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St. Maarten prime minister: Private, public sectors need to pursue common economic goals


PHILIPSBURG–“What we should do at this time as St. Maarten is to ensure that our economy performs better than what is projected in 2014. Private and public sectors need to come together and create a shared vision to increase our common economic goals. That should be the aim; in order to see that we have a higher growth than projected,” said Prime Minister Sarah Wescot-Williams on Monday.

Her comments come after Central Bank of Curaçao and St. Maarten President Emsley Tromp announced last week that the country experienced a 1.5 per cent growth in 2012.

“Of course, that is not the growth that St. Maarten has been accustomed to. Growth on St. Maarten has been normally four or five per cent, but because of the financial crises we are not at that level yet. But given the global crises, we should indeed count ourselves lucky that we have been experiencing growth, growth that will continue in 2014,” she said.

It is economic activity that yields money and keeps money in circulation, the prime minister said. “It means that we should keep that growth going. We should create employment opportunities that keep the production going. This vision calls for a coming together of all sectors to aim for a strengthening of our further economic growth. We need investments, projects, and employment.”

The main economic sectors on St. Maarten remain tourism-related activities and government’s push is to broaden the traditional types of tourism to include alternative tourism-oriented activities. “One of the things we have been talking about is exploring alternative tourism experiences.”

The country has “natural attributes” to cater to various alternative tourism experiences. “We could look at sports tourism, education tourism, ecotourism, medical tourism and of course conference and convention tourism. We need to look at activities during the off-season; to have those months contribute to the economic development. We need to make the hub function that St. Maarten fulfils work,” she said.

Government and other institutions, such as St. Maarten Chamber of Commerce, are exploring ways to develop the country’s “cosmopolitan nature” and capitalising on positivity of the people in order “to offer all that St. Maarten has to offer and to reinforce and strengthen the economy.”

Wescot-Williams re-emphasized her call for the establishment of an economic think tank that would include representatives of various sectors to research ways in strengthening the economy further.

Regarding the balance of payment deficit of the monetary union with Curaçao, the prime minister said, “On St. Maarten there would be no need for measures to be taken with regards to the financial outlooks. However, those same financial outlooks are based on the current monetary union. Certain restrictions that are in place on St. Maarten have been placed because of the situation on Curaçao.”

Bron: The Daily Herald, St. Maarten

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