Commerce Chamber board makes half-yearly Saba visit

Members of the Executive Board of the Chamber of Commerce of St. Eustatius and Saba. With from left: board member and Statia’s Public Relations Officer Ebbie Schmidt-Hinds, Saba board member Hermanus van Xanten, Statia’s Office’s Executive Director Petronila Lara Reyes, Saba’s Vice President Wolfgang Tooten and board Chairman Carlyle Tearr.

SABA/ST. EUSTATIUS–St. Eustatius’ executive board members of the Chamber of Commerce St. Eustatius and Saba made a visit to Saba on Wednesday, December 12, for their half-yearly face-to-face meeting.

  The board met with the Executive Council of Saba to discuss matters of interest to the business community and the island at large. Included in the meeting was a report of the condition of the business community following the passage of Hurricanes Irma and Maria and steps taken by Government to assist businesses with recovery efforts.

  Some of these initiatives included travel to St. Kitts and Nevis to arrange for the purchase of much needed goods, since deliveries from the regular suppliers in Puerto Rico and Miami, Florida, were not possible for several weeks.

  The meeting with the Executive Council of Saba was deemed very constructive. The Chamber members told Island Governor Jonathan Johnson, Commissioner Rolando Wilson, Island Secretary Tim Muller and Head of Economic Affairs Dave Levenstone they are happy to cooperate with Saba’s Government regarding exchange of information and the distribution of relief funds. They applauded the Island Government on their efforts to make that a reality.

  The Chamber of Commerce also held a town hall meeting with members of the Saba business community to assess their needs and concerns and to give updates on the various systems and plans put in place by the Chamber during the year soon ending and for the first quarter of the year ahead.

  The Chamber board again made it a point to inform the business community about the tasks and work of the Chamber.

  The recently established Qredits Funding Programme was a focus of many of those in attendance as this has been set up to make sources of funding more accessible to small businesses, particularly those wanting to start a business, or struggling to expand.

  The Board encouraged the audience to visit the Qredits website and call the office for assistance.

  During the well-attended meeting the tourism sector especially expressed grave concerns about the slow recovery, or lack thereof, on Saba. Chamber Chairman Carlyle Tearr provided updated information on the special fund of the European Union which will grant some financial relief to the tourism sector.

  Hotels, restaurants and related businesses, which have lost revenue because of the hurricanes, are to receive these funds, administered through the Island Government. With the submission of applicable documentation and after review, the first disbursements will go out in January 2018, for the first quarter of the year.

  Tourism-sector businesses on Saba have recorded considerable losses due to hurricane damage, not only to their properties, but hotel and dive-shop bookings also fell drastically, as did restaurant visits.

  The Chamber made the point to get information out to everyone that Saba and St. Eustatius are open and ready to do business. 

Source: The Daily Herald