Opinion: Open letter to Minister Ted Richardson

POSTED: 08/7/13 11:44 AM

Honorable Minister,

As a former commissioner of economic affairs and tourism and a concerned businessman I would like to humbly ask your attention for the following, what I would label burning priorities.

First the following remarks to the (negative) critics, skeptics, and non-believers.

Welcome home Mr. Richardson (Miss Marjory boy), while you are coming back home from being abroad, my sincere welcome to you. For those who don’t know, Elic The Butcher, among us in Middle Region known as pappy, is this gentleman’s grandfather.

I was raised around pappy. Three times a week, 40 to 50 years ago, we would go down in the yard, where a goat, pig, or cow was being butchered by pappy or one of his sons (Bobby) during my time. After the butchering session we would get a little piece of meat which we would roast on a smoldering fire. We would dip that piece of meat in a can with some limewater, and we would be happy to relish that.

The matriarch in that yard was a  God-fearing mother of 12-plus children, Mammy, Pappy’s wife who jointly never tolerated, foolishness or rude and unethical behavior from none of us Middle Region youngsters. All of us had to be in school, and we had to be on our best behavior if you were going to be in Mammy’s yard. This is where the minister’s mother came from.

Regretfully I don’t have enough time and space to elaborate on these two deceased legends, but you can ask around as one of their many children or grandchildren would gladly equip you with more details.

Minister, to begin with the unemployment numbers are way too high, in the face of a world recession, but also due to the fact that too many supermarkets, night clubs, bars and restaurants, hardware stores, casinos, jewel stores, administrative offices and others refuse to hire our young and middle-aged people. They are either over, under or not qualified.   This situation cannot continue without serious consequences.

Too many high paid jobs are given to others without local counterparts being trained to take over.

Stores are closing at an alarming rate in particular in Philipsburg and surroundings. This is making a very bad impression on potential investors and tourists in general. An incentive package needs to be created for future investors.

The cost of doing business is presently way too high, the taxes, cost of utility, cost of labor etc. Where possible the costs must be brought down for our business community.

Issuing of business licenses is still taking too much time, is too cumbersome, and in some cases too “expensive” for future business people. I must commend the Prime Minister for recently getting those business licenses out in the hands of investors. The issuing process must be addressed post haste, and shortened drastically.

Heads in Beds: our cruise tourism is healthy, thanks to former Commissioner Theodore Heyliger, who really worked hard on our new harbor, and ensuring that our cruise passenger numbers remain among the highest in the Caribbean. But overnight tourism remains lagging.

Minister, this needs more attention as the real cash is made from visitors who sleep in our hotels, rent our cars, shop in our stores, and eat in our restaurants.

Vending licenses: This is an issue close to my heart, considering that our unemployed can be immediately helped through this avenue. These licenses, while meant for the little man and woman, are way too cumbersome, and take too much time to process. A police record from an applicant proves absolutely nothing. Eliminating this would help folks leaving prison or school, and wanting to go straight in their own business as others whom are still waiting, while unemployed and starving.

Criteria for residence and work permits for businesspeople need to be revisited. We are turning away solid investors with our present criteria. You should call the notaries for more information.

In closing, minister I would highly recommend you organize an economic summit, where we can really hear from all of the players and get hard solutions for some of our economic woes.

Finally, to some of my Facebook-“friends”, I am a semiretired businessman, who is thankful that this country has been very good to me and my family. I am not seeking a job, as I am still very busy getting my children ready to take over the mantle. My main motivation is the love I have for this country where I was born, and the desire to see more people become successful while building wealth for future generations.

Being skeptical and or critical are good qualities, once they are well meant, and not just to drag down the other person who is trying. I love building businesses and creating employment, which benefits our country as a whole. Sometimes I win, sometimes I loose. C’est la vie.

Let me give you a little peek under the curtain. A project will soon be announced which will again create employment and business opportunities for those of us who have ambition and really want a piece of St. Maarten’s economic action. I believe nowhere else is like this little island, and I lived and studied many years abroad on two continents, and travel extensively.

Let us all continue to focus on building St. Maarten and its people instead of tearing down what others have built, or are trying to build.

God Bless St. Maarten and its people.

Minister I wish you the best of luck.

Julian Rollocks,

Concerned businessman.

 

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Comments (1)

 

  1. Mike says:

    Good constructive letter,…I applaud this!!!