Statia invests $1 million in roads

POSTED: 01/2/13 12:35 PM

STATIA – When the year comes to a close it is always good to reflect on the year that has passed and at the same time look forward to what lies ahead of us in the year to come, Statia’s Finance and Economic Affairs Commissioner Koos Sneek writes in his New Year’s message. One of the government’s plans is to invest $1 million in the island’s road network. This is the unabridged text of Sneek’s message.

“Our coalition government took office on February 1st. It is seemingly not to the best moment to begin this task. The finances of our island after 10-10-10 were not handled in a manner that has deserved an award. As a matter of fact we were faced with prior financial supervision and a budget that was virtually impossible to balance. Only after an increase in the free allowance, resulting from the so-called “referentiekader” study and stringent budget discipline this government was able to turn the tide. We did bring our financial household in order, balanced the budget and got rid of the backlog in annual reports. All the work and dedication, not to forget that of the civil service core, did pay off and the reward was sweet, when early December the prior financial supervision was lifted.

“It should be clear however, that this success is not something we can dwell on for very long. We have to focus on our future. It actually means that we can now seriously start with the work of improving the government apparatus and its services to the public. And what is even more important, we should be able to start working on the improvement of the infrastructure, which over the years have deteriorated terribly.

“For this a number of projects are in the pipeline. First of all the executive council anticipates it can make about one million dollars available from the regular budget 2013 to invest in our roads. Early 2013 a list of priorities will be drafted together with a multi-annual development plan on our infrastructure.

“The airport master plan, which has been approved earlier this year, in 2013 will be in the preparation phase, while the actual work, consisting of resurfacing the runway and improving the safety features will commence in 2014. In the meantime a plan will be made on the construction of a new terminal building for which most of the financing still need to be identified.

“An architect has been selected to draft the plans and to design a new government administration office. It is anticipated that the actual construction can commence in the second half of 2013. As temporary solutions and also to accommodate the new organizational structure two buildings will be modified to house the department of internal affairs – the so-called one stop service center. The temporary housing for the department of internal affairs is to allow the implementation of central purchasing. The one-stop service center will be housed in the present labor office, where the public can do all their business with government in one location. The running around from one department to the next to get ones business done will soon be a thing of the past.

The earlier mentioned new organizational structure will be implemented as of January 1st, whereby government will be organized into three directorates. This will largely improve efficiency and quality of government.

“Infrastructural projects which are already underway will be continued or completed during the new year. The long awaited water distribution network, which has seen a number of delays, is expected to come on line as well as the improvement of our communication network.

Besides focusing on what government is doing, it is also good to look at the private sector and the economical development of our island. Our government has pledged to facilitate and support any economic development which can benefit our island and our people. For this matter government is supporting tourism development projects which are projected for Orange Bay and the White Wall area. Both projects will enhance our tourism product and will have a positive effect on the number of visitors that will come to our shore. I also hope that these projects will trigger other economic developments and that they will stimulate small and medium enterprise.

“Our new constitutional status is now a little over two years old. We all know about the hiccups at the beginning. Through time however we have seen matters improving in particular in the areas of healthcare insurance and education. Economic development is picking up. The inflation is getting under control. The three BES governments are together working on a system of price control for basic food necessities, for which the parliament has recently approved the exemption for the ABB tax. As agreed an evaluation on the status will take place after five years. In the meantime preparations are under way in order to start this evaluation timely and have it carried out in a manner whereby the interests of our people have first priority.

“Of course there are many more subjects, ideas and examples that I can mention here. The crux of the matter is that Statia and its people, notwithstanding the economic crisis which is happening all over the world and notwithstanding the ups and downs we have recently experienced, are seeing the light at the end of the tunnel.

“Together in the upcoming year we have to grab the opportunities and make full use of the circumstances that present themselves. 2013 will be the year that Statia will make great strives forward in its economic development, infrastructure and quality of life for our people. Together and with a positive attitude we can make Statia a better place for all of us.

“I wish everyone in Statia a happy, prosperous and most of all a healthy 2013.”

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