PHILIPSBURG:— 2016 by all means answered to the characteristics of a leap year. A year marked by great losses, controversy and political instability, and yet through it all many in our community pushed forward with tenacious positivity and belief in this country and our potential. The people of St. Maarten have in the face of adversity worked in the interest of the country undeterred by all ills and set the trend of a way forward. In the absence of a stable and supportive Government, the country moved, forward or backward dependent on personal perceptions, at a very slow almost invisible pace. This pattern however is not sustainable and if continued will not only halt our progress, but reverse much of what we have achieved.
COCI has throughout 2016, overcoming its own challenges, worked with consistency on the improvement of its data registry system, human resources and the further development of its services launched in 2015. COCI’s objective to enhance access to its services and to better support the business sector reached a higher standard in 2016, but is considered a continuous objective requiring work to attain higher standards each time. In 2016 COCI reached out to other Governmental bodies in an effort to synchronize processes and procedures so that the overall business incorporation /start-up process could be shortened. Investors are often discouraged by long and cumbersome processes and seek environments that meet World Bank standards of business incorporations within 1 day. Initiatives were also undertaken to understand and synchronize the needs of the business sector and with the available human resources in the labor market in an effort to establish courses and training programs as sectors may dictate. The objective to develop new career opportunities, supports a healthy growth of the business sector as well as a socio growth of the community. COCI further in its undertakings strived towards a more secure business environment and sought collaborations to enhance compliance by the business sector in St. Maarten. These initiatives, be it due to a lack of understanding, are not yet embraced by our Government and have hampered the implementation of business ratings in St. Maarten thus far. COCI in 2016 continued to partner with law enforcement to enhance safety and security in St. Maarten, and organized programs in this regard. COCI will in the coming years, with increased focus on this subject matter, make proposals and launch initiatives for a continuous enhancement of security within St. Maarten. On the front of business development, COCI throughout 2016 encouraged, and supported small business entrepreneurs in their effort to establish businesses and maintain businesses in St. Maarten. Concerns raised by the large business sector were heard and after thorough research initiatives were developed for launching in 2017 and beyond.
Based on the following statistics and a comparison with statistics of the previous year we may conclude that confidence in our market potential has remained steady. An increase in new business registrations with a decrease in business closures, translates in the conclusion of an exponential growth in 2016.
Category 2015 2016 Remarks
New Businesses 732 849 The majority in business closures can be found in the Sole Proprietorship category. The main reason for closure is financial difficulty.
Closed Businesses 111
Sole Proprietorships 212 259
Limited Liability Comp 350 461
COCI has noted that there is a need for facilities through which entrepreneurs are educated on fiscal obligations/compliance, on maintenance of consistent business administration, on marketing tools and business development possibilities. COCI will as of 2017 offer such business support tools to the business community of St. Maarten.
Whilst COCI with its partners/members continues to work on the development of the economy of St. Maarten, a proper interaction with – and working relationship with the Government of St. Maarten is direly needed. COCI trusts that the new year will bring a closer working relationship with the Government of St. Maarten in the interest of the country. To the entire community of St. Maarten COCI Board of Directors, Management and Staff extends its well wishes. A Prosperous and Healthy 2017 to ALL.
Peggy Ann M. Brandon
Source: St. Martin News Network
COCI Year End message.