SINT MAARTEN (GREAT BAY) – His Excellency Governor Eugene Holiday delivered his New Year’s address at a specially organized event at the Captain Hodge Wharf in Philipsburg on Friday, January 17.
The Governor’s address is as follows:
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Marie-Louise and I are pleased to welcome you to the tenth annual Governor’s New Year’s reception.
Tonight, as we gather here, we wish everyone present and across our beloved Sint Maarten a healthy and happy 2020.
Having turned the page from 2019 to 2020 we ushered in a new decade as well as the year of the 10th anniversary of Sint Maarten’s Country status. Celebrating our tenth anniversary and the beginning of a new decade is an excellent moment to stop and take stock of our experiences in the past decade and to prepare for the challenges and opportunities for the coming decade. It is also a moment to remember and pay tribute to all who have contributed to the building of our country and its institutions.
Specifically, I will like to pause for a moment in honor and appreciation of the valued contributions of the late Mrs. Mavis Brooks-Salmon to Sint Maarten in her capacity of Vice-chair of the Council of Advice. Her passing is a great loss to Sint Maarte
Ladies and Gentlemen,
During the past decade we experienced the high of our historic achievement of country status on October 10, 2010 and the low of the devastating aftermath of the direct hit by hurricane Irma on September 6, 2017. We worked with and received valued support from our Kingdom partners in response to hurricane Irma but also had strained inter-kingdom relations. We worked to develop critical institutions for the effective functioning of our country and grappled with unresolved waste management and budgetary challenges. We are seeing signs of economic recovery, even as too many among us are still struggling to get ahead. And as we worked to build our democratic institutions, many opportunities were lost as a result of the repeated changes of governments.
Throughout the decade we have, in good and bad times, been able to count on a broad cross section of our people, to educate our children, to defend our safety and protect our freedoms, to care for the sick and elderly and to provide products and services for our economy. And even in the face of frustration, the majority of our people showed up at the polls, because they care about the future of our country.
Looking ahead to the coming decade we know that major challenges are on the horizon. Challenges as a result of climate change, challenges as a result of rapid technological advancements and challenges as a result of the ageing of our population. We are already experiencing the effects of climate change. We can hardly keep up with the rapid changes in technology. And our health care costs and pension systems are under increasing pressure.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Armed with this knowledge, the question we face today is: What can we do now to prepare for the challenges of the decade of the 2020s? Rather than merely reacting to changes after the fact, we must take steps to anticipate and prepare for the challenges.
Faced with these challenges each of us can look back at the past decade and draw strength from the knowledge that although our challenges are great, we have the courage and determination to rise and meet them as a people. It is that spirit that has been the driving force for Sint Maarten as a beacon of hope and opportunity for many, and I trust that that spirit will continue to drive the future development of our country.
We must at the same time not take our Sint Maarten spirit for granted. It is instead important for us to mobilize, inspire and nourish our Sint Maarten spirit. This is even more important in our highly interconnected world.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
The complex and multifaceted nature of climate change, technological advancements and ageing calls now, more than ever, for stable and effective governance anchored on broad societal support and collective action. It calls for leaders across government, business and civil society, to work together and to build external partnerships.
Doing so will offer the opportunity to tap into our interconnected environment and pool the resources which are necessary to develop new solutions to these major challenges. It is as such important to establish effective platforms to facilitate the pooling of intersectoral resources.
A good way to achieve that is by organizing an of intersectoral summit. The organization of a “2020s Socio Economic Summit” between government, business and civil society offers an excellent platform to develop a collective and comprehensive “2020s Agenda” to address these and other major challenges. Such a summit can, in addition, help to build consensus and broad support for critical policy initiatives and as a result foster stable governance.
Looking ahead, as we gather here this evening at the beginning of the decade of the 2020s, it is my hope that we will seize this moment to prepare for the challenges ahead through cooperation, based on the core values of trust, service and the collective good.
My call for cooperation and consensus-building in the governance of our country for the coming decade, is based on the power of collective action to get things done and the principle that unity is strength. It is in other words a call for stable governance to establish an effective “2020s Agenda” to meet the challenge of enhancing education, of providing affordable housing, of realizing sustainable health care and pension programs, of reducing poverty, of protecting our environment, of creating resilient infrastructure, of fostering sound public finances and of promoting sustainable economic development.
Ladies and gentlemen,
As we look back upon the events of the past decade, and forward to the next and beyond, let us individually and collectively take up our responsibilities to collaborate and build consensus to foster stable governance and build a stronger Sint Maarten for ourselves and future generations.
In my role as Governor I hereby in keeping with this vision for the 2020s reaffirm my pledge to continue to work with government and other stakeholders to serve the people of St. Maarten.
In closing, let us thank God for watching over our country during the past decade through good and bad times and ask him for wisdom and guidance for the decade ahead.
It is in that spirit of cooperation that Marie-Louise and I wish you a healthy, happy and prosperous new year.
God bless you and
May God bless Sint Maarten and protect its coast.