the Governor's Speeches

Back to Speeches Indexjun 24, 2016

Securing National Development, By and For Our People

Opening Address By The Governor of Sint Maarten His Excellency drs. Eugene B. Holiday
Delivered at the 5th Annual Governor’s Symposium 2016 “Securing National Development”

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Good Morning,
It is with great pleasure that I welcome you to the fifth annual Governor’s Symposium. During the past 4 symposia we have deliberated on several pertinent societal issues, including national heritage, sustainable development, education and democracy and the value of checks and balances. Always with the objective of promoting excellence in the governance of our beautiful country. It is with that same vision that I have chosen “Securing National Development” as the theme for the 5th anniversary of the Governor’s Symposium.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Securing National Development is a global vision. One that is outlined in the United Nations Development Agenda titled: Transforming our world: the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. This United Nations Agenda names four dimensions. These are:
1) Inclusive Social Development,
2) Environmental Sustainability,
3) Inclusive Economic Development, and
4) Peace and Security.
These dimensions all hold within them vital quality of life indicators. And as such provide a solid framework for us as a people to further design, execute and own our national development. I have therefore titled my address: Securing National Development, By And For Our People.     [I AM AS A RESULT HAPPY TO SEE SO MANY OF YOU HERE THIS MORNING]

Ladies and Gentlemen,
National development in my view is the net sum of the socio-economic accomplishments and failures of past and present generations as manifested in the quality of life of our people. In that respect I believe that there is ample evidence that Sint Maarten has made tangible national development strides forward. With a per capita income of over 26,000 US dollars Sint Maarten has evolved from an island where our people needed to go abroad during the first half of the 20th century to seek employment to an island where people from all over the world come to find employment. With that we have experienced a significant transformation in the social, educational, cultural, environmental and economic landscape of our island. And as a result net gains in the quality of life of the people of Sint Maarten. These net gains however, are not to say that we do not have challenges.
In this respect it is interesting to mention the results of a survey on Securing National Development conducted by the Organizing Committee of this Symposium in which 260 persons participated. When asked to rate the level of national development on Sint Maarten on a scale of 1 to 5, with 1 being very poor and 5 being very good, 55% of respondents scored the level of national development at 3 or higher.
The survey further sheds light on the opinions of the respondents on a number of sub-areas of the four UN dimensions. Noteworthy is that on, on a scale of 1 to 5, with 1 being very poor and 5 being very good:
a. 70% of the participants scored the effectiveness of education at 3 or higher;
b. 52% of the respondents scored the quality of health care at 3 or higher;
c. 34% of the respondents rated the attitude towards the protection of our environment at 3 or higher; and
d. 91% of respondents rated the quality of our tourism product as the pillar and driver of the economic development at 3 or higher;

Moreover in rating challenges to secure national development on a scale of 1 to 5, with 5 representing the largest challenge, participants on average scored:
a. Crime, Corruption and unstable government each at 4.1; and
b. the need to strengthen devotion to country and national unity at 3.8.
While this selection of the survey results or even the full survey results do not provide a complete picture of the level of our national development or of the challenges we face, they give an indication and sense:
1) of where we are in terms of net socio-economic gains, and
2) of the ground our generation has to cover to secure future national development.
At today’s symposium regional and national speakers as well as our youth will speak to you, on the educational, health care, environmental, economic and interactive policies aspects of national development, each from their own perspective. I hope that these speakers will cause you to reexamine how decisions and actions by government, by civil society, by the private sector and by the media have shaped and continue to influence the national development of our country. And in so doing, revitalize and inspire you to identify opportunities and act with greater devotion to secure our nation’s national development. This through a comprehensive, interactive and broad-based national development strategy. A strategy designed, built and owned by the people of Sint Maarten.
In that regard I call on you, each of you to devote yourself within that strategy to further prepare and strengthen the capacity of our people as the primary drivers of our national development. And as you move to answer that call, I wish to leave you with the following vision for securing our national development:

Our National Development is the net sum of the accomplishments and failures of past and present generations as manifested in the socio-economic situation of our people
It is the level of dignity afforded to each individual
It is the quality of services provided by our medical institutions and professionals
It is the quality of our education system and the curricular taught to our children
It is the quality of the environment we live in, the air we breathe and water we use.
It is our sense of security and justice
It is true economic ownership of and full participation in our economic opportunities and life
It is our infrastructural and technological readiness and innovative abilities
It is the advancement of the quality of life by and for us and for future generations
As such
National Development rooted in the culture and education of our families, of our people, will grow to blossom and cover our land.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
With that vision for on securing national development by and for our people I hereby declare this symposium OPEN and wish you an enjoyable and fruitful symposium.
Thank you