The Chamber of Commerce was following through the media the entire issue of the projected stimulus package of 4 Million Dollars for the Tourism Industry. As much as we commend all participants in this process on this initiative, we are somehow concerned about the serious lack of data attached to it. In fact at this stage with the Global Financial Crisis, not even the United States has been able to establish precisely all the negative social and economic effects that this crisis will have on their economy. They are in the process of data collection and assessment. One of the indicators that we can use is the Turn-Over tax where we should compare the proceeds of this year versus last year and see how substantial the drop is.
In Sint Maarten, we are no different from the rest of the region and the rest of the world in that matter and we also need to have precise and accurate data to determine exactly which areas and sectors that will be of most concern with the effects of the crisis. Narrowing this concern to the hospitality sector can only solve one part of the equation and we have no guaranties that the extra projected spending in promoting the island will bear the expected fruits. In fact in other similar international crisis in the past, we have seen a substantial slow down in travelling that most of the time is due to the mere fact that people are not mentally prepared to travel.
Additionally, if the stimulus is used to assist the airlifts to the destination to make them more attractive and affordable, we are not quite convinced that it will serve the purpose of boosting the economy as the visitors will not have the money to spend, once they are here.
It is with all this in mind that the Chamber of Commerce, at the request of Commissioner Maria Buncamper-Molanus, has opted for a pragmatic approach with a comprehensive plan that should provide a different stimulus package across the board, starting with short-term measures that, once approved and implemented, could be immediately felt in the economy.
The Economic Summit is around the corner, as announced by the Commissioner today, and the Chamber of Commerce strongly recommend that no major decisions should be taken to diminish any planned social economic programs, before the Summit is concluded when the Social Partners, Government, Private Sector and Unions, determine the right stimulus package to be implemented.