laptops, computers, televisions, fridges, and all other electronic material which is deemed to be "garbage" and thus thrown away. As it now stands most of the E-waste generated on St. Maarten ends up on the landfill. This type of garbage, however, often contains copper, lead, precious metals such as silver, gold and other valuable material which can be almost continuously reused if handled correctly. It is mind-boggling that the life cycle of so many products which are constantly reused in other countries simply stops on St. Maarten. Reprocessing and reuse of these discarded resources would obviously require certain facilities to be put in place thus allowing for the opening of associated businesses and as such would generate a significant number of permanent jobs. Interestingly enough international studies have concluded that reuse and recycling programs create an average of ten (10) times more jobs per ton of "waste" than land-filling or incineration does.
I believe that the primary responsibility for stimulating sustainable action, in this case the management of the waste-stream, lies with government. Government must implement and enforce legislation setting criteria for the import, sale, re-collection and export of products which if left unmanaged could become a burden to St. Maarten's waste management infrastructure after usage. Aside from legal requirements, incentives must be put in place to encourage businesses to implement sustainable management practices, reuse material and care for the environment.
As a longtime sustainable development advocate, above mentioned initiatives and associated legislation are amongst the causes I will continue to champion if elected to Parliament on August 29th, 2014.
Please consider visiting and liking my page at www.facebook.com/thompsonsxm where I will be regularly posting my thoughts on where St. Maarten should be headed.

Moving forward positively,

Rueben J. Thompson
Environmentalist
Candidate number four (4)
United Sint Maarten Party

Last Updated ( Monday, 21 July 2014 18:55 )

 

Citizen Disappointed in St. Maarten Parliament.

User Rating:  / 2

Dear Editor,

Thanks once again for using this medium to express myself. I think that I am one of many people on St. Maarten who has been greatly disappointed in the overall functioning of our Parliament. The cases in which incompetence and disrespect to the electorate and amongst colleagues (both domestic and internationally) have been displayed are too numerous to mention. Many times I've been shaking my head while reading news articles or while following some parliamentary meeting via radio or TV.
My question is: how long are we going to tolerate incompetency in our Parliament? Elections are around the corner to hold those accountable who simply didn't perform to the desired standard. I will not mention names, but there are too many of the current parliamentarians who should never be allowed to set a foot in the Parliament building again.
When choosing a candidate, we should first determine what the different parties stand for. That is hard enough as it is, because all of them talk but nothing much has actually been done (in my opinion). So we need to look at what a party has delivered (unless it is a new party on the block, then it is like throwing the dice). Then we need to find out what they say that they are going to do. When we have chosen the party that we think that is the best fit to our wishes and demands, we need to examine which individual should get our vote.
The chosen individual is as important as the chosen party. We should not take this lightly. It is not a popularity contest in the sense of which parliamentarian you like to hang around with. Also in the case of choosing a candidate for a position in Parliament, we need to look at what that person has done so far as a politician and in his or her professional life. A great family (wo)man is not necessarily a great parliamentarian. Then we should listen to what they want to accomplish in which areas and see if those areas match with the areas of their expertise.
The only way that the level of the overall functioning of our Parliament can go up is when we choose the right competent and qualified people to represent us. I am looking forward to hear from our candidates what they have achieved in their political and or professional life, what their plans are for St. Maarten and how they intend to achieve this. I will not judge based on your smile or hollow words, but on your track record and on your vision. This time you need to work hard to get my vote and you need to show me that you are competent and qualified enough for the job.

Andrew Smith

Last Updated ( Saturday, 19 July 2014 17:57 )

Gerard Richardson DP candidate # 10 shares his views on Edu-Tourism.

User Rating:  / 0

Dear Editor,

I have read the article of Mr. Andrew Smith which was published in the Today newspaper of Monday July 14, 2014 with regard to his view on "Edu-Tourism", and have taken great interest.

As a candidate on the Democratic Party slate (DP), contesting the upcoming Parliamentary elections, scheduled for August 29th, 2014, I felt obliged to accept the challenge of Mr. Andrew Smith on his article concerning "Edu-Tourism".

While further familiarizing myself with the topic, I discovered that, an Edu-Tourist can travel for various purposes: formal or informal while learning in a unique local environment. The result
is a socially and economically sustainable tourism product that benefits both the region and its visitors. Edu-tourism creates mutual partnerships, through which all parties learn and contribute their respective resources, expertise, and skills. In answering one of Mr. Smith's questions, yes
I fully agree and am in total favor of Edu-Tourism for St. Maarten. I also agree that St. Maarten as a country, dependent on Tourism should start looking into various avenues that will help develop its only GDP, which is tourism.

Edu-Tourism is definitely an option to exploit. Mr. Smith asked the question: How can Edu-Tourism become a reality? Of course, there is also the question - is Edu-Tourism achievable
for St. Maarten at this present moment? I am of the opinion that, despite our current economic and social challenges, with the right mind set and proper resources anything can be achieved.

In May of this year, the Social Economic Council (SER), organized a symposium on "Inclusive Development". The keynote speaker was the former Prime Minister of Barbados, Mr. Owen Arthur. He gave examples of ways that a community can be included in helping the growth of its country. Mr. Arthur further stated that "for St. Maarten to have a five star tourism sector,
it must have a five star society, and that the "state" has to provide a five star infrastructure and education system".

Hence, as mentioned by Mr. Smith in his article, in order to achieve an Edu-Toursim society,
a feasibility study should be done before delving into the possibilities and benefits of an Edu-Tourism society. I as a young politician and other politicians as well as the Government of St. Maarten need to start looking at different techniques to develop our level of thinking, better our infrastructure and illustrate transparency throughout the community. I do believe, that a community that is included with the happenings of its country will do their utmost to help it grow.
The popularity and prominence of (academic) education in providing quality human capital capable of contributing to the (world) economy is on the rise, with Edu Tourism providing the platform for knowledge transfers. The Edu- tourist profile is a person who is better educated, more concerned about the environment and culture and more curious and academically-minded. Thus, this new Edu-tourist will search for quality, considering the ranking of the institution, accreditation of its programs and faculties, competence, qualification and expertise
of the academic staff, marketability and recognition of the degree awarded, student's safety
and security. This is something that I think our present and future Government should take
into consideration or definitely explore the options.

It is my opinion and also part of my political platform that our Government needs to invest more in education in order to make the above mentioned a reality and in addition combat the current brain drain. We should start with our own University of St. Martin, there is always room for improvement, while on the other hand our Government needs to be willing and able to accommodate the needs of that institution. Upgrade our University in stages with similar or comparable facilities as the DeVry institute/Caribbean medical school. Which in turn will have
its benefits for our students and Edu-Tourism on St. Maarten. In closing I would like to thank
Mr. Smith for laying down this challenge to the candidates.

Gerard M.C. Richardson
DP candidate #10

Last Updated ( Thursday, 17 July 2014 15:52 )