My Fellow Sint Maarteners,
The year 2012 has been a challenging year for the community and the business community. After the so-called Carnival Coup back in April, and seven months later with a new government in place, there has been no relief for the people and business sector of our country. Instead, new taxes are coming and tax payer's money has been spent as if Government is a personal piggy bank.
Much uncertainty exists for 2013. Within the past seven months, the five leaders of government had to publicly come out and assure the country on more than one occasion that all is well politically within Government. Just before the Christmas holidays, Members of Parliament from the coalition were flexing their muscles, a further indication of a political unstable situation with the remark 10-2=8. This does not bode well for investor security, and creates more insecurity within the Sint Maarten community for 2013.
The people of this community would like to see realism and optimism throughout 2013. The country at the moment is heading in the wrong direction. The current coalition has failed to deliver to the people to date, and 2013 doesn't look any better with the NA-led coalition delivering taxes and debt in the New Year.
As Leader of the United Peoples (UP) party, the UP faction will continue to fulfil its role as the opposition party exposing bad governance and governing with impunity. Sint Maarten must have good governance.
Last year a Member of Parliament left a stain on the highest legislative body of the country when he threatened another honourable member of the House with violence. Another Member of Parliament orders the illegal filling of the Great Salt Pond without having any authority to do so.
The Leader of the National Alliance led Government favours and supports a cricket field and drag race track by filling in parts of the Great Salt Pond in September 2012, but then a month later pulls the breaks on the filling after a public outcry.
Over a million guilders is thrown down the drain for Tempo Turns 7; monies that could have gone towards the expansion of the Sint Maarten Medical Center or other community causes.
When the NA led coalition took over, we heard about a 100 Million Guilder loan. Thereafter, we hear about two tunnels which is another investment of close to US$200 million through our hills. We hear about a US$100 million Justice Park. Translated, close to Naf.650 million in debt for the country that is forthcoming, and this does not include interests which when all added up will bring the total amount that the people will have to repay over time of one billion guilders. Welcome to 2013, the year of debt and taxes!
2013 and beyond should be where as a country we uphold high standards of integrity and set good examples. This moral authority is needed to lead any nation of people. The bad examples of this coalition during the past seven months are clear indications that the country is heading in a negative direction. This describes a government in disarray.
The country cannot move forward with five different leaders at the helm. The left hand does not know what the right hand is doing, a clear example is the illegal filling of the Great Salt Pond, with the right hand saying one thing and the left hand another. No cohesion, lack of openness with the public and an atmosphere of constant instability plagues this government. Welcome to 2013, more where all indications are that more instability will be the call of the day.
Our country has made steady progress under an UP-led Government over a period of 19-months, and this can be seen from the figures that have been released by different government entities. The seven month old NA-led coalition cannot take credit for that.
Various road works such as the one in Cole Bay are nearing an end, just the finishing touches have to be added; a new storm pump station was inaugurated as well at the A.T. Illidge Road Sewage Plant; every road constructed, the utility lines have been placed underground as part of a vision to continue to build the storm resistance of our country; installing sewage lines underground has been a main priority in cleaning up the environment from having raw sewage run in different areas. Sewage lines have been installed in Middle Region, Cole Bay, and L.B. Scot Road as part of an integral sewage plan for the country to get homes connected.
Due to a marketing effort initiated by the Harbour Group of Companies and myself over the years, our country has surpassed 1.7 million cruise visitors; cruise passenger spending is up and Sint Maarten as a destination is number one in the Region where this is concerned, and this is due to cruise stakeholders such as those who offer tours and other activities to our visitors, the business community, and the friendliness and hospitality of our people.
Our country has seen growth in air arrivals due to the hard work over a 19-month period as well as growth in private jets; the Central Bank of Curacao and Sint Maarten (CBCS) announced recently that our national economy has showed signs of recovery in 2012 which demonstrates that sound decision-making and stable political leadership has been the basis of our slow recovery. All plans were executed after sound research into feasibility, environmental impact and economic viability to the people and country.
However, the creation of more debt and squeezing additional monies out of our economy from the same tax payer's, especially looking at the weak global economic situation is not a wise decision at this point in time. The CBCS says we can expect a modest 0.8 per cent recovery for 2012, and a continuation of the economic recovery of one per cent in 2013 based on a careful recovery of the world economy. The UP favours going after those that do business and do not contribute in taxes, and that was a policy of the UP coalition Government eight months ago.
For 2013, I would like to see our community continue to make headway due to the hard work and efforts of the hard working people in all facets of society. Let 2013 be the year of the Sint Maarten Community. There are many positive examples of Sint Maarteners doing good deeds and helping others. These persons reflect the best of our society which embodies all that is good. Let their spirit spread to others and further strengthen the Sint Maarten society in building a stronger and beneficial Sint Maarten nation for all.
The success of the SInt Maarten nation is not just defined by how much US$ you can make, but by our morals and values as a Sint Maarten people. As a young country, with all the responsibilities and obligations before us, we must balance economic development with the development of our society. Together as a people we are able to transform our communities and society overall, by utilizing the positive spirit and abilities of our human resources to their fullest throughout 2013.
I wish all Sint Maarteners a Blessed and Very Happy New Year on behalf of my family, as well as the UP party family.
Leader of the United Peoples (UP) Party