DP policy advisor Lee critical about adopt-a-school program – “I have seen little effort to stimulate the economy”

POSTED: 07/27/15 7:06 PM


St. Maarten – The business community continues to react to the governing program the United Peoples Party (UP) led coalition presented to the Council of Ministers. Emil Lee, policy advisor to the Democratic Party, is concerned about the coalition’s adopt a school program.

“I am a supporter of education. A well-educated population is the basis for success of any society,” Lee said. “According to the governing program, the objective is to reallocate responsibility to the private sector by allowing them to contribute to the community in a productive, structured, visible manner.”

Businesses will ensure that the public schools firstly and other schools are maintained and sustained throughout the year. The Government of St. Maarten will no longer have to concern themselves with the extra cost of maintaining the public schools of St. Maarten. According to the governing program this is a win-win investment.

“I certainly understand government’s appetite for additional revenues to fund its social commitments.” Lee says. “The most important thing is for the country’s leadership is stimulating the economy, control waste and improve efficiency in government spending.  I have seen little effort to stimulate the economy. Our economy is still primarily driven by tourism, yet the NTO is still not functional. It looks as if the Minister of Tourism, Economic Affairs, Transport and Telecommunication is being moved to Vromi. That means more time and momentum will be lost.”

Lee, manager of the boutique hotel Princess Heights, has several questions about the governing program. “Where is the strategic plan for tourism? What is the current marketing plan for tourism? The best way for government to increase revenues is to ensure that our economy is healthy and vibrant.”

The program the UP submitted is unclear, Lee says. “I want to know if the idea is to encourage voluntary contributions from the community to support the public education system. If this is the case then this would be terrific. However, if it will be mandatory for businesses to contribute to the public schools, then that is a tax.”

Before any new taxes are implemented, the people deserve answers to many questions first,” lee says. “What is being done to reduce government expenditures? What is being done to improve government efficiency? How is government reforming its procurement procedures? What is being done to improve collections? What is being done to stimulate the economy? What is being done to be more transparent with government expenditures?”

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