In The Spotlight
We have been coming to St. Maarten/St. Martin for about 16 years and we’re writing because we want to see the island succeed and continue getting stronger. Thank you for publishing “Of National Interest,” an editorial drawing attention to the exceedingly long time that it took for visiting passengers to get through airport Immigration last week.
We were in that crowd at the airport that your paper photographed last Friday afternoon. The line wound from the tarmac and around the building, stacked eight deep in a rope line slowly snaking toward only three Immigration booths that were available in a small, unwelcoming space inside. Each booth had two officers each, and one of the booths was devoted to residents until all were moved through. There were no welcoming or informational signs or explanations for the delay.
For us, the process took one hour and 20 minutes. We know the Princess Juliana Airport and The Friendly Island can do better than this because we were here four months after Hurricane Irma. Devastation in the formerly beautiful roof-damaged airport was worse at that time, but arriving and departing passengers were moved through separate large tents with relative efficiency. Last Friday, the airport arrival situation was off-putting, especially for new visitors, and it is disappointing to read that it is not an unusual occurrence.
Another concern that needs to be addressed: Lack of lighting at night on the beachside boardwalk. Nothing bad has ever happened to us on the beach, even before the boardwalk was built and extended around the bend toward the boat docks. But for new visitors, the lack of lighting deters people from visiting restaurants – some of which have closed, unfortunately, in recent months. In our state, Michigan, our current governor won the election by promising to “Fix the damn roads!” I hope that voters in the next snap election will find and support new leaders who will “Fix the damn lights!” This should not be difficult or expensive to do.
While we’re on the subject of making visitors feel welcome – what’s with the wrecked vehicles, trucks, and now a dilapidated green passenger airplane fuselage on the walking path from the cruise ship dock? Bobby’s Marina, we’re looking at you. Please get rid of the wrecks, fix the fence, and clean up the walking path a bit. First impressions matter.
St. Maarten/St. Martin is now competing with large island parks, such as Labadie (Haiti) and Perfect Day at Coco Cay (Bahamas), built by international cruise companies with Oasis class ships. Those experiences are fun too, but this island has hills, varied beaches, wonderful restaurants, shops, two unique national cultures and other attractions that the other islands do not have. Some creative island promotion and signs directing people to things like the two new zip lines and other attractions would help immensely.
We are very pleased to see all the progress that has been made since Hurricane Irma. And it was good to see the St. Maarten/St. Martin Day parade down Front Street, the 12 Metre Regatta racing with three boats again, fresh paint everywhere, new shops and even the yellow classic car replacing the Irma-smashed one that was sitting in the middle of Old Street last time we were here. Please continue the progress, St. Maarten/St. Martin – our Land of Sun & Sailboats. We love you and will be back again soon.
Elaine and Terry Donnelly,
Livonia, Michigan, USA
My brother’s wife always refers to him as “my husband”. She never says “your brother” or refers to him by his name.
Queenie, is this bad manners, or am I just too sensitive about it?—His sister
This is not a matter of etiquette, but of your sister-in-law’s personal habit. She probably does the same thing no matter whom she is talking to. You could ask her why she never uses his name and it might make her think about and possibly change her manner of speaking – or maybe not.
The administration of the Trust Fund by the World Bank continues to generate much discussion and tension. And while the recent report by the Ombudsman, titled “Home Repair – A Revelation of a Social Crisis” zooms in on deeper social issues than solely housing, that report as well highlights the dire circumstances of several persons in need of urgent help with their homes.
It could be coincidence that not too long after this report by the Ombudsman was presented, the National Recovery Program Bureau (NRPB) organized a meeting for applicants in the home repair program.
What matters most to me is whether these applicants have received any definite word as to their status. Are they all eligible? When will they get the help? What percentage cannot be assisted?
While in my opinion this project is one of the most important social projects of the Trust Fund, there are other questions regarding Trust Fund projects and programs.
On October 24, I therefore requested a meeting of the Committee of General Affairs of Parliament to receive this update from the NRBP and the respective Ministers.
Another topic of concern are the funds available to St. Maarten in the context of the European Development Programs. There seem to be some serious bottlenecks and it is not clear if the deadlines for these projects will be met.
Member of Parliament
I will try to keep this article professional and simple as possible.
Respect to all the new faces and people who may have good intentions that postulate themselves on a political party.
From the present political parties to all new political parties, they cannot define what makes them different.
Lesson number 1: To understand any problem you must identify the problem or else you cannot tackle or rectify it if you do not know where and what is the problem.
Lesson number 2: How you approach and how you tackle the problem defines how you see it. (That is what makes political parties different).
The difference is called ideology. In social studies, a political ideology is a certain set of ethical ideals, principles, doctrines, or symbols of a social movement, institution, class or large group that explains how society should work and offers some political and cultural blueprint for a certain social order.
Lesson number 3: Your political party should explain how you would like St. Maarten to be, and why your ideology is the ideology to make St. Maarten successful.
Lesson 4: Your platform (manifesto) should explain how your party ideology plans to rectify the financial issues and social issues and define your party’s patriotism to St. Maarten.
Lesson 5: The members of the party should in principle agree with at least 80 percent of the party platform or else you do not have a political party. This is the key to avoid ship-jumping.
Lesson 6: Every member should explain him- or herself to the party if their intentions are to serve in the executive branch (Council of Ministers) or the in the legislative branch (Parliament of St. Maarten).
Lesson 7: Every member should sign an agreement that loyalty is to the party and not their personal goals, and every party should present that agreement to the voters of St. Maarten.
Lesson 8: Every party member should study the constitution and explain to their party which part of the constitution they feel can be amended or what can be added to provide a better quality life to the people of St. Maarten. Why this is important, this defines who you are (character) as a person.
Lesson 9: Every party member should make clear to his party if he or she believes St. Maarten should stay indefinitely with the Dutch Kingdom or should it set a goal to be independent with a specific time frame.
Lesson 10: What is your party’s view of the definition on who is a St. Maartener and does your party intend to prescribe it in St. Maarten constitution.
The main 2 political ideologies are Conservative or Liberal. Conservatism is a political and social philosophy promoting traditional social institutions in the context of culture and civilization. The central tenets of conservatism include tradition, organic society, hierarchy, authority, and property rights. Liberalism combines ideas of civil liberty and equality with support for social justice and a mixed economy.
Conservatives believe in personal responsibility, limited government, free markets, individual liberty, traditional values and a strong national defense. Conservatives believe the role of government should be to provide people the freedom necessary to pursue their own goals. Liberals believe government should provide more services to the less fortunate (like health care) and increase taxes if necessary. High-income earners should pay a larger percentage of their income as taxes.
The conclusion, it is the party’s responsibility to convince the electorate why their ideology is better for St. Maarten and point out the differences between their party and other parties. This gives the reason why your party is needed. Choices have consequences, political parties choose people with same value and ideology.
The Patriot Miguel Arrindell
We’ve been married for almost 30 years but my husband never pays me a compliment or gets affectionate in public, although he has no problem kind of flirting with other women. He also keeps busy with a lot of outside activities, so we don’t have much time together at home.
Queenie, I don’t want to nag him to spend more time with me. What can I do?—Feeling neglected
Dear Feeling neglected,
It is easier for some men to pay a compliment to a stranger than to someone they are close to. As for spending time together, try to find outside activities that your husband is interested in and try to get him to go with you.
You might also consider marriage counselling – and try to get him to go with you for that too.
Sixty years ago, the founding fathers of St. Martin Day – Dr. Hubert Petit, Claude Wathey and Clem LaBega – conceived of this day as a celebration of the people, by the people and for the people. Alas, that whole idea has been hijacked. This is what Dr. Hubert Petit had to say about what happened:
“… Gradually, they (the colonial authorities) took over the celebration of St. Martin Day and they changed everything. We St. Martin people believed we had a day belonging to us, but in reality, they took it back from us. … The spirit that existed at that time does not exist anymore. At that time, it just had a small population and we all were St. Martin people; we knew each other and we celebrated happily.”
Dr. Petit was speaking on a televised interview with Elton Richardson of the St. Martin In Retrospect program many, many rains ago. But his words apply just as much today, or probably even more so.
It is very clear that originally, St. Martin Day was a people’s fete. Unity is what we are supposed to be celebrating, not the division of the island.
The true spirit of St. Martin Day should therefore not die after we have delivered all the sweet-sounding speeches on November 11. This ritual needs to be rooted in the very dreams and aspirations of our people for a St. Martin that belongs to all of us.
If we were able to see ourselves in this manner, no decision would be taken in Great Bay without consultation with Marigot and vice versa. Let me give a concrete example.
The controversial PPRN affects not only our brothers and sisters in Sandy Ground, Grand Case and Lamijo, but also several St. Martin people in Great Bay, Dutch Quarter and Simpson Bay who have family ties that stretch across the artificial borders.
The reverse is also true; whatever the fate of Princess Juliana International Airport may be, it would affect all of us equally because it is the international gateway for the entire island, employing people from both sides of the island.
This island is ours because we built it with our blood, sweat and tears; it is ours because our forefathers and foremothers worked it from salt pond to salt pond; from valley to hilltop; from sun-up to sundown; a chant of freedom on their lips; salty sweat on their brows, dripping down their bodies with the sun as the promise of a better day for us their offspring.
We should therefore not allow anybody, no matter where they come from, to divide us and take over what is ours. St. Martin is ours by history and heritage; it is ours by dint of hard work and by divine destiny.
We stand on this Rock we call home and shall not be moved from it, so help us God!
Happy St. Martin Day!
Chairman of Parliament William Marlin
My daughter and her fiancé planned a small wedding with just their parents and her sister, and invited all the rest of their relatives for a big family get-together to celebrate after they got back from their honeymoon.
However, one of her cousins showed up at the wedding ceremony.
Queenie, how does my daughter get over having her wedding ruined like that? And what does she say to the cousin when she sees her again?—Angry mother of the bride
Dear Angry mother,
Unless the cousin misbehaved at the ceremony in some way, I do not think she “ruined” your daughter’s wedding.
And if word gets out that the cousin was there, just explain to anyone who asks that she showed up uninvited and let them tell her what they think of such rude behaviour.
I would like to congratulate University of St. Martin (USM) on its upcoming 30th Anniversary celebration on November 16. Our local university came a long way in its thirty years of existence. USM has graduated more than 750 alumni, who hold key positions in the public and private sectors of St. Maarten. USM has produced some of St. Maarten's top Directors, Managers and Leaders within our community. I am proud to have been associated with USM and a faculty member for more than 25 years.
USM’s major strength is its students who can go anywhere in the world from here and excel at top universities, and Ivy Leagues around the globe. I find it amazing for a non-accredited university, that our students can go anywhere from here with their credits and excel at other top universities as the best in their class. That's a fact!
Mr. Editor, all USM wanted in its thirty years of existence is for our local government to recognize its own national institution of higher learning on the island. I can't understand why any island/country would not recognize its own institution of higher learning, and put a structural solution in place for funding, instead of injecting bits of funding which can't finance the curriculum and educators to run a full accredited university.
What happened to the long overdue draft tertiary ordinance to recognize our university? The first question any outside business would ask USM while marketing abroad is, "Are you recognized by your local government?" which they can't answer.
Education should be legislators’ and government’s top priority. The educational system of a nation is the foundation for building any nation.
We need to reignite the vision of the founders of why USM was established, such as the late Dr. Claude Wathey and Ambassador Dr. Husang Ansary. We need to get back to the vision, instead of being all over the place with the future development of USM.
I also would like to know why our co-founder, Ambassador Dr. Husang Ansary, is donating millions to other universities in the United States, instead of helping to further develop our own local university that he helped co-found? USM should be the future corner stone to educate our people to become leaders of the 21st century within our community. Education must be a top priority!
In closing, I pray to God that the sooner the better, we get it right with the right vision and put a structural solution and funding in place to recognize our own local institution, USM.
Travelling with Winair from Bonaire to St. Eustatius an experience I would like to share through this medium.
I was at the airport from 6:15am on the morning of November 2, 2019, to be checked in for 6:30am.
Unfortunately, that never happened. At 7:00am, I was the first person to be checked in at the counter. After reading my boarding pass, which said 10:40am boarding time, I immediately returned to the counter and was told the flight is delayed until 11:50am. This for a flight that should have left Bonaire at 8:30am.
We never departed from Bonaire until 11:50am. We departed Curaçao at 12:55pm, the flight lasted 2 hours and 15 minutes. During this time, I should have checked-in in St. Maarten for my connecting flight to St. Eustatius.
After my arrival, I went to Winair check-in counter where my connecting flight to St. Eustatius had already departed. I was professionally helped by the clerk of the counter, who gave me a boarding pass for a flight 541 to leave St. Maarten at 5:20pm with stipulation “standby”. At that moment, I realized it was eight passengers from that delayed flight to receive a boarding pass with the same information.
I then returned to the counter and asked would we get an extra flight, seeing the number of passengers that were there. I was told to hang on upstairs, so I did. Putting in an extra flight would have to be a supervisor decision.
After waiting from 2:45pm until 6:00pm and no word, I returned to the counter and was given a voucher to have something to eat. We stayed calm and were told it is more likely that we would be put up until the next day. At 6:15pm we were called for immediate boarding, we were all happy about that. However, to our great surprise this flight was actually destined for Antigua for but three persons, while we were eight.
After all that long stressful wait, Winair was flying from St. Maarten to Antigua to carry three passengers with a stop in St. Eustatius for the eight of us. A flight that would have been more costly to fly three to Antigua.
I am calling on Government and all stakeholders to stop allowing Winair’s decrease in good service to the Golden Rock and the increasing of prices.
After all, aren't we entitled to the same good service as the other islands? We are also one of the few that make use mostly of Winair; shouldn't we be able to connect with our family and friends from the other islands for an affordable fare?
I am asking Statians to stand united in a positive manner towards the service we pay for, like any other Island that pays for their services.
I would like to thank the captain and his co-pilot who brought us safely home that evening.
From the days of slavery
All emphasis was given
To the economy
No one ever care
Whether we live, whether we die
We only existed te satisfy
The massah's greed
And every breath we breed
Te was te answer te his need
Picked he cotton, planted he corn
Cut he sugar cane
Reap he salt
While we were treated
We grow their economy
To make them rich and wealthy
But nobody ever
Care ’bout we
But nothing did change
The exploitation continue
Just the same
Nobody caring fo we
The politicians more interested
In balancing the budget
And developing the economy
By caring fo the tourist industry
But nobody caring fo we
All they have fo we
Is some underpaying task
Or ah position at ah lower
With no health care
No pension fund
In not even ah vacation
’Cauz fo we they just
Fo their wealth with we
They wouldn’t share
So we move from cultivation
On the plantation
To tourism and leisure vacation
But still remain the servant
To the massah
And we are consider the children
Of ah lesser God
Carriers of water and hewers
So nobody care about us
As they should
So we are refused our share
In the pie
And our only promise
Is to have a better life
When we die
Up in the sky
Nobody care about us
Raymond Helligar aka “Big Ray”
Wow! Election again.
From 10/10/10 still no stable government and the people not even brave as those St. Maarteners that fought for their freedom during the days of slavery.
So, they can have another referendum soon and chose an option to better govern this island, because coalition governments do not work well here in St. Maarten.
There’s a lot needs to be done since the passing of Hurricane lrma. One-party rule with a total of 10 seats or more can easily bring the island forward.
During last week’s press briefing, the Minister of Finance informed one of the reporters about St. Maarten’s current liquidity status. St. Maarten currently holds between 25 to 30 million guilders in its coffers.
Our annual budget is about 450 million guilders, and we have difficulties balancing our budget. Furthermore, we know that the government has been relying on ad hoc payments such as the sale of its shares in UTS to cover expenses. As a result, we have no budget for capital expenses.
Many have been asking why our neighboring countries have been receiving financial aid from the Dutch and other international organizations without conditions. That is because they are in more deplorable conditions, according to international standards, when compared to St. Maarten. But don’t worry, St. Maarten is heading there, to deplorable conditions, at this rate. We’ve been having a declining economy since 2014 as all the cabinet changes have been costly for St. Maarten.
We cannot blame the Dutch or CFT [Committee for financial Supervision – Ed.] for a deal we accepted since 10-10-10. When we’re told we shouldn’t accept the World Bank’s bureaucratic procedures or conditions from the Dutch, we should question what was the alternative, as we’ve been spending so poorly for the last 7 years before Hurricane Irma.
We became a country that could not take care of its own people in times of disasters. The truth is, we lack long-term macro-economic planning by the St. Maarten Government and that is partially due to political instability.
The good news is, however, that there is a viable solution and it starts with putting people like me and your readers at the forefront of any policy-making process. This will ensure that hard-working families are able to afford what they need, that we give our entrepreneurs a head start, that we strengthen and diversify our economy and we alleviate poverty in our society.
People say things haven’t changed over the last 10 years, but they have. Only, the changes have not been for us!
My wife and I have been married for almost 20 years. The past few years she is not very affectionate, she won’t even hug me to say “hello” or “goodbye,” but I saw on her cell phone that she chats a lot with some guy from where she works and some of these chats get pretty hot. She doesn’t know what I saw.
Queenie, do you think she is cheating on me?—Worried husband
Some people (both men and women) enjoy flirting online. It is just fantasy to them and they do not think it really means anything. However, you should not take this for granted.
It is time to have a serious talk with you wife. Do not accuse her of anything, just tell her what you saw, tell her how it makes you feel, and ask her what, if anything, in fact is going on. And if she says or does (or does not do) anything that indicates problems in your marriage, ask her to go with you for professional marriage counselling.
The cost to live, better known as the cost of living, over the years has reached to a point where it has made of the middle class the working poor and created a larger divide of inequality between the haves and the have nots. There are consistent complaints about the cost of living on St. Maarten. These complaints in many instances are about minimum wage, the short term contracts, high rents, high food costs, utilities, just to name few.
What is appalling to me is how some economists come up with all kinds of creative formulas which according to them is an indication of how the economy is functioning. And based on these calculations determine the price at which goods and services are provided. Let me remind them that one size does not fit all.
It would be interesting at this time to know the consumer price index on St. Maarten or better yet, the increases in the last 5 years. These figures should be readily available at the Department for Statistics (STAT).
I understood a report came out in which it states that on Curaçao a family of 3 consisting of a mother and two children, the minimum wage should be around NAf. 2,000 (two thousand guilders), whereas on St. Maarten it should be around NAf. 4,000 (four thousand guilders). Realistically one would have to agree that an increase of such a proportion on St. Maarten or anywhere for that matter would be disastrous to the economy.
What in my opinion should happen is to look at the feared COLA or cost-of-living adjustments and based on the price increases of goods and services over the last 5 years adjust salaries in specific categories. I am sure this suggestion will be met by much criticism by some. But said increase should not be done across the board.
Persons collecting an annual income of NAf. 48,000 and above should be exempted from collecting the cost-of-living adjustment in the same manner someone earning less than this amount. Let me be clear again unless misunderstood, I am not saying they should not receive the adjustments, but not in the same manner as those earning less than NAf. 48,000 gross annually. The financial experts will have to come up with the formula on how this is to be done.
This brings us to the matter of the basket of goods. Before I continue, permit me to insert a statement I read recently and it goes as follows: “People, have a right to safe and permanent access to healthy food, sufficient and nutritious; preferably produced at local level and in accordance with their diverse identities and cultural traditions,” end of quote. I will develop this in another article.
For a number of years now, mention was made of adding additional items to the list of the basket of goods. What is the status on this? It is critical and requires swift action. Food prices have skyrocketed unabated as control has been ad-hoc to non-existent. What has to be seriously investigated is why this phenomenon. Is it that the department is understaffed, lack equipment, not trained or not able to issue fines?
I asked a question on the floor of the island council sometime in 2005 as to who controlled the importation of goods on the island. In this specific case I was referring to food items. The response by the then-commissioner of economic affairs was, and let me paraphrase, “What do you want me to do, stand in front of the door of every supermarket?” We are talking 14 years ago.
The other issue that needs urgent attention is the matter of rent. The law is over 50 years old. It only authorizes the rent committee to establish the rental income of a dwelling valued at NAf. 50,000. We know for a fact that prices of homes have increased tremendously over the last decades. It is fact that today homes are valued at $150 thousand and up making this law non-applicable.
Some landlords charge their tenant the lowest $500 for 1 room. Let me be clear, I did not say a one-bedroom apartment, I said one room. When it comes to a one-bedroom apartment, you are looking at rents of $700 and upwards. I hope you can understand why many persons are living in deplorable conditions.
The majority of the labor force earn minimum wage of $800 a month. The ones who suffer the most from this are single mothers. I have always heard that your rent should not be more than 30 per cent of your income. Now, where will you find a decent apartment for $240 taking into consideration the minimum wage of $800?
Then we have arguments made by landlords, and rightfully so, that they have to pay the Bank – mortgage/loans incurred when building their homes/apartments. This means a serious discussion with the Banks regarding interest rates, etc. The Banks in turn will argue that their responsibility is to protect the interest of their shareholders. Then our next option would be the Central Bank of Curaçao and St. Maarten. What I am trying to say is that we need all stakeholders to understand the seriousness of the matter and be realistic in our approach.
Finally, I think it is time to introduce the cash registers similar to those formerly used at the Princess Juliana International Airport. I believe they are already in use on Curaçao.
Let us begin with the supermarkets. The fact that the anti-poverty organization can sell 8 lemons for $1 and they only bring in one or two containers, what does this mean for those who bring in many more containers? The cost to live.
The daughter of a person I work with is getting married and he has invited everyone he works with to the wedding, even though most of us have never met the daughter. When his older daughter got married he also invited all of us and got very upset when only one of us showed up.
Queenie, are we obligated to attend?—Co-worker
You are not obligated to attend if you have no wish to do so, but consider your colleague’s possible reaction if you do not. You might also consider whether it is your presence at the wedding or your present to the bride and groom that he is after. You could send a small gift along with your regrets that you will not be able to attend. That might make your colleague feel a little better about your absence.
Why do people in government continue to take the people living on Sint Maarten for granted? The voters of Sint Maarten should make sure that the MPs Doran, Richardson, Brison and Emmanuel, who walked out of the session of Parliament on November 4, to make sure the quorum was broken, even though they knew the significance of the proposal tabled by MP Claude "Chacho Peterson. A proposal which would guarantee the workers of PJIA their pay.
That is one of the most logical and easiest to-deal-with proposal I have heard on Sint Maarten since 10-10-'10. The question I asked myself was, which of those MPs walked into that meeting with the intention of breaking the quorum? For me that was the most logical thing to do, because voting against that proposal would be political suicide. So, just as I expected, they walked out.
Nine years is a long time for government not to do anything, and for the those MPs (selected, destined?) to walk out of that meeting; a meeting which would guarantee the workers at the airport – an airport which is still been ridiculed by our visitors – at least one month's pay, is showing heartlessness.
January 9, 2020 is just around the corner and we are still being taken for granted. I have googled the term "to be taken for granted". Here is the explanation given: To expect someone or something to be always available to serve in some way, without thanks or recognition".
I googled it because we tend to lose the significance of words along the way. Why am I mentioning this? It is because for years we have supported certain politicians and even though they have not done anything to better the people's lives on Sint Maarten, the people have still voted for them. So, what do they do? They take the people for granted. (see definition) I do not vote for a party; I vote for a party program. The people surely have experienced it.
I am calling this to our attention because I think that they (politicians) who continue to take the people for granted by throwing down the government, even though we are still suffering the consequences of Hurricane Irma, have now given us (the people) the opportunity to bring completely new blood into the government of Sint Maarten. Out with the old and in with the new.
The proposal that Chacho tabled is literally in the interest of the people of Sint Maarten, and members of the temporary government formed, walked out to avoid having to vote on that proposal just because it did not come from them. So, what about the people who voted for them, do not those people deserve something good?
This is again proof that those in government are not for the people but for themselves. We must not be taken for granted any longer. MP William Marlin walked out earlier, that is indeed leading, but in this case leading us to destruction.
Russell A. Simmons
Before we got married my fiancée and I talked about finances and we planned that she would look for a job and we would share expenses. However, she has not been able to find a job she likes and meanwhile I have built up considerable debt.
Then her father gave her a big check for her birthday and I asked her to give me a small part of it to help pay some of our bills, but she refused, saying it was her money to do with as she pleased.
Queenie, was I being unreasonable?—Husband in debt
No, of course not. However, apparently your wife does not think of marriage as a partnership, and expects you to support her.
In this case I suggest both marriage and financial counselling for both of you. And as long as your wife is not contributing financially, it may become necessary to cut back on your lifestyle.
The Second China International Import Expo will be held in Shanghai from November 5 to 10. The CIIE is the world’s first import expo held at the national level, and an innovation in the history of global trade. By holding the import fair, China is building a platform that connects China’s demand with the world supply. It not only satisfies China’s domestic consumption and its upgrade, but also provides huge business opportunities for global enterprises. Given the intensified trade protectionism and increased downside risk for the world economy, the Chinese government is actively promoting high-level opening-up, which demonstrates China’s consistent position of supporting free trade and economic globalization.
The number of participants as well as the exhibition area of the second CIIE will be larger than that of the first expo. Covering an area of 30,000 square metres, the country exhibitions will host 64 nations and three international organizations. Among them are 15 guest countries of honor, including some EU member states, France, Italy, Greece and Czech Republic. The uniquely designed pavilions will showcase each country's development achievements, business environment and special industries. While the business exhibitions cover more than 300,000m2 and are divided into 7 areas, and have attracted more than 3,000 companies from over 150 countries and regions.
China has achieved tremendous development since the reform and opening-up. It has greatly improved people’s living standards and has formed the world’s largest middle-income group. Consequently, the demand for high-quality imported goods has been increasing. Consumption has contributed more than 70 per cent of China’s economic growth and is now the primary engine of domestic economic development. The “global market” of China has drawn the attention of the whole world.
While stimulating the high-quality development of its own economy, China has taken a series of measures to promote a higher level of opening-up, including expanding market access, enhancing international cooperation in intellectual property protection, increasing the import of goods and services, and strengthening macro policy coordination with other major economies, etc. According to the Doing Business 2020 study by the World Bank, China ranks 31st globally on business environment and joined the ranks of the world’s top 10 most improved economies for ease of doing business for the second year. The rankings of a number of indicators, such as contract enforcement are among the highest in the world.
Foreign investment is thriving with the promotion of quality and expansion of capacity of the Chinese market, as well as the continuous improvement of business environment in China. The World Investment Report 2019 by the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development reveals that the foreign direct investment (FDI) in China increased by 4 per cent in 2018 to an all-time high of $139 billion, accounting 10 per cent of world total. China is now the second largest FDI inflow host economy and has become an appealing destination for foreign investment.
China is also the world's second largest source of outward FDI. In 2013, Chinese President Xi Jinping proposed to jointly build the Silk Road Economic Belt and the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road, namely the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI). In the past 6 years, more than 160 countries and international organizations have signed agreements on Belt and Road cooperation with China. A large number of cooperation projects have been launched, benefiting economic development of participating countries.
The BRI highlights the Silk Road spirit of peace and cooperation, openness and inclusiveness, mutual learning and mutual benefit, and is guided by the principle of consultation, contribution and shared benefits. It follows market rules and suits to national conditions of relevant countries. That’s why the BRI has received greater recognition from more and more country leaders and local people, and it has become the most welcomed global public product.
China and the Netherlands are important trading partners, with bilateral trade volume over 85 billion US dollars in 2018. The Netherlands is where the land and maritime Silk Roads meet, and we two countries have achieved fruitful results in pragmatic cooperation under the Belt and Road framework. Besides, 19 countries from Latin America and Caribbean region have signed documents on Belt and Road cooperation with China. The Dutch Caribbean region has its unique advantages, China would like to strengthen the people-to-people exchange, promote pragmatic cooperation between two sides, and achieve common development.
China will open its door wider to the world, and will lend new impetus to the open world economy.
Acting Consul General of the People’s Republic of China in Willemstad
The silence from politicians in The Hague on the complete acquittal of former central bank president Emsley Tromp and his successful countersuit for damages says a lot about their inability to come to terms with some of their aggressive policies towards these islands. Tromp’s case perfectly demonstrates what happens when words like integrity are weaponized.
It is a textbook example of malicious prosecution and the overzealous use of state power for political rather than purely judicial purposes. They targeted him first and then searched for the crime with which to charge him. That’s deeply troubling for a supposedly liberal democratic state such as the Dutch kingdom.
Nevertheless, despite his legal success, the damage is done once the dogs of war are let loose and blood demanded. It wasn’t only the man’s life and reputation which were recklessly harmed, but also the reputation of one of the country’s important institutions, all without consequences for those who’ve done the harm.
Of course, there will be no formal apologies for the years of smears and outright lies. That’s just how it goes. But we begin to see the pattern of how the machine works.
First, there is an uproar by obsessed fanatics such as Bosman and Van Raak in the Dutch Second Chamber based on, they claim, damning information that the general public in these islands are neither aware of nor will ever see. Then they demand answers from their government in The Hague and, as if part of a pre-orchestrated dance, their government obliges and twists the arms of local authorities into cooperating.
Off go the expensive dogs of investigative war and the islands brace themselves for the inevitable destruction of someone’s life. All in the name of justice, apparently.
Equally telling is the silence from certain quarters of the local media and our usual chattering class. Not surprisingly, there was nothing in Dutch media at all about Tromp’s acquittal, nor did they attempt any serious reflection on the matter.
And some of our media here are not much more than barely disguised propaganda outlets pumping out a certain narrative, either to settle a score or rewrite history. They blur the lines between factual reporting and activist opinion-mongering so badly that it becomes hard for the general public to sort out the truth from old-fashioned smears.
The bottomless bags of money spent going after innocent men like Tromp merely to remove them from positions of influence could have been more productively used. And it wasn’t the Dutch taxpayer who ended up footing the bill for this expensive farce either.
No, conveniently the invoice for the wreckage was passed on to someone else.
An already cash-strapped Curaçao must now foot the bill for the dubious sacking and persecution of one of its own sons by foreign faces.
But men like Bosman and Van Raak, who mask their contempt for these islands as concern, pay no price for being wrong. They suffer no consequences for the destruction and harm they cause to innocent people in their self-righteous crusade.
If the price for their fanatical purge includes the unnecessary trampling on some people’s civil liberties and basic dignity, then it is time to reassess that price, because it is the people here who must bear the personal and material costs when it goes terribly wrong, not those in The Hague.