Prime Minister Dr. Luc Mercelina's Introductory Meeting at the Cabinet of the Minister Plenipotentiary of St. Maarten

July 10, 2024 10:29 pm

The Hague – In a pivotal step towards strengthening Sint Maarten's international ties, the Honorable Prime Minister Dr. Luc Mercelina convened an introductory meeting with Deputy Minister Plenipotentiary Drs. Gracita R. Arrindell and the staff of the Cabinet of the Minister Plenipotentiary of St. Maarten in The Hague.

During the meeting, Prime Minister Mercelina underscored several critical areas of focus for his visit to the Netherlands, aiming to address key challenges and foster development across various sectors in Sint Maarten.

Tackling the Energy Crisis

Prime Minister Mercelina emphasized the urgent need for sustainable solutions to the energy crisis. "Our goal is to secure assistance from the Ministry of the Interior and Kingdom Relations (BZK) to finance a long-term solution, including a crucial loan request for GEBE," stated the Prime Minister. "Reliable energy is fundamental to our nation's stability and growth."

Revamping Mental Healthcare

The Prime Minister outlined his commitment to restructuring Sint Maarten's mental healthcare system, aiming to obtain additional funding. "Improving mental healthcare is a top priority. We have scheduled a site visit to the Trimbos Institute to explore advanced strategies and funding opportunities," said Dr. Mercelina.

Securing Technical Assistance

Highlighting the need for expertise, Prime Minister Mercelina seeks technical assistance from the Association of Netherlands Municipalities (VNG). "To overcome our challenges in capacity, financing, and infrastructure, we are looking to collaborate with VNG for the execution of critical projects under VROMI and NRPB," he noted.

Elevating the Hospitality Sector

To enhance Sint Maarten’s hospitality sector, a courtesy visit to a Hotel Management School catering to HBO students is being planned. "Collaborating with top-tier hospitality institutions will elevate our standards and ensure our industry remains competitive," the Prime Minister explained.

Addressing Student Housing Shortages

Prime Minister Mercelina acknowledged the housing challenges faced by Sint Maarten students in the Netherlands. "We are negotiating with the Mayor of The Hague and housing cooperations to invest in housing and secure annual room allocations for our students," he stated.

Deputy Minister Plenipotentiary Gracita R. Arrindell shared the Cabinet's forthcoming priorities:

Enhancing Cabinet Presence

"To boost our PR and social media presence, we plan to hire a communication worker and develop a long-term strategy involving both Dutch and Sint Maarten media," Arrindell announced. This initiative, pending budget amendments for 2025, aims to keep the community well-informed and engaged.

Also, the creation of a WhatsApp group for news and updates will be done for students and St. Maarteners living in The Netherlands.

Creating a Sint Maarten based Database

"We are working on a database consisting of Sint Maarteners including students to better connect with our citizens abroad. However, we face bottlenecks in information sharing due to privacy regulations," Arrindell highlighted. A letter to request permission to receive regular updates on student information will be forthcoming.

Improving EU Diplomacy and Representation

Addressing internal communication challenges, the Cabinet plans to improve its strategy for representing Sint Maarten within the EU and Kingdom relations. "Establishing clear communication lines and mandates is vital for our professional representation," Arrindell noted.

Expanding Role in Student Affairs
The potential addition of an education advisor to the Cabinet was discussed. "This will facilitate student engagement and repatriation, ensuring our young professionals remain connected to their homeland," Arrindell stated.

Prime Minister Mercelina concluded by praising the professionals at the Cabinet of the Minister Plenipotentiary for their dedication. "Their expertise and commitment are invaluable to the Government of Sint Maarten. Together, we will achieve our goals and drive our country forward," he affirmed.