Middle Region – The Board of the OSPP welcomes every and all initiatives that are geared towards the curbing of unemployment in general but in particular amongst our young people. Throughout all the districts we see our young boys and girls seeking job opportunities but can hardly find any.
Our Prime Minister the Honorable William Marlin has proposed the implementation of an employment fund to stimulate youth employment. These funds will be used to pay the salary of an unemployed youth that is hired by a business and they will also be trained to better prepare them for the job market. We support all efforts that are being made by the government and the private sector to provide our young people with meaningful employment. As a political party we have endorsed the GB3 program that was introduced by the former Minister of Education, Dr. Rhoda Arrindell. It was very unfortunate that the NA led government after her departure did not see it fit to continue with it. Today many young people who are still on the block may have gotten off and could have been making a meaningful contribution to the development of this nation.
On February 13, 2015 the leader of the OSPP, Mr. Lenny Priest submitted a proposal to the Parliament of St. Maarten and the former Minister of Labour, Mrs. Rita Bourne-Gumbs to establish the van Hugh Law. This law was named after the former Minister of Labour, Mr. van Hugh Cornelius de Weever presently a member of parliament. In 1989 the parliament of the former Netherlands Antilles had passed a law commonly referred to as the “Lei di Bion”. The purpose of this law was to have the business community employ young people between the ages of 18 and 30 years who were registered as unemployed for over six months. The employment must have lasted for at least one year. The businesses that employed these young people would have been exempted from paying the payroll taxes. The van Hugh Law would have differed somewhat from the “Lei di Bion” as it would not have exempted the businesses from paying the payroll taxes but instead the businesses would have received a tax credit (50% of the minimum wage of Nafls 1,500.00 x 12) per year for an amount of Nafls 9,000.00. If this draft proposal was debated in parliament and all the members had put in their two cents worth most likely the rate of unemployment amongst our young people would be much lower than what it is today. Unfortunately, the members of parliament of the NA, DP, UP, US, the independents and the Marcel Gumbs cabinet were not concerned about the unemployment amongst the young people at that time as they were all elected and appointed a couple of months before that to the Parliament of St. Maarten and the Council of Ministers. But with an election right around the corner everybody wants to put our young people now to work. Many business owners have recently indicated that they would support the van Hugh Law to employ young people that are unemployed and that it is normal to train new workers to execute their tasks.
The Board of the OSPP wants to reiterate their position once again that the back bone of every economy is small businesses. Let us create meaningful jobs for our young people, no quick fix election ploy. We are pleading to the Marlin Cabinet to table the draft Van Hugh law to the parliament to avoid having to re-invent the wheel. And please allocate those funds that are earmarked for the “Unemployment Funds” to the loan guarantee program that was proposed once again by the leader of the OSPP. Former Minister of Finance, Mr. Martin Hassink supported this loan guarantee program for he understands how real jobs are created. The Business Center from the Chamber of Commerce to assist those young people in setting up business plans; the Small Business Development Foundation to train the young entrepreneurs together with access to funds from the banks through the loan guarantee programs would create some of the much needed jobs for our young people. Our young people deserves better now and after the 2016 election. It is not about who proposes what; it is what’s best for our young people and the future of the St. Maarten that we love so dearly.
Source: 721 news Time is still on our side to make it right for our young people!