PHILIPSBURG – The St. Maarten Hospitality & Trade Association (SHTA), the largest private business representative on the island, SHTA has taken notice of the remarks made, with respect to the implementation of the Counterpart Policy (CPP), by the honorable Members of Parliament Cornelius de Weever and Maurice Lake (in support of CPP) as well as the published opinion of the leader of the OSPP Mr. Lenny Priest (opposing CPP).

SHTA remains opposed to the implementation of the CPP, the primary reason being that it is simply unacceptable to allow government to have such significant influence on the organization and financial position of single businesses.

It is one thing to have one counterpart placed in a business that already employs 400 others, it is quite different when such a counterpart is placed in a business employing just two or three. The comparison with having a counterpart in the Prime Ministers cabinet misses the point completely; a business competing with others in the market place cannot be compared to the PM’s cabinet. And while it is true that the private sector has representatives in the Tripartite Commission on Labor (TPC), consultation is not the same as approval.

“The employers’ representatives of the TPC voiced our concerns and objections about implementing the counterpart policy to the committee and to the Minister during several of our meetings. Our concerns are in line with those that the SHTA has articulated over the past months. In an effort to work with all parties, the employers’ representatives suggested that a volunteer program for training counterparts be tested to see how such a program would work, and how many new jobs could be generated.

To that end, I volunteered IGY Marinas to be the first company to use a counterpart under the suggested volunteer program. It’s unfortunate that the goodwill expressed by the employers to try to find a sustainable solution to increase employment without unnecessarily overburdening businesses has been taken out of context and is used in a way that insinuates our approval of the counterpart policy in general”, said Brian Deher, Director for IGY Marinas, President of the St. Maarten Marine Trade Association and one of the employers’ representatives on the TPC.

Even though SHTA was, is and will remain opposed to the CPP, we do see the need to reduce youth unemployment. A valuable program initiated by the Labor Office, partnering with various businesses and placing unemployed youngsters to gain experience appears to be a way of achieving that. Let us work together and see if we can expand that program. SHTA invites all partners to go back to the drawing board and design a program that is acceptable to all and is broadly supported by the business sector.

The SHTA is dedicated to bringing quality to all aspects of life on St. Maarten by promoting sustainable economic development for its members in cooperation with the social partners and the creation of a fair marketplace. For more information please contact our offices at 542-0108 or visit our website at

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