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Wednesday, January 18, 2006 

Economic Outlook booklet forecasts continued growth

Wednesday January 18, 2006 - Philipsburg, Sint Maarten, N.A.

PHILIPSBURG--Continued economic growth with increases in stay-over and cruise tourism for this present season, as well as continued improvement in sectors such as construction, are forecast for the island this year, according to new booklet entitled St. Maarten Economic Outlook 2006 that was released Tuesday.

Forecasts for the next two-year period indicate that the economy will remain relatively stable, given the current levels of construction projects and (foreign) investment. As stated in the booklet, “With a still increasing, flexible and healthy economy, St. Maarten will be able to benefit from worldwide economic growth, in terms of a moderate yearly local growth rate of between 3 per cent and 4 per cent.”

The booklet was compiled by the Department of Economic Policy and Research (DEPR), headed by Miguel de Weever in collaboration with Economic Affairs Commissioner Theo Heyliger.
The intention of this publication is to provide information to especially investors and the business sector. Heyliger was quoted in a Government Information Service (GIS) release as saying that it outlined government’s economic plans and aimed to build consumer and business confidence, which “will stimulate additional investments in the economy.”

The outlook for the labour market is positive, with increases in employment expected as expansion in a number of sectors continues, thus potentially mitigating the unemployment rate. “The Island Labour Department uses employment permits to manage supply and demand on the labour market. In the event of a labour shortage, more employment permits are expected to be issued.”

Government expects a further increase in revenues for 2005-2006, due to continued growth of the tourism sectors and its plans to further increase in tax compliance.

In addition, there are plans to clean up and synchronise the different registries and data bases at the federal and island tax offices, with the aim of updating business registrations that are inactive or those that have been registered twice. This initiative will enable government and the public to obtain a better overview of the tax base or population comprising residents and businesses.

The booklet also outlines projects, achievements and projections for the various sectors of the economy, including agriculture and fisheries which only play a small role now, but government intends to focus on this sector as moves toward diversifying the economy are made. With limited land available, agri-processing is one of the ways envisioned to enhance this sector.

E-commerce, real estate and financial services are also covered in the booklet.
Copies of the free 53-page booklet are available from the DEPR office in the Vineyard Building on W.G. Buncamper Road. The department can be contacted via tel. 542-2337, fax 542-3111 or www.investinsxm.com

Copyright ©2006 The Daily Herald

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