~ Lee: Sector vibrant, but less compliant ~
PHILIPSBURG–Businesses operating in the (re)construction sector in the country are being urged to become regulated and to comply with the rules of the country as authorities are moving to “ramp up” inspections in an effort to clamp down on non-compliance.
According to Labour Minister Emil Lee, while the (re)construction sector in the country is vibrant, possibly even more than the tourism industry, it is less compliant.
Lee said the amount of relief and insurance funds that is circulating in the country is substantial. It is up to government to ensure that businesses in the country are compliant.
Lee has had discussions with Finance Minister Michael Ferrier and it appears as though a number of construction companies from abroad are coming into the country to set up their operations, but Lee stressed that these companies should register their businesses in St. Maarten to be able to operate here. Many things such as the paying of taxes, documenting workers and regulating medical insurance cannot happen if a company is not registered.
“My belief is that there is a heavily non-compliant atmosphere out there,” Lee said, noting that as St. Maarten rebuilds businesses should be encouraged to be registered and pay their taxes and ensure that their workers have health insurance.
Lee, who spoke about how many permits have been granted thus far in the construction sector – three since November, and the fact that rumours of a large influx of construction workers were coming to the country is not true (see related story), said there is a lot more construction activity in the country since Irma and he questioned who are performing these activities.
“I believe that St. Maarten has a serious issue of compliance and I believe that this needs to be worked on critically and in these days even more so.”
He said Holland will be providing a total of 14 vehicles for the Labour Ministry; five have already been received. The vehicles will enable inspectors to go out and carry out inspections. A number of government vehicles were damaged during Hurricane Irma in September last year making it impossible for inspectors to do their work.
He encouraged businesses to take steps “quickly” to become complaint. Businesses will be assisted in the process to become registered. “We will help you to become complaint. Compliance should be a path of least resistance. We will help you to do that, but we will ramp up inspections,” he warned.
He also said that persons who are willing to work in the construction field should visit the Department of Labour Affairs and register, and the Department will try to match workers with companies. Persons who want to work in the field, but do not possess the skills are encouraged to sign up for the available training opportunities to learn.
Source: The Daily Herald https://www.thedailyherald.sx/islands/73302-govt-to-ramp-up-inspection-in-the-re-construction-sector