Published On: Thu, Jan 3rd, 2013

Heyliger: Much uncertainty exists for New Year, no relief

PHILIPSBURG – "Much uncertainty exists for 2013,"says United People's (UP) party leader former Deputy Prime Minister Theo Heyliger in his New Year's message issued on Wednesday. He characterised this year as one "of debt and taxes" with "no relief" for the community.

He said in the seven months "the five leaders of government had to publicly come out and assure the country on more than one occasion that all is well politically within government."

Recently, Coalition Members of Parliament (MPs) "were flexing their muscles, a further indication of a political unstable situation with the remark 10 minus two equals eight. This does not bode well for investor security, and creates more "insecurity" in the community for 2013.

The past year has been "a challenging year" for the community and businesses. After the "so-called Carnival Coup" in April and seven months later with a new government in place, there has been "no relief" for the people and businesses. "Instead, new taxes are coming and tax payers' money has been spent as if government is a personal piggy bank."

The country is "heading in the wrong direction," because the coalition "has failed to deliver" and 2013 "doesn't look any better" with the National Alliance (NA)-led coalition "delivering taxes and debt."

He said UP parliamentarians will continue to fulfil their role as opposition by "exposing bad governance and governing with impunity. St. Maarten must have good governance."

Heyliger said last year an MP "left a stain" on the highest legislative body when he threatened another MP with violence, while yet another MP ordered the illegal filling of the Great Salt Pond.

NA leader/Deputy Prime Minister William Marlin "favours and supports" a cricket field and drag race track by filling in parts of the Great Salt Pond in September 2012, but then "a month later pulls the brakes on the filling after a public outcry."

The "bad examples" of the coalition are "clear indications" that the country is heading in "a negative direction. This describes a government in disarray."

He said over a million guilders was "thrown down the drain for Tempo Turns 7." When the NA-led coalition took over, there was talk about a 100 million guilder loan, then about two tunnels costing close to US $200 million and a US $100-million Justice Park. "Translated, close to NAf. 650 million in debt for the country that is forthcoming, and this does not include interest, which, when all added up, will bring the total amount that the people will have to repay over time to one billion guilders."

"The country cannot move forward with five different leaders at the helm ...No cohesion, lack of openness with the public and an atmosphere of constant instability plagues this government," Heyliger said.

The country "made steady progress" under the UP-led government. "This can be seen from the figures that have been released by different government entities. The seven- month-old NA-led coalition cannot take credit for that."

Heyliger listed projects such as road works in Cole Bay, a new storm pump station and expansion of A.Th. Illidge Road Sewage Plant. "Every road constructed, the utility lines have been placed underground as part of a vision to continue to build the storm resistance of our country; installing sewage lines underground has been a main priority."

He added that due to a marketing effort by St. Maarten Harbour Group of Companies and him over the years, "our country has surpassed 1.7 million cruise visitors; cruise passenger spending is up and St. Maarten as a destination is number one in the region. This is also "due to cruise stakeholders such as those who offer tours and other activities to our visitors, the business community, and the friendliness and hospitality of our people."

St. Maarten has seen growth in air arrivals "due to the hard work" in the19-month period and a growth in private jets. The Central Bank of Curaçao and St. Maarten (CBCS) announced recently that "our national economy has shown signs of recovery in 2012, which demonstrates that sound decision-making and stable political leadership have been the basis of our slow recovery. All plans were executed after sound research into feasibility, environmental impact and economic viability to the people and country."

However, the creation of more debt and squeezing additional monies out of the economy from the same tax payers, especially looking at the weak global economic situation is "not a wise decision at this point in time."

UP "favours" going after businesses that don't contribute in taxes and that was "a policy of the UP coalition."

"The success of the nation is not just defined by how many US dollars you can make, but by our morals and values as a St. Maarten people. As a young country, with all the responsibilities and obligations before us, we must balance economic development with the development of our society," Heyliger said.

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