St.Maarten’s Chamber of Commerce President’s Address for the New Year 2010


St.Maarten’s Chamber of Commerce President’s Address for the Upcoming New Year.

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Dear Chamber Members,

The year 2009 was a challenging year for Sint Maarten and particularly for the Chamber of Commerce; in fact we have moved now from being at "Cross Roads" to a determined and established direction for the Country Sint Maarten. With the latest unanimous vote of the Netherlands Antilles Parliament, this direction becomes the only way that we, individually and collectively must cherish and unconditionally adopt.

The Chamber of Commerce, realizing the crucial importance of the preparation process of the Country Sint Maarten, has taken several important steps in 2009 to be ready for 10.10.10. These steps included:

· The update and upgrade of the Registration Data System, both hardware and software.

· The extension of the Chamber offices with a more user-friendly space for the delivery of services to the public.

· The creation of managerial positions (IT and Finance) and the hiring of professionals to head these positions.

· The creation of a new comprehensive Chamber Website to provide economic information and business data.

· The commissioning of a study thoroughly done in preparation of an Island wide Security Camera System, dealing especially with the legal and practical aspects.

· More involvement in the Caribbean for the promotion of Sint Maarten as a Business Platform for goods and services.

· A vigilant attendance of all SER meetings to ensure that the social and economic interests of Sint Maarten are continuously considered and preserved.

· Regular involvement through 2009 in all Social and Economic issues to ensure the same playing field for the entire Sint Maarten business community, with particular attention given to the local small businesses and our students abroad.

In fact, the Chamber of Commerce was omnipresent throughout 2009 in defending and protecting the Sint Maarten Business Family.

The year ahead of us is even seen as more challenging as the Chamber of Commerce is convinced that we should move from the "Wish List" to a "Check List". In 2010, and until October 10, the preparation phases should fade away towards implementations. Time is of the essence and Sint Maarten doesn’t have the luxury to wait any longer. As it has been previously quoted, "If we want to be considered a Country, we have to think and act as a Country".

For the Chamber of Commerce, the "Check List" for the Country Sint Maarten is even more precise. In fact in most of the issues, the Chamber has actively participated in their preparatory phases through the years. This list includes among others:

· The continuous unconditional cooperation and collaboration with Government in social and economic issues such as:

¾ the improvement and synchronization of the different business registries

¾ the broadening of the tax base

¾ the review and simplification of the tax System

¾ the National Health Insurance

¾ the management and control of the cost of living and cost of doing business

¾ the design and the promotion of investment incentives schemes for the existing local businesses that will help them improve the quality of life

¾ a better business atmosphere between the French and the Dutch sides of the island

¾ a more structural Public Private Partnership in Regional and International Business Representation

¾ all the other issues pertaining to a better and safer business climate for the Private Sector, Labor for the Country Sint Maarten that embraces good governance, transparency, accountability and equitability

· The compilation of the Chamber Registers into a single one that includes Associations and Foundations along with NVs, BVs and Eenmanszaak.

· The availability of more accurate and precise data, electronically and otherwise.

· The improvement of the delivery of Chamber services.

· Improvement of the business infrastructure through economic and spatial zoning.

· Promotion of the Economic Diversification to create better business opportunities, especially for the Sint Maarteners abroad.

· The assistance in the establishment of the Saba and Sint Eustatius own Chamber of Commerce.

As you can see the challenges in 2010, especially in the first 10 months, are multiple and complex, but you can rest assured that your Chamber of Commerce is willing, prepared and ready to continue serving your interest and represent you to the best of its ability. Nevertheless, the Chamber cannot do without you and hopes that, starting January 1, 2010, we can count on your understanding, support and involvement.

On behalf of the Board, Management and Staff, I would like to wish you all a Healthy and Prosperous new year 2010.


Glen Carty