PHILIPSBURG:--- Let me commence by sharing a few of the lyrics of a song called Not alone for mighty empire. Written by William P. Merrill, in 1911.
Not alone for mighty empire,
Stretching far over land and sea,
Not alone for bounteous harvests,
Lift we up our hearts to Thee.
Standing in the living present,
Memory and hope between,
Lord, we would with deep thanksgiving,
Praise Thee more for things unseen.
God of justice, save the people
From the clash of race and creed,
From the strife of class and faction,
Make our nation free indeed;
Keep her faith in simple manhood
Strong as when her life began,
Till it find its full fruition
In the brotherhood of man!
I want to give thanks for this opportunity presented to me to represent St Maarten as the second female Prime Minister of this young nation. I am truly humbled and honored by all of the congratulatory and outpouring of well wishes that I have received from both near and far. The journey is challenging, but GOD gives the toughest battles to his strongest soldiers.
Today I pledge to you that with all my strength, determination, and perseverance, together, we will ensure that this country will return to its prominent status within this region.
September 6, 2017, a day that will forever be etched in our minds, a day that changed this island that we love, Sint Maarten.
I stand here today, and can proudly state that in its darkest moment, this nation has shown an unyielding determination that revealed a perfect truth, that we, as a people are resilient and unconquerable.
A nation without fortitude and will to survive is one with hollow bearings, and will eventually confront the inevitable, and fall. Though we have shown our determination to survive after Hurricane Irma, it does not stop there.
This nation has to rebuild, but cannot be rebuilt overnight. Sint Maarten, we are essentially still in the recovery stage and in order to thrive and evolve into prosperity, a paradigm shift must occur. As a people, we must collectively change our outlook, as it is no longer business as usual. During this stage of recovery, it is important for us to unite, learn from past experience and restructure, rebuild, reform, simply because we are a progressive nation and can and will do better. I am cognizant to the reality that the road ahead will be long, there are tough times ahead. But with the focus on setting the right priorities for recovery, within due time we will achieve our goals.
This government is committed to the principles of integrity, transparency and good governance. We are committed to the recovery and reconstruction of Sint Maarten. This includes (1) establishing a clear and actionable economic plan developed in cooperation with the community entities such as the Chamber of Commerce, Chamber of Unions, SHTA, SER, just to name of few, (2) managing the labor market and establishing skilled development programs to ensure maximum employment for the people of Sint Maarten, (3) Working together to ensure stability, tranquility and hope through fast track and sustainable economic development, (4) finalizing the plan for the reconstruction, (5) giving preference to the establishment of a safety plan to strengthen the overall safety of Sint Maarten, (6) implementing bilateral agreement between Sint Maarten and the Netherlands regarding border control, (7) implementing the Integrity Chamber Law in accordance with the agreement between Sint Maarten and the Netherlands, and (8) re-establishing cooperation with French Saint Martin.
In the upcoming press briefing each Minister will give an overview of their priorities per ministry.
Getting the aforementioned and how soon this government does such will be determined and influenced by many internal and external factors. Setbacks are inevitable, many will not agree with every decision or policy, we expect the criticism and welcome such, as this gives each ministry the opportunity to self-reflect. As Baltasar Gracian stated “ Self Reflection is the school of wisdom”.
As Prime Minister expect that I will always be honest with you about the realistic and factual challenges we face.
If the last Hurricane season taught us anything, it is that we cannot have a thriving nation without internal and external cooperation, without revisiting and reflecting on decisions taken, questioning how effective we were and how we can improve and better prepare for the next disaster.
It is of utmost importance that during these difficult times we communicate, prioritize and make good use of the scarce resources available. Let me re-emphasize on the scarce resources, as we cannot spend what we do not have, and we cannot squander the little we do have.
To the Council of Ministers, I sincerely pray that we learn from the words of Ezekiel 22:30, "I looked for someone among them who would build up the wall and stand before me in the gap on behalf of the land so I would not have to destroy it, but I found no one."
We, this council, this government are to be those who stand in the gap, who lifts up this island with all it challenges, faults, triumphs, before the throne of God, and fervently pray that He continues to work in our midst and guide us through this journey. May we keep this nation and each other in prayer without ceasing?
On behalf of the Romeo-Marlin Cabinet, I would like to thank you for your audience. We look forward to working for the people of Sint Maarten bearing in mind the quote of MLK “The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy.”
May GOD Bless each of you, May he bless us all and Bless this nation we love, Sint Maarten.