Coalition outlines plans, focus on ‘Stability for Prosperity’

PHILIPSBURG–Investment in a “state-of-the-art” tax office, implementation of ordinances to impose stiffer penalties for violent crimes, diversify the economy and stimulate upward mobility in living standards are among the key areas the National Alliance/United St. Maarten Party/Democratic Party coalition plans to tackle in this governing term.

These areas were outlined in the “2016-2020 – United Democratic Alliance: Stability for Prosperity” Governing Programme released online Thursday evening. The release followed the postponement of a planned Parliament meeting in which Government was slated to present the Governing Programme. No reason was given for the postponement, but it is known that three Members of Parliament supporting the coalition are off-island. This left the coalition short one MP for a quorum.

“The United Democratic Alliance’s vision is to provide inspired leadership to meet the needs of our nation for the next four years and beyond. We aim to be a unified and effective government; to strengthen cohesion and cooperation among ministers, within ministries and parliament and by extension thereof foster a more prosperous society,” read the foreword signed by party leaders William Marlin (NA), Frans Richardson (US Party) and Sarah Wescot-Williams (DP).

Government has defined “a clear strategy that is focused on five core objectives,” according to the Governing Programme. Those objectives are nation building and good governance; sound financial management; public safety; socio-economic and environmental sustainability and enhanced quality of life.

Funding of the strategic objectives, the parties said in the Governing Programme “can only be achieved with adequate and well-balanced funding” based on superior delivery of public-friendly service of government, combined with emphasis on enforcement will lead to improved compliance, creating substantial increase of government revenues without a need to increase tax rates, lower costs of operations enabled by technology will allow government to allocate more funding for executing strategic government priorities.

The end goals is to promote integrity and transparency, develop and provide the highest quality education system and training, provide responsive public services, respect cultural and art resources, restructure and strengthen government organization, upgrade government operations and strengthen international affairs and foreign relations.

In the Governing Programme’s “nurture inclusion,” it is stated that government will finalize and execute National Development Plan, develop closer ties with St. Martin, strengthen relations with kingdom partners, ensure the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals and strengthening community development.

Specifically, Government intends to invest in a state-of-the-art tax office to be able to provide better services including online services, at the same time foster a culture of tax compliance. Through tax reforms government will simplify the tax system. These initiatives will make the tax system user-friendly and increase the overall compliance thereby resulting in more income.

Ordinances and policies will be implemented to promote stiffer punishment for violent crimes. Through education and other programmes the prevention of crime will be further reduced. These measures can only come to reality with an improvement of efficiency, effectiveness and quality in the justice chain. Along with the human aspect, the infrastructure supporting this ministry needs to be optimized. The facilities will be upgraded to international standards.

Government will work towards boosting and diversifying St. Maarten’s economy through various initiatives and projects focused on creating a good investment climate, facilitating business development, extending the tourist season and diversifying the tourism sector.

The transition of St. Maarten Medical Center (SMMC) to a general hospital and improvement in medical services are high on government’s priority list.

Government will review its public housing vision and policy to meet the housing needs of citizens. Through this initiative, it is Government’s aim to stimulate upward mobility in living standards and thus enhance the quality of life. “This will motivate or youngsters. Young citizens who are confident are better prepared to face opportunities and challenges. Our vision for our youth includes stimulating them in ways that will allow them to grow and reach new levels of development and achievement,” according to the Governing Programme.

Emphasis will be placed on reducing the cost of living on St. Maarten, especially for the elderly and the vulnerable. Therefore, government will increase the “Basket of Goods,” provide GEBE social relief to citizens in need, and conduct a study to transition from a minimum wage to a living wage.

The full Governing Programme is available

Source: The Daily Herald