PHILIPSBURG–Repairing relationships, recovery and reconstruction are the major themes of the new Cabinet. New Prime Minister Leona Romeo-Marlin outlined in her first speech that re-establishing cooperation with French St. Martin is one of the pivotal points in moving the country forward, as is implementing the bilateral agreement with the Netherlands on border control.
“Today I pledge to you that with all my strength, determination, and perseverance, together we will ensure that this country will return to its prominent status within this region,” she said.
If the last hurricane season has taught anything it is that the country cannot be a thriving nation “without internal and external cooperation, without revisiting and reflecting on decisions taken, questioning how effective we were and how we can improve and better prepare for the next disaster,” she told the well-wishers at a reception in the Government Administration Building following the swearing-in of the Cabinet.
The new Cabinet’s commitment to recovery and reconstruction includes establishing a clear and actionable economic plan developed in cooperation with the Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Chamber of Labour Unions, St. Maarten Hospitality and Trade Association (SHTA), the Social Economic Council (SER) and others.
Managing the labour market and establishing skill-development programmes to maximise employment, working together to ensure stability, tranquillity and hope through fast track and sustainable economic development and finalising the reconstruction plan are also on the priority list.
Preference will be given to the establishment of a safety plan to strengthen the overall safety of the country.
Implementing the Integrity Chamber Law in accordance with the agreement between St. Maarten and the Netherlands is also in the new Cabinet’s scope.
“This Government is committed to the principles of integrity, transparency and good governance,” Romeo-Marlin said.
Achieving the Cabinet’s goals and the rapidity of doing so will be “determined and influenced by many internal and external factors.” Setbacks, she said, are inevitable. “Many will not agree with every decision or policy. We expect the criticism and welcome such, as this gives each ministry the opportunity to self-reflect.”
The people of the country can expect “I will always be honest with you about the realistic and factual challenges we face,” said Romeo-Marlin.
Speaking of Hurricane Irma, she said September 6, 2017, was “a day that will forever be etched in our minds, a day that changed this island that we love, St. Maarten.”
What that disaster has shown is “in its darkest moment, this nation has shown an unyielding determination that revealed a perfect truth: that we, as a people, are resilient and unconquerable.”
St. Maarten has to rebuild, but cannot be rebuilt overnight, she continued. “We are essentially still in the recovery stage and in order to thrive and evolve into prosperity, a paradigm shift must occur. As a people, we must collectively change our outlook, as it is no longer business as usual.
“During this stage of recovery, it is important for us to unite, learn from past experience and restructure, rebuild, reform, simply because we are a progressive nation and can and will do better. … It is of utmost importance that during these difficult times we communicate, prioritise and make good use of the scarce resources available,” Romeo-Marlin said.
Putting emphasis on the country’s scarce resources, she said: “We cannot spend what we do not have, and we cannot squander the little we do have.”
Source: The Daily Herald https://www.thedailyherald.sx/islands/72771-leona-new-govt-committed-to-cooperation-with-french-side