Stakeholders Meeting February 2023

The Sint Maarten Chamber of Commerce (COCI) has commenced with stakeholders meetings with the objective to be informed, and updated on all matters concerning its members and the business community in which they operate.

On Wednesday February 22nd COCI met with representatives of the Bankers’ Association and Merchants associations.

In a very open exchange the COCI President, Treasurer and Director were informed of the status of affairs within the business community. Advantage of this opportunity was taken by COCI to address with the representative of the Banker’s Association, concerns brought forward regarding the difficulty of opening bank accounts and payment acceptance via website modalities. Small business entrepreneurs having brought to the attention the difficulties encountered in these areas, will be informed by COCI on:

i ] the information provided, as well as

ii] COCI activities to be deployed,

to assist small business entrepreneurs through application processes, in attaining tools required to successfully attain bank accounts. In addition the risk of website payment modules was outlined, which is at the base for the entry threshold set by financial institutions. Web based payment modules are available and supported, however for many small business entrepreneurs not easily attainable because of the entry threshold set. The high risk, stemming from fraudulent activities and chargebacks, requires transactions to be secured for at least 3 months, hence the requirement for a security deposit for transactions.  It is this threshold that affects the start-up small business entrepreneurs for the first year of operations for sure. Provisioning for this security deposit in business plans is a recommended solution.

Both the Indian- and Chinese merchants representatives agreed that the number 1 concern is security. The impact of the security issues, on the business sector is high and not enough attention is given to redress this issue. Poor lighting conditions affect business in the afterhours as well, while parking issues and traffic congestion do so during the regular business hours. Concrete proposals, solutions and approaches were discussed resulting in an agreement of parties to combine resources and efforts in executing an action plan to be presented by COCI. COCI President, is quoted saying:” We may not be able to achieve all that is required in one year, but we will surely establish the structure for goals to be achieved beyond 2023.” President of the IMA concurred with the approach as the work to be done must be on a continuous basis. Both the IMA and Chinese merchants’ association pledged continued close collaboration with COCI and with one another. In closing COCI expresses its gratitude and appreciation to the stakeholder for their acceptance of the invitation to meet and the open and candid manner of participation.  

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