SINT MAARTEN (PHILIPSBURG) – On Tuesday, April 14 President of the Supervisory Board of the St. Maarten Chamber of Commerce & Industry (COCI) Benjamin Ortega, called on the general public and the business community to stand together during this time of distress due to the COVID-19 global pandemic.
“The world is upside down. Even more than ever. people are overwhelmed with their individual realities. Some of us face the fact that a love one has been infected with the virus. Some of us face the reality of being affected, directly or indirectly by the virus hitting our shores.
“Many weeks we looked ahead of the world stories giving us updates of the developments in their respective countries. Who would have thought that we too one day would be the center of any world news even if this was from our own media. A reality check hit many of us hard, when the rest of the world began to shut down and we too were affected forced to take the same measures in order to stop the spread of COVID-19 and save lives.
“Our government, various departments, and various stakeholders have been working around the clock it seems to stare our country as much as possible away from what frequently seems to be the inevitable.
“A total closure of our country and restricting our movement was the only way at present to curb us from further disaster. Whether some would say late or not, this was the best thing to give each of us a fighting chance especially those most vulnerable, the frail and those with underlying health conditions.
“During the last few weeks, we have learned of many reports and deliberations on what our needs would be to survive this pandemic virus. Keeping in mind that the entire world is under attack and that some hard war-like decisions are being made to keep every citizen of each individual country safe and sound.
“This is no difference for us in our oh sweet St. Maarten Land. Unfortunately, our reality check, although not unique, we face the fact that our government and country are not as financially stable enough to carry the weight and financial burden that comes with the world economic crisis we face.
“We remain to point out and refer to the world, as every piece of this planet faces pretty much the same situation. Because of our status in the Kingdom of the Netherlands, we are entwined to seek assistance and approval within the Kingdom for our financial moves geared to save every last bit that we have. Again, mentioning the many deliberations, reports and analysis being made to reach what we consider the best option for us all.
“Note yet again a reality check that we need assistance, in every form to assist us out of this crisis. Physical, medical and more so ever financial. The core responsibility of our country and just like many others stated in the constitution, is to take care and provide and safeguard the wellbeing of every citizen within our country. This is the foundation that we govern from.
“During each disaster we face, everyone, every stakeholder group and every representative will fight for as much as possible what he or she represents within their nation. Whether you are considered a business fighting to keep your doors open, or you are a mother or father fighting to feed your family and yourself in that matter.
“Capitalism has no place in a true crisis. It is not about the survivability of an individual business sector or company. It's about the survivability of the economy at large. It is not about how many persons your sector represents; it’s about how many employees are you able to retain. Nor is it how much injection we or government can provide to stabilize this crisis economy. It's about what we can afford and what measures we need to take to ensure we have a future. A future that we can rebuild from and onward.
“Desperate Measures for Desperate Times. At the end of the day when there is no time to waste and the country is in a financial dependency, grants, loans or commerce is needed.
“There is only one nonrefundable reality check, how are we going to ensure that every person, woman, man, child will be fed, and safeguarded from this world pandemic and crisis that is bigger than us all.
“I would like to thank all of the organizations that have partaken in the various deliberations, that have provided feedback and insight, that have executed stakeholder strategies, that have aided the less fortunate and that continue to contribute to the wellbeing of us all.
“Stand together and assist where you can and how you can regardless to what you think you deserve. Failure is not an option. Standing still and doing nothing is one reality check we can’t afford to cash in anytime soon,” Ortega said on Tuesday in his message.