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Published On: Sat, Feb 10th, 2018

Test for evaluating candidates

Dear Editor,

My test for evaluating candidates for the upcoming election is to question them on how easy it is to make things better on Sint Maarten. If they claim it is easy then they drop on my ratings.

Much of the conversation about our political future seems to be based on the assumption that leaders in the past have been “bad”, and if “good” people were to be  elected  all would be well. It seems to me that whether or not the people are “good “ or “bad” they also have to have a full understanding of the tasks and how government works. My guess is that a very small percentage of the very many candidates have that understanding of matters that would be sufficient to help extract us from our difficult circumstances.

The clear reality is that we are in a difficult position in Sint Maarten . Even before the hurricane competitive destinations were increasingly putting pressure on us. Our relatively sophisticated organizations (by Caribbean standards) were not functioning, our taxation structure was impacting our growth and our costs of operating both public and private were becoming excessive.

The hurricane made that all worse, and the manner in which the hurricane crisis was managed  made it all much worse.

Any candidate that makes huge promises (eg lower food prices, reduce rents, fix the dump in six months) without already having a well thought, previously documented vision that is documented should not be considered.

I would look for candidates that show deep understanding of problems. Who will not shy away from the difficulties, both in the political discussion or in their planned policy execution.

I would look for candidates that have proven their ability to manage, and at the very least show evidence that they understand the challenges of management. They should have a clear understanding of the executive branch as distinct from legislative roles. And they should not be “constitutionalists” which are those persons who hide behind complex legislation to justify them taking no action.

Their age is of course, entirely irrelevant.

We need to end up in our parliament with the sort of parliamentarians that make successful modern democracies function well. They should be specialists in an area which is agreed by their party to be their area of focus. They should become highly informed in that area and be able to support a vision as well as supervise (through parliament) the executing ministry. With a 15 person parliament their area of specialty may be wider than in larger jurisdictions but in the case of Sint Maarten there are a number of focus areas that lend themselves to prioritization like Tax Reform, Waste Management, Health Care pricing and investment and law enforcement. On one of these subjects at least, they should have an in depth understanding of the options open to Sint Maarten and the challenges of executing on Sint Maarten.

Robbie Ferron