Mercelina: SZV will collapse if sustainable health care financial system not developed | THE DAILY HERALD

Prime Minister Dr. Luc Mercelina


PHILIPSBURG–New Prime Minister Dr. Luc Mercelina says the Social and Health Insurances SZV will collapse if a sustainable health care financial system is not developed for the country.

    He made the remarks in his first address after being sworn in as Prime Minister on Friday.

    During his remarks, which earned him a standing ovation, Mercelina outlined some of the areas that he said should and must be focused on. Towards the end of his remarks, Mercelina was choked up and was close to tears as he thanked his parents, whom he said are no longer here.

    As it relates to SZV, he said the budget was being over-consumed. “We will have to work on the development of a sustainable health care financial system for St Maarten. We are over-consuming over our allowed budget, approximately between 30-35 million to cover healthcare costs for our people. If we continue with this trend, our social insurance bank will collapse in 5-7 years from now,” said Mercelina.

    He said also that the country has to enhance its regional cooperation in the area of economic development, education, healthcare and climate change.

    The country also has to prioritise the further development of social housing and affordable housing. “As we know, there is an unacceptable waiting list for housing for the less fortunate groups in our society. In this particular moment, we have 4,000 families on a waiting list for housing,” said the new PM.

    He also spoke about combating poverty, which he said must be done with a multidimensional approach. “Let us focus on this by accentuating betterment in education, border control, improvement of social welfare conditions, and establishing minimum living standards,” he said.   

    “We must start working on a comprehensive mental healthcare system. I am very worried with the growing amount of dropouts in our society that I every day see on the streets of St Maarten.”

    Mercelina said the only way to move a country like St. Maarten forward is to work diligently on the concept of nation-building, which he said has to be a concept tangible for citizens.

    He suggested that the audience think about having a National Police Academy for St. Maarten, which he said could be a recognised and accredited national university acknowledged in a National Ordinance on higher education and scientific research, as well as a well-equipped national library and a national development bank.

    “Let us further define an education model for St. Maarten that will cater to the necessities of the labour market.”

    He also touched on the ongoing general hospital project, saying there is need to iron out the path to ease the project’s progress.

    What also needs to happen in the short term, he said, is general clean-up of the island; beautification of the island with landscaping; prevention of placement of containers all over the place; and that car wrecks all over the island must be removed.

    He said there is also some work to do on kingdom level. “We have to improve the working relationship between the Netherlands and St. Maarten. We have to work on our democratic deficit in the kingdom that stands in the way of a healthy autonomous evolution. We must discuss the handicapping national debt position of St. Maarten within the kingdom. We will have to work on a sustainable development for St. Maarten,” he said.

    He outlined some of the challenges awaiting the new government, including what he referred to as “the huge poverty” that he said is overtaking the country and is challenging the values and norms; preserving and strengthening GEBE; and preserving and protecting TelEm.

    He elaborated on nation-building. “The question is if the current framework which is being used for the advancement of nation-building, as for example, the four-country consultations on level of justice, education, labour and social affairs, and maritime and aviation topics; the DCHA (Dutch Caribbean Hospital Association); the development of a USM [University of St. Martin – Ed.] by using the academic framework of Curaçao and Aruba for its development will ultimately have a positive impact on the formation of country identity and, of course, the bigger picture of nation building."

    The PM called on everyone to recapture the spirit of optimism and determination that has always defined the people of St. Maarten. “Let us draw strength from our resilience and our ability to overcome adversity. Let us work tirelessly to create a society where every individual has the opportunity to thrive, where every voice is heard, and where every dream is within reach,” the Prime Minister said.

    “In the days, weeks, months, and years ahead, I ask for your support, your patience, and your unwavering commitment to our shared vision for a brighter tomorrow. Together, we will write the next chapter in the storied history of St. Maarten, a chapter filled with hope, progress, prosperity, and unity for all.”

Source: The Daily Herald