St. Maarten’s First State of the Nation address seen as “starting point”

POSTED: 09/14/11 11:57 AM

GREAT BAY, St. Maarten – Politicians, leaders of advisory bodies and private sector organizations have called Tuesday’s State of the Nation Address a good starting point for further analysis. The speech, delivered by Governor drs Eugene Holiday, was part of the opening of the 2011 – 2012 Parliamentary year.
United People’s (UP) Party faction leader Romain Laville and Independent MP Patrick Illidge were the only two politicians ready to comment on the speech.
“I think it was great speech and it is up to us, both government and parliament, to ensure that what we set forth comes into fruition. I believe this is an opportunity for us to come together to address the needs and issues of the people and anything that will move the people forward should be applauded,” Laville said.
“I think the speech was a quick synopsis of the government’s overall vision and it’s right on the ball on what needs to be done,” Illidge said.
Democratic Party faction leader Roy Marlin and newly declared Independent MP Frans Richardson said that he wanted to dissect the speech before commenting and National Alliance faction leader William Marlin said, “I will deal with that when I am ready.”

High Councils of State
Vice Chair of the Council of Advice Mavis Brooks Salmon said she next looks forward to receiving the budget for 2012 to see whether the “good intentions” outlined in the speech match the financial commitments.
“It certainly has things I can live with, but as the Advisory Council we will have to check to see if the figures in the budget correlate and are sufficient to deliver the programs,” Salmon said.
Chairman of the Socio-Economic Council Rene Richardson was happy that there was attention for the youth and culture in the address. He also saluted that the government wants to create a strong social safety net and the plans for collaborating with various agencies to ensure that everyone is paying their fair share in taxes.
“We need to get everybody to pay their fair share so I was glad to hear that and it’s very good. What we need to see now is the implementation,” Richardson said.
Chairman of the Corporate Governance Council Louis Duzanson said this first address gives the government something to build on and contained “some very good points we can now move on with.” St. Maarten’s member on the Council for the Maintenance of Law and Order Franklyn Richards said the commitments from the Justice Ministry will be used as a guideline when the committee does its reviews.
“There is a lot of work to be done and we will definitely make sure that there is a better functioning that will focus on the country and its development,” Richards said.

Private Sector
“I think the creation of a plan to succeed the Multi-Annual Policy Plan is very much needed and needs to happen with the input of the stakeholders. That’s one definite thing I am taking out of this address,” President of the St. Maarten Hospitality and Trade Association Emil Lee said.
President of the St. Maarten Chamber of Commerce and Industry Glen Carty said he smiled as the speech was read as he recognized many of the policy points as suggestions that were put forward by the Chamber. He also stressed that it was important “now more than ever” to ensure “all heads are pointed in one direction.”
“We feel that the government has been listening and we pledge to support them and work along,” Carty said.

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