Member of Parliament George Pantophlet is calling on the people not to lose focus. Don’t allow the happenings of late to be a distraction. One has to understand the purpose and the reasons behind the pressure being put on St. Maarten. Just a little bit of history. When we decided that we wanted separate status, we were told that we were too small. Then we were told that we cannot have separate status like Aruba and then we were told that we have to get our Administration, Finances and Legal system in place. Today just some almost 3 years after obtaining our separate status St. Maarten to the surprise of those who said we could not do it is holding her grown.
They wanted us to crumble and we did not, they thought we would tell them take over because we can’t handle it but we did not. The recent developments only served as a tool for them to use against us. The Netherlands is facing some serious financial challenges. Unemployment is on the rise, businesses are closing down and they are forced to make some serious budget cuts. I learnt while I was in the Netherlands that there are pensioners who will be receiving somewhere in the range of 380 Euros per month less than they are supposed to. And this is the result of mismanagement and bad investments (not my words but that of its citizens). I was told that gasoline increased twice in February in the Netherlands. The citizens in the Netherlands are upset with their politicians so the best thing for people like van Raak, Bosman,Platserk and others who are involved but unknown to us to do is to divert attention to St. Maarten. The pressure started quite some time ago. Do you remember the letter from Minister Plasterk regarding the fiber optic cable, the turnover tax and so on? Why don’t they eliminate their general sales tax that is levied on goods imported by Saba and St Eustatia? (Saba and St. Eustatia is now asking for the turnover tax to be reinstituted). Then we had the Committee for Financial Supervision (CFT) telling us that we had to cut 25 million guilders from the 2013 Budget because they felt that the budgeted revenues were not realistic. Do you know what this means for our social institutions as there isn’t any more USONA funding available. The recent cutting off of the ITC system where we had no information on police matters, immigration and boarder control? The intention for the Dutch is for us to become one of the BES islands with all controls in The Hague and in the hands of Dutch (Holland) civil servants who don’t know us. What should be broadcasted is the fact that St. Maarten will now be given information beforehand on trade missions that the Netherlands normally attend so call on our behalf. We will then determine base on the agenda whether we want to attend such a trade mission or not. This information is accessible to the Dutch Embassies. This was not the case before. As a matter of fact there is a conference organized between Aruba and the Netherlands to be held May 4 through May 8, 2013 entitled Europe meets the Americas. Furthermore while giving us a tour of his office to paraphrase the Prime Minister Mark Rutte of the Netherlands he said St. Maarten has the potential to become a tremendous beneficial economical hub between Europe (Netherlands) and Latin America because of her geographical location. There is much more I can say but I believe my point is clear. I have nothing against the Dutch politicians (Netherlands) but they should manage their country and let us manage ours. They have their challenges and we have ours. They have 500 years, we have 2 years and 3 months.To the people of St. Maarten I say," Let us not fall victim to the divide and rule phenomenon. Don’t lose focus.