NAf. 8 million for hospitality training

PHILIPSBURG–A total of NAf. 8 million has been set aside in the pending amendment to the 2017 budget for training of unemployed or semi-employed hospitality sector staff. The amendment is still with the Council of Advice for review and will require the approval of Parliament.
Caretaker Finance Minister Richard Gibson Sr. told Parliament on Tuesday that the upgrading programme had been suggested by the Maho Group as a way to help its workers, but as Government it was thought best to extend this to all workers. Training is seen as a part of the country “building back better” post-Hurricane Irma.

The training programme is slated to last some four months. This period is “not enough,” said Gibson Sr., who indicated to the legislature that a request has been made to the Dutch Government via head of the Dutch Civil Mission Nico Schoof “to add funds for at least 10 months.” This request, Gibson Sr. said, “will be looked at” by The Hague.

The allocation for the training has a nod of approval from the Dutch Government, he said. This is important because the government in The Hague has agreed to cover the country’s substantial budget deficit for this year that comes as a result of the devastation caused by Hurricanes Irma and Maria in September.

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The 2017 budget was labelled as balanced at NAf 478 million. Post-hurricanes, the income is forecast to drop to NAf. 356.9 million while expenditures are to grow from NAf. 458 million to NAf. 510 million.

The deficit for 2018 is expected to be substantial, because it will spread across 12 months, compared to only four months this year, said Gibson Sr.

To boost the economy in the coming months in light of the income shortfall, a proposal has been made to The Hague to create a fund from which businesses can access money to rebuild and recover at a feasible interest rate. Such an incentive will go a long way in putting the country back on solid footing, he said.
The financing scheme was also being discussed with the Bankers Association which “welcomed the idea with open arms.”

Source: The Daily Herald