Economic workshop zooms in on diversity

POSTED: 04/13/12 4:25 PM

St. Maarten – “A true melting pot”, is the perfect description of St. Maarten according to the attendees of the first in a series of workshops for the creation of the Strategic Economic Plan (SEP) 2012 – 2022. The workshop was organized by the Government of St Maarten with support from KPMG Advisory Services B.V.

Parties believe that the extensive level of multiculturalism that exists here brings forward a number of social challenges like (a lack of) social cohesion and integration. Parties also put forward views on several social aspects while responding to the question: “10 years from now, how do we envision our educational system, healthcare and hospitality industry?”

The goal of the social workshop was to find consensus on the current and desired situation from the perspective of stakeholders in the public and private sector. Some of the recurring topics entailed the level of education offered on St. Maarten, the protection of our culture and the immigration policy.

The latter elicited a strong discussion among the attendees. According to the majority, “When hiring, we should give preference to locals. The recruitment of foreigners is sometimes necessary, but should be beneficial to the entire community. Despite the multicultural image of St. Maarten, the government should revise its immigration laws and work permit policies, to create an inclusive approach where locals play an integral role”.

In the end, all these social aspects of our country are strongly related to the growth of our economy.
The degree to which everyone feels involved and is committed to its development and implementation of the Strategic Economic Plan is considered fundamental to its success. The input of the attendees will help the organizers in formulating concrete goals and strategies when they are writing the plan.

The follow-up series of the workshops will take place in May 2012. At that time government will present an initial draft of the strategic direction. All stakeholders are strongly encouraged to actively participate again.

“The workshop was very revealing and the contributions made by every participant will lead to the development of an essential Strategic Economic Plan that will lead to further enhancing our quality of life as a society where the hopes, dreams and aspirations of the St. Maarten people and the youth are key to national economic development,” Minister of Tourism, Economic Affairs Transportation and Telecommunication Franklin Meyers said on Thursday.

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