PHILIPSBURG:--- It is becoming clear that we need to address that the average resident of St. Maarten is still struggling to get by to feed themselves and their families. Such factors as rising food costs including inflation, fuel cost, transit costs, and much more. We need better cooperation by the government and the major stakeholders to combat these factors.
The average family does not make enough to eat healthily and put food on the table that has any nutritional value. Our children need good nutrition to ensure their brains are developing properly, allowing them to function academically and move forward to the career they dream of. We cannot continue allowing these factors to affect the basics of life for our population.
Therefore, we need to address these basic issues our people of St. Maarten are facing. The basket of goods that is now price controlled is a great step taken by the government, but I look forward to more measures.
First of all, we need practical solutions and strategies to target this issue such as curb food costs into something affordable for the average person. I believe analysis needs to be done from the cost perspective, followed by the step by step on the costs that are added on food from production, the sale of products abroad and whatever entities profit from such sale, shipping to St. Maarten, costs of lading in St. Maarten on containers, and profit margins locally.
Secondly, when looking at the production side, I think the idea from the minister to do our own production abroad is interesting. However, this does raise some questions that I look forward to his answers on. Such as the manner in which we can discuss leasing land abroad and providing opportunities for locals to grow and ship food to St. Maarten.
Thirdly, we should also support entities like Freegan Foods, as the waste of food in St. Maarten according to them is very high. Food waste contributes to high costs. If we can reduce the amount of food wasted and make good use of the food right before its expiration, even if it is donated to entities like Freegan Foods, we can make sure such food reaches the kitchen of families instead of the dump.
Finally, we must come together with these suppliers and supermarkets. This should not be a blame game discussion. It is not a secret that our businesses in St. Maarten are struggling with shipping costs and food costs just like the rest of the world. This is the reason we must find solutions to fix this problem and understand the sacrifices it takes to bring food to the shelves.
My key concern in this government I support is that it addresses the difficulties of the “small man” and their families. Whether by use of our powers of legislation and/or temporarily providing relief in order to maintain the wellbeing of families to feed themselves. I look forward in the budget debate of St. Maarten to see what policies and funds are in place to provide food security for our people.
MP Chanel Brownbill