MARIGOT–President Daniel Gibbs indicated during a Radio St. Martin interview on Thursday that the State had offered waiving a hundred per cent of social charges for employees at the minimum wage level only but added as far as he was concerned it was “still up for negotiation” and not a done deal.
One of the urgent measures Gibbs has proposed to help businesses get back on their feet is to request total social charges be waived for four months as well as exoneration of taxes for the population and businesses.
There was little news coming out of his visit last week in Paris and no news of any advance on negotiations for a 2.5 billion euro aid package mentioned previously. The 300-page evaluation of damages presented in Paris, based on a template used following Hurricane Luis in 1995, was put together in 10 days, well before the six-week deadline President Macron has asked for.
“It’s a difficult task to negotiate with government for these measures that we need and to justify the situation we are in,” said Gibbs. “But I knew that and I can take the pressure. I’m not an accountant but I can count. All these measures need to be included in a budget and adopted. The parliamentarians have to do their work to support me. They know the situation. Member of Parliament Claire Javois is ready to push the final measures through Parliament on my behalf. It’s a logical process but we are still in negotiation.”
Gibbs stated he is returning to Paris next week to sit on a Ministerial Committee meeting for the reconstruction of St. Martin.
“At that meeting we will discuss the reconstruction aspect as well as the social aspect and that‘s where I need to confirm certain information and discussions I had with the Ministries and President Macron’s cabinet. It’s something we want dealt with fast but we have to go by everyone’s different agendas. I know everybody wants answers but it’s not as simple as that. If I was sitting in my chair waiting for things to happen, nothing would happen. That’s why I’m doing what it takes as President, hoping that people understand I am fully in command of the situation.”
On a time frame for welcoming tourists back following joint discussions with the Tourism Minister on the Dutch side and hotel associations, he said it was far wiser to take the time to reconstruct in one year before offering a product that “is what we want it to look like, rather than presenting something half done that will be subject to criticism and that would not help the territory. So let’s be fully prepared while working on 2018 and 2019 and in the meantime we will try to open accommodations where we can.”
He said the border blocking controversy has been aired, both sides have addressed it and it is now “in the past.”
“Today we are in a steady relationship with the Dutch side and basically the united congress of cooperation that I always advocated in being played out on daily basis.”