Published On: Sun, Jan 28th, 2018

Describing investors as “greedy” is not productive

More and more I am hearing investors in Sint Maarten described as being greedy and exploitative. Yesterday a posting on Facebook did this without nuance.

Whilst in the early years investors in Sint Maarten were welcomed uncritically in many cases, the pendulum seems to have swung to the other extreme and criticism is generalized and overreaching particularly for investors without family ties to Sint Maarten.

The early uncritical reception was inappropriate. The more recent over critical reception with much prejudice is also inappropriate. At this time in history investors are particularly essential for Country Sint Maarten. The Ministry of TEATT concluded in 2016 that Foreign Direct Investment was critical to break the country out of the low growth rate it was experiencing. If that was true then, the after Irma situation will be required much more.

The reception to foreign investment should always have been critical to the level that the investment must provide value, particularly long term value, to the country and should not be critical in respect of the investors heritage. This value of the investment should flow to the community as a whole rather than particular individuals. It should meet strategic needs and incorporate all risks whilst still being competitive to available capital investment.

Describing investors as “greedy” is not productive. There should not be a shadow of doubt that investors are only investing because they wish a return on their investment. The story of “I am investing because I fell in love with your island” is not real. The limitations on how the investors manage their investment should be contained in effective legislation. It is unproductive to have their economic behavior regulated by talk on the street.

One hopes that one day the need for foreign investment will reduce. This will happen when the savings rate of Sint Maarteners goes up and this savings is invested in the sometimes risky core industries that keep the country at optimum economic activity. That will require creative financial participation models that are supported by legislation.

In the meantime it makes sense to avoid peppering social media with phrases that include “greedy investors”. Instead we must assume that investors seek a fair return and if they attempt to misuses their situation, then measured legislation with measured enforcement ensures that healthy balance between the country and the foreign investor.

Robbie Ferron