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A foundation of hope for our country

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A foundation of hope for our country A foundation of hope for our country Document Transcript

  • A Found at ion of Hop e for O u r C ou nt r yA Foundation of Hope for Our CountryA foundation built on strength, compassion and decisiveness 3
  • A Found at ion of Hop e for O u r C ou nt r y TABLE OF CONTENTSI. Introduction 5 Government and Governance 7 Priorities 8II. Public Health, Social Development and Labor 9 A. Health 9 Priorities 9 B. Social Development 10 C. Labor 10IV. Government, Finances and The Economy 12 A. Budget 12 B. The Economy 12 C. Priorities: 13 D. Taxes 14 E. Monetary Matters 14V. Immigration 15VI. Natural Resources and The Environment 16VII. Tourism 17 Priorities 18VII. Infrastructure 20 Priorities 20IX Industry, Trade and The Private Sector 21 Utilities 21X. Safety and Security 22 Priorities 23XI. Community Development 24XII. Education 26 A. Short-Term Goals 26 B. Mid-Term Goals 27 C. Long-Term Goals 27 Linguistic Versatility 27 Teachers 28 Tertiary Education 28 Roi Study 28XIII. Sports 29XIV. Culture and Nation Building 30XV. Foreign Affairs 31XVI. List of Abbreviations 32XVII. Country St. Maarten Organogram 33XVIII. Declaration on the formation of the first Government of Sint Maarten as a country 34 4
  • A Found at ion of Hop e for O u r C ou nt r yI. INTRODUCTIONIf there ever was a time for government to plot its course carefully, to plan strategically, and to prioritizeits activities, it is now.The new trajectory for St. Maarten has been set with the accomplishment of country status on October10, 2010. This is a path towards more autonomy, more self-reliance, more responsibilities, and a long-termcreative problem resolution mindset for our country.After almost a year of being a constituent country within the Dutch Kingdom, it is clear that the roadahead will not be an easy one to travel. The change in St. Maarten’s constitution to its country statuscalls for the old adage “all hands on deck”. In order to build country St. Maarten, the creative utilizationof various resources including human resources is imperative to the future success of St. Maarten and theimplementation of the critical success factors.The true and complete financial picture of our new country is slowly emerging and it will take some timebefore all aspects of this picture become clear. At the end of the day, upon completion of the division ofassets of the former Netherlands Antilles, when St. Maarten receives its rightful share, it will be able toinvest its available assets efficiently and secure prudent funds management; in our view this picture willbe a promising one.In preparation for Country St. Maarten, much attention was paid to the democratic foundation, whichis so critical for any young nation. Though the financial consequence to guaranteeing this democraticfoundation may be staggering, the social and economic benefits largely outweigh the costs.During the composition of this government program, the 2011 budget has recently been approved.With the 2011 budget inherited from the previous administration, the government set out to do the bestit could. However, numerous government plans will have to be temporized due to current global andregional economic and financial realities. Nevertheless, the Government is determined to present itsvision for our country and remains resolute that the constitutional change on October 10, 2010 has beenfor the betterment of the people of this nation.It is obvious however, that much of the anticipated constitutional change has come at a time of majorinternational challenges and uncertainties, which also impact the economic well being of St. Maarten.At present, the world seems to be restoring in a sluggish manner from the economic and financial doldrumsthat have rocketed the world over the past 24-36 months. During this time St. Maarten was able to barelysustain the effects of the global financial crises.In preparation for country St. Maarten, the available national resources were pushed to their limits, butthe Government was provided with the blueprint for a government organization, worthy of country St.Maarten.It is now our task to fill all functions needed to man this organization. It is evident, that for at least thecoming 12 to 18 months, it will be impossible to permanently fill all critical functions and the alternatives 5
  • A Found at ion of Hop e for O u r C ou nt r yof signing SLA’s and contracting consultancies will be financially very demanding, particularly because oftime pressure.None of the above however, will dampen the spirit of Moving Ahead as a country, responsible for our owndestiny and that of our children. This Government will have a different approach towards the country’s firstgovernment program. This program will not be a static and dusty document, but rather a testing platformfor the creativity of all within the framework agreed upon by the coalition parties.With the outline of the Government’s vision and the focal points of the 2010-2014 government period, thegovernment will enter into dialogue with government senior management and with the private and civilsectors to establish a joint agenda for the future of St. Maarten.Based on the political programs of the governing parties, the building blocks for this foundation are thefollowing:1. Combating and eradicating poverty2. Adequate healthcare3. Social support structures4. Sustainable development5. Adequate infrastructure6. Safe and secure living environment7. Human development8. Sound governmentThe tools to accomplish the above objectives will be a solid investment program,supporting the following 5 pillars:a) Economy,b) Social Safety Nets,c) Infrastructure,d) Human Development,e) Environment. 6
  • A Found at ion of Hop e for O u r C ou nt r yI. GOVERNMENT AND GOVERNANCEVision: As the government organization of country St. Maarten takes definite shape, it is becoming clear thatthe governance cycle must be one of delegated authority and accompanying accountability. Processes must betransparent, also towards the clients served by government. Lines must be shortened, both the physical as wellas the organizational lines.The envisaged Public Service Center is a tool for delegation. A start will be made for this Center to becomeoperational through the training of persons to skillfully man this service. Benchmarks will be developedand turn-around time will be shortened.Our new democracy is a fledgling one, however it is important that the maturing of this new democracyis built on the conviction that our institutions and the rights of all citizens are protected and enshrined.Accountability and control checks are the bedrock of our democracy and are anchored in the constitutionand institutions of the State. The Constitutional Court, the Councils of State and the human rights catalogueserve as guarantees of our democratic system.On the one hand, not having been able to profit significantly from the groundwork laid during the pastdecades by the Netherlands Antilles has placed us at a disadvantageous starting position; yet, on the otherhand, while that is the case, the opportunity exists to design our institutions from scratch. Consequently, itshould not be anticipated that our “growing pains” will disappear any time soon.Our goals are to build up the institutions for country St. Maarten by making use of local expertise andmanpower as much as possible and to secure vital services by means of service level agreements wherenecessary, and to use expatriate expertise as a means to build local and sustainable senior staff.The training of public servants remains an ongoing endeavor and after the BAZN/USM program,government will continue providing general trainings to upgrade the civil service corps as well as specifictraining in the different areas of government. In addition, training will be part of exchange programs andinternships. Presently, an inventory has been commissioned to provide insight into the training needsof government. At its completion, a pilot project will take place, which is aimed at training 1000 publicservants and is scheduled to start by September/October 2011. These training courses are expected torun from the month of December 2011 through the month of December 2012.The integrity program as developed, which is currently undergirded by legislation, will proceed and theemphasis will be on empowering employees with the knowledge that an open, transparent, fair andaccountable organization and operation will be beneficial to all.Government lags behind in the use of technology as a service enhancer. Attention will be paid to thisdeficiency, not only in terms of investments in technology, but also through investments in the trainingof personnel in order to make optimal use of the opportunities offered through the use of technology.Reduction by approximately 50% of paperwork is an attainable goal. 7
  • A Found at ion of Hop e for O u r C ou nt r yPriorities• Opening of New Administration Building; • Training programs for the Public Service Center; • Performance Contracts with senior management;• Training programs for the civil servants in general aimed at upgrading knowledge and skills;• Integrity: Implementation of the integrity program;• Transparency: Make government’s actions more transparent through consultation, dialogue and frankness;• Communication: Review the communication tools available to government, with a thrust towards electronic and social media;• Automation of systems and programs, especially in the area of applications and permits;• Technology: Enhance the use of technology to provide better and improved services. 8
  • A Found at ion of Hop e for O u r C ou nt r yII. PUBLIC HEALTH, SOCIAL DEVELOPMENT AND LABORA. HEALTHVision: To promote and protect public health, safety and the general well-being and improve the quality oflife of all St. Maarten residents. To prevent unhealthy living conditions, protect socially vulnerable groups, andpromote employment opportunities in the interest of St. Maarten’s society as well as to ensure accessibility tohealth care and social services by reducing bureaucracy, and at the same time, provide excellent service bysimply being helpful and working transparently, effectively and efficiently.Currently, St. Maarten is in the process of establishing a National Health Insurance (NHI) to ensure that theSt. Maarten population is insured and has access to health care services. In this respect, a Health InformationSystem (HIS) is needed to ensure that the relevant departments have access to the required data toestablish baselines, support policies, detect outbreaks, and report to local, regional and internationalhealth organizations.However, it is important that we determine both the quality of health care as well as the affordability, wewish to have as a country. It is generally understood that the cost of health care will continue to increase.Therefore, major focus areas will include: prevention or self help, investments in projects such as theHealthy Bus, which is a program designed to go into our neighborhoods to register and screen those whomay not readily seek medical care, and fostering a closer working relationship with local NGO’s such as:the St. Maarten AIDS Foundation, the St. Maarten Diabetes Foundation and the St. Maarten Alzheimer’sFoundation.The Government of St. Maarten has invested heavily in its infrastructure, among others by developingstate of the art harbor and airport facilities which are the foundation for our tourism industry. Similarprogress must and will continue by also investing in the “infrastructure” of healthcare, healthcare systemsand social services.In addition, the Government is working diligently with the St. Maarten Medical Center (SMMC) to financeits expansion plans and explore its options by expanding its care in order for it to become a participant inthe region.Presently, the government is conducting research and negotiations with parties, interested in developingmedical tourism on St. Maarten. Undoubtedly, e-medicine and/or tele-medicine will play a pivotal role inthe future of medical care on St. Maarten by having access to second opinions and follow-up sessions withspecialists abroad. Consequently, this type of service could save the tax payer a lot of money.Efforts geared at improving mental health care will be continued as well as the support to the MentalHealth Foundation in its endeavors to provide such care and services to our residents.Priorities:• Initiate special programs for awareness and prevention of the prevalent diseases and illnesses such as hypertension, diabetes and HIV/AIDS;• Conduct vigorous health, labor and environmental inspections; 9
  • A Found at ion of Hop e for O u r C ou nt r y• Support institutions that promote health/medical tourism; • Establish the council for the elderly; • Implement programs to combat drug abuse.B. SOCIAL DEVELOPMENTSocial services are being reviewed and evaluated with the objective of making them more accessible,transparent, fair and sustainable. At the same time, we are seeking ways to streamline the entire processand adhere to the timeline as outlined in our laws. The financial, medical and legal assistance policiesand laws will be revised and adjusted accordingly. It is the intention of Government to integrate medicalassistance into the National Health Insurance (NHI). Persons receiving financial aid, who can be trainedwill be trained and prepared to enter the job market through joint ventures with the private sector in theprojects: “From Welfare-to-Employment,” and “Adult on the Job Training”.These social safety nets need to be accessible to those who do not have any other resources or means.More emphasis will be placed on the prevention of poverty, the promotion of self-empowerment and theimportance of individual and social responsibility within the society.In addition, the current social services are being evaluated and expanded to include the possibility ofa National Pension Plan (NPP) and a disability fund. The transformation of the present old age pensionsystem into a comprehensive and sustainable one will be studied. In addition, this government is pursuingthe establishment of social systems that over time will offer a basic level of social security to all citizens.Sustainability, solidarity and affordability are key components of this vision.Community development will take shape through a combination of simultaneous activities, summedup as the Integrated Neighborhood Development Program (INDP). The INDP is a process of integratingsocial, cultural, economic and environmental planning to build community commitment and capacity.Professional activities and improvements serve to complement the more social aspects of a neighborhooddevelopment, such as community help desks and community empowerment.Similarly, St. Maarten is advancing in areas such as poverty eradication, reduction of child mortality andimprovement of maternal health. Such MDG areas will be monitored continuously as well as the areasof universal education, gender equality and empowerment, combating diseases, such as HIV/AIDS,environmental sustainability and global partnerships. In addition, the last mentioned areas will be activelypursued to meet the global targets of the MDGs.C. LABORCountry St. Maarten has an obligation to ensure a balance between employers and workers by guaranteeinga stable government and a sound investment climate.The current foreign work permit policy is under review; the need to streamline processes and re-institutetripartite dialogue on the reform of labor laws is evident and constitutes a priority for government. Theeconomy of St. Maarten calls for a more tailor-made and differentiated work permit policy. Any newor reform labor policies will focus on regulating the labor market with better control on compliance oflabor laws, especially where it concerns labor conditions, premiums, ensuring that workers have medical 10
  • A Found at ion of Hop e for O u r C ou nt r yinsurance/NHI, wages and payments.Government is of the opinion that youth unemployment must and should be drastically reduced.Government will combat these unemployment numbers through training and schooling of our youngpeople in order for them to become more employable and have a successful future. Synchronizationof the economic, educational and labor market is essential. The role and the impact of immigration onthe society must also be taken into account and should be amended accordingly. Only a combination ofmeasures will provide a more equitable market for employers and employees alike, such as:• Schooling and Education;• On the job training;• Flexibility of the labor laws and processes;• Tripartite consultation;• Cooperation with judicial authorities;• Adherence to good labor practices.Other areas of interest are:• Reviewing the processes of the unemployment registration;• Improving the placement of local laborers in the job market and “match-making”;• Improving and simplifying the process for work permit applications;• Introducing transparent policies.Ratifying and adhering to the International Labor Organization (ILO) conventions as well as fulfilling St.Maarten’s reporting obligations is paramount to Country St. Maarten’s positioning in the internationalarena. Implementing and utilizing a Labor Market Information System (LMIS) will be the main focusbecause it will guide future policies, detect abuse, and assist with the obligation to report to local, regionaland international organizations.As is stipulated by the ILO, opportunities for women and men to obtain decent and productive work inconditions of freedom, equity, security, safety and human dignity will be advanced. Government’s mainaims are to promote rights to work, encourage decent employment opportunities, encourage decentwages and work hours with worker productivity, enhance social protection and strengthen dialoguewhen handling work-related issues. Such activities will take place through the tripartite membership:government, employers and workers, all of whom will jointly shape government’s policies and programs. 11
  • A Found at ion of Hop e for O u r C ou nt r yIII. GOVERNMENT, FINANCES AND THE ECONOMYA. BUDGETGetting the right financial fit for Country St. Maarten, after decades of co-management with the NetherlandsAntilles will take time, creativity, crafting and re-crafting. On the one hand, the neglect of the past needsto be eradicated and new challenges need to be faced head-on. The re-drafted 2011 budget has gottencloser to this ideal; however, there is still much more work to be done. This work continues to be carriedout within the framework of financial agreements associated with the constitutional reforms. However, itis becoming more and more evident, that the rigidity of these agreements must eventually make room foradaptations and more flexibility as the need arises and the circumstances so demand.This budget situation has become even more critical since the development aid traditionally receivedfrom the Netherlands is currently being phased out. It is the vision of this government that national longterm planning can no longer be postponed.A great deal of creativity needs to be demonstrated in moving forward and thus far untapped orunderutilized funding sources need to be examined.A National Development Plan (NDP), a successor of the MAPP will be embarked upon without delay. Thisis no small undertaking and will require broad private sector input and support. Government has alreadyformalized an agreement with the UNDP to assist in the development of the National Development Planfor St. Maarten.B. THE ECONOMYVision: To develop St. Maarten’s economy as a competitive market where fair competition takes place, rulesand regulations are transparent, incentives for good corporate citizenship apply, and government’s role is tofacilitate that market through arbitration and supportive legislation.After becoming an autonomous Country within the Dutch Kingdom on October 10, 2010, it is importantfor country St. Maarten to seek its first sovereign credit rating. Acquiring this assessment would result inthe creation of a strong position for future financing possibilities. A good country rating will also contributeto a positive investment climate. Rating agencies assess the risk of default by analyzing a wide range ofelements, such as solvency factors, which not only include the capacity to pay off debts, but also look atsocio-political factors that might affect the willingness to repay loans.Country St. Maarten’s pursuit of its rating will begin with defining its objectives. A major objective for therealization of this rating or risks assessment is to enhance access to capital markets on an international level.Another objective for pursuing such rating or risks assessment is to promote various forms of commerceand development on St. Maarten.Preliminary discussions and meetings with the top three international rating agencies namely, Standard& Poor’s (S&P), Moody’s, and Fitch have already been initiated. In view of the importance of stimulatingeconomic growth, also through public investments, Government is looking forward to this sovereign 12
  • A Found at ion of Hop e for O u r C ou nt r yassessment being completed in 2011.Government continues to promote economic growth through investments in public programs and tocreate a supporting environment for business development and investments. Several Public investmentswhich are projected in the next 2 years are the following:1. The Simpsonbay Causeway (St. Maarten Harbor Group); (Following the Preparatory Works Agreement for this Causeway, the construction contract has been signed between the Simpsonbay Lagoon Authority Corporation and Volker Construction BV. The Causeway is projected to connect the Airport Boulevard to Cole Bay).2. The Ring Road;3. Capacity expansion for sewage treatment plants and sewerage networks throughout the island;4. Construction of the SBO school (Secondary School for Vocational Education); a Public Investment Initiative;5. Housing Projects; Hope Estate, Phase II.The government has recently commissioned the project “St. Maarten Housing Vision 2012-2017. The goalis to develop a 5-year policy plan for housing on St. Maarten, with specific attention for lower and middleincome categories. The project shall also address the legislation governing housing and the ultimate goalis to improve the overall quality of housing on St. Maarten. This plan falls under the Social chapter of theSocial Economic Initiative of the country.In addition, the Government intends to pursue the development of a development bank for St. Maarten.There are sufficient revenue streams to feed into such a bank. Associated with this idea is the intentionto create a financing agency for social programs, as a successor of Reda Social (Social Network) on St.Maarten.C. Priorities:• National Development Plan (August 2011- February 2012) ;• Sovereign rating for country St. Maarten; • Small business development;• Review of tax holiday legislation;• Consumer Protection laws;• Tax review by public/private task force;• Financial Services market research;• Modern agri- and horticulture techniques. 13
  • A Found at ion of Hop e for O u r C ou nt r yD. TAXESA “Taskforce Financial Management” has been established, consisting of members from within the Ministryof Finance with external support from the Government Accountants Bureau, assisted by a consultant toadvise the Minister of Finance on all matters pertaining to the improvement of the financial managementof government, including the budget, CFT consultations and general financial policies.The tax system will be overhauled within the next 18 months and it is anticipated that the new tax systemwill be implemented in 2013.Non-disputable elements of this overhaul are: simplification, fairness, efficiency, stability and feasibility.Upgrading the general tax administration is an ongoing project. The first results of this upgrading will bethe inclusion of all tax payers in the tax system. To achieve this, data bases of the St. Maarten Chamber ofCommerce and Industry and of the Civil Registry should be synchronized or at least made accessible, andshould result in one general registration code for residents and businesses.The project “Improvement Data Management by Government Agencies” has been launched with thisobjective in mind. This data management process will also extend to other government departments.This in itself should considerably improve government’s revenue and will provide better insights for thebases of tax reforms.In the aforementioned tax review, serious consideration will be given to the current turn-over-tax (TOT).While the TOT is good for government’s coffers, its effects on the economy need to be analyzed vis-à-visa direct and unambiguous Value Added Tax (VAT). On the whole, our tax system needs to contain thoseelements built in that provide a low threshold, both in terms of the complexity as well as in terms ofcompliance.E. MONETARY MATTERSThe organization of the Central Bank of Curacao and St. Maarten (CBCS) has suffered some serious setbacks.For St. Maarten, this means that to date, the envisaged full-fledged Central Bank branch on St. Maartenhas not yet materialized and neither has any further joint action with Curacao on the joint currency takenplace.Given the rocky start of this joint institution, the government of St. Maarten is of the opinion that a separatemonetary agency for St. Maarten must be given serious consideration. The scope and form of this agency(central bank) will be dependent on the ultimate choice by St. Maarten for its currency.In the meantime, arrangements will be made with Curacao for the continued use of the NetherlandsAntillean currency, pegged to the US dollar as is presently the case. It is recommended that this arrangementbe upheld for the year 2012, so that on the one hand, the St. Maarten branch of the Central Bank can takeroot and on the other hand, a careful analysis of the available choices of currency can be embarked upon.Both trajectories will be pursued simultaneously. 14
  • A Found at ion of Hop e for O u r C ou nt r yIV. IMMIGRATIONSince both the authority for the issuance of work permits to foreigners and that of immigration now fallunder the responsibility of the government of St. Maarten, synchronization of both policies is an urgentrequirement. The government is currently confronted with the consequences of the implementation ofthe Brooks Tower Accord, introduced by the former Minister of Justice of the Netherlands Antilles.In addition, the procedures and processes of the issuance of business licenses need to be revised. Thegovernment believes that there are possibilities for new investment niches on St. Maarten. However,certain policies relative to the establishment of businesses and persons on the island must be reviewed tobe able to tap into hitherto unexplored areas of economic growth.The establishment of St. Maarten’s immigration department is in progress in accordance with the Planof Action of the New Immigration Organization. Setting up this new entity will include the recruitmentand training of personnel to strengthen the organization. An important factor in this process will beestablishing (new) policies related to admittance into the country. 15
  • A Found at ion of Hop e for O u r C ou nt r yV. NATURAL RESOURCES AND THE ENVIRONMENTThe environmental health of our country is a delicate one. A”green” vision of government for sustainabilityis therefore one of careful balancing. Actions on different frontiers should support this endeavor. Thezoning of the island has taken on renewed impetus, whereas the management of waste water and refuseis a top priority. With SLAC’s commitment to an improved management of the Simpsonbay Lagoon and theimminent clean-up of the Great Salt Pond, these two vital water areas will be given new breath. Alternativeenergy sources are being encouraged through the conditions in GEBE’s new concession.Government’s inspections will continue unabatedly with the additional support provided to the Ministryof Public Housing, Spatial Development, Environment and Infrastructure. Government will supporteducational and environmental awareness projects on the basis of an agreed upon action plan. 16
  • A Found at ion of Hop e for O u r C ou nt r yVI. TOURISMTRENDS IN THE TOURISM INDUSTRYIn view of the fact that Tourism is our main economic activity, Government has paid keen attention andassessed several trends in the travel and tourism industry to determine the opportunities and solutionsSt. Maarten would like to pursue for the future development of our tourism product and to increase ourcountry’s GDP.According to IPK International, the global trend shows a strong recovery mode – “global crisis is over”.There is an increase in international trips, with growth driven by South America and Asia; spending willrecover; we will see 4% increases (overnight outbound trips); there will be shorter but more trips and anincrease in hotel guests, but rates are still under pressure.The trend for North America shows that the outlook seems modest, and projected growth is low, whereasSouth America, especially Brazil is performing strongly with an increase of 54% in outbound travel.The trend in Europe shows a 1-2% growth for the outbound market with shorter trips but an increase inthe number of trips. These persons will spend less on their trips; bookings via the internet are increasing,but the financial crisis will impact their travel behavior. They will not stop traveling, but will be more priceconscious.The Asian travel trend is optimistic, and is showing strong growth in China, South Korea & Malaysia. Taiwan,Japan, Singapore and India are also showing increased growth, and it is expected that by 2030 China willbe the world’s largest economy.St. Maarten has some opportunities we can tap into with the BRIC Countries (Brazil, Russia, India, andChina). They are not a homogenous market, but include an emerging middle class market, that takes 2trips a year, and also high network individuals who take multiple trips a year, while 75% of their trips arebooked 2 weeks before travel. These markets are strong in air transportation.The Visa Waiver program for Russia and China will be very beneficial for St. Maarten as these are marketsthat have shown interest and are ready to travel to our region. They like our island because we speakEnglish. Taking a look at the top ten countries that travel most: Germany followed by the USA, GreatBritain, France, Canada, The Netherlands, Italy, Russia, Japan, and China.The Caribbean trend shows that visitor arrivals have been able to maintain their market share, but we arelagging behind with inbound tourism.Arrivals from the USA show low forecast figures and trends of early booking incentives. The 2011 forecastshows 20 million visitors and tourism revenues at US$26.2 billion. An interesting detail is that the Chinesegovernment is investing heavily into a myriad of markets throughout the Caribbean region.The trend of social media & mobile technology has increased tremendously over the last few years. Inthe USA alone it generates US$102.9 billion for domestic tourism. 40% of international travelers utilizedestination info via smart phones, and we see a rapid increase in on-line travel applications. 17
  • A Found at ion of Hop e for O u r C ou nt r yOn the short term , St. Maarten has revisited the 2011 budget and re-evaluated the marketing actionplans for the various markets (i.e. Benelux, USA, CAN, S.A, Caribbean), and made adjustments accordingto changes in the global trends.We re-allocated funds to be used more efficiently and effectively and establish coop marketing funds withother stakeholders.A. Priorities:Earmark funds for airline marketing support (i.e. Jet Blue, year-round charters, COPA Airlines, Air Berlin,and AA). This is crucial right now as the airline business has become very competitive as a result of thehigh cost of fuel.Increase focus on the use of our social media plan (Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn), and on our websitedevelopment and e-news.Establish a Tourism Authority as a top priority. Hopefully, by 2012 the transition can be made.Eliminate the shoulder season by moving existing events to “slow” months. (Carnival and the HeinekenRegatta) is under consideration, as is creating new events and festivals to attract more visitors.Increase national tourism awareness. A massive community outreach awareness campaign should belaunched to create more tourism awareness in the community. E.g. “Tourism is IT” or “I am St. Maarten/St.Martin”.Build strong relationships with our on-island stakeholders (Chamber of Commerce, SMTA, SHTA,SMMTA), intensify cooperation with French St. Martin and establish the joint marketing committee again.Evaluate the Tourism Master Plan (a crucial component as the tourism trends in the world are changingrapidly.)Tap into the MICE (Meetings, Incentives, Conferences, and Exhibitions) market, a US$ 500 billionmarket. This niche market will be part of the comprehensive marketing plan for the destination incollaboration with the properties that cater to this market as well.Train our hospitality professionals and invest in our youth for the high skilled positions in the tourismindustry.Establish a Hospitality and Tourism Business Development Institution that will produce the employeesour tourism industry needs.Develop a mandatory rating system for Hotels and Restaurants. This is a way to upgrade the tourismproduct which could go hand in hand with a tax incentive. 18
  • A Found at ion of Hop e for O u r C ou nt r yInstitute tax “holidays” to attract new investments and encourage responsible tourism by promoting“green” properties, bringing added value to our tourism product.Further development of our niche markets: (Weddings and Honeymoons, sports, culinary, medical andresearch and educational tourism).Make tourism part of the macro-economic model, economic outlook, investment guide and economicdevelopment plan. 19
  • A Found at ion of Hop e for O u r C ou nt r yVII. INFRASTRUCTUREVision: To build a durable, weather proven infrastructure and road network, modern sea- and airports, adequatelightning, proper drainage and cleaning, and efficient waste disposal.Notwithstanding the budgetary challenges, neighborhood development is a priority of the governmentfor this governing term. Several road infrastructure projects are currently under construction in theneighborhoods, which not only include improvements in the road network, but also water drainage andsewerage lines.The latter program has received an extra boost as a result of the commissioning of the A. Th. Illidge Rd.sewage plant expansion in June 2011.Current road and drainage projects are ongoing in Middle Region, Dutch Quarter and Cole Bay/Cape Bay.The design and build project “Waste water treatment Ebenezer“has been commissioned.Priorities:1. a road and drainage maintenance program;2. replacement of street lights and new street lighting;3. improvement of waste collection and disposal through new contract conditions;4. Furtherance of the waste disposal plant project for Pond Island. 20
  • A Found at ion of Hop e for O u r C ou nt r yVIII. INDUSTRY, TRADE AND THE PRIVATE SECTORThe cruise industry continues to hold its own and has bridged the rather slow recovery from the globalcrisis and its effects on the region. Nevertheless it remains an industry that can never let its guard down,even with the edge St. Maarten has in its favor as a result of timely investments, which anticipated themodern cruise ship’s designs.UTILITIESGovernment strives for a speedy conclusion of the talks with the Netherlands regarding GEBE’s role onSaba and St. Eustatius. St. Maarten’s electricity and water company can be a strong company that not onlyprovides basic services of water and electricity, but that should continuously investigate and encouragealternative energy sources and “green” energy, and should provide synergy with the management ofwaste water and refuse.Currently, a review of the tariff structure of GEBE, particularly the present application of the fuel clauseformula has the urgent attention of this government. 21
  • A Found at ion of Hop e for O u r C ou nt r yIX. SAFETY AND SECURITYSt. Maarten’s ever changing, multi-cultural society presents a myriad of challenges where it concernspublic safety and security. The Police Force of St. Maarten, in particular, has had to adapt swiftly to thegrowing demands for increased safety measures.The efforts to enhance the citizens’ personal safety and security continue with the vision of governmentfor a crime free St. Maarten, where law enforcement exudes confidence and citizens consider it their socialduty to do their part in fighting crime. In addition, the Ministry’s vision includes a justice system thatexemplifies fairness, integrity and adherence to the rule of law and order.The various departments within the Ministry of Justice work collectively to protect St. Maarten’s citizensagainst a number of social ills which include: violence, theft, drug trafficking, human smuggling and abuseas well as other violent crimes. These departments and organizations include, but are not limited to thePolice Force, Customs, Immigration and Naturalization Department, Prison, Internal Affairs, the PublicProsecutor’s Office and the Court of Guardianship.Efficient collaboration and interdepartmental cohesion within the Ministry of Justice will play an importantrole in the accomplishment of the vision set out by Government.The Plans of Action for the Prison and House of Detention, Police Force, and Immigration and NaturalizationDepartments serve as strategic models for the development of these departments. In accordance with the“Plan of Action Police Force St. Maarten”, the police force will focus on recruiting and training of officers.Several new approaches have been undertaken to urgently boost the recruitment of police officers andincrease manpower. New recruits will be sent to the Police Academy and the intention is to offer thetraining locally as much as possible. Surveillance training is another component as well as a joint basictraining. In addition, the Police Force of St. Maarten will be held to the commitment to reach within thenext 3 years the minimum strength as defined in the Kingdom Resolution (AMvRB).Selected senior officers will also receive specialized training in various areas of policing such as Forensics,Criminal Investigation (CID), Financial Detection and Domestic Abuse. Officers and detectives will be hiredfrom the Netherlands to assist the local police for the coming years. The growing demand for increased police patrols and faster response time can only be sustained withan increase in the permanent physical presence of the force. Therefore, substations in the districts of St.Peters and Belvedere as well as the upgrading of the Simpsonbay Station, among others, are top priorities;such aim will also facilitate community policing.Other supporting factors for fighting crime and promoting the feeling of safety among the residentsin St. Maarten are: second-chance education, foster care programs, youth facilities and re-socializationprograms. Programs of entrance level training will be started by establishing that the mastery of the Dutchlanguage should not be a deterrent at the basic level. Cooperation and twinning programs with the policeforces of the Netherlands will add to the upgrading and empowerment of the local police force throughexchange of expertise. 22
  • A Found at ion of Hop e for O u r C ou nt r yPriorities:• Bring the police organization to an optimal level of performance, through improved management systems, exchange programs, training and recruitment;• Establish programs for victims of crime;• Provide entrance level training for law enforcement personnel;• Expand youth care and youth facilities;• Focus on re-socialization programs and projects;• Implement the police upgrading plan;• Formalize Alternative to Incarceration programs (community work; electronic monitoring); • Promote collaboration between agencies with similar objectives;• Formalize traffic policies to improve road safety;• Upgrade immigration and border control systems. 23
  • A Found at ion of Hop e for O u r C ou nt r yX. COMMUNITY DEVELOPMENTCommunity development encompasses a broad area of operation with the overall aim to facilitatedevelopments that will enhance the lives of the people and the communities by means of socialempowerment and district improvement.As such, community development will be delivered by using an integrated neighborhood developmentapproach (INDP). This holistic approach not only improves the physical environment but also enhancesthe situation of the people living in the communities. It is a process of integrating social, cultural,economic and environmental planning to build community commitment and capacity.1 Technical worksand improvements should serve to complement the more social aspects of neighborhood development,such as community help desks and community empowerment.Government will be working in close collaboration with relevant stakeholders which includes, but is notlimited to community councils, NGOs, representatives of various groups, such as: the senior citizens anddisabled and faith-based organizations.Community development will take shape through a combination of simultaneous activities, summedup as the Integrated Neighborhood Development program. The first results of a pilot needs assessmentsurvey, conducted in the district of St. Peters, have been received. This data will contribute significantlywhen assessing the problems and vulnerable groups in that district.This assessment has been conducted in close collaboration with community stakeholders, a pivotal pointof the INDP.To borrow a phrase: “A community is strongest when the care for its weakest is constant and deliberate”.With this in mind, the government of St. Maarten is cognizant of its work in the areas as outlined in theMillennium Developments Goals (MDGs) as adopted in 2000. The first report regarding attainment ofthese goals as presented in 2011 serves as a basis for strategic policy objectives in the coming 4 years.Data collection and analysis are critical for the pursuance of the MDG targets. In reference to education,advance has been made in the collection of data that would give an insight into school attendance, seeingthat the high drop-out rate is a matter for concern. In this respect, programs such as those related tovocational training and youth development are promising. In addition, Early Childhood education in St.Maarten is well positioned to receive an MDG+ status as a result of the efforts put into this area over theyears.The implementation of compulsory education is progressing according to plan.In terms of partnerships, St. Maarten’s entrance into OCTA as a new OCT of the EU holds great promise.Under MDG #1, a poverty assessment will be conducted.Poverty definitions that include households connected to water and electricity, and who have access toother basic necessities and amenities, are easier to arrive at than the number of persons who live belowthe poverty line, for example. 24
  • A Found at ion of Hop e for O u r C ou nt r yIt is government’s belief that in pursuit of the Millennium Development Goals, the social safety nets,whether they are public social services or private initiatives must be part of a collective approach and withspecific goals in mind such as those of the MDGs.In anticipation of the great demand for lower and middle income housing, the St. Maarten HousingDevelopment Foundation (SMHDF) and Government have entered into a partnership for the constructionof private and duplex homes by the SMHDF. This partnership includes the construction of 30 middle-income rental apartments, 24 senior citizens apartments and 12 purchase homes and 15 middle incomepurchase homes. In addition, Government’s present vision for housing includes more 2 and 3 bedroomrental units as well as housing for the elderly, a need that, in view of the ageing population, is expected togrow in the future.Government recognizes that empowerment of women not only deals with combating violence againstwomen, but also focuses on more subtle forms of gender inequality and discrimination such as wages andgovernmental representation.Working towards the goal of environmental sustainability, for the coming years Government will payserious attention to proper solid waste and waste water disposal.1 Pilot Assessment in St. Peters 25
  • A Found at ion of Hop e for O u r C ou nt r yXII. EDUCATIONFor this government, education means any experience that forms the mind or character or affects thephysical ability of a person. It is the process by which society consciously and deliberately transmits itsaccumulated knowledge, skills and values from one generation to another. Education, therefore, whetherformal or informal, academic or vocational, is the process of preparing an individual to become anindependent, useful, and valued member of society.The main goal of this government, therefore, is to ensure that as many of our people as possible areeducated rather than being simply schooled.Education, it must be stressed, is the key to the success of any nation. That is to say quality educationfrom pre-school to university level. It is an investment in the present and in the future of our island, aninvestment we must obtain dividends from commensurate with our goals. What are some of these goals?They include preparing our people for a labor market that has become more complex throughout theyears, in order for them to become the captains of an economy that has become very sophisticated andwhich requires professionals in every sector. This would translate into a complete overhaul of the schoolcurricula at the different levels, training of a new generation of teachers, and making some strategicchanges in the choices before us.A. Short-Term GoalsIn the short term, the goals of the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, and Youth Affairs include:1. Continuing with the implementation of Compulsory Education and reducing the school drop-out rate;2. Improving teacher performance and professionalism;3. Improving the overall learning environment;4. Finalizing current education law proposals, including the law on tertiary education;5. Establishing MOUs with regional and international providers of higher education so that there is continuity for students;6. Promoting studying in the region;7. Reorganizing the Ministry to reflect the current vision for Education, Culture, Sports and Youth;8. Creating a professional website for the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports and Youth with daily updates;9. Launching the “Get off the Block, Get on the Bus, Get Busy” (GB3) youth project;10. Creating national debating teams and organizing literary competitions;11. Establishing special programs for special needs students;12. Creating science and inventor circles in our schools;13. Establishing language clubs. 26
  • A Found at ion of Hop e for O u r C ou nt r yIn pursuance of these goals, the Ministry will be structured to accommodate the following new entities:• A separate Sports Department• A separate Youth Department• A Sports and Recreation Development Foundation (semi-private)• A Children and Youth Development Foundation (semi-private)• A Cultural Development Foundation (semi-private)B. Mid-Term GoalsThe following are the Ministry’s mid-term goals:1. The systematic use of ICT in all schools (ensuring that all students have access to ICT and it is used systematically throughout the curriculum);2. Mandatory subjects to be included in a revised curriculum;3. Ensuring compulsory physical education instruction in all schools;4. Establishing school teams in all sports, with participation in the annual Sports Festival or Olympiad;5. Improving “the bang for the buck” ratio in all schools, including at the level of higher education;6. Full implementation of school meals policy;7. Creating special programs for the gifted;8. Setting up an Accreditation Unit (or Division);9. Creating a Linguistic Institute that will be responsible for implementing a stronger “Dutch as a Foreign Language” program in our schools, as well as other foreign languages. The Institute will also have a Translating and Interpreting division.C. Long-Term Goals1. Creating a standardized and common school leaving examination for elementary school children which will form the basis of their admission into secondary schools;2. Creating an education system in which all secondary school graduates will possess a minimum level of competence (a system with a high academic content, linguistic versatility, with arts and culture, sports, tourism, and environmental studies as mandatory subjects);3. School bands competing against each other for national titles;4. Schools participating and competing in cultural activities such as Carnival, Emancipation Day, Christmas, etc.Linguistic VersatilityBy “linguistic versatility” is meant that every student who completes secondary school on St. Maartenshould be able to speak, write, and communicate fluently in three to four international languages: English,Dutch, French, and Spanish. This has an enormous potential in terms of creating a truly multi-lingual workforce. 27
  • A Found at ion of Hop e for O u r C ou nt r yTeachersThis government considers teachers as “nation-builders,” helping to build a new St. Maarten, one studentat a time. For this administration, therefore, “a teacher’s purpose is not to create students in his own image,but to develop students who can create their own image,” as an anonymous author once said.The new education system we are building would restore creativity and common sense to our classroomsand reward enterprising and innovative teachers, while offering the possibility of training for thoseteachers who may not meet the quality standards we set for ourselves.We are at a very critical but exciting period in the history of our country when we are called to re-designour future, while re-defining ourselves for ourselves. That is what nation-building is all about.It is about re-claiming our identity as a people. It is about laying down a strong and resilient foundation fortomorrow so that our children and grandchildren could be able to inherit an island, a country, fashionedfor them and made in their own image. This is essentially why we consider teachers indeed as nation-builders who should and will be respected as such.Government will work closely with the University of St. Martin to produce the new teacher our neweducation system will require to teach our students. The long-term goal is to create a cadre of St. Maartenteachers that would make it unnecessary to continue to import so many teachers from abroad annually.Emphasis will also be placed on recruiting male teachers to ensure that our male students in particularwould have teachers of the same gender to relate to.Meanwhile, a Teacher Certification requirement that would have foreign-trained teachers pass a certificationexamination before they could be deemed fit to teach in our classrooms is under consideration.Tertiary EducationThe University of St. Martin, though a private enterprise, will continue to be the island’s premier tertiaryeducation institution. Government is working in close collaboration with the Supervisory Board ofDirectors and Management of USM to synchronize efforts that would make the institution a first-classcitadel of higher education which will attract not only St. Maarten students, but students and faculty fromall over the world.To achieve this, government will work diligently with USM to elevate standards and make it relevantto the developmental needs of the island. A draft tertiary education law which will set standards for allinstitutions of higher education functioning within our jurisdiction is currently under review.ROI StudyThe Ministry of Education is undertaking a Return on Investment (ROI) study to establish what the returnshave been for the island compared to the huge investment made annually in education. 28
  • A Found at ion of Hop e for O u r C ou nt r yXIII. SPORTSGovernment is already engaged in a comprehensive review of its sports policy. Sports can no longer beviewed as a hobby, a pastime or something we do just for fun. It is a fundamental assumption that, ingeneral, a healthy body houses a healthy mind. Government also believes we can produce world-classathletes like Curacao, St. Kitts, Jamaica, The Bahamas, etc. have done in various sports. To do so, however,we must change our attitude towards sports. It is not enough to build facilities, if we cannot maintainthem, and if they’re not up to international standards. It is not enough to compete just for competing sake.Our new approach to sports will include paying greater attention to training coaches as well as makingsports an integral part of the school curriculum, while promoting inter-scholastic competition.Discussions have been ongoing with all stakeholders regarding the restructuring of the SportsDepartment and establishing a sports policy that will be based on sports organizations establishing anumbrella organization that would permit St. Maarten to speak with one voice in approaching regional andinternational sporting bodies and to facilitate our participation in games that they organize.In this regard, Government has expressed interest in hosting the 2013 Kingdom Games and all effortsare being made to ensure that the Games would be a resounding success, but also that St. Maarten’sparticipation would result in a significant haul of medals. Towards this goal, the process of upgrading theRaoul Illidge Sports Complex will start. 29
  • A Found at ion of Hop e for O u r C ou nt r yXIV. CULTURE AND NATION BUILDINGVision: A nation of proud people, cognizant of their past and confident of their future. Communities that worktogether to build the country St. Maarten.Culture is the sum total of who we are, what we do on a daily basis, and how we express our hopes, ideals,and aspirations in a creative fashion. Culture is, therefore, a unifying factor. It is about our identity as apeople. It is the foundation upon which we have to build this St. Maarten nation. Education and culture gohand in hand, especially because education is a means of transmitting culture. The new curriculum we aredeveloping will have a significant cultural content.The draft Cultural Policy Framework is being reviewed to reflect the new goals we want to achieve. Muchmore attention will be given to the preservation of our monuments and heritage sites, and we will activelypromote excellence in literature by encouraging book publishing and literary festivals such as the AnnualSt. Maarten Book Fair that has attracted the likes of Nobel Laureate Derek Walcott and other Caribbeanliterary giants like George Lamming, Kamau Brathwaite, et al.Government will also actively promote the establishment of a National Dance Ensemble, National Theatre,National Choir, National Orchestra, and Film Commission. 30
  • A Found at ion of Hop e for O u r C ou nt r yXV. FOREIGN AFFAIRSSt. Maarten can now diligently pursue regional cooperation and has undertaken several steps to thiseffect. New relationships and engagements have taken place with UNDP, UNESCO and CARICOM, whilefunctional cooperation on tax and information exchanges are ongoing.Government is of the opinion that St. Maarten needs to expand its horizons in terms of collaboration, aswe set about to build a strong foundation for our country. With due consideration for the Dutch Kingdom’scoordinating role for foreign relations, St. Maarten needs the space to develop its own foreign policy.As an Overseas Country of the European Union, St. Maarten’s participation in agencies such as OCTA isdesirable and necessary, also in light of the approaching new development agreement with the EU.In furthering the dialogue on the future of the Dutch Kingdom, the focus for St. Maarten will be on theeconomic and financial relationships within the Kingdom, and on a relationship based on mutual respectand free will. The government has taken note that recent political discussions have too often muddled thepolitical realities of the Kingdom, viz. 4 countries forming a voluntary association. 31
  • A Found at ion of Hop e for O u r C ou nt r yXVI. LIST OF ABBREVIATIONS:AIDS Acquired Immune Deficiency SyndromeAMvRB Algemene Maatregel van Rijksbestuur (General Kingdom Measure)BAZN Bestuursacademie Zuid NederlandCARICOM Caribbean CommunityCID Criminal Investigation Financial DetectionCFT College Financieel Toezicht (Committee for Financial Supervision)EU European UnionGB3 Get off the Block, Get on the Bus, Get BusyHIS Health Information SystemHIV Human Immune Deficiency VirusICT Information and Communication TechnologyINDP Integrated Neighborhood Development ProgramILO International Labor OrganizationLMIS Labor Market Information SystemMOU Memorandum of UnderstandingNGO Non-Government OrganizationNHI National Health InsuranceNDP National Development PlanNPP National Pension PlanNTO National Tourism OrganizationOCT Overseas Countries and TerritoriesOCTA Overseas Countries and Territories AssociationSBO Secundair Beroeps Onderwijs (Advanced Vocational Education)SLA Service Level AgreementSLAC Simpsonbay Lagoon Authority CorporationSMMC St. Maarten Medical CenterSZV Sociale Ziektekosten Verzekering (Social Health Insurance)TOT Turn Over TaxUNESCO United Nations Educational Scientific & Cultural OrganizationUNDP United Nations Development ProgrammeUSM University of St. MartinVAT Value Added TaxZBO Zelfstandige Bestuursorgaan (Independent Public Entity) 32
  • A Found at ion of Hop e for O u r C ou nt r yXVIII. DECLARATION ON THE FORMATION OF THE FIRST GOVERNMENT OF SINT MAARTEN AS A COUNTRY 34
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