Building a Nation: Challenges & Opportunities

PHILIPSBURG, St. Maarten - On this Constitution Day, we mark five years of St. Maarten having obtained country status within the Kingdom.

As we reflect on the experiences that have helped to shape the country we are today, it is important that we all acknowledge our continued role in building a St. Maarten we can be proud of, a nation that is an example to the region. Building a nation is no simple task; there are countless factors to consider.

There is a path that we travel on as our little country continues to grow. Along the way, we have and will continue to encounter specific challenges and enticing opportunities that will serve to either move our country forward or set it back.

These are not bound by their definitions; they are interwoven with one another in that our challenges can double as opportunities.

Political instability, for example, is a long-standing issue plaguing our country, yet it represents a specific opportunity for government to improve the country’s record on integrity and accountability. Our financial situation, indeed a priority concern for Government, gives us the chance to be fiscally responsible and prosperous if properly and responsibly addressed. With these tackled, we unlock key opportunities afforded to us by our country status.

We have the power to improve our presence on the international plane, with the benefit of a rebounding world and national economy behind us. However, opportunities that cross our path can be hidden obstacles that challenge us to do the right thing when presented with an opportunity that in reality is not in the interest of the people.

How do we achieve all this? By recognising and working together to fix what is in my view our greatest challenge: a culture of not truly making positive change. As I have said since inauguration day, our progress towards greatness begins and ends with us; there is no other way forward. And we will get there, through tranquility, civility and stability.

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