Born in Zwolle, the Netherlands, on January 30, 1971 of Surinamese descent, I was the third of 4 boys. I grew up in Suriname (Zorg & Hoop, Clevia, Geyersvlijt). I migrated to the Netherlands to complete my studies in 1992 and from the year 2000 I have been living and working in
My Motivation to postulate
Did it not occur to you that every time the National Alliance is in power, whether it is for a short or for a longer period, they accomplish! The National Alliance is set and focused to achieve their goals. They are the goal getters.
The National Alliance is there for the small men and women as they have proven to have an all-inclusive socio-economic agenda. As I also embrace that philosophy I want to serve this country with all the good intentions and to the best of my abilities under the umbrella of the National Alliance.
I strongly believe that a country that strives for political stability, and applying the principles of good corporate governance, integrity, transparency and aims for human capital development will prosper. The more we give the more we receive and that goes across the border and not just for a selected few.
After completing the VWO, I studied Economics at the Anton de Kom University (Adek). When I was in an advanced stage of my studies at the Adek I migrated to the Netherlands where I obtained my Bachelor’s degree at Business College for Economic Studies in Rotterdam (Hogeschool voor Economische Studies). For the most part of my studies I delivered newspapers and worked as a part time bookkeeping clerk where I exchanged my services for payment of tuitions and purchasing of books and to make ends meet.
My Employment (St. Maarten):
Government: Senior Financial Policy Worker and Financial Controller Innovations Bureau;
Corporate: Assistant Manager Financial Reporting and Accounting (RBTT);
Manager Finances and Operations (University of St. Martin). At the USM, I was part of the project team that delivered St. Maarten the first accredited program in Hospitality via Btec.
Branch Manager for BZV (St. Maarten/Statia) and Management Team Member at SZV;
Financial Controller for the Benevolent Foundation Saba;
Authored the Bankable Business Plan in Aquaponics for SBDF;
Appointed Project Leader to prepare the New Basic Insurance Law for St. Maarten;
Founder/Director of PCMI and PCMI Academy, an Accounting, Tax & Training Consultancy firm.
Supervisory Board Member at Winair since 2011, where on my initiative the full first year board’s compensation was used to purchase school materials for the children of the staff;
Board Member of the Foundation Judicial Affairs (SJIB) dealing with the rehabilitation of ex-inmates and the placement of children in foster care;
Recently, I was nominated to become a member of the Caribbean Institute of Certified Management Consultants.
Shared home cooked food for the homeless and drug addicts and started a green house in Sucker Garden to offset the high grocery prices for this initiative.
As a parliamentarian you need to be able to do proper research and write comprehensive policies in order to propose legislation for different topics that will benefit the people. I truly believe that I have gained sufficient relevant expertise in different areas to execute this responsible task at the highest possible level.
Internationally, we have certain non-financial criteria to evaluate any government’s performance and the most significant ones are:
1) Human Development Index
According to Statistics Bureau of St. Maarten, we scored poorly on this HDI as 60% of our senior managers and legislators have a Secondary Type 1 diploma. Furthermore 20% have a Bachelor’s and only 2% have Master’s degrees. We need to start to prepare transitioning into a Knowledge-Based Society. The human being becomes both raw material and production unit
at the same time and the country will generate revenues as knowledge can be developed and
multiplied over and over again. Knowledge has been recognized as the driver of economic
growth and productivity. The USM has been receiving only NAf. 500,000 for more than 25
years, which is a bad indicator of the seriousness of those who were in power to develop home
grown intellectuals. Conclusion: Previous governments underperformed grossly in this aspect
2) Political Stability & Integrity
St. Maarten has not enjoyed a stable government for the past 4 years and the further
development has affected the confidence in our economy. Also our integrity was often a
point of discussion in many reports and that should improve. This underperformance
shouldn’t repeat itself anymore as it bad for our reputation and just bad for business.
Sometimes you wonder what was achieved or what the added value was by jumping ship.
Conclusion: Some members of Parliament underperformed grossly in this aspect
In comparison with previous governments we have experienced more openness of what the
government has been doing. We have seen projects that went on bid and saved us millions of
dollars, and gave other small businesses the chance to also work on the further development
of St. Maarten. Conclusion: In the past 9 months that has been improved.
4) Good corporate governance
Government companies have to work in the best interest of the people as they are the
ultimate shareholders. It starts with appointments of capable and intelligent supervisory board
members who will be responsible to select the best candidate for the position to achieve the
corporate targets. Conclusion: We still have to work hard to implement the principles of good corporate governance across the board.
The overall conclusion is that there is a lot to be done and that the mind set of some of the members of parliament must make a 360 degree shift. They have to remember that they are there solely to serve the country and nothing else. In the past 9 months we have seen an improved performance on a few of these above mentioned points by the coalition government under the leadership of the National Alliance, and they have proven that it can be done and it will be in the benefit of everyone when they get the full mandate on September 26.
In my program I will concentrate more on creating more structural revenues for the government of St. Maarten while structurally bringing down the cost of living of the less fortunate. I believe that with increased cash flows through targeted investments in the Tax Office, and with better tax compliance in combination with my initiatives, other much needed projects can be financed and the informal sector will be reduced. Without proper financing the success rate of any other project and ideas is below average if not at all feasible.
Improved performance of the Micro-Small & Medium-Sized Enterprises (MSME)
Statistics indicate that 95% of the global economies consist of MSMEs and they provide 60 to 70 per cent of jobs making them the backbone of every economy. The global trend is also to make the government apparatus lean and mean, and that they should act as a facilitator. We have to be true to ourselves that not one government can provide a job for each and any graduate and therefore entrepreneurship is the next option. To increase the survivability of the MSMEs, which traditionally is between 3-5 years, I will propose the following: Introduction of a fixed Small Business Allowance, Spousal Allowance, Apprentices Allowance of 5% of the yearly profits till a maximum of NAf. 2,500, island-wide training programs or incubators for aspiring entrepreneurs to improve their survivability, proper small loan policies, phased reduction of the profit tax, tax breaks for innovative and agricultural projects.
Increased disposable income via tax and non-tax instruments
The basic material needs of the human beings are proper housing, affordable food and utilities, and off course, affordable healthcare. In order to increase the disposable income of the people in general and for the less fortunate in particular, we need to stimulate agriculture (traditional, hydro & aquaponics) to cut down on sea transport expenses and increase local supply. To improve local supply we need to have at least 4 of these production units per district to drastically and structurally cut down on grocery prices; Introduction of special utility meters where you pay as you go; Introduction of the Asset-Based Community Development CO-OP, whereby organisations like the Housing Foundation (Non-Profit ) can purchase non-perishable goods in bulk for their tenants and sell it at a small mark-up to them (During the sugar industry in St. Kitts it worked perfectly); tax deduction of to be determined maximum of all related Day Care and After School Programs for children till 12 years old attending a registered and approved centre; tax deduction of private home rental expenses to a maximum of 5% of the combined income; Increase of mortgage interest deduction to NAf. 30,000 to stimulate home ownership and reduction of rental income tax filing to 60%. With the equity, home owners can venture into new business opportunities. An economic impact study should be conducted first to realize a responsible and balanced introduction of these proposals as the government should not be in a position that they cannot pay their bills.
Cultural & Historical Heritage: “Make Great Salt Pond Great Again”
More and more tourists are attracted by cultural experiences and historical sites, besides the popular beach, sun and sand. The introduction of canoe tours on the strategically located Great Salt Pond whereby history will be relived and where our rich and diverse culture will be showcased is the perfect site to make that happen. On the shores traditional booths (e.g. Walter Plantz) will be built whereby our culture (arts & crafts, dance, music, cuisine, literature) is presented in its full glory. On the Great Salt Pond, the images of the different processes of mineralization of salt will be displayed, and the tour guides will explain how the St. Maarteners used to live and survive on this island. This will keep more of the 1.6 million cruise tourists longer on the Dutch side, increase their yield, create employment, and improve the revenues of government. The beautification of the Great Salt Pond will be of added value, not only for the tourists, but also for its citizens.
Diversification of our economy
For years we are talking about diversification of our one pillar economy. As already indicated government should function as a facilitator to allow private initiatives to flourish. The following industries can be developed:
Our unique multi-linguistic landscape offers ample possibilities to export languages e.g. call
Further development of the financial and banking sector;
Investment in local tertiary education to transition into a knowledge based society;
The virtual economy (cloud) has a lot of possibilities that we should explore;
Innovation in tourism also means looking for new markets and creating other attractions such as a water park;
Development of a transhipment hub.
With the proper policies, legislation and hard work St. Maarten will be the island to beat in the Caribbean, and will definitely improve the living standards of all its citizens and not only for the oligarchy on the island.
Robert O. Budike BSc.
Candidate # 18 on the National Alliance Slate
It can be done!
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