SAINT-MARTIN (MARIGOT) - The President of the Collectivite of Saint-Martin participated, this Thursday, April 30, 2020, in a video conference organized by the President of the Republic Emmanuel Macron, with the Prefects and Presidents of Overseas Regions and Collectivites (Atlantic Zone), with the aim of taking stock of the situation with respect to the COVID-19 crisis in each territory and to examine together the stakes of the planned exit strategy from the confinement measures as of May 11, 2020.
Each territory was able to present the current situation of the epidemic and express its needs in terms of health, social and economic response, expected from the State.
On the reopening of schools
The issue of schools has been the subject of a discussion argued by territorial elected officials who do not wish to take any risks for students, teachers and their families and call on the government to deploy the necessary means for this recovery. President Gibbs was cautious in asking the President of the Republic to clarify the terms of the recovery and the means granted to the Collectivites. He confirmed that consultation meetings had taken place locally and would continue until a concerted decision was reached by 11 May.
On economic recovery
During his speech, President Gibbs stressed the major actions to be implemented in Saint- Martin to protect businesses and save jobs. The President of Saint-Martin recalled the statistics of his territory: 950 companies have used partial activity since the beginning of the Covid19 crisis, bringing to 4478 the number of employees affected by partial unemployment; 829 companies have applied for assistance under the National Solidarity Fund, with an average of 1390 euros per company in Saint-Martin. He also presented to the President of the Republic the main measures taken locally by the Collectivite , including the participation of our institution in the part 1 of the National Solidarity Fund to the tune of 123,000 euros, the establishment of an emergency fund of 5 million euros through a three-tiered scheme aimed at providing assistance to all businesses in the territory, regardless of their size. This assistance takes the form of two honorary loans of up to 15,000 euros and the use of the BPI's rebound loan,as well as the implementation, from 14 April, of deferrals of payments until next year, for the TGCA, corporation tax and commercial patent.
The Community is financially abounding in Part 2 of the Solidarity Fund, which will be launched from 1 May 2020 and which can reach 5000 euros.
President Gibbs also made it clear that investment assistance and the acquisition of protective measures will soon be put in place by the Collectivite for Shops and Restaurants.
Daniel Gibbs also spoke of his plan to revive the Economy of Saint-Martin and to start on a solid footing, the president asked the State for three levers: à l’Etat :
- The revision of the State/COM convergence contract, to which the Minister of Overseas Affairs Annick Girardin, present alongside the President of the Republic, responded
- The use of the remaining funds of the European funds under the 2014-2020 programmes (26 million euros) in actions to exit the COVID-19 crisis and the redeployment of part of the funds allocated for cooperation on COVID-19 shares (4 million euros out of 10 million euros of INTERREG-CTE credits initially allocated to STEP).
- A revenue safeguard plan: revision of the endorsement to the State-COM protocol of 6 November 2017 with the request to extend it by 3 years and the guarantee of tax revenue actually collected in 2019 (100.2 million euros). Not to mention the implementation of tax reform of Saint-Martin that has been pending for a long time. The Minister of Overseas Affairs recognized the need to move forward on this issue.
On the reopening of bars, restaurants and shops
The President expressed to the President of the Republic the vital urgency for Saint-Martin to be able to reopen bars, restaurants and shops as soon as possible, as of 11 May, at the risk of many businesses finding themselves in serious difficulty and unable to overcome this unprecedented crisis.
A point on which the President of the Republic responded favourably under certain conditions. The President of Saint-Martin has also called for an extension of the partial unemployment scheme until the end of December 2020 in order to save jobs and support businesses that will have to wait until the next tourist season to be able to restart their activity satisfactorily.
The President of the Republic took this issue into consideration for the overseas territories and announced that a specific mechanism should be created quickly in the continuity of partial unemployment, for companies in this sector and help them to prepare themselves for the future.
The support of the banks was also discussed by President Gibbs, who wants much more support for the companies of Saint-Martin. The Minister of Overseas Affairs has pledged to intervene, as after Irma, for banks to strengthen their financial support to the overseas territories.
On regional cooperation
Another major topic for President Gibbs is the geopolitical context of Saint-Martin and its proximity to Sint Maarten, Anguilla and Saint Barths. As Saint-Martin is an air hub for these islands, the recovery must take place in consultation and in harmonizing tourism decisions: establishing joint modalities for the reopening of tourism services and infrastructure.
On COVID-19 screening
President Gibbs highlighted the involvement of the Collectivite of Saint-Martin about the community outreach COVID-19 testing initiative planned for May 4 to May 18.