SEP Attendees say Unity through Diversity


SEP Workshop in session as attendees each make a contribution to the discussion.

"A true melting pot", is the perfect description of Sint Maarten according to the attendees of the first series of workshops for the Strategic Economic Plan (SEP) 2012-2022 organized by the Government of Sint Maarten and supported by KPMG Advisory Services B.V.

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However, such an extensive level of multiculturalism brings forward a number of social challenges, like for instance (a lack of) social cohesion and integration. This was one of the many statements that the attendees of the workshop on March 22 brought forward.

Additionally, they discussed their ideal vision on several social aspects of Sint Maarten in 2022. For example: "10 years from now, how do we envision our educational system, healthcare and hospitality industry?"

The goal of the social workshop was to find consensus on the current and desired situation from the perspective of all stakeholders, both public and private sector. Some of the recurring topics entailed the level of education offered on St. Maarten, the protection of our culture and the immigration policy.

The latter elicited a strong discussion among the attendees. According to the majority, "When hiring, we should give preference to locals. The recruitment of foreigners is sometimes necessary, but should be beneficial to the entire community.

"Despite the multicultural image of Sint Maarten, the Government should revise its immigration laws and work permit policies, to create an inclusive approach where locals play an integral role".

In the end, all these social aspects of our country are strongly related to the growth of our economy.
Fundamental to the success of the SEP is the degree to which everyone feels involved and committed to its development and implementation.

The input of the attendees will help the organizers in formulating concrete goals and strategies when writing the SEP. The follow-up series of the workshops will take place in May 2012, where the government will present an initial draft of the strategic direction it is headed to.

All stakeholders are strongly encouraged to actively participate again. Fact is that Sint Maarten consists of a diverse blend of nationalities and everybody should respect the differences and embrace the similarities in order to make Sint Maarten a leading country in the region. Because ultimately, it is all about unity through diversity!

"The workshop is was very revealing and the contributions made by every participant will lead to the development of an essential SEP that will lead to further enhancing our quality of life as a society where the hopes, dreams and aspirations of the Sint Maarten people and the youth are key to national economic development," Minister of Tourism & Economic Affairs Hon. Franklin Meyers said on Thursday.