SINT MAARTEN (PHILIPSBURG) – The Sint Maarten Hospitality and Trade Association (SHTA) completed a second report on its business wide survey, including the input of 635 respondent companies and non-governmental organizations (NGOs).
The number of survey respondents continued to climb, from 531 earlier this week for which our first report was based to 635 in our now final compilation. As all indictors by participants were toward significant decline without tourism arrivals. Our report was circulated to the Council of Ministers, Parliament and other governmental stakeholders. The survey now up to 635 companies, includes sole proprietors like taxi drivers to the largest employers on island, represent a total labor force of 9293 employees as of March 14th, when the effects of the global Covid19 pandemic set in.
This data is representative of approximately 50% of the workforce not employed by Government, Semi-government and government owned companies. Of that it is anticipated that almost 50% will be laid-off. The association stresses for immediate actions and acute incentives to protect jobs and livelihoods.
Based on the joint figures of the respondents, it is assessed 6.3% of the private sector labor as of March 14th has already been laid off. 74.3% of the companies and non-governmental organizations stated that without outside help, extra layoffs will be inevitable and many SMEs are already considering closing their doors forever. According to the survey result, the reduction of the labor force would add up to 33.1 percent after 3 months, and 47.8 % after 6 months.
Based on data from the 2018 TEATT Business Survey this suggests that a total reduction to the national employed labor force employed by approximately 11,950 leaving over 7000 households without income. In this scenario, government would experience a decrease in revenues of ANG 229 million from budgeted Employment Taxes and Business Taxes to their coffers, and much more that Government will have to pay out in social support for the unemployed.
The association considers these numbers alarming, and asks for direct action and robust long term strategies. SHTA repeats its urgent call for 90% payroll subsidy to be implemented immediately. This request has been a consistent stance of all business associations over the past month. This would allow the labor force to keep jobs, livelihood and the ability to pay for food, rent, water and SZV coverage. By using employers, a proven channel remains in place without the need to reinvent the wheel; but more importantly retains the economic back bone of the country and protects existing investment. Arguably a much better place from which to rebuild then with enormous unemployment with few companies left standing. In addition, it will continue to provide cash flows to government.
For the Decision makers of Government, SHTA expects the numbers to speak for themselves. As the number of companies submitting entries is about a quarter of the Sint Maarten companies employing 50% of the non-Government and semi-Government employees; as described in the TEATT business survey of 2018, the association underlines the comprehensive representation of the sample – especially when taking into account the large employers and household count implicitly represented in the research.
Numbers were carefully reviewed and suggests that they can be of use for decision makers in order to save people’s income and livelihoods. The 635 companies compiled their confidential information in less than one week. SHTA thanks fellow business associations Sint Maarten Marine Trades Association (SMMTA), Indian Merchants Association (IMA) and Sint Maarten Timeshare Association (SMTA) for swift assistance in spreading the request, as well as the many non-members sending in data. SHTA thanks its own membership for an unprecedented compliance of 91% to its request, as well as the various policy makers requesting the information.