~ But has doubts on certain aspects ~

PHILIPSBURG–St. Maarten Hospitality and Trade Association (SHTA), the largest private business representative on the island, says it applauds the drafting of the recently-released governing programme, but also is expressing reservations on the proposed handling of a number of topics.

SHTA said it applauded “the efforts of the coalition supporting Government in drafting a governing programme. We fully support many of the initiatives listed in the programme. However, we would like to draw the coalition’s attention to the existing financial problems of the country, none of which appear to be addressed within this programme.”

SHTA said it also was somewhat dismayed by the fact that the programme “does not include any inkling of an idea of where the funding is coming from. Unless there is a major tax hike, which we would strongly oppose.

“We would like to establish the fact that there is a compulsory retirement system in place. However, if this is a person’s only pension (in the event that they have not personally invested in additional pension-financing programmes) the benefits can be considered insufficient.”

As part of the Tripartite Committee and Social Economic Council SER, SHTA has proposed in the past that adjustments to the retirement system be made to improve it. These adjustments have yet to be adopted.

SHTA “has never condoned bad business practice; however, rewriting existing laws to combat the proverbial ‘one bad apple in the bunch’ while legislation already exists, but apparently just lacks enforcement, appears to be a waste of public funds and is counterproductive.”

SHTA’s position on the counterpart policy and the civil code adjustments of the labour laws is well known, and it said it would continue to battle against their implementation.

“If the direction of the country of St. Maarten is to re-privatise many of the now public services, one can wonder if that was the mandate of the people and that it will require a significant slimming down within government. As we continue perusing the document, more comments will be forthcoming,” SHTA concluded.

Source: The Daily Herald Thursday, July 23, 2015

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