SINT MAARTEN (POND ISLAND) - On Monday June 25th, the new Council of Ministers lead by Prime Minister Leona Romeo – Marlin were sworn in by the His Excellency Governor Eugene Holiday marking the start the new governing period 2018 -2022. Prime Minister Romeo-Marlin addressed the nation during the Inauguration reception at the Government Administration Building.
“My fellow Sint Maarteners,
I must first thank God for granting me the strength and opportunity to take up the role of becoming the second female Prime Minister for Sint Maarten. I must also thank the United Democratic Party and its leader MP Theodore Heyliger, the St. Maarten Christian Party and its leader Wycliffe Smith for forming the Sint Maarten United Christian Democratic Coalition, and entrusting me with the role of leading the country at this crucial time.
While this is indeed an honour, I do not take lightly the fact that it comes at a time when Sint Maarten is facing serious challenges. Nevertheless, as a civil servant for many years, I am no stranger to hard work and believe me I am ready to work. And I firmly believe that a leader sets the tone for the organization.
Make no mistake, I am very cognizant of our present reality and if we are to take this country out of its devastation into a future of prosperity, we cannot take a “business as usual” approach in our daily functioning as a government.
The devastation caused by Hurricanes Irma and Maria in 2017, created unimaginable challenges, but it has also brought with it new opportunities for growth and general improvements. These times have given us a unique momentum to unite and rebuild a Sint Maarten that meets the needs of our people, now and for future generations. It opens new doors for setting it right and taking the government apparatus and this country to the next level.
At the heart of our government, are the Civil Servants, who work day after day to keep our doors open. I want to thank you for your tireless efforts. The coming weeks and months will be critical for us all, as we become acclimated with the Sint Maarten United Christian Democratic Coalition’s Governing Program 2018 - 2022, entitled “Building a Sustainable Sint Maarten”. This governing program reflects the shared vision of the need for urgent rebuilding and improvement of our economic viability, and of achieving our political and economic goals in a sustainable manner, fully aligned with the globally adopted sustainable development goals.
It outlines the role we, as government must play in order to redevelop our country and has been signed, by each Minister and each Member of Parliament, who represent the coalition. It identifies the projects that will be priorities and indicates who will play critical roles in executing these tasks.
The governing program, which is the result of the economic and infrastructural reality that we are facing today, identifies 5 strategic objectives to support the vision of this coalition. These objectives are: ‘setting it right’, ‘revive and restore’, ‘restructuring government’, ‘safety & security’ and ‘health and social well-being’. These objectives are supported by initiatives and projects.
To “set it right” and revive Sint Maarten’s economy, we must have a structured approach. While executing this structured approach, it will mean that at times there will be changes to the way some of us may be used to functioning. These changes must not be seen as an exercise in punishment but as a means of ensuring improved productivity and most importantly achieving the overall objective of providing a better quality of service to the community. We must take full advantage of the opportunity to enhance our public service and plan comprehensively to deal with our administrative challenges and restructuring needs. We will face the challenges ahead together.
We look ahead to a well-developed relationship with local and regional partners as well as international institutions with the expertise to assist us with our efforts in rebuilding.
While we are grateful for all funding made available to us thus far, these funds by no means meet the demands for reconstruction in the manner that is envisaged by this coalition. Our goal is to identify all potential funding sources in order to face the current economic realities.
I cannot conclude this address without thanking the previous Council of Ministers especially Mr. Michael Ferrier for the hard work and support you and your supporting staff put into getting this country back on track. It was indeed a great pleasure working with each of you, and I will not forget the many intense and enlightening discussions we had and the lessons I have learned during the five months working with you.
Therefore, on behalf of the people of Sint Maarten, I want to say a big THANK YOU for your service.
Now allow me to introduce the Council of Ministers:
- Leona Romeo Marlin – Prime Minister / General Affairs
- Wycliffe Smith – Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Education Culture Youth & Sport
- Perry Geerlings – Minister of Finance
- Van Hugh Cornelius de Weever – Minister of Justice
- Emil Lee – Minister of Public Health, Social Development and Labor
- Stuart Johnson – Minister of Tourism, Economic Affairs, Transport and Telecommunication
- Miklos Giterson – Minister of Public Housing, Spatial Planning, Environment and Infrastructure
- Jorien Wuite - Minister Plenipotentiary
- Michael Somersall - Deputy Minister Plenipotentiary
Together, we will create a socio-economic environment that is conducive to the realization of a healthy community. We will provide affordable housing, provide job security, revitalize the economy, strengthen our cultural heritage and ensure that everyone has access to quality education, and sports activities. We believe primary healthcare should be available to all. Therefore, we will work consistently to make healthcare insurance and medical service more affordable and accessible.
Our journey does not end with the release of this governing program but will continue with constant monitoring and follow-up to ensure successful implementation of the vision and agreements of the Sint Maarten United Christian Democratic Coalition.
To everyone listening or watching, on behalf of the new Council of Ministers, I thank you for being attentive, and I want to share the following quote by President Barack Obama that may be of inspiration to you, - “Change will not come if we wait for some other person or some other time. We are the ones we have been waiting for. We are the change that we seek.”
You may rest assured knowing, I am committed to leading that change. May GOD bless each of you and bless the nation we love.
Sint Maarten let us work together.”