PHILIPSBURG–Several former ministers in the ousted Gumbs Cabinet, as well as Minister Plenipotentiary Josianne Fleming-Artsen on Thursday issued separate statements summing up their tenure in office, outlining their accomplishments and thanking persons who helped them along the way.
Education, Culture, Youth, Sports
Minister of Education, Culture, Youth and Sports Rita Bourne-Gumbs said her experience as a minister for a little over 11 months has added range to her experiences, knowledge and wisdom. “Despite the personal risks, serving you as Minister provided me with a larger perspective of the concerns affecting our youth, the population at large and what needs to be enforced to foster a better society. Knowing the right way to activate our youth is key. As a result, the struggle to empower them must continue,” she said.
“I count myself privileged, having the responsibility for two ministries for the majority of my tenure in office. That additional responsibility provided me with additional knowledge and awareness about the processes of government.”
She thanked the persons who contributed to her achievement while in office. “I urge us all to fight for and restore the rightful priorities of our society and what is good for the people of St. Maarten. If we all desire effective change in this society, then we must be willing to work together to achieve it. As we look to the future, the first essential thing is to begin healing the wounds of this nation, put the bitterness and divisions of the past behind us and to rediscover those shared ideals that are in the heart of the citizens of St. Maarten.” She wished the new ministers success.
Former Minister of Public Health, Social Development and Labour VSA Rafael Boasman, who served in the capacity for two-and-a-half months, said during his tenure he and his team worked tirelessly to improve the wellbeing of the populace.
Boasman said he and his team worked on issues such as the construction of a new hospital, increasing the pension age, indexing the minimum wage, indexing the tariffs for general practitioners, recognition of pre-hospital training entity Windward Islands Emergency Medical Services (WIEMS), meeting with and empowering the community councils and sending legislation on regulating the abuse on the short-term labour contracts, maternity leave, breastfeeding, change of enterprise and equal treatment for women, to Parliament.
“It is clear that I did not initiate the process leading up to all of these accomplishments; and I, therefore, thank those who were there before me for their foresights as far as these matters are concerned. Working with government organisations and non-government organisations is key in any anticipated achievement.”
He thanked all those who in some form contributed in making the past two-and-a-half months an experience that he will always cherish. “Governing can be a gratifying thing once you do not lose sight of the pledge you made to the community you were called to serve. Opinions differ and methods differ; however, whatever the differences, you should not lose sight of the big picture. Not everyone will be able to own their own home; not everyone will be able to become a lawyer or a doctor, but everyone should have equal opportunity to own their own home and become a lawyer or a doctor,” he said.
Former Minister of Public Housing, Spatial Planning, Environment and Infrastructure VROMI Claret Connor said he had been privileged to serve the country. “Upon assuming office, my approach as a professional coming out of the private sector was to primarily place attention on the fundamental issues affecting our young country. This was done in close consultation with all ministries. During this brief stint, I have had the advantage to help facilitate some profound initiatives and policies aimed to address ongoing challenges throughout the organisation; while others were geared to provide better opportunities and quality of life for our citizens and young people.”
He listed some of these initiatives as being the improvement in the licensing processes in the Ministry, coupled with the clean-up of unclaimed licences; the establishment of workgroups for the economic pillar of the National Development Plan; the draft framework document for the establishment of the St. Maarten Tourism Authority (STA) with key stakeholders; developing a cooperation agreement with the General Pension Fund APS for the purpose of constructing residential homes on the Vorst property and facilitating the cooperation between the St. Maarten Harbour and Public Works for the repairs to both Front Street and Back Street, amongst other things.
Connor said the country has been significantly challenged on all fronts over the past five years. “And, the struggle continues today. As a people we must remain encouraged and resilient. In doing so, however, we must never become comfortable with the notion that we are entitled to an acceptable standard of living and representation. We must resolve to work individually and collectively to contribute to this level of existence that we all can appreciate. Only then will we truly make St. Maarten a better place for generations to come.”
Former Minister Plenipotentiary Josianne Fleming-Artsen said she assumed her position in December of 2014, with a plan to bring structure to the cabinet, provide good representation, build better relations with the Dutch Government and where possible encourage new investment possibilities that would help diversify the St. Maarten economy, amongst other plans. She said the challenges of integrity and finance for St. Maarten are “real” and the Council of Ministers had done “a great job” in dealing with these matters. “Being the former Deputy Minister Plenipotentiary and the Minister Plenipotentiary has allowed me almost two-and-a-half years in the Netherlands, which has been such a great opportunity to stand up and represent my country in so many perspectives, at so many levels, with so many different cultures, encompassing all the various dossiers of all the Ministries, ensuring that there is only one main goal that St. Maarten at all times stands out. I am satisfied with what I have achieved,” she said.
Source: The Daily Herald Former Ministers sum up tenure in office, list accomplishments