SINT MAARTEN (PHILIPSBURG) – As per the Kingdom Council outcomes of Thursday April 9th, it is very clear that country St. Maarten needs to take its first steps out of the crisis before help from the Netherlands will be forthcoming. Meaning, that Solidarity in tightening our belts needs to first happen at home; and budget cuts across the Board are expected.
Those actions, together with a timely and qualitative follow-up proposal to save jobs will likely not be available until the May timeframe, but it is the only way forward to (continue to) obtain support and save jobs and livelihoods of St. Maarteners. SHTA agrees with the conviction of Knops that if help is to be for everybody, so should the burden. SHTA hopes for national solidarity and asks government to swiftly take their share of the burden.
Given the setup of the Kingdom, at this point there is no other way to apply for financial aid than to comply to the demands of the Netherlands. Amongst the clear message of Staatssecretaris Knops was the high payments to Parliamentarians, Ministers and Senior Civil Servants as well as Directors of publicly owned companies, which are amongst the highest in the Kingdom “is intolerable, that people go hungry and that others get paid such high salaries for relatively small islands”.
SHTA repeats its offer to the public sector to share expertise and advice to comply to the demands coming from Holland. It recommends to make use of the social partners’ insights and experience in dealing with economy and labor matters by existing councils like the Socio Economic Council and Tripartite Committee.
Contrary to Aruba and Curacao, neither political parties, the media nor civil society organizations have at this point received insight into the details of the official proposal for COVID 19 relief; the released proposal is not yet funded, and has no clear timeline, the SHTA alerts businesses, to take necessary measures to survive in light that any support may still be far out.