PPA Leader Gracita Arrindell PPA Leader Gracita Arrindell

SINT MAARTEN (PHILIPSBURG) – Leader of the People’s Progressive Alliance (PPA) Gracita Arrindell in a press statement on Friday evening said: “March month COVID-19 madness is almost behind us. Ahead however, awaits many uncertainties as we continue to work in an effort to mitigate the negative effects on our economy and on our way of life, since this apparent ‘man made’ virus hit the world.

“It is only a matter of time before we will know the exact and undisputable facts that led to this pandemic costing both innocent lives and economies to crumble or paralyzed in worse cases”

Arrindell states: “Pay- rolls are due for most companies, excluding the public sector which includes government owned companies. A stimulus package is being worked on locally, according to news reports. This proposed package is aimed at the unemployed, those who lost or at risk of loosing their jobs. The objective is to alleviate the expected strain on our economy due to the Government mandated closures.

“A closer look within the Kingdom of the Netherlands tells us what steps Governments have taken for their respective constituents.

  1. An emergency relief package has already been debated and AGREED UPON in the Netherlands for Holland, Bonaire, Saba, Statia. Note Holland as well as other countries outside of the Kingdom choose the SZV system to administer the relief on companies pay-rolls.
  2. Curacao approved a ‘solidarity’ package for its citizens.

“Prime Minister Mark Rutte and Minister for Kingdom Relations Knops, recently publicly disclosed that the larger islands Curacao, Aruba and Sint Maarten will not be left out and be considered to receive a financial relief package. It is of essence that our Governments, Council of Ministers and Parliament approach Aruba and Curacao in order to submit post haste a joint or unified request for support unrelated to the Trust- fund relief Sint Maarten received post Hurricane Irma. The joint Stimulus package would be similar to what the BESS islands are about to receive from the Netherlands.”

“Gracita said: our local government presented a proposal which includes food vouchers. The proposals are yet to be debated and approved by Parliament. In the midst of this all, current interim Ministers are leaving office as NEWLY appointed members enter the public arena. We wish them much wisdom and fortitude to act expeditiously on the stimulus package for businesses. These are not easy times and all hands are needed on deck to overcome the challenges we face together.”

“Constructive criticism is healthy for everyone involved. It is important to note that the approach of our Government (Minister of Finance) should be intense on its relief purposes towards energizing (businesses) to be pro-active. Keeping most people EMPLOYED should be a collective (public and private sector) main objective. Those who are or have been un-employed prior to the COVID- 19 virus pandemic, would rightfully be eligible for the voucher program. Food vouchers do not fall under the category of STIMULUS. Food vouchers are part of our safety net, especially geared towards sustaining the most vulnerable among us, including, elderly, pensioners, homeless.

“Employers should not be (un-intentionally) motivated by Government to lay off staff. Hopefully, our Government will apply the meaning of the word ‘Stimulus’ literally when it decides on the final financial package of measures to be taken. This decision is not a minute too soon.

Gracita concludes: Sint Maarten is a small beautiful Island.We can manage our issues when they arrive. When we plan ahead and consult in a timely fashion our stakeholders, we can overcome our challenges. Once again, our social security structure (SZV) is in place to handle the disbursement of the financial Stimulus package on short notice. Time is of the essence.”

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