I am all for diversifying our economy and tapping into possible new niche markets to grow our economy in a sustainable manner. We need more money entering our economy than leaving our economy, which is not rocket science.
“However, we need to look at all the pros and cons when making decisions and especially decisions that can have an impact on so many levels like the Pearl of China project. Some valid questions arise when thinking about a project of this magnitude: How will this affect other segments of our economy (like the Timeshare Industry)? How will it affect current businesses (like Belair Hotel and Divi Hotel)? How will it affect our infrastructure (traffic, sewage, garbage, etc.)? How will it affect the environment? Which stakeholders have been consulted? I think it is the most normal thing to ask these relevant questions and I therefore totally understand the concerns that have been expressed via social media and other media.
“Instead of answering some of the aforementioned questions the private initiative apparently was not so private since we had two Ministers negotiating terms and conditions for this project. None of these terms and conditions has been made public except for what all will be given to St. Maarten by the developers. None of these promises have been put on paper and made available to the public. This is asking for distrust and conspiracy theories from the general public. There is nothing transparent about it. All the concerns of the people could have been laid to rest if the two Ministers were just a bit more transparent.
“One of the vague promises is the creation of four hundred jobs for ‘locals’ and ‘local’ subcontractors will get to work under the main contractor. I, of course, applaud any initiative that guarantees income for my people, but who are the ‘locals’ that the Ministers and the developer keep referring to? And it also appears as if these ‘locals’ need to master the Chinese language. How realistic is that? Is there a plan? Where is it?
“All I am saying is that I welcome foreign investors, because we need them. But we can’t go run around executing projects left, right and center without a comprehensive plan based on research and input of stakeholders. Getting a project together is one thing, to do it in a responsible manner another. Nothing is wrong with foreign investment, everything is wrong with bad governance”, Member of Parliament Frankie Meyers concluded.