Next year, St. Maarten will be celebrating its 50th Carnival celebration and it is expected to be a momentous occasion. From its very humble beginnings in the 1970s, our annual festival is by far one of the biggest attractions in the Region to date. This, in our view is something to be very proud of. Its importance to the economy, and ability to attract thousands of visitors from around the world to participate in our Carnival celebration, cannot be underestimated or ignored.
As is customary, the months before Carnival are marked by a host of promotions, parties, launching of new or customized products, prizes and surprise giveaways to generate excitement. Be that as it may, the WICSU/PSU Union is perplexed and deeply concerned with regards to the “special initiative by the Ministry of TEATT and the St. Maarten Tourist Bureau to give away 50 Season passes, valued at $12500, as part of its promotion for St. Maarten’s 50th Carnival.
The WICSU/PSU Union is compelled to question the wisdom, priorities, and true motives of the Minister of TEATT for gifting approximately $12500 of tax payers’ money in Carnival season passes. This is being done in light of the proposed 37 cost cutting measures.
Some of the proposed measures set to impact close to 2000 civil servants include a freeze on: bonuses for 2018 and 2019; the payment of outstanding ‘gratification’ (with the exception of jubilees); suspension of cash payments for overtime (except for safety / security and emergency personnel) and one-time financial awards.
In spite of the above mentioned cut backs, funds were secured to ensure that 50 persons get the opportunity to win a season pass to attend cultural shows in the Festival Village. Respectfully, the Minister of TEATT’s latest maneuver seems counter intuitive and a concrete example of improper spending by Government.
In contrast, the WICSU/PSU earnestly believes, that entities such as the Point Blanche Prison or the Philipsburg Jubilee Library, while not in the Ministers portfolio, are in dire need of much needed funds to execute urgent repairs to the building and enhance the protection, health and safety of its workers. In closing, the gifting of 50 Carnival season passes, while a nice idea, should not come at the expense of Government and by extension tax payers.
Instead, securing corporate funding may perhaps be a more viable option to support the initiative. That being said, the WICSU/PSU is calling on the Minister of TEATT to reconsider and reverse the decision to gift $12500 in Carnival season passes as this kind gesture is neither urgent or a priority considering the social economic realities faced by many civil servants and working class families on St. Maarten.
Together we struggle, together we achieve. Unity & Solidarity Forever. Riegnald “Bakari” Arrindell