National Alliance: focus on realistic achievements

POSTED: 08/25/14 10:54 PM

St. Maarten – The National Alliance (NA) plans to focus on responsible, attainable and realistic achievements for residents by addressing the issues that directly affect the people of St. Maarten in the next governing period, the party said in a press release yesterday in the wake of its public meeting in Cole Bay on Saturday evening..

Addressing the issues in health care; working towards an increase in the minimum wage and pension; the construction of a Center for the Performing Arts, an initiative first pursued by Deputy NA Leader Silveria Jacobs while she was minister; the creation of affordable housing; reducing the exorbitant utility rates and fast-tracking the party’s draft ordinance to stem the abuse of short term labour contracts are some of the issues NA will be tackling according to the press release.

The NA said its comprehensive approach to resolving the issues in health care in St. Maarten, would include ensuring that St. Maarten Medical Center (SMMC) expansion plans are executed post haste. This would be coupled with efforts to expand on the number of specialists functioning in the country based on the needs and demand in the community to effectively reduce the number of patients who have to be transported abroad for medical attention. Avenues to continue to train and sharpen the skills of SMMC personnel through education will be continued to ensure that the medical care and services meted out to the sick are optimal. NA said there are numerous positive aspects of SMMC, but the areas in need of tweaking will be tweaked.

All options to further bolster the medical facility will also be explored. NA said its plans for health care are realistic and attainable and not anything intended to fool the electorate to secure votes based on political ploys. “NA will not tell you that we will building a new hospital, but give no information on how this will be executed, what it will cost and how it will be funded” the party said. “NA has a clear and realistic plan for the medical facility, unlike the UP party which keeps flip flopping on its plans by circulating an image from the internet and with some candidates saying a new hospital will be built, others saying the current hospital will be upgraded and others saying it will be upgraded and a new one built. The plan is so obscure that the candidates are all saying something different when it comes to SMMC.”

“There is an expansion plan in place for SMMC and we are committed to carrying this out and seeing it through. The people of St. Maarten deserve quality health care and deserve to know that if they are ill; they will get the best care possible. Proper health care is about having the professionals in place; the equipment for them to work and the trained staff to support them and not solely about an empty shell of a building, which could drive up the cost of health care.”

Marlin said NA is cognisant that St. Maarten will not be able to carry out certain technical medical procedures, but he noted that procedures that can be done here, efforts can be made to secure the professionals to get them done.

Another priority area is working towards the reduction of high utility costs for all residents in need, and not just one deserving section of the community. NA is of the opinion that all residents in need of relief in their utility bills should get relief. NA’s plans are to introduce a sliding scale under which residents can benefit. “If someone can afford to pay their electricity bill and if he or she wants to sleep in airco or to have and use aircos in their whole house, then they should pay for it; but those who need relief, should benefit from relief,” NA said

The reduction of utility rates for residents would be coupled with the continuation of alternative sources of energy. NA had started this process with the outfitting of solar panels on the Philipsburg Jubilee Library.

When the party left office a Terms of Reference was being prepared for the construction of a Solar Farm, which was estimated to generate two megawatts of electricity. This would be sold to GEBE minus the fuel clause. This means that you would get electricity cheaper than what GEBE is generating as there is no fuel costs added to it. “This will not be supplying the whole country, but it is an effort to start reducing the cost of producing electricity and protecting the environment and when we continue our efforts by putting solar panels on public buildings and schools, the savings would accrue, which would result in reducing the costs for government.”

NA said that as part of its efforts to put people first; it will also be reviewing the current minimum wage and pension amounts with a view of increasing these for the people of St. Maarten. NA reminded that it was a candidate on its slate that has put into effect the last increase in the minimum wage and a similar proactive approach involving stakeholders will be pursued.

NA also plans to address the traffic bottlenecks, by among other things, executing Link 6 – part of the East/West connection.

Housing is always a priority for the NA and its leader William Marlin. The party says NA will aggressively continue and pursue the number of projects it had left behind in the pipeline for the purchase of land for low cost housing for residents including for seniors.

NA also plans to fast-track its draft amendment on short term labour contracts in Parliament as one of its first courses of actions when re-elected. “All of a sudden every political party wants to abolish short term contracts. NA submitted the first draft policy since 2011 shortly after we got into parliament to stop the abuse of short term labour contracts and for three years government has been pushing it around,” NA said.

“Several months ago NA completed its final draft after answering the questions of the Social Economic Council and Advisory Council and submitted it to the chair of parliament for handling and they refused to handle it. This will be one of the first laws that will be tabled for voting after October 10, 2014 when a new government goes into effect. When that law goes into effect, it should benefit the workers who have worked for casinos, restaurants, supermarkets and other establishments with one contract after another and another and another.”

“There are many other issues that NA will be working on for the people of St. Maarten. Social issues are a priority for this party and we intend to address them as part of our plans to put the people first,” NA said in its release.


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