MINISTERIAL VISIT / Philippe Vigier: “I arrived with 4 million more”


Despite a busy schedule punctuated by frank and constructive exchanges with local elected officials and socio-professional actors in the region, the Minister Delegate for Overseas Territories, Philippe Vigier, appreciated the welcome given to him during his first visit to Saint-Martin.

Welcomed Wednesday morning at Grand-Case airport by the prefect of the Guadeloupe region, Xavier Lefort, the delegated prefect of the Northern Islands, Vincent Berton and the president of the Collectivity, Louis Mussington, Philippe Vigier went to the COM hotel for a meeting with elected officials from the territorial council and state representatives. Several important subjects were discussed during this speech described as "confidence" including employment, the local economy, health and quality of care, tourism, a new housing policy, sanitation, the dilapidation of the water distribution network, improvement of the road network, transport supply, accessibility of public equipment and services, training of youth, care of the elderly, as well as the resumption of management of the Air Antilles company by the Community. “Today, at the end of all our analyses, our projects and our ambitions are not lacking,” declared Louis Mussington to the Minister Delegate for Overseas Territories, before adding “what is clearly lacking is that the account is not there. The State must put more of its own into it and ensure greater support for the development of the Community of Saint-Martin in the regional basin.”

Listening to and in front of the elected representatives of the territorial council, Philippe Vigier announced the upcoming arrival of Action Logement in Saint-Martin, in accordance with the twentieth measure of the Interministerial Committee for Overseas Territories (CIOM), and support from the State up 10% on the territory, or 44 million euros over the financial year.


To discover of the Micro-Folies device

Philippe Vigier then went to the Aline Hanson school in Sandy Ground where he was welcomed by the vice-rector Harry Christophe and Joëlle Nebor, director of the establishment for a presentation of the Micro-Folies system.

As a reminder, four modules are deployed with an exceptional three-year loan for Saint-Martin: a digital museum with 5000 works in High Definition consisting of a giant screen and connected tablets, a virtual reality space, a FabLab and a game library with books, board games and tools for cultural actions carried out with the associative sector. Among the demonstration workshops, the children of the Nature is the key association chaired by Juliette Irish presented a work by the famous Japanese artist, Hokusai, to Minister Vigier.


Extension of the LC Fleming hospital: an anticipated project

Another highlight of the visit of the Minister Delegate for Overseas Territories was the laying of the first stone for the extension of the Louis-Constant Fleming hospital. In the presence of a large part of the hospital staff, Philippe Vigier took the opportunity to “thank all those who work daily with great courage and professionalism to save, protect and care for the population. The hospital extension project will allow Saint-Martin to have a work tool worthy of the name with a quality care offering.” Note that the total amount of work, the expected duration of which is 18 months, amounts to 12 million euros, the financing being provided mainly by European FEDER funds and by the SEGUR de la Santé.


Site visit reconstruction of the Beach Hotel

Philippe Vigier and local elected officials went to the Beach Hotel for a visit to the reconstruction site of the hotel complex. Welcomed by the owner of the premises, Patrice Seguin, the delegation was able to see this colossal project which amounts to 45 million euros, including 37 million for reconstruction. The hotel is scheduled to open in October 2024.

The starred establishment with a capacity of 165 rooms will generate around a hundred direct jobs mainly recruited in Saint-Martin.


Meeting with socio-professionals

Organized at Coco Beach in Orient Bay, the meeting with socio-professionals on the revival of economic activity and the challenges of diversification began with the unique presentation of the mangrove project carried by Coco to promote the inclusion of young Saint-Martin residents in luxury tourism.

Project warmly applauded by the minister which will be detailed in a future edition. A plethora of subjects fueled the debate between politicians and socio-professionals: tourism strategy, digital transition, price of plane tickets and fuel, construction approval, insurance, sargassum, fishing zone and tax exemption.

The minister was keen to respond to each point raised by recalling the progress and new developments put in place by the State: “We have made very strong political choices to help overseas communities, I am taking over a mission where the work has not been done, we must look at everything as a whole.” According to Philippe Vigier, all tax-free investment programs, maintained until 2028, are all preserved with the exception of three niches where there have been deviations, the objective is to do it on a case-by-case basis: “for example , for small car rental companies, we will find a landing solution, but not for large rental companies who change their fleet every two years.” With the desire to reorient actions, Philippe Vigier supports initiatives such as the creation of a digital one-stop shop for companies in difficulty: “France 2023 can help”. With a precautionary reservation in the budget under the cover of article 49.3, the Minister Delegate for Overseas Territories intends to consolidate the overseas territories that he currently considers “preserved”: “Be innovative and confusing in your projects, "That's how we manage to release funds."


Press briefing

At the end of the meeting, Philippe Vigier spoke with the local press about this intense day in Saint-Martin, the first visit for the politician charmed by the places and the potential of the territory: “I met men and women extremely committed women with a real concern for youth, people who take risks. As minister, I must be accountable and provide more resources with diagnostics and investments behind them.” The creation and measures of the CIOM are, for him, a mark of confidence, a new offer which takes into account the insularity and the specificities of the overseas territories. The Minister Delegate for Overseas Philippe Vigier concluded the interview by promising to listen, to keep the dialogue open and to work with his advisors on each file upon his return to Paris. _AF & Vx

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