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Farewell and brief state of affairs--Outgoing Minister Ernest Sams

PHILIPSBURG, St. MaartenMy brief term in office has been an accelerating learning experience as well as one of recognizing that there is an urgent need for Government to restructure and optimize its organizational processes to become more effective and efficient, and above all eliminate waste.

Entering with an energetic team of a tourism expert, a transportation expert, an economist, a junior policy adviser and secretary our hopes were high to accomplish many of the existing, shelved projects and some of our own ideas-one main one being developing a sound strategy to market St. Maarten online using all the various platforms.

Never the less in our 73 days we were able to encourage South Americans to visit our shores, which culminated in a group of Brazilian tour operators traveling to St. Maarten taking stock and publishing their experience in various travel magazines across Latin America.

Along with my professional team, we realized the launch of our very own Bureau Intellectual Properties (BIP), finalizing outstanding matters, ensuring its smooth and structured entry into service. Various previous ministries have worked on this project. This new independent body is poised to be a revenue generating body for Government, and its setup affords us opportunities beyond our shores. 

The Bureau Telecommunication and Post (BTP), another sensitive matter, we were at the initial phase of bringing parties together to highlight the areas to be rectified based on the findings of the General Audit Chamber report. Steady progress was being made to rectify wrongs of the past, as this department too should also be a revenue generating body. 

Another key area was the attention given amongst others to the Civil Aviation department, which we envisioned along with the governing accord to update structure and personnel to allow us as a country to attain our CAT 1 status once again. Out of this we made both Civil Aviation and the Meteorological Department high priority areas to rectify and finalize. This project is ongoing.

The Gaming Control Board another possible revenue generating entity (a project we met) we were full speed exploring all avenues for the initial financing of this project.

On the tourism front we were months away from having the startup functioning of our very own St. Maarten Tourism Authority (STA), but had to halt the project due to limitation placed on us not to commit to any long term project with consultant as Government fell. 

This country still has great potential and can be the success it ought to be, if all those who proclaim their ‘love’ for this island, live up it to the true meaning of the word love

 

In the end it shouldn’t matter who gets the glory, I firmly believe it should be about the mission our team along with that of the Marcel Gumbs--Council of Ministers entered with, which was to create a better life for all and leave an even better one behind for those who follow. 

 

While we fight the ‘self stuff’, who gets this or that, we forget the competitive environment we live in. While we fight among ourselves, the surrounding islands are forging ahead full speed in tourism and development.  

 

All in all, it was a great pleasure and honor for me to serve you the people of St. Maarten with my team of professionals and we wish our successors much success. I could not have done it alone and I thank my team of experts, the TEATT ministry and all those in the administration that supported us directly or indirectly. 

May God bless this nation and thank you once more all St. Maarteners and all those who call this island their home.

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