~ Governor issues challenge to unify people ~
PHILIPSBURG--"The greatest little country in the world" as St. Maarten has been described by its new Prime Minister Marcel Gumbs, finally has a new Council of Ministers. Gumbs, a veteran politician, and the five other ministers were sworn in on Friday afternoon by Governor Eugene Holiday at his office.
The swearing-in ceremony was followed by the first meeting of the Council of Ministers with the governor in A.C. Wathey Legislative Hall.
The new ministers were challenged by Governor Holiday "to find a way" to answer his call "to unite our people in a common cause anchored in trust and rooted in an obligation to serve in the general interest of our people."
Gumbs told guests in the hall, "We hold no illusions of the task before us. St. Maarten is at a critical stage in its development and growth as a nation. Our mission is clear: To ensure that St. Maarten thrives and grows, to stress and maintain financial discipline, integrity and transparency in government and to build a nation of character where people live quality lives."
It is the new cabinet's "turn to shoulder this heavy responsibility. We do so knowing that our approach must be to right the wrongs and insist on accountability. We move forward in a very tight fiscal space with clear financial realities in which we must govern."
The Gumbs Cabinet will "aim to be a calm, measured, steady and purposeful government that says what it means and does what it says. We hope to be judged by what we have done rather than by what we have said we would do."
"We must and will do our utmost to regain the trust of the people of St. Maarten and we will strive to set the ship right so that we can continue moving forward to becoming the great nation we all know St. Maarten can be. This country needs tranquility, stability, civility, and prosperity. Let's get to work," said Gumbs.
Holiday said the new cabinet faces several challenges, of which a number are "critical." He listed among those challenges the management of relations locally and in the Kingdom, balancing the budget, and overseeing government-owned companies. "To address these matters and to ensure our further progress, all our resources, all of our people will have to be involved."
The swearing-in of the ministers heralded the "beginning of a new chapter" in the country's history; one that has come after "complex and tense domestic circumstances" as well as the Kingdom relationship, said Holiday.
With the cabinet short two ministers for the maximum constitution of seven, Gumbs will serve as ad interim Minister of Public Housing, Spatial Planning, Environment and Infrastructure VROMI.
Justice Minister Dennis Richardson will also serve as ad interim Minister of Public Health, Social Development and Labour. Richardson and Finance Minister Martin Hassink are two ministers who served in the previous Wescot-Williams III Cabinet.
School Manager Rita A. Bourne-Gumbs is Minister of Education, Culture, Youth and Sports.
St. Maarten Chamber of Commerce and Industry Executive Director Claret M. Connor is Minister of Tourism, Economic Affairs, Transport and Telecommunication.
Deputy Minister Plenipotentiary Josianne Artsen will be Minister Plenipotentiary in The Hague.