Prime Minister on 2nd Anniversary of Country St. Maarten: At extraordinary session of Parliament

How do we gauge our success as a country? When we hear positive sounds coming from our fiercest critics

During the Special Session of Parliament convened in observation of Constitution Day, the Prime Minister of St. Maarten the Honorable Sarah Wescot-Williams gave remarks on the status of the nation since the attainment of separate status on the tenth of October 2010.


On behalf of the Council of Ministers the Prime Minister reflected on two years of St. Maarten being a Country within the Kingdom of the Netherlands. "On this day last year is stood in these very chambers and reminisced on the date of 10-10-10 and the period leading up to that date. I also reflected specifically on the decade that preceded that date following the referendum of 2000," commented the Prime Minister. The PM continued that by October last year the Country has made some significant strides since 10-10-10. "I alluded to these accomplishments on October 10th 2011. We voted for the status of country, we fought for it and when it became a reality we had and have to make it work. Ready or not we had to and indeed have to move forward and move we did and are doing. We were eyed with quite some suspicion and the doubts on the minds of many were evident. Many expressed these doubts openly," continued the Prime Minister.

"St. Maarten however remains unperturbed. We have created a solid foundation in terms of the checks and balances critical to our democratic state, with the three most important institutions being the Parliament, the Government and the Judiciary. Especially the relationship between Parliament and Government as enshrined in our constitution, dictates that these two bodies are separate yet dependent on one another."

The Prime Minister stated that during the past year Government was able to focus its efforts on providing service to the people on the new and changed environment of a country’s Government, one that works through its Ministries and with all the necessary respect for the individual accountability of Ministers. Yet considering this there is the integrity of the legal body of Government to uphold and to safeguard. "A government that holds those delivering the services to the people accountable through statutory agencies such as the Ombudsman and the Parliament of St. Maarten is a properly functioning one. Becoming a country was and still is a learning process for the entire population, Government and Parliament. Necessary components of this process are openness, inclusion and flexibility amongst and from all stakeholders. I believe Government’s administration has improved significantly. We have invested heavily in technology but there is still so much more that needs to be done and accomplished which will benefit the population of St. Maarten. Several Ministries are going online in several months and several Ministries will be going into the districts. As we said last year our focus is on service, the cost of living and the cost of doing business. Our economy is too fragile to clamp down on the business sector with a heavy hand as much as Government needs all the revenue we can muster together," stated the PM.

The Prime Minister also focused on the successes made during the past two years: "How do we gauge success? When we hear positive yet cautious sounds coming from our fiercest critics in the Dutch Kingdom we can safely say that our efforts to make this country work for all who call here home are paying off. Do not let us every forget what makes us strong; that there are differences of opinion is to be expected but we can always refer to it simply; let us get for every proposal a balance sheet; what does it mean for the people for St. Maarten; the net result for this country. Differences of opinion will contribute to a vibrant society, a society in which its members can freely voice their opinion respecting that of others and respecting St. Maarten culture and way of life. As I did last year I look back on the past year and realize that we are not yet where we want to be in terms of service to the citizenry. But from Ministry to Ministry these negative phenomena are being tackled in different ways. "

The Prime Minister also reiterated that the Government of St. Maarten recognizes better than anyone else the plight of the elderly and the youth. She commented that within short Parliament will be asked to work with Government to bring relief to seniors. "Our financial assistance laws will be overhauled and with respect to the cost of living several initiatives are being taken in terms of utilities, controlled goods, and of course the National Health Insurance. In the area of fighting crime, the efforts to curb the incidence of crime continue unabated. I reiterate that we, all of us, cannot rest on our laurels regardless of who those laurels can be credited to. There is so much that is expected of this young country of ours and its Government; expectations by the citizens, kingdom partners and regional and international bodies. Hopefully after the first two years of country the community will reap the fruits of the preparatory works done in the areas of health reform, social reform, tax reform and pension reform. In the meantime Government continues to work with Parliament on those matters identified by Parliament as priorities. There is still a lot to be done but our country is still young; our people still determined and with the courage to make it work for us and for our future generations.

The PM ended by saying; "as the first Prime Minister of this young country, and I am extremely humbled by that fact, since 10-10-10 I have enjoyed as Prime Minister the confidence of each member of this Parliament; all fifteen of you. I thank you and I am humbled by that fact. I pledge to you, this parliament, and the unwavering dedication to the only business that I know. And that is the business of the people of St. Maarten. I have no other expertise to boast of other than that. Happy Constitution Day to this Strong Nation of Soualigans.