From left: Claire Elshot, Alberto Bute, Raymond Jessurun, Wycliffe Smith and Jacqueline Godet.
PHILIPSBURG–The St Maarten Christian Party (SMCP) board signed a declaration on February 3 stating that, if elected, the party’s Members of Parliament (MPs) will begin the process of eradicating poverty in St Maarten.
Witnessing the signing were St. Maarten Anti-Poverty Platform (SMAPP) members Raymond Jessurun, Claire Elshot and Alberto Bute.
“I am sure that there will be people who will immediately label the signing of this document as another political gimmick leading up to the February 26, elections. However, we want to assure the people of St. Maarten that signing the declaration is not a political stunt, but a serious attempt by SMCP to begin the process to eradicate poverty in St Maarten,” SMCP said in a press release on Monday.
The party said it believes that something must be done for the many persons who are living below the poverty line. “The process, for example, could start with Parliament reviewing the laws to increase the social allowances and the old age pension.” SMCP also believes the minimum wage should be converted into a living wage and that laws need to be put in place to create incentives to stimulate the economy.
“There is still a lot of work to be done in order to improve the standard of living in St. Maarten. By signing this declaration, SMCP has affirmed its willingness and commitment to initiate this process, in collaboration with the St. Maarten Anti-Poverty Platform which is in direct contact with the persons who are feeling the pinch of poverty, such as our pensioners, the unemployed, persons receiving social assistance, etc.
“It makes no sense re-inventing the wheel when the SMAPP has already done a lot of groundwork including proposing several strategies that deal with the eradication of poverty,” according to the press release.
SMCP said poverty in St. Maarten is real and especially now after Hurricane Irma, the facts and figures of people living in poverty in St. Maarten are glaringly visible for all to see.
“More people are reaching out to Government for social assistance. More people are in need of jobs. Our pensioners cannot make ends meet on their meagre pensions. Mothers and fathers have to work two and more jobs because the minimum wage is too low while the cost of living is very high.
“These conditions existed before Irma, but this hurricane brought us face to face with the abject poverty in which 75 per cent of our people are living. SMCP empathises with the hurt and suffering of our people and intends to do something about it when elected to Parliament,” the party said in the release.
SMCP said it is aware that the eradication of poverty cannot be accomplished in a four-year parliamentary term. However, to get the ball rolling SMCP said it had discussed the proposal submitted by SMAPP and adapted and signed a declaration committing to start the process if elected to Parliament.
Source: The Daily Herald https://www.thedailyherald.sx/islands/73401-smcp-signs-declaration-to-work-on-poverty-eradication