As the Unleashed Potential Group (UPG) we felt the urge to reflect on the address by our Prime Minister, Mr. William Marlin.
The terrible devastation inflicted by Hurricane Irma has been already more than a month ago. Already more than a month ago Irma took away the blanket of already existing major issues on our island. Nothing can be hidden anymore; everything has surfaced beyond the effect of the immediate damage to infrastructure, buildings and the social economy: the major shift in the cruising industry worldwide, the tourism industry for Sint Maarten already in decline, the social health issues, the poverty, unemployment, etc.
Irma made this very visible and increased the urge to address those issues on a structural basis. Damage control and cleaning up, as we are used to after hurricane impacts, cannot be sustained any longer. Irma marked a point in history for Sint Maarten and its people, which is irrevocable. We cannot go back anymore to the pre-Irma state. Irma made things clear. Irma changed everything. Irma made everything to be reconsidered.
UPG not only firmly believes this mark in history can be turned positive; our Sint Maarteners have been actually working on a new future proof fundamental way before the hurricane struck.
The point of celebrating our 7th year of the State of Country and praising the fact we got everything right in those seven years, seems irrelevant in relation to the tremendous challenges we are facing as a nation for the future. Not only irrelevant for the future, but also puts up a virtual barrier to work together.
As you said, Mr. Marlin, and to quote: “Certainly, unemployment will also be a formidable challenge. Addressing these and other issues unleashed by the onslaught of Irma and Maria will require a massive infusion of funds.”
Not only will this unemployment issue require a massive infusion of funds; at the same time it requires a new economic model to sustainably cover those costs. Otherwise, this will cause additional cash drain in the future of our island, which we cannot afford ourselves.
We are an independent country with our own government and our responsibilities. At the other end we already were fully dependent on external sources, like our almost indefinite dependency on the tourism industry. And now we are fully dependent again on the help of external sources all over, like The Netherlands government, EU, UN, IMF, and a whole range of other bodies. We are a nation, but simply the devastation is way too large and too much to handle for a small country like Sint Maarten without accepting and allowing help.
Even now, as it seems we are expecting the first commercial flights as well as the first cruise ships, still evacuations of people from the island are taking place as we speak.
Therefore it is not losing face, it is not losing pride or independency, it is a matter of working together to simply survive as people, as country and as economy.
As Sint Maarteners in UPG we know, feel and understand the sensitivities and tension within the existing constitutional situation, the strengthened dependency from the Kingdom today.
Especially adding those last paragraphs together, what is better than a group of young professional Sint Maarteners, who have the passion for their island, their economy and want to help you with everything they have.
There are people out there who are willing and capable for professionally facilitating the planning process as well as be able to act as a sensible interface in the complex arena of our nation, the Kingdom and the world beyond. Your own people!
The Unleashed Potential Group is a group of multi-disciplined, young professionals from Sint Maarten, mixed with seasoned and senior experience from the Netherlands. Passionate, full of energy, pooling personal strength together to jointly create valuable things; Changing and improving the social economy of our island from the inside out. Power to build togetherness and solidarity in the community of Sint Maarten.