PHILIPSBURG–Party For Progress (PFP) Member of Parliament (MP) Melissa Gumbs has submitted several questions to Minister of Tourism, Economic Affairs, Transportation and Telecommunications (TEATT) Melissa Arrindell-Doncher on the Ministry’s plans to prepare for the economic impact of the global pandemic caused by the coronavirus (COVID-19).
In a letter dated Thursday, March 12, Gumbs alluded to statements made by Director of Economics at the Caribbean Development Bank (CDB) Dr. Justin Ram on March 9, that the region’s economies were too fragile to handle both a health crisis and an economic downturn due to the virus’ continued global impact.
Gumbs said St. Maarten is not exempt from the effects of the coronavirus, whether the virus is present locally or not. She questioned whether the Ministry had consulted with private sector stakeholders as yet, such as hoteliers, restauranteurs, taxi and tour operators, on the status of their reservations and bookings for the coming three months.
She also asked whether consultations had been held with Port St. Maarten and Princess Juliana International Airport (PJIA) to assess the impact of a potential rise in cancellations of ship and flight arrivals. She also asked what plans are in place for micro-enterprises (taxis, vendors, small-scale attractions) in the event the downturn is as bad as or worse than what is being projected, globally, by economists from a range of countries.
“The type of economic impact that a pandemic can have on a country isn’t a hard punch,” Gumbs said in a press statement. “It’s a slow burn, so it’s important to gauge if we are already feeling that heat. In light of President Trump’s decision to ban travel in the US to and from Europe, we need to begin considering the effects on our economy as the world continues to experience COVID-19,” she added.