Competitive edge

Competitive edge

With all that has been going on, news of the Caribbean Financial Action Task Force (CFATF) retracting its public statement against St. Maarten (see Thursday paper) should not go unnoticed. The matter was a major concern, because if this had been followed by more serious negative advisories it could have meant potentially disastrous implications for doing business with and on the island, with even visitors who drive the local hospitality industry possibly not being able to access their funds.

That nightmare scenario was averted by adopting the necessary anti-money-laundering and -terrorism-financing legislation enabling the country to complete its third round of mutual evaluations and move into the fourth round, the last CFATF member state to do so. Particularly adjusting the Penal Procedural Code proved tricky, but government and parliament worked together to make it a reality, although this amendment still has to be passed in a public session.

Justice Minister Ana Richardson and her staff deserve praise for finalising the process, as do all others who worked on this, including her predecessors.

Being a compliant jurisdiction is also extremely important to the investment climate. Especially now that the COVID-19-related crisis has led to businesses laying off personnel or closing, entrepreneurial initiative and capital will be needed to help fill that void.

Once stayover tourism gets going again, to be followed by cruise ship calls, new opportunities are bound to come for those able to seize them. Facilitating such should be prioritised because it can help give the destination a competitive edge going forward.