As we pensively anticipate the anniversary of Hurricane Irma, we reflect on how little meaningful progress has been made one year after the devastation.
Immediately after and several times following, The SHTA was asked by numerous official parties for its ideas and needs for “Building Back Better”.
Analyzing the current situation by means of a Score card, the Association’s top 10 priorities, the conclusion is that regardless of the advices on behalf of the private sector and wider public in general little has been accomplished. Moreover, no action has been taken to facilitate the recovery of the private sector, as has been done in other hurricane torn destinations, not even any consideration for missed tax filings due shortly after the storm when Government itself was largely shut down.
The SHTA will not contend that no progress has been made, of course things could have been worse, and much effort has been spent. However, the situation on the ground could also be better. In many ways, Irma presented an opportunity for us to come together and assess what it is we want and really need as a community. How do we want to improve our lives. Unfortunately, a real sense of community is still lacking. Political bickering and finger-pointing is still the order of the day. Private sector employers and self-employed—the main tax payers– have been completely sidelined with no support. Democratic participation is at an all-time low. There are no statistics available on anything, not from STAT or TEATT but not from the Central Bank either. In addition, STAT has announced not to publish inflation data over the upcoming year.
What was produced is the NRRP. Here we need to be honest and say that it does not pass muster. As a document being termed a roadmap does not include anything that comes close to being termed a “plan” and has no prioritization. It’s seems like more of a Governmental wish list with no basis in reality. It is unfortunate that now, a full year past that fateful day when it all blew to bits, this is going to be our point of departure.
By all means let’s reflect on where we are and the many things that have been achieved. Let’s give credit where credit is due, but let’s also be honest about what still needs to get done in order to really improve our present situation.
SHTA’s Vision for Sint Maarten 2025 and its 10 key priorities listed above were presented on its Annual General Meeting on May 28th to its members, strategic partners, NGO’s as well as representatives of Sint Maarten and Dutch government. The full vision text is to be found at www.SHTA.com/vision-2025, as well as a summarizing movie.