PHILIPSBURG–“It is definitely winter for St. Maarten businesses – big, small and in-between, as more and more are closing their doors due to the flagging economy and no relief package in sight from government,” said Member of Parliament (MP) Theo Heyliger.
The United People’s (UP) party leader questioned in a statement to The Daily Herald whether the coalition government, “even coordinates statements or is this like the HBO hit series – Game of Thrones … Is it the battle of the seven kingdoms or ministries in our case?”
At the Council of Ministers Press Briefing on Wednesday, the disconnection between ministers or coalition partners could not have been “more glaring” Heyliger pointed out.
“The Minister of Finance brags about having a balanced budget and at the same time the Minister of Labour announces more business closures. To coin a phrase of an old friend of mine, it’s ‘simply amazing,’” he said.
To make matters worse, Heyliger said the Department of Statistics’ preliminary estimate of real growth for last year, as issued on Thursday, “paints a troubling picture of our once thriving economy. The Department has reported that growth for the country stood at 0.4 per cent of Gross Domestic Product (GDP) for 2016 and its final estimate for 2015 was 0.5 per cent.
“I concur with the Department that is the country’s position, but I will be more direct and say the economy is not slightly worsening but has severely worsened under this government. This is due to short-sightedness and being out of touch with the real needs of the community,” Heyliger said.
Finance Minister Richard Gibson implementing “harsher methods of collecting taxes, including sending tax collectors door-to-door to businesses is bleeding what remains of out an ailing economy,” Heyliger said.
“Unless some magic happens so we can get blood from stone, it’s winter for the entire economy. It will come continue to be cold and a time of great hardship for all of us, without additional marketing to bring more ships or planes to the country and no meaningful discussion with the private sector,” he said.