SINT MAARTEN (PHILIPSBURG) – Leader of the Peoples Progressive Alliance (PPA) Gracita Arrindell said on Wednesday in a media statement: “We keep all our First Responders including law enforcement agencies in our Prayers. Our Nation follows their orders as our people continue to prepare to emerge a healthier and wiser after this COVID-19 world pandemic is behind us. In order to be successful at our recovery, it requires an evaluation of our current state of affairs, adjust where needed in order to move forward triumphantly.”
Arrindell states: “Sint Maarten people deserves to know how we are prepared for the upcoming hurricane season while, our fight to mitigate – ultimately get a grip on the pandemic continues. This requires a comprehensive approach fast track approach, given the limited human resources and shortage of specific expertise. Two separate paths, not crossing each other, parallel to each other. It’s a proven fact if you try doing two things at the same time, one will suffer the consequences of being placed on the backburner not purposefully, but inevitably.”
Gracita continues: “Hard decisions must be made soon during the prolonged shutdowns that will give people some hope of receiving basic human support.
A support that is direly needed if we are to lessen, not widen the current income gap in Sint Maarten. The stimulus support package support can’t come soon enough. We cannot afford the financially challenged to become destitute during these times.”
Gracita states: “It is not farfetched to review the current task- division in our government organization structure given the humungous issues facing our Nation today. Regardless of the battle we face today to combat the COVID-19 virus, our country must continue dealing with our day -to -day management during this closedown phase. Almost three years after hurricane Irma, Trust fund monies are still in the pipeline while to date there are many citizens who are still in dire need of home repairs, and businesses struggling to keep employees or make payrolls”.
“It requires looking inward both towards the private- and the public sector for expertise to share the current burden of the many tasks and responsibilities before the inevitable ‘burn-outs’ take place. EOC has been working overtime and doing a great job.
These professionals deserve a break as well. Several countries including Holland, have resorted to implement the system of rotation ‘deputizing’ core administrators in times of prolonged crisis management.
Why not here in Sint Maarten.”
Arrindell continues: “The path forward to consider is as follows:
a. Continue to manage the ‘going concern’ by the Council of Ministers (COM) supported by the Secretary (SG’s), which is the daily management of our government responsibilities.
The Prime Minister by virtue of her constitutional tasks and responsibilities remains executing her core tasks as Minister of General Affairs, head of the EOC including hurricane preparedness. These responsibilities should continue uninterrupted.
b. Separately manage the COVID- 19/ pandemic. Government should consider appointing a Doctor with administrative experience to head the current COVID- 19 response team, or as previously suggested a Junior Minister who is a medical doctor.
For example, Dr. Luc Mercelina, Dr. Ruth Douglas, Dr. Lloyd Richardson, Dr. Pedro Arrindell to mention a few. Any one of these persons, or someone with such credentials can head this team and report back to the Minister of Health.
c. The Minister of Finance with his SRP team can focus on the successful preparation and execution of the current critical tasks by appointing another minister to deputize for his core responsibilities.
Gracita concludes: “We remain hopeful as we continue to deal with the State mandated closure and look forward to expeditious decision- making process regarding the stimulus financial support as well as aiding the most vulnerable citizens in our community. Sint Maarten is small and beautiful; we shall emerge wiser and stronger if we are willing to reorganize our current work- structure. Stay safe!”