Published On: Tue, Jul 4th, 2023

An interesting index

It is tempting to blow our horn in triumph about a report that places St. Maarten second on the Caribbean Investment Climate Index. Finally something to be proud of.

It is also be tempting to use such a publication as a tool to mask all the shortcomings that hamper our economy.

Local entrepreneurs will most likely raise their eyebrows very high after reading this news, because there is a lot of room for improvement in the way our government and its vast bureaucracy deal with the private sector.

The labor market is a prime example. While the investment index labels St. Maarten’s economy as the most open one in the Caribbean region, hiring qualified foreign labor is still a pain in the neck. Getting a permit to open a business gives most starters a splitting headache and opening a bank account is so cumbersome that one might well ask why banks are still doing business in our little paradise.

Yeah, if you look at the numbers, the economy is doing better than other Caribbean countries. The question we should ask: is this good enough? Is it mediocre? Can we do better?

There are plenty of concerns about the red tape that hampers economic growth. The truth is that over the past decade there hardly has been any growth at all. We’re basically at a standstill, and when you stand still, you are actually going backwards and other countries will overtake you.

All this is not apparent from the Caribbean Investment Climate Index. The index makes St. Maarten look good but it does not address the obvious shortcomings that prevent the private sector from delivering an excellent performance.

That is a pity, because we all want to see St. Maarten doing well. We want to be at the top, or at least near the top of indexes like the one we’re discussing here. We want businesses to be successful because that is the right way towards prosperity for our people.

There is something that is really bothering us and for which we have no answer. That question is: How reliable is the information the Economic Bureau Amsterdam received from St. Maarten and who provided it?

In our opinion, that’s a question the composers of the investment climate index ought to ask. While they are at it, they could also take another good look at the sources they used for this altogether quite interesting index.


Related article: St. Maarten second on investment climate index