PHILIPSBURG –The start-up functioning of the St. Maarten Tourism Authority (STA) was “just months away,” but the project had to be halted due to the limitation placed on the now former Marcel Gumbs Cabinet not to commit to any long-term project when the majority shifted in Parliament on September 30, says now former Tourism, Economic Affairs, Transport and Telecommunication Minister Ernest Sams.
In a farewell statement, Sams said his brief term in office had been “an accelerated learning experience” as well as one of recognizing the “urgent need for Government to restructure and optimize its organizational processes to become more effective and efficient, and above all eliminate waste.”
He added, “This country still has great potential and can be the success it ought to be, if all those who proclaim their ‘love’ for this island, live up it to the true meaning of the word love … While we fight the ‘self-stuff,’ who gets this or that, we forget the competitive environment we live in. While we fight among ourselves, the surrounding islands are forging ahead full speed in tourism and development.”
In his 73-day tenure, Sams said he and his cabinet were able to encourage South Americans to visit the country, which led to a group of Brazilian tour operators visiting St. Maarten and publishing their experience in travel magazines across Latin America.
The launch of Bureau Intellectual Properties (BIP), finalizing its outstanding matters to ensure a smooth and structured entry into service was noted by Sams as a success of his tenure. “Various previous ministries have worked on this project. This new independent body is poised to be a revenue-generating body for Government, and its setup affords us opportunities beyond our shores,” he said.
On Bureau Telecommunication and Post (BTP), the former minister said he and his team were in the initial phase of bringing parties together to highlight the areas to be rectified based on the findings of the General Audit Chamber report. “Steady progress was being made to rectify wrongs of the past, as this department too should also be a revenue-generating body,” Sams said.
Attention was also given to the Civil Aviation Department with an eye to update the structure and personnel to take the country to a Category One Status again. “Out of this we made both Civil Aviation and the Meteorological Department high priority areas to rectify and finalize. This project is ongoing,” he said.
Sams and his team were at “full speed exploring all avenues” for the initial financing for the long-talked-about Gaming Control Board.
All member of the Marcel Gumbs Cabinet, including Sams, demitted office on November 19, to make way for the new William Marlin Cabinet, the fifth cabinet for the country in five years.
Source: The Daily Herald Sams: STA just months away from start-up functioning