Friday, Jun 05th

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Editorial - Badly-needed jobs

The slowdown regarding investment in the local economy was confirmed by Windward Islands Bank (WIB) Managing Director Derek Downes in Saturday’s paper. He said fewer loans and consequently lower interest rates for such had been the trend during the past years.

In his opinion Government must create an atmosphere to improve business and investor confidence. However, that is more easily said than done.

For one thing, repeated detrimental issues with the dominant timeshare sector on the Dutch side, including the Pelican saga a while back and now the Algeria controversy, are not exactly helpful. The same goes for several other “man-made disasters” like Aquarius at Red Pond.

It might be argued that these problems are not the fault of political administrators, but on the other hand it’s their job to address the legal shortcomings and factors that allow such undesirable developments in the first place. A lot has been said about improving the applicable legislation, but so far the public is yet to see any concrete results.

The governing programme of the UP-led coalition, submitted six months after the Gumbs cabinet took office, does not appear to provide much good news for entrepreneurs either. Of course, the ongoing financial difficulties severely limit the Council of Minsters as to what actually can be done, but sometimes it’s more a matter of proper planning and effort than money

In addition, the St. Maarten Hospitality and Trade Association (SHTA) has expressed reservations over various intentions, including implementation of the counterpart policy as well as changes to the civil code and labour laws to tackle the abuse of short term contracts. When the biggest employers’ organisation voices these kinds of objections during a period the economy is not doing so great, those in charge would do well to listen.

It must be said, several major tourism-related projects currently in the pipeline could make a significant positive impact over the months to come. It is crucial that these productive investments are facilitated as best possible without breaking any rules, so they may be realised quickly to create badly-needed jobs for the population.