St. Martin News Network

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Sep 01st
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  • Andrea Martinus Richardson.

    It is with deep sadness that we announce the passing of

                    Andrea M. Richardson (aka Andy or Murchilah)

    24 January 1969 ~ 8 January 2012

    He leaves to mourn:   
    Mother:      Maybel Richardson
    Sister:      Samara Richardson
    Grandmother:  Inez Richardson
    Grandfather:   Albert Carty & family  in Aruba
    Aunts:    Bernadine Rohan & family   Sxm
    Nyuka Arrindel & family        Sxm
    Esmi Hillman & family in N.Y.
    Uncle:   Albert Enzer in Holland
    Great Aunt:    Adrianna Lake & family   Sxm
    Lucinda Richardson Brooks & family  Sxm
    Great Uncle:   Albair Richardson & family  Sxm
    Close relatives:   Ricardo Scott, Quintus & Carlisle Chance
    Sulivane, Eddy, & James Lake
    Jeannetta Rivas Richardson
    Close friends.:Johnny Thomas, Sulbia Pantophlet, Nataly Frans, Mona Gumbs
    He also leaves to mourn many other relatives & friends to numerous to mention
    He was related to the Richardson, Carty, Rohan, Rivas, Providence, Hodge, Lake,Hughes,Cocks, Glasgow and Bryan families.
    The Funeral Service for the late Andrea Martinus Richardson will be held on Friday January 13th, 2012 at the Emerald Funeral Home Chapel in Cay Hill. Viewing: 09:00m to 10:00am. Service: 10:00am. Interment: Cul de Sac cemetery.

    The Management and staff of Emerald Funeral Home would like to extend our deepest sympathy to the bereaved families.

    May his soul rest in eternal Peace

     

     

  • NO OSCARS TO BE EXPECTED ON STATIA SOON…

    Noel Coward wrote this wonderful song entitled "Don't put your daughter on the stage, Mrs. Worthington. His message was clear – talent is what is required to make it in the world of dramatic arts. These meaningful lyrics have clearly not filtered down to Clyde Van Putten whose performance at last week's Island Council meeting on Statia has amused but not impressed the local review critics.
    No Oscars or Golden Globes from these reluctant experts. They complain of too much adlib, too many cheap gags and deviation from the plot. The entire production also suffered from too many quick costume changes leaving its audience unsure as to who the real heroes and villains were. Inevitably, the latter upstaged the former.
    For those unaware of the plot behind this stage production, I shall explain. The plot revolves around a motion of no confidence in the leading star (or NuStar) role played by Van Putten (PLP).

    Jailhouse blues

    Curtains up and it all starts with the relocation of the prison from Man-a-War to Steward. Van Putten's side-kick resigns and this ignites a government crisis. Allegations of nepotism, corruption and graft are thrown across the council floor. Despite these tribulations, our not so beloved leading actor rises like a Phoenix to deliver presumably more of the same.
    In his defense, this troubled soul was accused of many things. They include promising the prison land to his brother, paying the health bill for his ex-wife's visit to Venezuela from public coffers, political appointees, private commissions from local contractors and so the list goes on.
    Attack is often the best form of defense and once the mask was ripped from this wounded thespian he responded with equally dramatic angst. He accused his accusers of many woeful acts. But then he decided to take the inappropriate higher ground.

    Melodramatic

    Biblical references washed out the Legislative Hall as he transformed the event into a personal pulpit. But his characterization of Scarlet O'Hara (If God is my witness, etc) and the invocation of the blood of Jesus were far too melodramatic for my taste.
    He defended the gift of land use for his brother's cows quite well. Besides, we all know this land is covered in so much junk that it is totally unfit for grazing by four-legged critters. But the audience was still left with the correct notion that perhaps this ideal location was earmarked for grazing by political or petrochemical animals of the two-legged variety.
    And then the dramatic mask slipped once again to reveal the true character behind the persona. He asserted that the prison would only be built "by white Dutchmen to lock up our black children."
    At best, this was off-the-mark and at worst, clearly discriminatory. Unlike van Putten, God loves us all.
    I am not sure how his fellow troop of actors viewed the performance in its entirety. Perhaps Franklin Brown, the protagonist of the STEP party took exception to being cast as one of Cinderella's ugly sisters. As Commissioner and owner of a cable company, there is perhaps a conflict of interest. A prison built on the new location will require kilometers of cable and actors do so adore encores.
    Less entertaining was a roll-call of political roles performed by our esteemed leader through his many years of public service. His assertion that he was ready for the Maker to call him once his work on planet earth was completed seemed equally distracted and distractive. After all, the debate should have been about political not divine judgment. Nevertheless, members of the Coalition of Hope if not Despair remained silent.

    Already decided

    Repudiation in the face of such repetition is pointless when the casting couch has already been crafted. The vote on the Jailhouse Rock had already been decided the night before.
    Power broker and casting manager is Reginald Van Dam (UPC). For Reginald, the Chavez style of Van Putten was absolutely not consistent with the St Eustatius School of Acting. But staging a production with the opposition DP (while demanding to be the sole casting director) also seemed doomed to become a Broadway flop. Political power under personal stage management in the wings is more influential than the public power of politics in the floodlights. Stage make-up is less humanly painful than making up. Better to stay with the Devil you know than the Devil you know even better!
    In truth, this Legislative Hall production had its high moments. Self-contained performances from Koos Steek (DP) were memorable. Accused of misusing political power for personal gain, he responded in true biblical 'cast the first stone' fashion.
    Once the curtain fell, theatre critics were left wondering if it was a good show. Absolutely not! We expect more from our politicians than venality and self-interest. We expect them to be representative, responsive and responsible. Their dirty laundry has no place within the culture of integrity and good governance. But on Statia, this lofty principle is more honored in the breach or in breech pockets than in the observance.
    The future of the prison and that of Van Putten remains unresolved. Relocating the prison from an industrial to a residential area makes no economic or common sense. The Ministry of Justice was not pleased with this frivolous decision and the real motive behind the relocation still has to be revealed.

    No vision

    Van Putten has become a one-man act. His impromptu and autocratic performances hold no vision for a people whose future depends on long-term wisdom. DP also failed its audition. If Van Putten has achieved anything for the acting profession, he has at least made the point that greed for personal gain has become a universal standard.
    Moreover, it is such a pity that the public gallery in the Legislative Hall was empty for most of this comic show. Tickets were free and so were political inhibitions. We learned much about our leaders and their weaknesses.
    As for Mrs. Worthington, she would be delighted with Van Putten's performance. But I can safely say without any fear of serious contradiction that Noel Coward would have found it very, very poor indeed!

    James Russell

  • Open Letter to Rueben J. Thompson, Board member, Emilio Wilson Estate Foundation.

    Dear Mr. Thompson,

    Your foundations objectives are well stated on your website. Let's take a look at them with Rain Forest Adventures plan in mind.

    • To obtain the Emilio Wilson Estate property.
      The EWEF will not gain control of the property under the Rain Forest Adventures plan.
    • To establish it as a Natural, Cultural and Historical Park for the benefit of present and future generations.
      Precisely what we want, with a little adventure and easy access to the peak included making it more attractive, fun, memorable and sustainable.
    • To facilitate, stimulate and promote educational programs and activities on the importance of the Emilio Wilson Estate's Natural, Cultural and Historical aspects.
      Our museum plans celebrate the estates natural, cultural and historical heritage. We also plan a program whereby local school classes volunteer to assist with reforestation in return for a free day in the park to learn the lessons of the museum and enjoy the rides. We want the students to learn about and 'take ownership' of the newly planted endemic forest.
    • To promote the preservation, conservation, restoration and study of historical monuments and artifacts present at the Emilio Wilson Estate.
      We will fully restore the historical structures and RFA has solicited SIMARC to perform archeological investigations with the assistance of the SIMARC Youth Program.
    • To preserve Sint Maarten's various species of Flora and Fauna found at the Emilio Wilson Estate.
      The footprint of the proposed new infrastructure accounts for just 3.6% of the total property, including untouched corridors under the cable attractions. We have committed $1/visitor to a reforestation and forest maintenance fund. As an environmentalist you must agree that replanting endemic forest is considerably more valuable than conserving the post-agriculture invasive species present on the hillside today.
    • To facilitate the establishment of environmentally friendly agricultural and aqua-cultural stations in specially designated areas of the Emilio Wilson Estate.
      Some sample crops of sugar cane and tobacco are planned but no fish farming is forseen.
    • Promotion of public awareness through the production of publications and media presentations, facilitation and organization of activities, educational programs and assistance to archaeological and biological research on the Emilio Wilson Estate.
      There will be high exposure for the Heritage Displays and Nature Programs and, as with our other parks, research is always welcome and local visitation is encouraged with a half price entrance fee.
    • To obtain sustainable financial resources to achieve and manage the EWEF' s goals.
      We have the plan, the recourses, the financing and the proven experience to achieve and manage these goals sustainably.
    • To pursue co-management agreements with the Sint Maarten, the Nature Foundation of Sint Maarten and the Emilio Wilson Historical and Cultural Park Foundation once the EWEF has achieved structural and financial stability.
      We plan to assist the Emilio Wilson Historical and Cultural Park by providing improved maintenance as part of our forest maintenance program.

    Mr. Thompson, I totally fail to understand your continued opposition to this proposed park. On several occasions we offered to help you and Miss Veen visit any of our other parks and discuss our operations with local environmental groups so you could foster an educated opinion of our company and our plans yet you consistently rejected our offer. It is unfair of you to accuse us in the press of misleading the public and greenwashing the project without investigating us for yourself. If you did your homework you would find that we are a reputable company with an exceptional environmental record and numerous successes in both conservation and education. We are well experienced working in environmentally sensitive locations with minimal impact. That is why we use helicopters in construction.

    You should be taking credit and helping make this program the best it can be. After all, the property would have become housing if not for the extensive EWEF efforts. Now it has the opportunity to be reforested in a sustainable manner while bringing expanded cultural identity and economic benefit to the community, not to mention some fun and adventure. We have a realistic solution here, meeting or exceeding your stated objectives. I ask you once again, why not join us in this? We could use your help.

    John Dalton
    Chief Engineer
    Rain Forest Adventures

  • Open Letter to SENATOR L. C. FLEMING.

    Dear Senator Fleming,

    For you to openly say on Radio 101.5 FM that "as far as I am concerned, there is no dispute" regarding the estate of the late Louis Constant Fleming Sr. clearly means that you are either a blatant liar or that you are completely uneducated in French Civil Law and therefore you are
    not fit to be anything in government in Saint Martin, now or ever, especially you, as Senator who's main function is to create and or amend laws.
    Approximately 7 months ago, I first sent you a registered letter informing you of this dispute, it was also mentioned in local newspapers as well as local news sites on the internet for everybody world wide, to read, including you, yourself and yet you profess that there is no dispute. Well since there is no dispute, then why did you hire a lawyer in France to represent you, all which I have proof of.
    For those who may feel that this is a personal vendetta or as you reportedly said, "an attempt by Claudie and myself to extort monies from you during this campaign", I say to you, it's not. It's about giving Claudie no more or less than what is rightfully his. It's a personal dispute involving you and your family, Senator Fleming but more significant than that it involves people of the state you presently represent as Senator, Saint Martin's people! You are an elected civil servant! You should be for all people, including Claudie. Shame on you for seemingly trying to involve your elderly mother in this, by reportedly suggesting to others that we approach her for an explanation as to what took place in 1933 while married to your late father.
    I once again urge you to clean up this mess your father orchestrated, (who was also an elected civil servant) if you really would like to be elected to anything on this island, hereby also avoiding yet another personal scandal.
    Remember, it was the same Claudie Fleming who steadfastly stood by your side to get elected to where you are, when you desperately needed him, his wife, his children, their families and friends' votes and support, wouldn't you need these same votes to get you over the top, this so important election? Can you afford to loose any more support than you already have lost due to the mess you have created or are you living in denial?
    But then again, Mr. Senator, it's your dilemma because up to date you still fail to give the voter of Saint Martin a clear and honest explanation as to why you made the same mistake, more than once as stated by your mean rival Albert Fleming.
    I trust that you will comply with my request in order for this to be put to rest, once and for all for your own good and well being of your political campaign.

    Yours truly,
    Norman C. Wathey
  • Letter to the Editor from the Simpson Bay Resort Management Company (SBRMC).

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  • Protect the entire Emilio Wilson Estate.

    Dear Editor,

    Much has been said over the past few years about the Emilio Wilson Estate. In recent months the estate has again become the center of controversy as an American company "Rain Forest Adventures" has submitted permit requests to build an amusement park on the former plantation. Please allow me to present the Emilio Wilson Estate Foundation's (EWEF) position on both the Emilio Wilson Estate itself and the Rain Forest Adventures plans for an Amusement park at the estate.

    The EWEF's position on the estate is simple. The Emilio Wilson Estate should be established as a National Park for the protection of the area's natural and cultural-historical value but also for the long-term welfare of St. Maarten's residents. Spending time in green open spaces such as the Emilio Wilson Estate has been shown to improve people's health happiness and overall wellbeing. From and economic perspective St. Maarten's Natural and Cultural Heritage, and the Emilio Wilson Estate itself, forms the Foundation of the island's tourism driven economy. The durability of St. Maarten's tourism product greatly depends on the level of nature conservation and environmental care and requires a balance between tourism and the natural environment.

    The EWEF's goal is to turn the Estate into the "Emilio Wilson Estate Ecological and Historical Centre and Protected Area" much like Curacao's Christoffel park, Aruba's Parke Arikok and Puerto Rico's many protected areas.

    Government made commitments to the people of St. Maarten from September 2005 through July 2008 by implementing a number of basic measures towards the protection of the Emilio Wilson Estate, including placing the entire area on the monument list. The ball is therefore very much in Government's court and it is the task of Parliament and the Council of Ministers to pursue all possible legal and financial means necessary to realize their commitment to the people of St. Maarten. In short it is up to our elected officials to zone and purchase the entire Emilio Wilson Estate for the benefit of current and future generations of St. Maarteners.
    The Rain Forest Adventures Golden Rock Park proposal for an Amusement Park on the Wilson Estate is a prime example of the misuse of our Natural and Cultural Heritage. The Company advertises its vision to be focused on "Developing Conservation Awareness" its mission claims to "sustain the environment and help conserve our natural resources while providing a world class eco-tourism experience". Yet the company has made no effort to have independent Environmental and Social-Cultural Impact Assessments made to analyze the effects of their proposed projects. Nor do their plans mention alternative locations, why the focus on Sentry Hill/ Emilio Wilson Estate, has the company considered relatively less sensitive areas such as Madame Estate or in the vicinity of the Indigo Bay project?

    As much as the Rainforest adventures group would like us all to believe that their project is environmentally friendly, ecologically sound and geared at the protection of our heritage, the reality of the matter is that the proposal is aimed at the maximization of income in the short term through the mass exploitation of St. Maarten's heritage.

    The Rain Forest Adventures' media campaign and promises that visitors to their proposed amusement park "will be funnelled through the plantation house where they will learn about the island's history, culture, the estate and its namesake the late Emilio Wilson" is nothing more than greenwashing. The company is spending more money and time on misleading Public Relations Campaigns, advertising it's supposed environmentally friendly intentions than it actually does on protecting the natural environment.

    The Rain Forest Adventures' "Golden Rock Park Proposal" does not sufficiently protect and promote the Emilio Wilson Estate's Natural, Cultural and historical attributes and therefore does not meet the vision the Foundations have for the Estate.

    People of St. Maarten please do not be fooled by media campaigns such as the one the Rain Forest Adventures Company has recently started in support of its mass tourism amusement park plans for the Emilio Wilson Estate.

    Too many of St. Maarten's hillsides, ponds and other coastal areas have been sacrificed for tourism related development. We are jeopardizing our own wellbeing and the viability of our tourism driven economy through the systematic destruction of the very Foundation on which it is built: St. Maarten's Natural and Cultural Heritage. The time has come to safeguard the natural heritage we have left.

    Rueben J. Thompson

    Board member
    Emilio Wilson Estate Foundation

    Vice President
    St. Maarten Pride Foundation

  • SAFETY AT NUSTAR – TRUE NATURE OF THE BEAST.

    Numerous developments this week have prompted further questions about the human and financial consequences for the Dutch Government and local community in the event of a potential disaster at NuStar's operations in St. Eustatius. They illustrate that Dutch authorities - credited by the local government and NuStar with infallible scrutiny when it comes to safety measures - are just as likely to fail as any other. Safety assurances made now are therefore later worthless in the event of a major emergency.

    The first involves management failings of the chemicals packaging company in Moerdijk that went bankrupt after a chemical fire. According to a Safety Council Report: "Chemie-Pack failed to meet operating permit conditions and did not keep to its own policy of procedures."

    Sounds familiar? NuStar Pipeline Operating Partnership LP recently agreed to pay a US $450,000 civil penalty to the United States Government to settle allegations that it did not have plans to deal with spills and environmental accidents for eight of its oil storage terminal facilities in Iowa, Kansas and Nebraska

    The eventual cost of the Moerdijk clean-up has been estimated at 71 million euros.
    Furthermore, local government has not escaped criticism by the same Safety Council report. It was not aware that the company was not meeting the conditions of its permit but did not increase supervision let alone close down the facility.

    Responsibility

    The second development is the cost of clean-up for the ecological and economic disaster created by the refinery in Curacao. Sold by its mainly Dutch owner last century for one guilder, the refinery will require significant funds from the Dutch Government for this purpose. It is another sober and salutary reminder that responsibility for petrochemical installations persists long after owners and management have left the scene.

    The same principle of risk applies to the NuStar situation. This week David Smith, terminal manager assured us that "the project is still designed to meet the most sophisticated safety measures available and meet the most strenuous regulations in the world." However, his assurances or rather those of his creative copywriter are baseless on the grounds that they do not reflect current safety measures and performance at the existing terminal facility.

    NuStar boasts an accident free record at its current site. But lost time incidents (LTI's) are neither reported nor analyzed to eliminate reoccurrence. This is the case for onshore as well as offshore operations. Incident reporting is a vital aspect of safety management since it forms the basis of prevention thereby avoiding serious accidents, loss of life and possibly major disasters.

    'Laid-back'

    However, some NuStar employees have also been questioning safety at the current site. They describe the culture as 'laid-back' and focused on the wearing of safety goggles, safety helmets, and on little else. Over the last four weeks alone, divers have been sent down on numerous occasions to free mooring ropes wrapped round tug propellers. The cause for these unreported incidents is well known. For several years, the release mechanism for the jetty mooring has been defect. No attempt to renew this unsafe equipment has been initiated.

    NuStar maintains that its safety procedures are consistent with the Directive for above storage of flammable liquids in vertical cylindrical tanks. An integral element of this directive is the reporting of marine based incidents and accidents. So what faith do we have in their assurances?

    One does not have to read between the lines to know that this expansion is all about quick dividends for shareholders and not about responsibility or care for the community. Given that NuStar does not have the working capital to deal with a full-blown disaster on Statia, how much and where are the substantial funds deposited by the company in escrow to cover the cost of potential disaster and clean-up?

    They do not exist.

    Queen Beatrix

    Despite the appeal of Queen Beatrix for the Netherlands to take better care of Planet Earth, her New Year wishes on Golden Rock are being totally ignored. "Selfishness and the tendency towards excess makes one blind to the damage to our natural environment and undermine communities," she rightfully said.

    If that were the case, one wonders why officials at her own Ministry for Environment and Water Management (VROM) have been told to accelerate and facilitate the process of granting permits locally. Corporate smoke screens can be just as deadly as the flames that eventually reveal their worthlessness.

    I have been reliably informed that fire regulations and plans for existing NuStar terminal facilities were absolutely not up to scratch when Statia was part of the Netherlands Antilles. But the Island Government is happy to sign off permits for the new terminal on the Farm with or without these in place.

    NuStar may well believe that it controls the Island Government through altruistic community gifts and vague corporate statements about safety and short-term economic benefits. It may even think it controls the Dutch VROM through the expensive lobby services of Ben Bot, former Minister in The Hague.

    But who will control a man-made or natural disaster that strikes its terminal facilities? Nobody and nothing!

    Arrogance

    Despite questions raised about the many unresolved safety issues in the local media, answers have not been forthcoming. For such a company that prides itself on community involvement, their silence is an admission of arrogance.

    Statia is not ready to have its horizon, landscape, heritage, natural environment, people and pride obscured by ugly tanks and corporate greed. A government that falsely claims that it is only a handful of Statians who object to this corporate colonization, may well be reminded that it was a similar "handful" of voters who elected them.

    A rubber stamp for a firm whose creed does not reflect deed is not worth the risk. For such is the true nature of the beast.

    James Russell

  • Letter to the Editor regarding MP Louis Laviest.

    Dear Editor:

    BETRAYAL:

    When earlier this week Louie Laveist, the "Honorable" Member of Parliament, talked about "Betrayal of the people of St. Maarten" by Deputy Prime Minister Heyliger, I became very nauseous. Now I know Minister Heyliger is perfectly capable of defending himself, so this is not about that! Neither is it about the fact that I agree that MP James and others who get paid to be fulltime representatives of the people, should choose which God they serve. I want to focus on the audacity and brazenness of MP Louie Laveist.

    I want Mr. Laveist to consider the following:
    • As a DP Commissioner he got caught with his fingers in the proverbial cookie jar after he took over a perfectly well planned project to construct the new Government Administration Building. The DP Leadership thought it was the best thing for him to resign until his criminal investigation was over and his name cleared. He refused and after his detention from the Point Blanche prison, declared himself an "Independent" Council Member. Remember just before he left the DP, National Alliance Leader William Marlin publicly wiped the floor with him, crying out how shameful Laveist's greed-driven actions were (I am paraphrasing here)! However as soon as he (LL) said he was an "Independent" member, William scooped him up and formed a new government. TALK ABOUT BETRAYAL of the people TO THE CORE!?? By the way, 6 years after the new administration building was to have been inaugurated according the agreements made with RGM in 2002 and the first 6 months of 2003, the building still sits empty in litigation and costs the government approximately ANG 800,000 quarterly thanks to the shenanigans of an "Honorable" MP.
    • MP Louie Laveist should tell the people if the following is true or false: While he was entrusted with the portfolio of Commissioner of Transportation in the Executive Council of 2003 to 2007, three transportation companies were started up by members of his immediate family (including one who currently works at Pelican/Simpson Bay Resort). The companies in question are: Quality Transport Corporation for which the then Commissioner approved five (5) bus permits, Business Transport Corporation for which he approved seven (7) permits and Expert Transport Corporation for which he approved five (5) permits. And then I want the former (DP) Commissioner, now "Honorable" NA MP Laveist to confirm or deny that these bus permits are being rented out to individual drivers, some of whom are the very same constituents who had requested a permit in their own name. A nice monthly income to the owner(s) of the three transport companies at the expense of the brow sweat of the constituents. I would classify THIS to be a BETRAYAL of the people TO THE CORE! To add insult to injury, the owners of the same businesses who are family members of the "Honorable" MP, have all been issued individual taxi permits. Bear in mind that a taxi permit at the time was only to be granted if it was to be the recipient's primary source of income. And if I am not mistaken, N.V.'s (limited liability companies) could be issued multiple bus permits. So-called "eenmanszaken" could only be issued a single bus permit. 

    Mr. Laveist talked about "A BOLDFACED SLAP IN THE FACE OF THIS COUNTRY":

    •  I ask who is more "boldfaced" than the "Honorable" Member of Parliament Laveist who had the gall to present himself on the National Alliance political slate after having been convicted by the court.
    Lastly, in his tirade on radio and so quoted in the print media, Mr. Laveist ends with inciting labor unrest, prefacing the call to this unrest with a lame statement that he "doesn't WANT labor unrest", but sees it as unavoidable. Then he calls on his colleague James to do "the honorable thing". That's when I gagged! Louie calling for someone else to do the "honorable" thing???? Yeah, right!!

    Michael J. Ferrier

  • Plenary public session of Parliament on GEBE and public infrastructure to be continued on Thursday.

    Philipsburg:--- The plenary public session of Parliament with reference to the utility company GEBE and infrastructure developments that was held on January 16 will continue on Thursday, January 19 at 10:00am.

    Vice Prime Minister Hon. Theo Heyliger, and Minister responsible for Public Housing, Spatial Development, Environment and Infrastructure, will respond to the first round of questions that were posed by Members of Parliament (MPs).

    The meeting will take place in the General Assembly Chamber of the House of Parliament on Wilhelmina Straat #2.1 in Philipsburg.

    The two agenda points being dealt with in the plenary session are, infrastructure developments on Sint Maarten and the impact on the environment, and developments at GEBE including the generation and distribution of electricity, water and the fuel clause.

    The National Alliance (NA) faction requested the plenary session in its letter dated January 06, 2012 to the President of Parliament.

    The plenary public session will be carried live on St. Maarten Cable TV Channel 20.

  • PUBLIC NOTICE: VKS OPENING NEW YEAR WITH CHURCH SERVICE.

    The Voluntary Corps of Sint Maarten (VKS) will be opening the New Year 2012 with attending Holy Mass at the Roman Catholic Church on Frontstreet, Philipsburg, on Saturday, January 7th, 2012 at 6 PM. The church service will be followed by a reception for VKS-members, their families and invited guests.

    The Commander of the VKS hereby requests the members to come out in full force to give thanks for the past year and to pray for a blessed New Year 2012.

  • Dutch Members of Parliament Met with Council of Ministers Prior to Inter- Parliamentary Meetings.

    Philipsburg:--- Members of the Dutch Parliament both from the first and second chamber that are currently on St. Maarten for inter-parliamentary meetings met with the Council of Ministers on Monday in the A.C. Wathey Legislative Hall. Attending the meeting on Monday which was chaired by the Prime Minister of St. Maarten Sarah Wescot Williams were Deputy Prime Minister Theodore Heyliger, Minister Franklin Meyers, Minister Hiro Shigemoto, Minister Rhoda Arrindell, and Minister Cornelius De Weever, while Minister of Justice Roland Duncan is currently off island. Up to press time no details on Monday's close door meeting with the Council of Ministers had been released.

    Click here to view more photos of Monday's meeting with the COM and Dutch MP's.

  • IGY GM BRIAN DEHER IS DESIGNATED A CERTIFIED MARINA MANAGER (CMM).

    ST MAARTEN, Dutch Caribbean:--- IGY Marinas announces that Brian Deher, the Director of Marina Operations and Planning for IGY St. Maarten, has been awarded the designation of Certified Marina Manager, bringing the total up to 4 CMMs that comprise the IGY Marina Management Team. Brian also serves as the current president of the St. Maarten Marine Trades Association in addition to coming from a family of marina owners and operators in the Caribbean.

    The full team of CMMs at IGY Marinas now includes:
    Kenny Jones, MBE, our EVP Operations
    Adam Foster, GM, Rodney Bay Marina, St. Lucia
    Kevin Lussier, GM, Yacht Haven Grande, St. Thomas
    Brian Deher, GM, The Yacht Club at Isle de Sol and Simpson Bay Marina, St. Maarten

    Per the International Marina Institute, a subsidiary of the Association of Marina Industries, the CMM value statement iterates: "CMMs represent the elite in the marina and recreational boating industry. They value true personal and professional excellence and strive to maintain the highest levels of ethical and moral conduct in their commitment to the marina industry. CMMs have a deeply-rooted respect for the environment and recognize their role in keeping it safe for boaters and the communities that support them. CMMs are marina professionals who have completed an extensive training and certification process through the globally recognized International Marina Institute (IMI) and embrace the continuance of education and training for themselves and those who work within the marina industry."
  • TELEM Execs visit Sint Maarten House.

    mvogesandtelemreps16012012Great Bay (DCOMM):--- Last week Thursday executives from the TELEM Group of Companies visited the Cabinet of the Minister Plenipotentiary in The Hague at the Sint Maarten House.

    Chief Financial Officer (CFO) Helma Etnel and Chief Technical Officer (CTO) Eldert Louisa, met with Minister Voges to discuss possibilities of how the Cabinet could assist with recruiting Sint Maarten students for job opportunities with the TELEM Group of Companies.

    TELEM is in need of persons with a technical and financial background to work at their different locations on the island. The telecommunications company is also offering on-the-job training for students and the chance to be employed at either one of the companies, TELEM, Smitcoms or Telcell.

    Minister Voges used the opportunity to thank the executives for the TELEM Group's co-sponsorship of the Sint Maarten Day celebrations in Holland last year.

  • Rainbow Residents Protested in front of Court House.

    rainbowresidentsprotest20012012Philipsburg:--- Several residents of Rainbow Villas were seen protesting outside the Court of First Instance on Friday as a court hearing against the owners of Rainbow Villas was on going. The residents were holding placards stating that they are victims of Johnny Errato, the owner of Rainbow Villas. According to information reaching SMN News the residents are protesting the deplorable conditions of the villas they bought from Errato.

    Click here to view more photos of the Rainbow residents protest at the Court of First Instance on Friday.
  • Plenary session of Parliament on MP Jules James set for Tuesday morning.

    Philipsburg:--- A Plenary public session of Parliament is scheduled for January 24 regarding the voting of Member of Parliament (MP) Hon. Jules James.

    The meeting will take place on Tuesday morning at 10:00am in the General Assembly Chamber of the House of Parliament on Wilhelmina Straat #2.1 in Philipsburg.

    The National Alliance (NA) faction requested the plenary session in its letter dated January 10, 2012 to the President of Parliament.

    The NA faction would like to discuss the voting of MP Jules James on November 17, 2011 on a draft motion of the NA; the position of the NA that MP Jules James was not allowed to vote on the motion; the letter of the Governor of Sint Maarten to Parliament, dated December 5, 2011; and the reactions of the Chairlady of Parliament to the aforementioned.

    The plenary public session will be carried live on St. Maarten Cable TV Channel 20 and via Pearl Radio FM 98.1 as well as via the Internet www.pearlfmradio.com and www.sxmparliament.org.

  • IGY CARIBBEAN ANCHOR PASS PROGRAM MAKES WAVES FOR MEGA YACHTS IN THE CARIBBEAN.

    FORT LAUDERDALE, FL January 30, 2012:--- Becoming an increasingly popular and convenient way to cruise the Caribbean all year round, IGY's Caribbean Anchor Pass (CAP) is the method of choice for many mega yachts looking to save on dockage, while maintaining the freedom and flexibility to travel to several islands under one package.

    Thus far, a number mega yachts ranging in size from 99 to 154 feet have taken full advantage of the only program that encourages cruising in St. Thomas, St. Maarten, St. Lucia and Puerto Rico - collectively. Exclusively created for yachts over 80 feet, the CAP program was inspired from mega yacht captains who voiced the need for more flexibility in dockage with a program that allows them to roam the Caribbean throughout the year while enjoying the best-in-class luxury marinas.

    Under the pass, yachts travel between 5 different IGY marinas across 4 destinations over the span of a full year, while only paying for 120 days. Anchor Pass holders receive priority reservations at significant savings off the daily dockage rate, all the while maintaining the flexibility to move about the network freely.

    Participating marinas in the IGY Caribbean Anchor Pass are:

    • Yacht Haven Grande, St. Thomas
    • The Yacht Club at Isle De Sol, St. Maarten
    • Simpson Bay Marina, St. Maarten
    • Rodney Bay Marina, St, Lucia
    • Palmas del Mar Yacht Club, Puerto Rico

    "Over the last year, the Anchor Pass has grown to be a popular choice among IGY customers. The cost savings are significant and the flexibility of the program follows the very nature of transient mega yachts. We look forward to another successful year with the program as 4 yachts have already renewed their pass from last year." says EVP of Operations for IGY Marinas, Kenny Jones.

    Holders of the Anchor Pass all have positive feedback about the flexibility and convenience of the program:

    "We are very pleased with the professionalism shown by the staff at IGY Yacht Haven Grande, St. Thomas. Our vessel will be traveling south through the Caribbean and on to Curacao and Colombia. For our program and schedule, the Anchor Pass proved to be a link between the finest marinas in the Caribbean, while at the same time giving the assurance that the service and facilities will exceed those of most other marinas."

    "The IGY Anchor Pass has been a great convenience for us, knowing that we'll have a dock when we wish, and has also has provided us with peace of mind. It is also wonderful that the marinas offer amenities such as a gym and lounges for our crew. Not only in St. Thomas, we can also count on the same service at other islands and the IGY marinas where we travel."

    "I would recommend the IGY anchor pass for anyone who is looking to spend time down here in the Caribbean. We have explored only Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands, and IGY has made it as easy as possible to have a slip lined up and ready for us when we arrive. We found the marinas and staff to be very impressive, with everyone always willing to lend a hand if needed. For us it is an easy decision to choose the Anchor Pass, a choice we will be making again next year when we come back!"

    For further information and inquiries, email anchorpass@igymarinas.com or call 954.332.2398.

  • Sunday is National Day of Prayer.

    Great Bay:--- The 7th Annual National Day of Prayer will be held this Sunday, January 8, 2012 in front of the Government Administration Building under the theme, "Thank you Lord for watching over us as we go forward." The ecumenical service will begin at 4:30 PM with Praise and Worship led by the Love and Grace Ministry.
    The Order of Service includes a call to worship by Pastor Wycliffe Smith of the St. Maarten United Ministerial Foundation and an invocation by Pastor Vashni Cuvalay.
    Several choirs will sing throughout the service, including the Combined Roman Catholic Reward Choir, the MAC School Choir, the Seventh Day Adventist School Choir, the Bible Baptist Youth Choir and the Church of God Trio.
    Intercessory prayers will be offered by Pastor Jerome Thomas and Pastor Emanuel Carbon, while Prophetess Aster Allen will give the sermonette.
    Prime Minister Sarah Wescot-Williams will offer some remarks with the vote of thanks being given by Minister of Education, Culture, Sports and Youth Affairs, Dr. Rhoda Arrindell.
    The National Day of Prayer is observed annually on the second Sunday of January, with an invitation to people of all faiths to pray for the nation. It is a way of bringing together the entire population in prayer to start the New Year on the right footing.
  • TB patients need to strictly follow physician’s instructions to guarantee full recovery.

    Great Bay (DCOMM):--- TB is a disease caused by bacteria called Mycobacterium tuberculosis. The bacteria usually attack the lungs, but TB bacteria can attack any part of the body such as the kidney, spine, and brain. If not treated properly, TB disease can be fatal.

    TB is spread through the air from one person to another. The bacteria are dispersed into the air when a person with active TB disease of the lungs or throat coughs, sneezes, talks or sings. People nearby may breathe in these bacteria and become infected.

    However, not everyone infected with TB bacteria becomes sick. People who are not sick have what is called latent TB infection

    . People who have latent TB infection do not feel sick, do not have any symptoms, and cannot spread TB to others. But, some people with latent TB infection go on to get TB disease.

    People with active TB disease can be treated if they seek medical help. People with latent TB infection can take medicine so that they will not develop active TB disease.

    The Collective Prevention Service (CPS), a public health agency of the Ministry of Public Health, Social Development and Labour, says that public health officials must focus their resources on finding exposed persons who are more likely to be infected or to become ill with TB disease.

    CPS's surveillance team reviewed relevant epidemiologic and other scientific data to conduct contact investigations in order to minimize any spread of the condition.

    The index case is the person diagnosed by a physician with TB. The index case's close contact are followed up and interviewed by the surveillance team to determine if they may be infected. If they are determined to be at risk, they are referred for additional testing such as mantoux testing and chest x-ray.

    Close exposure or exposure among particularly vulnerable populations may be more at risk for TB disease.

    For 2011 CPS received reports and followed up on two TB cases, one case in November, a 21-year old male, and a 30-year old female in September.

    It is recommended that persons diagnosed with TB as well as those who have close contact with the infected person are asked to strictly follow their medical treatment and in the latter case, to follow-up with their family physician for the results of the mantoux tuberculin skin test to determine further medical treatment and handling.

    TB disease can be treated by taking several medications for six to nine months. It is very important for persons to take these medications as prescribed. Not adhering to the scheduled drug regime could make the bacteria resistant and hence, a person's recovery time could be longer. If a person stops taking the medications too soon, they also risk becoming sick again.

    At all times to avoid putting others at risk, persons should exercise cough hygienic practices – "Cover your Cough."

    Difference between Latent TB Infection and Active TB Disease

    A Person with Latent TB Infection A Person with Active TB Disease
    • Has no symptoms • Has symptoms that may include:
    - a bad cough that lasts 3 weeks or longer
    - pain in the chest
    - coughing up blood or sputum
    - weakness or fatigue
    - weight loss
    - no appetite
    - chills
    - fever
    - sweating at night
    • Does not feel sick • Usually feels sick
    • Cannot spread TB bacteria to others • May spread TB bacteria to others
    • Usually has a positive skin test • Usually has a positive skin test
    • Has a normal chest x-ray and a negative sputum smear • May have an abnormal chest x-ray, or positive sputum smear or culture
    • Should consider treatment for latent TB infection to prevent active TB disease • Needs treatment for active TB disease

  • Pelican Workers Demonstrating Silently at Great Bay Resort.

    pelicanworkersatgreatbayresort12012012Great Bay:--- The Pelican workers are currently demonstrating silently at the Great Bay Resort where the inter-parliamentary meetings are taking place.
    The workers first went to the Pelican Resort (SBRMC) to collect an application form. They then met with their union at the WIFOL before heading down to Great Bay Resort to inform the visiting delegation about their plight due to one of their colleagues Jules James from the St. Maarten Parliament.
    The Head of the Delegation and Vice Chair from the Netherlands along with the leader of the National Alliance William Marlin met the workers outside of the resort. More details later today.
  • Tripartite Committee gets introduction to Ministry of Labor.

    Great Bay:--- On Wednesday afternoon, members of the Tripartite committee received an extensive introduction regarding the Ministry of Public Health, Social Development & Labor. Presentations were made by Peggy Ann Dros-Richardson of the Department of Labor Affairs; Dr. Earl Best of the Inspectorate and Raphael Boasman of the Labor Department.
    Mrs. Dros pointed out that the Department of Labor Affairs plays a critical role in the execution of policies that address the following areas: unemployment(high risk groups); job placement and vacancy registrations; work permits and business registrations.
    The vision and mission statement of the Department of Labor Affairs was also addressed by Mrs. Dros. The vision states that the department strives to become the recognized government authority in workforce related matters; providing concise leadership, sound advice and value thru partnerships with all stakeholders. Whereas the mission statement clarifies the department as one to provide laborers to the labor market thru analysis of the business need; to provide employment thru training for the unemployed and adherence to legislation, and to treat fairly all laborers seeking assistance.
    The first Tripartite committee meeting was held on December 21, 2011, and was of an introductory nature, with members during that meeting discussing such topics as priorities for 2012 and explanations of the tasks and responsibilities of the Tripartite Committee. Tripartite Committee meetings are held every month with Minister of Public Health, Social Development & Labor, Cornelius De Weever serving as chairman. The Tripartite Committee is made up of representatives for employers, employees and government.
  • St. Maarten Cable TV’s Outage Update.

    Philipsburg:--- St. Maarten Cable TV today provided an update on the network modifications being made in preparation for the upgrade to an all-digital platform on February 1, 2012.
    On January 12, 2012, subscribers received notification of a planned outage that would cause both Cable TV and CableNet customers to experience service interruptions between the hours of 1:00am to 4:00am on January 14, 2012. The scheduled outage allowed the technical team to relocate the fiber to the new building. Although the technical team worked diligently to restore all services within the announced time period, the team encountered unanticipated technical issues that led to the delayed restoration of both services. Cable TV was restored to all areas by 8:00am on January 14, 2012. CableNet service was restored at 5:00pm
    There are customers on the network that are still experiencing service issues with their high-speed internet and their video service. The technical team is working diligently to resolve any remaining issues.
    Beulah Jonis, Managing Director of St. Maarten Cable TV stated, "St. Maarten Cable TV apologizes for the inconvenience this outage may cause our subscribers and we are continuously grateful for the patience that you have exhibited throughout the process."
  • PUBLIC NOTICE: IMBALI DANCE SCHOOL HOSTS THEATRICAL CLOWN WORK SHOP.

    IMBALI Center For Creative Movement, presents:

    Introduction to the Art of Clown, Master classes by International clown teacher Albina Matuzko. Starting 11 or 12 February, depending on preferences of participants: 5 x Saturdays or Sundays mornings: 10am-1pm at Imbali Dance School Located at the John Larmonie Center, Long Wall Road in Philipsburg.

    Clown classes for adults ages 18 years and up .
    For registration and classes information, please contact:

    Albina Matuzko
    Email: albinka_k@hotmail.com,
    Facebook /Albina Matuzko,
    Tel. 588-44-39
    www.klusha.blogspot.com

    Come as you are...

  • Minister Meyers Meets with Dominica's Minister Blackmoore.

    fmeyersmeetsrblackmoore18012012Philipsburg:--- Minister of Economic & Tourism Affairs, Telecommunications & Transport Hon. Franklin Meyers last week Friday met with Dominica's Minister of Public Works, Energy & Sports with responsibility for Civil Aviation Hon. Rayburn Blackmoore.

    Minister Hon. Blackmoore had requested the meeting to discuss the discontinuation of Windward Island Airways (WINAIR) flights to Dominica.

    It was agreed that a structural solution would be looked into in order to service Dominica on a regular basis.

  • Jr. Carnival Queen Zasha calls on girls to register for pageant --- Registration for all other shows closed.

    zayshasinclair23012012Reigning Junior Carnival Queen Zaysha Sinclair is encouraging the parents of little girls between the ages of 7 to 12 years to register to take part in the pageant for Carnival 2012. The St. Maarten Carnival Development Foundation (SCDF) has closed registration for all shows and competitions for Carnival 2012 except the Junior Pageant. The foundation has extended the registration for this pageant until the end of January.

    Zaysha, who describes her reign and her experience as "wonderful", said she hopes to see more girls her age register to have fun. "I had a lot of fun when I was going up. You are treated nice, you do fun things, you meet new friends, you get to be in the parade. It's is all very exciting. I think parents should sign up their children because Carnival is our culture and it's good to be a part of that," Zasha said.

    Interested parents can email the SCDF at sxmcarnival@hotmail.com or call 5225133 or 5220509 to register their child. The Jr. Carnival Queen wins US $1,000 in cash, a computer and other prizes. "We hope to get more contestants for this pageant which was a terrific success last year. The girls are taken on outings around the island, treated to the movies etc and do so many more things," President of the SCDF Stuart Johnson said.

    In the meantime, Johnson added, the SCDF is very satisfied with the registration of all other areas of Carnival. "We are looking good. The other local shows have a good number of registrants, all Carnival booths are out, so we are happy with that. We will be introducing the contestants for all our shows next week and then it's all full steam ahead to Carnival, to two weeks of fete," he said.

  • Central Committee of Parliament meets on Committee for Country Expenditures and Parlatino.

    Philipsburg:--- The Central Committee of Parliament will be meeting on Wednesday afternoon at 2:00pm.

    The January 25 meeting is open to the public and will take place in the General Assembly Chamber in the House of Parliament at the Wilhelmina Straat #2.1.

    Members of Parliament (MPs) will decide on the advice of the Seniorenconvent about the installation of a Committee for Country Expenditures.

    The second point to be discussed is becoming a member of Parlatino's Political, Municipality and Integration Committee which discusses political issues.

    The committee session will be carried live on St. Maarten Cable TV Channel 20 and only the audio via Pearl Radio FM 98.1 as well as via the Internet www.pearlfmradio.com and www.sxmparliament.org.

  • Tourism Bureau new location.

    Great Bay (DCOMM):--- The St. Maarten Tourism Bureau has relocated to a new address.

    The new address is as follows:

    Krippa Building, Unit 9 & 10
    Juancho Yrausquin Boulevard #6
    (Across Sang's Supermarket)
    Philipsburg
    St. Maarten

    The temporary phone is (721) 526-8284.

    The usual telephone numbers are currently out of service.

  • Second Plenary session of Parliament on MP Jules James set for Tuesday afternoon.

    Philipsburg:--- The second plenary public session of Parliament regarding the voting of Member of Parliament (MP) Hon. Jules James in a parliamentary session back in November 2011 is set for January 31.

    The meeting will take place on Tuesday afternoon at 2:00pm in the General Assembly Chamber of the House of Parliament on Wilhelmina Straat #2.1 in Philipsburg.

    The National Alliance (NA) faction requested the plenary session in its initial letter dated January 10, 2012 to the President of Parliament.

    The first plenary session with respect to this agenda point was held on January 24, 2012, however due to a lack of a quorum, the meeting did not take place.

    The NA faction would like to discuss the voting of MP Jules James on November 17, 2011 on a draft motion of the NA; the position of the NA that MP Jules James was not allowed to vote on the motion; the letter of the Governor of Sint Maarten to Parliament, dated December 5, 2011; and the reactions of the Chairlady of Parliament to the aforementioned.

    The plenary public session will be carried live on St. Maarten Cable TV Channel 20 and the audio via Pearl Radio FM 98.1 as well as via the Internet www.pearlfmradio.com and www.sxmparliament.org.

  • PSS Director to Take Legal Measures to be Reinstated Says Van Sambeek.

    Philipsburg:--- The Managing Director of Postal Services St. Maarten Denicio Richardson has hired the services of HBN Law, namely Attorney at Law Wim Van Sambeek to contest the suspension implemented by the PSS Supervisory Board on December 27th 2011.
    A press release from Attorney at Law Wim Van Sambeek confirmed that his client was suspended by the Supervisory Board as reported by SMN News under the heading "Director of PSS Suspended" which was published on December 31st 2011.
    Van Sambeek said that his client wants to emphasize that maintains his opinion that he at all times acted within his authority and responsibility as the statutory director of PSS. Van Sambeek said in the interest of PSS and the staff his client will not comment on the lightly taken measure of suspension, however, he will use all available legal means to have the suspension rectified and lifted as soon as possible.
    In the article published on this website on December 31st 2011 it states that the PSS Director was suspended from December 27th, 2011 to January 13th, 2012.
  • Permanent Committee for Kingdom Affairs Meets behind Closed Doors Regarding Kingdom Inter-parliamentary Conference Preps.

    Philipsburg:--- The Permanent Committee of Kingdom Affairs and Inter-parliamentary Relations will be meeting on Thursday afternoon at 2:00pm in a closed door session.

    The meeting is being held to finalize preparations for the visit of parliamentarians from Holland, Curacao and Aruba, in the setting of the inter-parliamentary Kingdom conference that will take place from January 10 to 13, 2012.

    Members of Parliament (MPs) who are members of the aforementioned committee are: MP Hon. Roy Marlin (Chairman), MP Hon. Dr. Ruth Douglass (Vice Chairlady), MP Hon. Patrick Illidge, MP Hon. William Marlin, and MP Hon. Frans Richardson.

  • SCDF ‘reloads’ its Youth Extravaganza showcase.

    specialdeliveryboys05012012The St. Maarten Carnival Development Foundation (SCDF) announced on Thursday that its popular Youth Extravaganza will take on a new format for Carnival 2012. Entitled "Youth Extravaganza 2012: Reloaded" the talent showcasing event will be more like "America's Got Talent" with one overall winner selected by a panel of five judges.

    The cash prize will be US $1000. The event will also feature and elimination and a final round of competition. "Youth Extravaganza has grown since its inception into a dynamic and energized show displaying the best of the best in St. Maarten youth talent. Comparable to other shows held annually, youth extravaganza continues to compliment our Carnival schedule of events by having a high attendance rate throughout the years," President of the SCDF Stuart Johnson said.

    He continued: "This year we've opted to change the format and we are excited about the possibilities. Dancers, singers, young calypso singers and steel pan players, rappers, actors, just talented young people will all compete for that one cash prize. It should be fun."

    Young people interested in competing in Youth Extravaganza must register like everyone else before January 16, 2012. Registration forms can be collected at the Government Administration Building at the security desk. Forms can also be emailed to interested persons once requested via sxmcarnival@hotmail.com.

    "The future of Carnival depends on the inclusion of our young people either through direct involvement with the SCDF on our youth wing or through participation in SCDF events. It is vital that we allow them to be part of our festival. The SCDF holds firm to this principle an looks forward every year to giving them a night of their own. For Carnival 2012 that night will have a little more excitement to it and we can't wait," Johnson said.

  • Board of Financial Supervision visits Sint Maarten.

    cftvisitssxm18012012Philipsburg:--- The Board of financial supervision (College financial toezicht – Cft) visited Sint Maarten the last few days. Under the new chairmanship of prof. Age Bakker, the Board conducted meetings with the Finance Minister, Mr. Hiro Shigemoto, the Governor, Mr. Eugene Holiday, the Council of Ministers and Parliament. This was the first time the new member of the Board Mr. Richard Gibson and the new secretary of the Board, Mr. Kees van Nieuwamerongen participated in these meetings. It is expected that a new member of the board to replace Margo Vliegenhart, who has resigned, will be appointed shortly. During the visit a Memorandum of Understanding was signed with Sint Maarten and the Cft offices on Sint Maarten was opened.

    The opening of the office and the signing of the Memorandum of Understanding are the result of the further developing cooperation between Sint Maarten and Cft. This cooperation is of great importance to continue building up country Sint Maarten and foster sound public finances.

    During the meetings an array of topics were discussed, such as the budget, the accountability, corporate governance and financial management. It can be concluded that there has been progress on all areas, although at the same time there are still many challenges ahead. Currently Sint Maarten does not have an approved budget for 2012 as yet. Sint Maarten requested Cft to advise on the draft budget, before submitting this to Parliament. Cft is pleased that Sint Maarten decided to do so. In this way Parliament will be informed of the Cft views on the draft budget, and will be in a position to include this in their deliberations. The expectation is that the draft budget will soon be presented to Parliament and Cft hopes that the budget will soon be adopted. A fast adoption of the budget 2012 means also that preparations for budget 2013 can be started timely, in order for these to be adopted within the legal terms.

    The budget 2012 will have to be executed under difficult economic conditions. Economic and financial uncertainty is eminent worldwide. It may therefore be necessary to adjust the budget during 2012. In addition the Cft indicated to the government the risks in the multi-year budget as far as pensions and social security is concerned. Countries all over the world are confronted with increasingly unmanageable costs in these areas, other than was originally expected when these systems were designed. It is therefore prudent to obtain timely insight on these matters on Sint Maarten and to plan to effectively cope with potential problems. Cft welcomes the fact that Sint Maarten is taking steps to significantly improve the tax system. The Board has recommended the Council of Ministers to also consider adopting a dividend policy for government owned companies. This will contribute to transparency and proper allocation of all public funds. Parliament however, is the ultimate decision maker as far as this is concerned.

    Sint Maarten is a young country that is working on building its institutional capacity and developing its general financial management. So there is at present a backlog in the preparation and auditing of financial statements. It is important to complete and audit financial statements of the past. Cft is pleased to have learned that the financial statement 2010 is completed and has been submitted to the required advisory bodies. In a wider context, Cft has emphasized the importance of the adoption of the Public Expenditure Framework Assessment (PEFA) as the basis for a roadmap to strengthen financial management in future. This process should in the end lead to a financial management that is in compliance with internationally acceptable standards. This will support institutions such as Parliament to carry out its role. Cft applauds these steps that Sint Maarten is taking in this area. The building-up of a country brings along challenges for the government and the leadership of the country.

    With the opening of the new office and the close cooperation Cft is confident in the future of Sint Maarten.

  • Imbali reruns Baba-Yaga and hosts clown workshop.

    babayaga19012012Philipsburg:--- On the heels of a successful first run last December Imbali Center for Creative Movement and Albina Matuzko are bringing the theatrical production Baba-Yaga back for a final run on Saturday, January 28, at 8pm.
    This event will be staged at the John Larmonie Center on Longwall Road and cost for admittance is $15.
    Baba-Yaga is a production which has been performed for international audiences to much acclaim and which also received appreciative reviews from local audiences. The story unfolds through the perspective of Matuzko's clown character Klusha, who identifies with Baba-Yaga, even though she is a well-known Slavic mythological character known for being "mad, bad, dangerous, haglike and ugly."
    According to Matuzko, Klusha is fascinated by Baba-Yaga and wants to create a production which tells her story. However, as the production unfolds Klusha discovers that Baba-Yaga is not some external figure, but elements that live deep within her, thus the nature of the story is altered in the telling.
    "Klusha is drawn to Baba-Yaga's vulnerability. She, Baba-Yaga, is viewed as a lonely, wild, cantankerous sort of character, who is often used a scare tactic especially with young children, but those are elements that are within all of us, as Klusha discovers," Matuzko said.
    The production, which runs about one hour, draws audiences into Klusha's experiences as guided by Baba-Yaga and audiences are encouraged to go on an inner journey of laughter, tears and discoveries.
    In addition to restaging the production Matuzko, in collaboration with Imbali Center for Creative Movement will be hosting a clown workshop for five consecutive Saturdays or Sundays, depending on participants' preference, starting February 11 or 12 between 10am- 1pm.
    Matuzko said that a clown is "a master at the art of life. S/he exists within everyone of us. Discovering your own clown means bringing more joy, love and pleasure to your life. It also means being able to connect with yourself and others from one heart to another."
    "The course is an invitation for you to empower yourselves, empty your busy heads, open your minds and go to the source of energy in your gut and the follow the senses in your hearts," Matuzko said.
    She explained that games, dance and contact with other participants would incorporated into the workshop.
    "By following impulses and acting in the moment you will discover the magic and power of improvising. You can re-experience your spontaneity, imagination, freedom and playfulness. You will learn to embrace your mistakes and have fun, to take risks; conquering fears. And if you are able, at the end, to laugh at the beauty of your own ridiculousness your lives will seem much easier," Matuzko said.
    According to Reyes no previous experience in clowning is necessary in order to be a participant in the 5 week course. Matuzko said that the course is a basic one which would be good for the development of individuals from all walks of life.
    "This course is especially useful for teachers, nurses and doctors, managers, leaders, politicians, policemen, officials, housewives, papas and mama, basically everybody who is in daily contact with other people. Artists of all kinds of performing arts can also enrich their own creative personalities by taking this course," she said, "You don't have to be smart, brave, or funny and it is absolutely great if you think you are far from perfect, just come out and give the workshops a try."
    Aspects of focus include the development of clown character, emotions, and routines, clowning for special purposes including at hospitals and street performances and finally stage-clowning.
    For more information concerning both the restaging of Baba-Yaga and the clown workshop please contact Matuzko at albinka_k@hotmail.com, or facebook: Albina Matuzko or 588-4439. or www.klusha.blogspot.com.
  • Rockstars for Nature Fundraiser Generates funds for Nature Foundation Snorkel Club.

    rockstarsfornaturefundraiser20012012The Rockstars for Nature Fundraiser in support of the Nature Foundation after school activities program Snorkel Club managed to generate over four thousand dollars towards Nature Education on St. Maarten. The fundraising, which was organized by Stephanie Reed, Free Lance Grant Writer and Fundraiser at the Nature Foundation, generated significant revenue which will allow the Nature Foundation to expand its After School and in-school Nature Education Programs.
    "One of our main tasks here at the Nature Foundation is to generate awareness and interests in the environment for the youth in order to instil pride in their local environment. In the past we ran our after school activity program on a shoestring budget but now, through the generous donation of the business community, we will be able to broaden our programs and offer them more sustainably," commented Tadzio Bervoets, Nature Foundation Manager.
    The Board and staff would like to give express their sincerest thanks to all those who were involved in the Nature Foundation, particularly the local band Orange Grove, who have supported the program to the fullest and who have generously offered to extend 10% of their merchandise sale towards the Nature Foundation Youth Program. The Nature Foundation would also like to thank F.K.G. Marine Rigging & Fabricating N.V. St. Maarten , Different Real Estate, Pricewaterhouse Coopers, VanDorp, Simpson Bay Marina/IGY Marinas, Carib Broadcasting Island 92Henderson Insurances, Porto Cupecoy, La Bamba Beach Bar, Port de Plaisance Marina, Pineapple Pete, Fusion Restaurant, Harley Davidson St. Maarten/Super Bikes, 12-metre Challenge, Local Lift Happy Hour Charters, The Scuba Shop, ReadyForJade, Top Carrot café, Island Water World, Xperts Hair Salon, Port de Plaisance Resort, Trakx Design, Mark Yokoyama, Percy Rankin, Ku-J, Photographer for Nature Gierdre Lesmonaite, Claudienne Peterson, Ronny Santana and band, and the I-tal Shack.
    The Nature Foundation will be launching the 2012 Snorkel Club in March which will run for a period of six weeks.
  • Cooperating Foundations open their SXM office and finance furniture for White and Yellow Cross to the tune of Naf. 73, 368.00.

    The SXM advisory Board of funding Agency Samenwerkende Fondsen/ Cooperating Foundations of the Dutch Caribbean has decided to make it easier for foundations and associations with good plans to approach them with requests for funding. Besides email contact NGO's can now make an appointment to discuss their plans in a new office on Backstreet, behind the Catholic Rectory and opposite Sheika's/Cultural Community Center. Newly appointed project advisors Mr. Leon Lake and Mrs. Saskia Kliphuis will be available on Wednesday and Friday afternoons, in evenings and Saturdays, to accommodate the often busy board members of our lively St. Maarten NGO field. On Saturday January the 28th the new office will be officially opened by the Advisory Board of St Maarten and Mr. Etienne Ys, general advisor of the Cooperating Foundations.
    Cooperating Foundations, is a collaboration between 5 Dutch funding agencies, namely Skanfonds, Oranje Fonds, Stichting Kinderpostzegels, Fonds Sluytermans van Loo and Innovatiefonds Zorgverzekeraars. Aiming at strengthening society and living up to the motto "Together we participate, together we are stronger", the collaborating Funding Agencies strive to support projects in the Dutch Caribbean that focus on community development, or target children, youngsters and senior citizens. Other focal points are: poverty alleviation, relief for vulnerable groups and projects catering to volunteers and persons with a handicap or a chronic disease.
    Assisting White and Yellow Cross with furniture neatly falls within the scope of the objectives of Cooperating Funds. Bregje Boetekees of White and Yellow Cross will gladly accept the cheque of Naf 73.368,00 on Saturday.
    Foundations that would like to hand in a request for funding can contact the project advisors on 5860808 or email to samfondsxm@gmail.com.
  • Windward Islands Bank named “The Best Bank of 2011”.

    wibbestbank201130012012The Windward Island Bank Ltd. was named best bank of 2011. Voters "could cast their vote online via www.thedailyherald.com and no less than 1,182 made use of this possibility, while many others still chose to bring in filled-out hard copies. The "Best Of" issue appeared in the Tuesday, January 31st edition of the Daily Herald Out 'n about" as stated by the Daily Herald.

    The Windward Island Bank Ltd wishes to thank the general public for such an acknowledgement and the Daily Herald for organizing and coordinating the "Best Of" in 2011.

  • New Year’s Message from Vice Prime Minister Theo Heyliger.

    theyliger23122011My fellow Sint Maarteners, residents, and friends of Sint Maarten,

    The sun has set on 2011, and with great anticipation the dawn of 2012 has arrived. My wish for the people of this great island is one of peace and goodwill. It is a message that I hope will resonate in your homes, communities and work places throughout the year that stretches before us.

    In 2011, Government diligently pursued its stated mission and objectives as outlined in our Governing Program "A Foundation of Hope for Our Country," in order to elevate the quality of life around Sint Maarten. Government's policies, programs and projects have continued to touch the lives of the people despite facing some very difficult challenges, nevertheless, we have prevailed.

    I would like to take this opportunity to thank the general public and motorists in particular as well as our visitors for their patience and endurance during a number of infrastructural works that took place throughout the past year. The projects were executed at the same time unfortunately due to the timeline set by the Dutch Government with respect to utilizing the available development aid funds before the end of 2011. If they were not utilized the country would not have been able to make use of those monies.

    2011 was a difficult year as turmoil in the international economy continued to affect us here; however, I must also say that we are fortunate when compared to some other countries that are experiencing severe economic decline, protest and riots, salary cuts, massive unemployment, reduced government services, public sector job cuts, huge debts and budgetary deficits.

    Government is cognizant of the difficulties and challenges that some families, households and the business community had to go through in 2011. Ways and means will be looked at in 2012 to lessen the burden where and if possible.

    At the same time, we must recognize the positive developments such as increased cruise tourism, additional increased airlift from airlines, the clean-up of Mullet Bay, interests shown in the development of boutique hotels, interests shown in the development of medical tourism on the island. I am looking forward to seeing some of these developments lead to concrete plans and the additional creation of employment and business opportunities for our people.

    I must caution the nation that 2012 is forecasted to be a difficult year for the global community of nations. Many economists predict a recession in Europe and a deepening global recession.

    Governments have been forced to slash budgets and the people have been asked to make more sacrifices in 2012 which are needed in order to ensure the future of generations. Measures taken in Europe and the US are anticipated to lead to those economies growing again in the coming years.

    As we look forward to 2012, we are committed in building and developing our country. Despite the global economic challenges, we must continue to work to extend economic opportunities and prosperity to all, and to work together to address the issues that confront our people.

    We must recommit ourselves to the ideals of peaceful co-existence, tolerance and respect for life and property. Let us as a country resolve to make this great nation of ours even stronger in 2012.

    2012 calls on all concerned to come together to work on a new level to move our nation forward.

    I call on the trade union movement, employers and employees to have a new approach for 2012 where more understanding for each other's positions is achieved through negotiation and discussions resulting in a win-win for both parties and stakeholders.

    Government renews its pledge to continue to work diligently in handling the challenges that are confronting our country in 2012. We will leave no stone unturned to find solutions that will continue to open up opportunities for our people.

    I would like to use this opportunity to thank all those whose support and prayers I have enjoyed throughout the past year.

    I extend to the nation, very best wishes for 2012, and that you enjoy good health, success, opportunity and prosperity in this New Year and beyond.

    May God continue to bless Sint Maarten.

    Hon. Theo Heyliger

    Vice Prime Minister

    Minister of Public Housing, Spatial Development, Environment & Infrastructure

  • Parents and motorists reminded to observe rules related to safe school bussing.

    Great Bay (DCOMM):--- Thousands of students went back to school on Tuesday after the Christmas/New Year's holiday vacation came to an end.

    The School Bus Inspection Section is reminding all motorists to observe the traffic rules as school.

    Motorists must be observant while driving behind a school bus as well as oncoming traffic. Look for pre-warning flashing amber lights, red flashing signals, a stop-signal arm on the side of the bus, or a strobe light mounted on the roof. These are all tools used by the bus driver to indicate that the school bus is going to stop.

    All school bus drivers are reminded to follow the dress code while transporting school children to and from school; secondly, to also deal with un-rudely school children according to the code of conduct while being bused to school or home.

    The School Bus Inspection section is also appealing to parents to speak with their children about proper behavior while being transported on a school bus to and from school.

    Everybody has to abide by the rules and regulations governing the safe transport of school children in order to ensure an incident free ride.

    Parents need to be observant of what's in their child's school bag. In the past school children were caught carrying potential weapons and other things in their bags which do not belong there.

    Anybody who sees any unusual behavior on or with a school bus is encouraged to report this to the Inspection Section at telephone number 542-4511 or 542-4509.

  • New Year’s message by Prime Minister Sarah Wescot-Williams.

    swescotwilliams22072011The first full calendar year as a country is behind us.

    At this time it is usually expected that we cast a fleeting look on what is behind us as we contemplate on what is before us. In looking behind, we must guard against dwelling too long on what should've been, as all our focus is needed to look and plan ahead. To be truthful, in St. Maarten's case, the look back does not reveal any big bangs or "shock and awe" type of events.

    While some might regret this, I see it differently. Shock and awe could have also been created by events that could have had a dramatic and negative impact on our country. This we have not had and I am grateful for that.

    Yes, we have had our share of struggles and squabbles, some near calls, but nothing close to the upheavals that rocked other countries, near and far.

    To suggest that we even approached such chaos , would be ungrateful and bordering on selfish wishing for self-fulfilling prophesies.

    Still looking back, what is undeniable, are the small and stable steps we have made during this first full year as country.

    This is evident as we look back on the government organization in general and the new ministries and departments in particular.

    I experienced our constitution coming to life, slowly but surely. This document represents the people and their government. It establishes freedoms and limits, bedrocks against any undemocratic tendencies.

    Government workers throughout the organization have stepped up to the plate and many have gone beyond the call of duty to ensure the successful start as country. But we are not there yet.

    Government's decision-making has become much more transparent, with the publication requirement for all ordinances, national decrees and ministerial decrees.

    Dialogue has taken on new meaning, as the Parliament of our country set out to hear and dialogue with organizations, big and small, with respect for the opinion of others.

    In the area of foreign affairs, we have planted seeds, the fruits of which we will reap in the coming year and beyond. In the area of health care, the institution created to succeed the former SVB e.g., has hit the ground running. Gone are the long lines and the even longer waiting time for services.

    With the termination of Dutch development aid on the horizon, St. Maarten has established its own NGO financing platform, a vehicle to properly guide social funding to the most needy in our community.

    The Community Helpdesk Initiative has taken shape and the first one in St. Peters is up and running.

    The last months of 2011 have been in the light of many infrastructural projects. This is to continue in 2012, where we will also see new projects coming on stream, such as the hospital expansion, school and road constructions.

    Tourism is slowly on the rebound and the additional airlift into St. Maarten is a sign of such.

    It was pleasing to witness a stronger police presence on our island during the holiday season, a sign that the much needed expansion of our police force is underway. Nevertheless, fighting crime committed against residents and visitors remains a top priority of government in this new year. I commend the citizens who have assisted the police force with information that was helpful in solving acts of crime. I trust that the police force in handling this information will protect those citizens to ensure an even further strengthening of the trust between the police and the citizenry.

    Investments in St. Maarten, from government's perspective, must be with the ultimate objective to contribute to the further economic growth of the nation and thus the overall wellbeing of our people.

    At the same time, we take note of the mixed predictions regarding the global outlook for 2012. There is some optimism, at least as far as the travel and tourism industries are concerned. We know "a thing or two" about this industry and should pursue growth opportunities and growing markets relentlessly.

    Predictions for the US economic growth, still our main source market, put this growth anywhere between 2.0 and 3%, notwithstanding its internal budget woes and it is generally expected that the US economy will hold its ground against a predicted continued, possible escalated European recession in 2012.

    Global peace remains fragile, with turmoil in many parts of the world that should be viewed with great concern by all nations of the world.

    It is these outlooks that St. Maarten faces and must contend with as we welcome a new year. A year of many uncertainties, yes, but also opportunities if we focus on what is important for St. Maarten and the roads that will take us there. For every individual, personal or professional, there is with every beginning, whether a new year, a new month, or even a new day, the opportunity to start anew, with renewed vigor and determination, not dwelling for too long on what you should have done, but rather on what you will do.

    So it is for our entire nation:

    SLOWLY BUT STEADILY, STAYING THE COURSE.

    Happy New year!

  • Twenty-five years on: St. Maarten Academy still producing stellar CXC results. By Kim Lucas-Felix

    sxmacademygraduation11012012Cul De Sac:--- It was a fitting way to close one calendar year and look forward to another, as 83 proud graduates of St. Maarten Academy took their final walk as students and emerged as new leaders for a better St. Maarten.
    That last school night in December 2011 also marked another momentous occasion for the school – its 25th anniversary of offering the Caribbean Examination Council (CXC) exams.
    Like the institution that nurtured them, the group, with Tamara Reid as valedictorian, embodied the theme, "Believe It and Achieve It". The St. Maarten Academy started in 1986, believed in its ability to be a leading institution of education on the island, and has proudly achieved 25 years.
    At its annual commencement ceremony on December 14, 2012, Principal Shareed Hussain took the opportunity to reflect on the years since the school's inception and the people who helped to shape its destiny.
    "From the time the St. Maarten Academy was born, this noble institution believed that it had to make valuable contributions to the development of this island. Today, if you examine the offices of government, the legal system, tourism industry, business, education, healthcare, you will find students of the St. Maarten Academy performing. The school will continue to play a significant role in providing the human capital for the advancement of this island as we strive to build our nation in the coming years.
    "To believe in something can be easy, but to achieve it can be a very challenging and daunting task. We at the St. Maarten Academy have always believed in excellence and over the years, we continue to achieve it. We travel this path because we have the indomitable spirit to stay focused amidst all obstacles, the unwavering commitment to work very hard, and the unshakeable faith and trust in the Almighty God. These ingredients provide the platform from which we launch our drive to achieve what we believe in," Hussain said to a gathering that included Acting Governor Reynold Groeneveldt; Education Minister, Dr. Rhoda Arrindell; and Finance Minister Hiro Shigemoto.
    Hussain said the Class of 2011 exemplified the principles of the school and like previous years, produced outstanding results at the May/June 2011 Caribbean Examination Council (CXC) examinations.
    For the first time, seven students passed a total of 12 subjects. Hussain made it a point to note that all students graduating from the institution sit the examination only once and write their subjects at the same time. Other outstanding performances included 21 students passing 10 subjects, an equal number passing nine subjects, nine students passing eight subjects, and four students passing seven subjects. Just three students passed only six subjects, still surpassing the required five subjects needed to enter most colleges and universities.
    The achievement of the students, he said, would not have been possible without "a fantastic team of teachers"
    "They have the expertise, patience and determination to bring out the very best in our students."
    Hussain reflected on the early struggles to start the CXC programme. "A quarter century ago, we at the St. Maarten Academy believed that affiliation with the regional examination board, the Caribbean Examination Council, was the correct way to go for our students. We worked very hard to convince the educational authorities of the then Netherlands Antilles that the CXC certification was worldwide recognized and achievable by our students.
    "We had our trials and tribulations to convince all that we were doing the right thing. We used our indomitable spirit and courageous tenacity to achieve that goal and we shall continue to pursue greater educational goals to take this institution to greater heights beyond comparison."
    Among the pioneers who fought to establish CXC on the island were Mr. Macdonald Alexander (principal), Mrs. Patricia Lourens (vice-principal), Mrs. Josianne Fleming-Artsen (vice president of the school board and educational advisor), Ms. Velda James (Mathematics teacher), Mrs. Solange Duncan (Spanish teacher), Mr. Wellington Archibald (Biology and Information Technology teacher), Mr. Henry Thomas (Art teacher), and Mr. Hussain (then Physics, Mathematics and Information Technology teacher).
    "As our young nation moves forward, we at the St. Maarten Academy believe in education for self-reliance, self-determination, and liberation. We believe that we are going to achieve these goals because we plan purposefully, prepare prayerfully, proceed positively, and pursue persistently," Hussain told the gathering in the school's auditorium.
    Former Academy student and media personality Cedric Peterson delivered the feature address, while Minister Arrindell expounded on the theme chosen by the Class of 2011. Mr. Van Dijk Bell, president of the school board, outlined future programmes, including advanced secondary education that will soon be offered at the institution.
    Valedictorian Tamara Reid also copped the Principal's Prize for her outstanding contribution to the school, as well as the "Most Outstanding Business Student" award. The first runner-up was Solomon Hosein, while Shakimo Martinus received the honour of second runner-up, as well as the "Most Outstanding Science Student" award.
    The Principal's Prize for outstanding academic performance went to Dorvanique Cocks, Derina Jean, and Atwanna Voglezon; while Jagdeo Gumbs and Chesley Augustine were named Most Athletic Male and Female Student, respectively.
  • Senior Citizens and Pensioners Association to Present Petitions on Friday.

    smspamembersandhermanwiels12012012Philipsburg:--- The St. Maarten Seniors and Pensioners Association (SMSPA) intends to submit at least three petitions on Friday to the Council of Ministers, the Kingdom Council of Ministers, and to the Members of Parliament that are currently meeting on St. Maarten.
    The vice president of the SMSPA Raymond Jessurun informed its members on Thursday that they have been meeting with other social partners throughout this week planning their way forward. Jessurun said the seniors and pensioners are demanding equality and denouncing the discrimination against their members. It should be noted that the SMSPA requested to meet with the Members of Parliament during the Inter-parliamentary meetings but their request was denied.
    Ever since then, the SMSPA has decided to mobilize its members while they invited a group of persons representing seniors and pensioners on Curacao that are facing the same issues as the SMSPA. During the meeting on Thursday members of the Chamber of Labour Unions attended and Member of Parliament of Curacao Herman Wiels showed up at the WIFOL building where the informative meeting was held to show his support for the elderly.
    In the petitions, the SMSPA informed the Kingdom Council of Ministers that it is the responsibility of the Netherlands to implement the social application of securities in a non discriminatory manner.
    The SMSPA highlighted the CESCR treaty which states that it is the responsibility of the Kingdom Government to guarantee the rights in its entirety in all parts of the Kingdom of the Netherlands without restrictions and exceptions.
    They said that on behalf of their members and their families and the people of St. Maarten they want them to put an end to the discriminatory systems of health care and the social provisions in the Kingdom. Equal rights should be guaranteed to all citizens despite where they choose to live, the petition states.

    Click here to view the SMSPA petition to the Kingdom Council of Ministers.

    Click here to view the SMSPA petition to the St. Maarten Council of Ministers.

  • Rotary Club of St. Maarten gets help for the Ahead School of Excellence from US Rotary Clubs, Methodist Church, and Regent Cruise Line --- “Dushant Ji speaks to Rotarians about the art of living during lunch meeting at Sundial School Restaurant”.

    rotarydonatestoahead12012012Philipsburg:--- The AHEAD Center of Excellence in St Maarten a school for children with learning challenges (autism) and other issues that do not allow them to attend regular public education, received supplies and funds from Dade City Rotary Club which partnered with Rotary International's District 7020 in the Caribbean (Rotary Club of St. Maarten), the East Side 8 (Pasco County, Florida) Rotary Clubs, First United Methodist Church of Zephyrhills and Regent Seven Seas Cruise Lines. School supplies were gathered and shipped to Regent's headquarters for loading aboard the Seven Seas Navigator in January. Dade City Rotarian John Wheeler coordinated the collections and delivered the donated supplies to the school with assistance from Regent and St. Maarten Rotary Club President Rebecca Low, board members Henna Budhrani , Pierre Decelles and Maria Buncamper-Molanus during the Navigator's Western Caribbean cruise port call.
    Eleven boxes of school supplies were provided and shipped (at a discount) with the donated funds to Regent Seven Seas Cruises headquarters in Miami. The Vice President of Guest Services, Gair O'Neill, arranged to have the supplies loaded aboard the SS Navigator on January 6th, the departure date of a Caribbean cruise. Henna Budhrani of the Rotary Club of St. Maarten identified the needs of the school and made the arrangements on St. Maarten in anticipation of the SS Navigator's arrival on January 11th.
    Dade City, Florida, USA Rotarian Captain John Wheeler, USN/ret, initiated the idea after seeing the need on a previous Regent Cruise up the Amazon. Working with the Caribbean Rotary Coordinator the school and local coordinator Mrs. Budhrani, needs were identified and the generosity of Rotarians became a reality.
    dushantji12012012The Rotary Club of St. Maarten thanks captain John Wheeler and join him in thanking Date City, San Antonio, Wesley Chapel, Zephyrhills Daybreak and Dade City Sunrise, First Methodist Church of Zephyrhills, Village Grove Home Owners Association, Goin Postal and Regent Corporate Office and the captain and crew of Regent's SS Navigator.
    The supplies include such items as letter-size (8.5x11) white paper, Wipe out/Whiteout, manila folders (letter size), black, blue, and red pens, pencils, coloring pencils, White Board markers, index cards, construction paper of different sizes, note books, rulers, colored magnets of different sizes, scissors (large & art size), staplers & staples, and elastic bands.
    The project was concluded at the lunch meeting of the club held at the Sundial School's Restaurant. Guest speaker at this meeting was Art of Living teacher and Chairman Dushant Ji who spoke to all present about overcoming stress, depression and violent tendencies.
    Rotary Club of St. Maarten would like to commend the Sundial School for hosting the large group of 41 persons at the recently renovated "learning "restaurant and encourages the general public to visit the school's restaurant for lunch on Wednesdays and Thursdays.
  • 55 PARLIAMENTARIANS, THE DUTCH REPRESENTATIVE, THE PRIME MINISTER AND THE VICE-PRIME MINISTER RECEIVED PETITION FROM SOCIAL ORGANIZATIONS.

    smspagivespetitiontodutchrep16012012Philipsburg:--- On the last day of the Inter-Parliamentary Kingdom Consultations (Friday January 13, 2012) a small delegation of the social organizations of Sint Maarten, delivered the petitions endorsed by their members, in the meeting of Thursday afternoon in the WIFOL, to the Parliamentarians of the IPKC, the Dutch representatives, the Prime Minister and the Vice Prime Minister.

    The three coordinators of the unity of action of the social organizations 1^ Vice-President of WICLU Claire Elshot, 1* vice-president of the SMSPA Raymond Jessurun and Presdident of SUNFED Alberto Bute signed and delivered the petitions on behalf of the (WICLU) Windward Island Chamber of Labor Unions, the (UFA) United Federation of Antilles, the (WIFOL) Workers Institute For Organized Labor / (ASEWI) Association of Staff Employees of Windward Islands, (WITU) Windward Islands Teachers Union, (ABVO-SXM) Algemene Bond Voor Overheidspersoneel - SXM, (WICSU/PSU) Windward Island Civil Servants Union / Private Sector Union, (SMSPA) Sint Maarten Seniors and Pensioners Association, (HAFH) Home Away From Home Foundation, (SUNFED) Sint Maarten United Non-governmental Organizations Fedration, and the (BBF) Building Bridges Foundation,

    At 10 am the coordinators of the social organizations handed their petition to add an agenda point on the following Parliamentary Kingdom Consultation to the delegation leaders of the Parliaments of Sint Maarten, Aruba and Curacao, the Netherlands, and to each one of the 55 members of Parliament. The social organizations asked the parliamentarians to cooperate to end the unequal discriminatory realization of all human rights in the Kingdom of the Netherlands, especially our right to health care, our right to social protection, our right to an adequate standard of living, wherever we choose to live in the Kingdom.
    The proposed agenda point was later presented by the Sint maarten Parliamentary delegation leader Roy Marliin. He read the proposed agenda point of the social organizations, which was : "Cooperation for the full realization of the economic, social and cultural rights, to guarantee all these rights without discrimination of any kind throughout the Kingdom."
    Chairlady Gracita Arrindell translated the agenda point in Dutch. But the Dutch parliamentary delegation had objections to put this agenda point on the agenda of the following IPKC. The Aruba delegation leader then came to the rescue of the proposal and suggested to have this proposal discussed in the Presidium which is the presidents of the parliaments of the four countries in the Kingdom.
    The social organizations even put the text of Article2 the International Covenant Economic Social Cultural Rights to argue for their agenda point.
    2.1. Each State Party to the present Covenant undertakes to take steps, individually and through international assistance and co-operation, especially economic and technical, to the maximum of its available resources, with a view to achieving progressively the full realization of the rights recognized in the present Covenant by all appropriate means, including particularly the adoption of legislative measures. 2.2. The States Parties to the present Covenant undertake to guarantee that the rights enunciated in the present Covenant will be exercised without discrimination of any kind as to race, colour, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other status.
    DUTCH REPRESENTATIVE
    The coordinators of the social organizations platform then visited the Dutch representative in the island of Sint Maarten. The petition was received and registered and the Dutch representative assured that the Minister of Internal Affairs and Kingdom relations will receive this letter. In the letter addressed to all ministers of the Kingdom Council of Ministers, the social organizations are requesting all 14 Dutch ministers and the three Minister Plenipotenciaries of the Caribbean countries in the Kingdom, to put an end to the discriminatory systems of health care and social provisions in the Kingdom of the Netherlands and to guarantee all citizens of the Kingdom equal rights wherever we want to live in the Kingdom of the Netherlands. As poverty is a violation of the human right to an adequate standard of living for one's health and wellbeing and of our dignity, we demand of the Kingdom Council of Ministers, as is required from all State parties that ratified this International Covenant, to take steps "to the maximum of its available resources" to guarantee us equal rights.
    PRIME MINISTER Sarah Wescot Williams and VICE-PRIME MINISTER Theo Heyliger received a copy of the letter that was first registered by the coordinators at the secretariat of the council of Ministers. In their petition to the Council of Ministers of Sint Maarten the social organizations request the Council of Ministers to instruct the Minister Plenipotenciarey to table the unequal realization of human rights on the agenda of the Council of Ministers of the Kingdom meeting. "As poverty is a violation of the human right to an adequate standard of living for one's health and well being and of our dignity, and cognicent of the fact that with the CFT and the limited balanced budget of Sint Maarten we cannot come out of poverty. We support you the government of Sint Maarten in your demand of the Kingdom Council of Ministers, as is required from all State parties that ratified this International Covenant, to take steps "to the maximum of its available resources" to guarantee us equal rights."
    Monday January 16 the leadership of the social organizations will evaluate the outcome of this Inter-Parliamentary Kingdom. They will then decide on follow up actions to be taken when they meet again at 6 pm at the WITU office.

  • Shigemoto: Sint Maarten and CFT to Intensify Cooperation by Signing MOU; CFT to Open Branch Office.

    Philipsburg:--- On Tuesday Minister of Finance Hon. Hiro Shigemoto and the Committee of Financial Supervision (CFT) Chairman Age Bakker, will jointly open the Sint Maarten CFT Office.

    Minister Shigemoto has been championing the opening of such an office on Sint Maarten which would lead to a closer and improved working relationship between the CFT and the Ministry of Finance.

    The intensified cooperation will be cemented into a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) to also be signed on Tuesday afternoon between the Minister and the CFT.

    The Council of Ministers (CoM) during its Tuesday cabinet meeting will be officially introduced to the new chairman of the CFT Age Bakker and Sint Maarten member Richard Gibson.

    During the CoM meeting with the CFT, after the formal introduction, a number of issues will be discussed such as the 2012 national budget, the Public Expenditures and Financial Accountability (PEFA) report, the MOU, opening of the CFT Office and the 2010 Annual Accounts.

    "We have reached a very important milestone in the relationship between Sint Maarten and the CFT. Besides having the CFT physically established on the island with their own staff and office, the MOU is another major step in the relationship with this body.

    "The objective of the MOU is to provide a framework in the development cooperation between our country and the CFT. Both parties understand the need for more intensive cooperation, mutual positions and responsibilities.

    "The main intention is not to increase the administrative burden that results from accountability for the country, but to provide a basis for help and support provided by the CFT to the country's entire planning and control cycle up to par," Minister of Finance Hon. Hiro Shigemoto said on Monday.

    The MOU is based on the recognition that:

    • Sint Maarten is a new country that has to work on the quality of the institutions governing it;
    • Lasting sound financial policy and an enduring quality of financial management on Sint Maarten are the objectives of both parties;
    • Achieving this asks for a close cooperation between both parties;
    • Openness about the objectives and (im)possibilities of proposals, deadlines, improvements and policy-options of both parties, is best served by cooperation between both parties;
    • Knowledge and an understanding of the specific situation of Sint Maarten by the CFT is best reached by a physical presence in the country;
    • Both parties want to work together towards realizing their mutual goals.
  • Franca Presents Report on Royal Visit to Prime Minister.

    kfrancaandswescotwilliams18012012Philipsburg:--- The Chairman of the organizing committee Keith Franca who organized the visit of the Royal Family in November last year presented the final report on the visit on Wednesday to the Prime Minister of St. Maarten.
    Franca made the presentation to the Prime Minister on Wednesday shortly after the weekly press briefing. He told reporters that the financial reports was reviewed and vetted by Price Water Coopers (PWC). Franca said that the budget for the visit was provided by the government of St. Maarten and there remains an excess of funds of Naf. 71,000.00 which he also turned over to Prime Minister Sarah Wescot Williams.
    The Prime Minister thanked the committee for their work while she termed the Royal Visit a success.
  • Delegation of Mayor World Conference visits Council of Ministers; Prime Minister to be guest speaker on Friday.

    mayorworldconferencerepsvisicom19012012Great Bay (DCOMM):--- Prime Minister Sarah Wescot-Williams will be guest speaker during the joint luncheon of Mayor World Conference Inc (WMC), National Bar Association and the Judicial Council tomorrow, January 20.

    Johnny Ford, Founder, extended an invitation to Prime Minister Hon. Sarah Wescot-Williams for Sint Maarten to become a member of the WMC, an offer she accepted as it will ensure that the contact and the relationship established will remain and will be further worked out.

    On Thursday, January 19, a delegation of the WMC paid a courtesy visit to the Council of Ministers to discuss and explore possibilities of collaboration, exchange views about joint ventures with Sint Maarten in areas such as Youth, Sports, Public Health, Economic Development, Education and Tourism.

    The delegation is on the island for a site visit to plan an eventual seminar for the WMC, similar to the ones that are currently being held by the National Bar Association and the Judicial Council.

    WMC was founded in April 1984 as a non-profit organization with non-political affiliation. The following seven T's are the WMCs fundamental goals: trust, trade, tourism, technology, transfer, and treasury, training and twin city programs.

    Membership is not only limited to mayors, but to any elected or appointed public official.

    Both parties agreed that the issues in their respective country are basically the same, whether on a large or small scale and that being part of a platform and dialogue to address these matters and to exchange best practices will be an added value.

  • Country-wide road patch-works to start soon.

    Philipsburg:--- Country-wide road patch-works are tentatively scheduled to start before month-end, and to be carried out by Contractor MNO.

    Contractor MNO has a contract for Naf.1.28 million for road repairs.

    The contractor has already been busy grading the road near the Tropicana Casino and in the vicinity of Blue Point in Cole Bay. These road works started on Thursday.

    The road works will continue over the weekend that includes the installation of drainage cross over. Excess water from the building where Blue Point and several other businesses are located, will be channelled via a drainage system under the road to the existing storm-water drain.

    The road crossing is tentatively scheduled for Sunday morning at 6.00am with limited traffic disruption and the owner of the building is footing the bill for the repairs.

    Weather conditions may influence the road works. Motorists are asked to show caution in work zones.

    "The nation's road network system last year and so far for the New Year has been hit with heavy and persistent rainfall and this has created a number of pot holes throughout the country.

    "Every effort is being made by the staff in my Ministry to draft plans to repair our rain-hit roads within the shortest time possible.

    "I ask our community and in particular motorists to bear with us as these works are carried out in the coming weeks, and which will be carried out with as little inconvenience as possible.

    "I also would like to apologise to those who do experience some inconvenience," Vice Prime Minister and Minister of Public Housing, Spatial Development, Environment and Infrastructure Hon. Theo Heyliger said on Friday.

  • ESPN Acquires Rights to the Paulista and Brazilian Soccer Championships in Latin America and the Caribbean.

    Four-year agreement with Globo starts with 2012 season. Includes live transmission of up to 100 games per year to non-Portuguese speaking countries.
    ESPN International has signed an exclusive agreement with TV Globo for four seasons of the Paulista and Brazilian Championships. Under the agreement, ESPN can exclusively broadcast up to 100 games live via all means and media in Spanish speaking Latin America and the Caribbean.
    Tim Bunnell, Senior Vice President of Programming and Marketing for ESPN International said "we are very excited to announce our agreement with Globo which provides us with the ability to offer our sports fans in Latin America and the Caribbean year-round soccer content from two of the flagship soccer championships in the world".
    In addition, ESPN will broadcast the weekly program FootBrazil, which highlights the best plays and presents special interviews related to Brazilian soccer. This marks the first time in over a decade that ESPN will broadcast Brazilian soccer to the region.
    Countries in which ESPN will have the right to broadcast the games in Latin America and the Caribbean include: Argentina, Ascension Islands, Belize, Bermuda, Bolivia, Costa Rica, Chile, Colombia, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, Falkland Islands, French Guyana, Guatemala, Guyana, Honduras, Mexico, Nicaragua, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Suriname, Uruguay, Venezuela, and the Caribbean (excluding U.S. territories and possessions).
  • ESPN INTERNATIONAL PRESENTS TOBAGO INTERNATIONAL CYCLING CLASSIC 2011 --- Special Highlight Show Airs January 23 on ESPN’s Caribbean Networks.

    ESPN International will telecast a 30-minute highlight program showcasing the Tobago International Cycling Classic 2011, the first Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI)-sanctioned cycling race in the English-speaking Caribbean. The program debuts Monday, January 23 at 8:30 p.m. ET and again on Wednesday, January 25 at 2:00 p.m. ET on the ESPN Caribbean network it was announced by Bernard Stewart, Vice President and General Manager, ESPN Caribbean and Maritime Media.
    ESPN's highlight show will capture world class cyclists battling through the four-stage, 112-kilometer race across Tobago's challenging terrain. Top competitors include Austrians Ricardo Zoidl and Werner Riebenbauer, Raphael Meran of the Dominican Republic, German Mathias Wiele and Russian Sergei Tvetcov. The 2011 race took place September 28 to October 2.
    Jo Ankier, the former track star from the United Kingdom and sports presenter, will serve as on-air talent for the program. Mark Donaldson, ESPN commentator, will provide voiceover segments.
    "ESPN's Caribbean programming team continues to find opportunities for our Caribbean networks to air locally relevant events, while at the same time showcasing the Caribbean sport lifestyle to the world," said Stewart. "Cycling enthusiasts who have watched ESPN's coverage of major meets like the Tour De France and España are sure to enjoy the Tobago International Cycling Classic."
    "We were thrilled to work with ESPN on the Tobago International Cycling Classic," said Jeff Charles, president of Trinbago Wheelers, the organizer. "This was the 25th anniversary of the event and 152 cyclists participated, more than seventy percent of whom were from outside of the Caribbean. This represents a thirty percent increase in international participation from 2010."
  • Nature Fee introduced for visitors to Man of War Shoal Marine Park.

    manofwarshoalmarineparkmap21012012The St. Maarten Nature Foundation announces that as of Monday, the 23rd of January 2012, visitors to the Man of War Shoal Marine Park will have to pay a Nature Fee to be able to enter the Park. Based on the Ministerial Decree of the Minister TEATT on the designation of the Man of War Shoal Marine Park of December 30th 2010, and based on the Ministerial Appointment of the Nature Foundation August 15th 2011 (Bestuurscontract mbt Minister en Nature Foundation St. Maarten) and in accordance with the Landsbesluit Maritiem Beheer (LBMB 2007) and the St. Maarten Nature Conservation Ordinance (AB 2003) all non-resident visitors to the Marine Park have to pay a Nature Conservation Fee. This fee will be collected by the Nature Foundation and will go directly towards the management and maintenance of the Man of War Shoal Marine Park and other Dive Sites in the territorial Waters of St. Maarten.

    The fees are set at three dollars US ($3,-) for a daily pass and fifteen dollars US ($15,-) for a yearly pass. Residents are exempt from paying this fee. "This fee is for non-residents and visitors to the island. The Marine Park was established for the people of St. Maarten so we feel that they should not have to pay this fee. After lengthy negotiations and consultations with all Stakeholders, including a survey which was distributed to visiting divers we were able to arrive at a fee which was mutually accepted by all," commented Tadzio Bervoets, Nature Foundation Marine Park Manager. The Nature Conservation fee is similar to fees which are charged for the use of Marine Parks throughout the region and the world.

    Dive Centres on both sides of the island have been given the Nature Tags and are cooperating to facilitate the selling of the tags. The revenue generated through the sales of the tags will be dedicated to the Management of Marine Park infrastructure and educational programs related to the Man of War Shoals Marine Park and St. Maarten's unique underwater environment. For more information one can contact the Nature Foundation at 5444267 or via email at admin@naturefoundationsxm.org or manager@naturefoundationsxm.org.

  • Forms for filing taxes to be available at Inspectorate on Wednesday.

    Great Bay (DCOMM):--- The Inspectorate of Taxes of Sint Maarten would like to notify businesses that as of Wednesday, January 25, 2012, the various forms used for filing taxes can be picked up at the tax authority.

    The following forms for filing taxes will be available for pick-up: Wage tax and premium AOV/AWW, AVBZ; Turn over Tax; Profit tax; Room tax; Car rental tax; and Timeshare tax.

    Those picking up the aforementioned forms should bring along their crib number in order to facilitate the pick-up of the aforementioned documents.

    The Inspectorate is located at the Vineyard Building, Buncamper Road #33 and is open from 8:00am to 3:00pm. For additional information you can call 542-2143 or 542-5301.

  • SBRMC refused to give Workers Copies of Labour Contract --- Laveist.

    Philipsburg:--- Member of Parliament and former Commissioner of Labour Louis Laveist has issued a call to the government of St. Maarten to stop betraying the people of the island. Laviest said the people are being betrayed to the core when government allows a company to trample on the basic rights of the people. Laveist told reporters on Tuesday that the Simpson Bay Resort Management Company that is managed by one of his colleagues in Parliament Jules James has become so confident that he is now refusing to give the workers of SBRMC a copy of their labour contract. Laveist further explained that the SBRMC is in violation of the labour laws by refusing the workers a copy of their contract. Two weeks ago, the SBRMC decided to rehire some of the workers that are represented by the Workers Institute for Organized Labour. Several workers took the opportunity to reapply for their jobs.
    Laveist said that he believes that the leader of the United Peoples Party Theodore Heyliger is giving James full support in trampling on the constitutional rights of the workers. "From what I have been taught, silence gives consent and so far the UP leader has not spoken out against James and his actions." Laveist said the actions of the SBRMC management can considered as a slap in the face when they denied the workers a copy of their labour contract. "The action of SBRMC in my opinion is union busting and I therefore want to call on the unions to guard against the company successfully when they try to accomplish their goal." Laveist said that he does not want to see any form of labour unrest on St. Maarten but if the actions of SBRMC continues then labour unrest would be unavoidable he further stated that he hopes the union is paying close attention. Furthermore, the former Labour Commissioner said he believes that the unions on St. Maarten should join forces to fight against the injustice of the workers of SBRMC. "I am calling on the people to pay close attention to the constant violation of their rights and the constitution. In every other country government respects its people and I never thought that I would see the day when my government would put the rights and interests of the foreign investors ahead of the rights and interests of their own people. In my opinion, this is the greatest betrayal of the people by the United Peoples Party."
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  • Was it Planned? --- MP George Pantophlet.

    george21082009Member of Parliament George Pantophlet said that the no-show of the members of the coalition is evidence that there is dissent within their ranks. The issue of Mr. Jules being a Member of Parliament and at the same time General Manager of Simpson Bay Resorts although not illegal is an apparent conflict of interest and appears to be weighing heavily on the minds and conscience of his colleagues. There seems to be talks within his camp that he has on numerous occasions been asked to resign as a Member of Parliament and refused to do so. On the television program aired on Monday last when confronted by the host, he made it plain that he will be holding on to the two positions. The Member of Parliament said he does not need to remind Mr. Jules James of article 56 of the Constitution of Sint Maarten, the last paragraph which reads as follows: "I swear (promise) allegiance to the King and the Constitution of the Kingdom, that I shall always help to uphold the Constitution of Sint Maarten and that I shall champion the interests of Sint Maarten to the best of my ability. So help me Almighty God." Therefore, in whose interests is he maintaining both positions? As a Member of Parliament we are supposed to be the representatives of the people who have elected us, we are supposed to be their mouth piece, their defenders. This is not what is happening with this Member of Parliament but quite the opposite. On another note, interesting but not surprising to the Member of Parliament George Pantophlet was the relaxed demeanor displayed by the President of Parliament Gracita Arindell while waiting to commence the meeting. The President is one who is normally fidgety and overexcited if the Members do not sign the attendance list fast enough and the gesture such as pointing at her watch has become the order of the day. While the President of Parliament should be impartial the very fact that it is someone appointed from the midst of a political party leaves room for party politics and that is exactly what took place on Monday. A blind man could see that the President of Parliament was informed as to what was happening. There is no doubt as to who is in charge and that a delay strategy was applied on Monday. He will see what happens in the next meeting but is still asking the question, was it planned?
  • Payment Deadline for Post Office Boxes Extended.

    Postal Services St. Maarten NV (PSS) hereby would like to inform the general public that it will be extending the deadline for payment of PO Boxes up to and including February 29th, 2012, to allow all persons who have not yet paid their annual subscription fee for rent of their PO Box, to still be able to make payment without any penalties.

    PSS hereby is urging everyone who has not yet paid to make use of this opportunity to do so, without penalties.

    Payment of the PO Boxes can be made at either of our locations, in Philipsburg or Simpsonbay.

    For more information or questions, please contact the post office at 542 2289 or e-mail: info@pssnv.com.

  • Alex Gratama senior advisor with law firm VanEps Kunneman VanDoorne.

    alexagratama29012012Since September 2011, Alexa Gratama has been affiliated with law firm VanEps Kunneman VanDoorne as senior advisor. She will reinforce the Dutch Caribbean Desk in Amsterdam, where she is a member of the selection committee and represents the firm at conventions and with clients and relations. Furthermore, she provides professional support in the form of courses for the lawyers of the firm. In addition, Alexa has a Consultancy & Mediation practice.

    After eleven years as a lawyer in the Netherlands and two years as a judge in Breda, Alexa was a judge with the Common Court of Justice of the Netherlands Antilles and Aruba from 2005 until 2009. After her return to the Netherlands, she became associated with the Zutphen court, first as a judge and currently as deputy judge. She has also been an arbitrator with the Court of Arbitration for the Building Industry since January 1, 2012.

    Last week, Alexa was chairman of the "court" during the sessions constituting part of a mock trial organized by the law firm. These sessions took place in the conference room in Curaçao, but the offices in Aruba, Bonaire, and St. Maarten could also participate by means of the advanced videoconference system. The lawyers were given strategic clues to perfect their performance in the session. With her broad experience as a lawyer, judge, and mediator, Alexa was able to elucidate all sides of the litigation field.

  • Second Plenary session of Parliament on MP Jules James Cancelled at Request of NA Faction.

    Philipsburg:--- The second plenary public session of Parliament regarding the voting of Member of Parliament (MP) Hon. Jules James in a parliamentary session back in November 2011 that was scheduled for January 31 has been cancelled at the request of the National Alliance (NA) faction.

    The meeting was set to take place on Tuesday afternoon at 2:00pm in the General Assembly Chamber of the House of Parliament on Wilhelmina Straat #2.1 in Philipsburg.

    The NA faction sent a letter to the President of Parliament on Monday, January 30, 2012 saying they have withdrawn their request for the meeting.

    The NA faction requested the plenary session in its initial letter of early January to the President of Parliament.

    The first plenary session with respect to this agenda point was held on January 24, 2012, however due to a lack of a quorum, the meeting did not take place.

    The NA faction wanted to discuss the voting of MP Jules James on November 17, 2011 on a draft motion of the NA; the position of the NA that MP Jules James was not allowed to vote on the motion; the letter of the Governor of Sint Maarten to Parliament, dated December 5, 2011; and the reactions of the Chairlady of Parliament to the aforementioned.

  • SHTA requesting status on TOT.

    As a means to balance the 2011 budget, Finance Minister Hiro Shigemoto announced in December 2010 that the turnover tax (TOT) would be increased by two percentage points (from 3 % to 5%) effective February 11th 2011. Shortly thereafter, the St. Maarten Chamber of Commerce and Industry publicly endorsed government's proposed turnover tax increase only as a temporary measure for one year. The SHTA, on the other hand, condemned the move as a quick-fix method to balance the 2011 budget and suggested other ways to go about achieving a balanced budget.

    Following the Chambers endorsement, the turnover tax was increased to 5%, with the understanding that it would not be a permanent measure. This would give the ministry time to work on a new tax structure that was to be in place on January 1st 2012. The SHTA was asked to make a presentation on its views for the new tax structure. This was done in March 2011, with promised follow up by members of the Working Group New Tax System. To date, after repeated requests, SHTA has not received any update on the progress of the new tax structure.

    Recently, Minister Shigemoto announced that the 2012 budget will not be presented by the December 15th deadline but in the latter part of Jan 2012 or by March 1st 2012 at the latest; until such time the 2011 budget will be in use. In our opinion, this leaves the private sector -and in fact the entire population- with many unanswered questions: Is the TOT going back to 3% or finally being reduced to zero as it was a temporary measure to begin with? Is it going to stay at 5% or can we expect yet another increase? As SHTA has stated numerous times in the past, not knowing what the new fiscal policy will entail, will cause more damage to the economy, investors sit on the fence and wait, business do not give raises or extend contracts, nor can they forecast their own budgets adequately.

    SHTA is requesting clarification and an update on the new tax structure. It is crucial that the fiscal plans, which turnover tax is a part of, be finalized and disclosed to the population.

  • CPS urges parents and guardians to prepare healthy school snacks for kids throughout the New Year.

    Great Bay (DCOMM):--- The problem of overweight and obesity have reached epidemic proportions globally, and both developed and developing countries are seriously affected.

    In some countries, the epidemic of obesity sits alongside continuing problems of under nutrition, creating a double-burden of nutrition-related ill health among the population, including children.

    Nutrition related health problems in children are increasingly significant causes of disability and premature death worldwide, according to the World Health Organization (WHO).

    The St. Maarten Health Study, "How Healthy is St. Maarten,?" indicated that on a daily basis 31 per cent of the participants don't consume breakfast; 63 per cent don't consume vegetables and 66 per cent don't consume fruits. This is an indication that this lifestyle is also practice by their descendants.

    Collective Prevention Services (CPS), executing agency of the Ministry of Public Health, Social Development and Labour, therefore strongly recommends to parents and guardians to prepare healthy snacks for their children as of the beginning of the New Year and throughout the year. Healthy choices equal healthy children and healthy smiles!

    Improving the nutritional status of school-age children is an effective investment for improving educational outcomes of school children for the New Year.

    Establishing healthy dietary and physical activity patterns among young people thereby promotes health and nutritional well-being and preventing obesity and various non-communicable diseases.

    In making healthy foods and beverages available at home and for school, and in providing, supporting and encouraging opportunities for physical activity, parents can influence their children's behavior.

    Simultaneously parents are advised for the New Year to live and promote a healthy lifestyle because children's behavior is often shaped by observation and adaptation.

    Here are some tips for children and adolescents: provide healthy breakfast before each school day; don't leave home without breakfast; serve healthy school snacks to children (whole-grain, vegetables, fruits); promote the intake of fruits and vegetables.

    Restrict intake of energy-dense, micronutrient-poor foods (e.g. packaged snacks); restrict intake of sugars-sweetened soft drinks; ensure an opportunity for family meals; provide information and skills to make healthy food choices.

    Promote regular intake of water and physical exercise and get your child involved in sport activities.

  • St. Maarten Cable TV Announces Channel Changes For Digital Launch.

    Philipsburg:--- St. Maarten Cable TV today announces another step forward to upgrade the cable TV system to an all-digital platform this spring. To ensure that the digital channel line-up will be in place by the February 1, 2012 deadline, eight channels will be removed from the analog line-up on January 23, 2012.

    Effective January 23, 2012, the following channels will no longer be viewed on the analog channel line-up:
    • Channel 43- Animal Planet
    • Channel 47- DWTV
    • Channel 55- Bulletin Board
    • Channel 59- Carib Vision
    • Channel 64- Sony
    • Channel 66- TCM
    • Channel 68- CBC
    • Channel 69- Bloomberg

    St. Maarten Cable TV will begin the process of swapping customers' analog boxes to digital converters on February 1, 2012. From February 1, 2012 to May 1, 2012, customers are encouraged to visit the Business Office at Madame Estate to upgrade their service to digital. The 90-day swap period is essential for customers to be processed in an orderly fashion. During that transition period, the signal for most channels will be simulcast in both analog and digital to ensure that customers can continue to enjoy Cable TV. Customers with a digital converter will be able to view the aforementioned eight channels that will be removed from the analog line-up on January 23, 2012.
    The following two channels will also be relocated from their current position on January 23, 2012. Food Network will move from Channel 65 to Channel 47 and SPACE will move from Channel 58 to Channel 55.
    Beulah Jonis, Managing Director of St. Maarten Cable TV stated, "We apologize for any inconvenience this may cause our customers, however, we are very pleased with our progress to date as we prepare for our digital launch."

  • Dutch delegation Arrives for Kingdom Inter-parliamentary Conference.

    dutchdelegationarrivesonsxm08012012Philipsburg:--- Chairman of the Permanent Committee of Kingdom Affairs and Inter-parliamentary Relations Member of Parliament (MP) Hon. Roy Marlin and Secretary General of Parliament Jozef Semeleer, were at the Princess Juliana International Airport (PJIA) late Saturday afternoon to welcome the Dutch delegation who will be attending the Inter-parliamentary Kingdom conference that will take place from January 10 to 13, 2012.

    The Dutch delegation arrived on a charter flight from Saba.

  • CONSUL RAISES WHITE FLAG ON ST MAARTEN.

    pdecellesofficiallyopenswhiteflag10012012Officially opened by Pierre Decelles, the Canadian Consul on St. Maarten, the White Flag bar and restaurant perched on the rooftop of the Mega Yacht Mall has spectacular views. It also has smoked beef from Montreal.
    This Canadian delicacy has Jewish origins that became popular during the Roaring 20's. It quickly made a hit and invaded the corner cafes of Montreal's notorious St Lawrence Street
    Nathalie Sabourin, owner of White Flag is optimistic that the kosher smoked beef will make a culinary hit not only with Canadians and the Jewish community. "The beef is marinated in barrels before gently smoked for three days in oak fired ovens. We fly the beef directly once a month from Montreal and carefully steam it for two hours before hand slicing and serving in a rye bread sandwich."

    'Gastronomic'
    Pierre Decelles who tasted the smoked beef at the official opening of White Flag agrees that this latest addition to the island's choice of food on offer will make it even richer. I not only declare that the opening of the White Flag is official but also declare that the Montreal beef is gastronomic."
    "St Maarten is rapidly becoming a major tourist destination for Canadians who at this time of year need to escape temperatures of minus 40 degrees and are eager to taste Caribbean dishes as well as familiar home cuisine. With as many as thirteen flights per week that embrace St Maarten from each of our ten provinces, their presence at White Flag with its stunning panoramic views will be a memorable experience."

    Celine Dion
    One of Canada's most famous celebrities is Celine Dion from Quebec. Nathalie spoke to her recently at a golf course near Montreal and the famous singer promised to visit White Flag in the near future. "We talked about many usual things," says Nathalie, "The weather, children and restaurant business!"
    In addition to smoked beef normally served with a choice of coleslaw, homemade French fries and pickles, Nathalie's rooftop menu includes many Mediterranean dishes including a fine selection of Amuses Bouches.
    "I decided to name the restaurant White Flag because it is a symbol for surrender and to parlay. It's all about social communication and the emotional importance of sharing! Fun, fantasy and fascination are the conversations at White Flag."

  • Government offers condolences for the late Marius Gumbs.

    Great Bay:--- Minister responsible for Public Health Social Development & Labor, Cornelius De Weever extends words of comfort to the family and friends of the late Marius Lionel Gumbs, who was a former employee at the Ambulance Department.
    Marius Lionel Gumbs took up employment with the Ambulance Services in 1979 as an ambulance driver. At that time government had just taken over ambulance services from the police department, and the Ambulance Department was established. Mr. Gumbs worked for the department for 19 years, and was known as a dedicated worker.
    On June 17, 2011 Mr. Gumbs was given an honorary award of excellence for appreciation and dedication during Emergency Medical Services (EMS) week. Although he was retired he was always invited to and very much involved in activities held by the Ambulance Department.
    "On behalf of the people of St. Maarten I extend my deepest condolences to the family and friends of the late Marius "Lange" Gumbs. May his soul rest in eternal peace."
  • Governance success in the Caribbean through broad participation and constant information.

    OXFORD:--- The governments of small countries deliver excellent results when they involve as many local players as possible, including opponents. Dr. Scott Douglas from the University of Oxford concludes this on the basis of his research into governance success stories on Aruba, Curacao, and St. Kitts.

    For his PhD-thesis at the English university, Douglas compared sixteen government-owned public utilities in the Caribbean, who were responsible for energy, water, or infrastructure. This group included both high and low performing organizations. In his conclusions, Douglas does not discuss specific cases, but compares successful and failing styles of governance. The standard for good governance, suggests his research, is not lower than in larger countries. The way this is achieved however might be different.

    Successful organizations, the research indicates, are characterised by a governance style which is both strict and open. The rules are consistently applied, but employed to give as many actors a role as possible. In addition, strong organizations give room to strong leaders. Finally, successful organizations constantly spread background information, also informing opponents of the policy. Scott Douglas: "Government officials become successful when they dare to strengthen others."

    The research presents a structured analysis of several governance successes, but does not claim to have found the one and only recipe. Scott Douglas emphasizes: "There are probably more important ingredients. Everyone can explore this for themselves, by starting with the question: What goes currently well in the public sector?"

    Several open seminars will be organized across the different islands throughout January. This Great Governance Tour is made possible with the support of Berenschot International, USONA, Alexander & Simon, and United Trust. A short, practical guide to governance successes has been written as well, this is freely available from www.berenschot.com/governance.

  • Introduction to the Art of Clown Masterclasses by International clown teacher ALBINA MATUZKO (Ukraine/Netherlands/St.Maarten).

    Clown is a Master of “Art of Life”. He exists within everyone! Discovering of your own clown means bringing more Joy, Love and Pleasure in your life and be able to connect with yourself and others from heart to heart.

    This course is an invitation  for you to empower yourself, empty your busy head, open  your mind and go to the source of the energy in your belly and senses in your heart.

    Through games, dance and contact with each other, following impulses and acting in the moment  you will discover the magic and power of improvising. You can re-experience  your spontaneity , imagination, freedom and playfullness. You learn to embrace your mistakes and have fun to take risks,  conquering fears. And If you will be able at the end  to laugh at the beauty of you own ridiculousness your life  would seem more easier.

    No previous experience is necessary to start. You don’t have to be Smart, Brave, Funny, and it is absolutely great if you think you are far from being Perfect Smile.

    This course is a basic- course of clowning, which could be good for everyone’s development.

    Special useful for teachers, nurses and doctors, managers, leaders, politicians, policemen, officials,  housewifes, papa’s and mama’s…everybody who daily is in contact with other people Smile Artists of all kinds of performing arts could enrich their own creative personality.

    Clown’s character, emotions, clowns routine’s and clowning for  special purposes as care-, hospital- clowning, street-performances, stage-clowning …could be next staps in the process.

    When: from  11 OR 12 february (depend on participants.  If you are interested, mail me as quick as possible and mention your day of preference ):

    5 x Saturday’s:  February 11, 18, 25   March 3, 10

    OR      5 x Sunday’s:     February 12, 19, 26  March 4, 11

    From 10 a.m – 1 p.m

    Where: John Larmonie Center (Imbali and Motiance dance schools), Philipsburg (next to the sports school and across the Toyota store).

    Price: The whole course is 160 dollar.

    Booking, questions:

    Albina Matuzko

    albinka_k@hotmail.com, Facebook: Albina Matuzko

    Tel.588-44-39    More info: www.klusha.blogspot.com

  • President of St. Peters Community Council Sets Records Straight --- Accused former Board Members of fiddling with Foundation’s funds.

    sewagerunningonroad20012012St. Peters:--- Several residents of the St. Peters community are at their wits ends with the sewage water that has been running through their homes and yards for years and nothing has been done to rectify the hazardous situation that poses health risks to the residents of the area.
    SMN News spoke to three residents of Lime Road whose properties are filled with sewage water that is drained from the nearby homes. Doradine Gumbs said that she grew up on Lime Road and it has been 35 years now that she has been trying to get government to deal with the constant sewage water that is running through her yard on a daily basis. Gumbs said the former board members of the SPCC did nothing to assist the residents that are plagued with the fresh sewage water. Gumbs showed an SMN News reporter the fresh sewage water that is now seeping through the walls of her home, causing her to abandon one of the apartments in her yard. She said several inspectors visited the area but they never returned neither have they done anything to rectify the problem.
    Marie Jeffers also showed SMN News her property and the amount of fresh sewage in her yard. Jeffers said that the sewage is coming from a neighbor's yard and she complained to government but to date nothing has been done. At the back of one of the homes that is located next to the Jeffers' property there is an open septic tank that is covered with a piece of plywood while sewage water is overflowing from the septic tank on to the Jeffers' property. The constant sewage overflow has now damaged the Jeffers' home causing tiles inside their bathroom to fall off, yet government officials and the health inspectors that visited the area did nothing to rectify the problem.
    Mrs. Jeffers said one of her granddaughter's got a skin infection due to the sewage water and the child had to be taken overseas for treatment. Both the President of SPCC Rene Junior Wilson and Mrs. Jeffers said several inspectors and government official visited the area and promised to rectify the sewage problem but to date nothing has been done. Wilson said the SPCC board even met with the former vice president Maurice Lake and he promised to look into the matter but to date nothing has been done. "The new SPCC board wanted to meet with the Minister of Infrastructure Theodore Heyliger but Lake prevented us from seeing the Minister, he claimed he will work on the problems facing the St. Peters community but to date Lake has not addressed the problems brought forth by the residents of St. Peters and the SPCC board." In an invited comment, Lake said he never met with the SPCC board and furthermore he is not interested in being part of the SPCC board. Maurice Lake is the executive advisor to Minister Heyliger, he said that his only interest is to look out for the St. Peters community and by doing so he has offered his assistance in reorganizing the SPCC board. As for the new President of SPCC, Lake said Rene Cotto Wilson appointed himself as president and he (Lake) wanted to make sure an election is held so that the members of SPCC can be duly elected. Lake said he plans to hold a town hall meeting shorting to inform the residents of the area of the SPCC election and if Rene Cotto Wilson wants he can postulate for the position.
    sewageinyard20012012Wilson said instead of Lake dealing with the problems that are facing the residents he went to the newspapers claiming that the SPCC board needs to be reorganized. Wilson said the former board members of SPCC are refusing to cooperate with the current board members because SPCC board members believe that whatever work has to be done in their area must be given to the contractors living in St. Peters. Wilson said St. Peters have a number of heavy equipment owners who are not able to get work from government and the council believes that work in the area must be contracted to the people living in their community so that the youths of St. Peters can eventually find work. Besides that, Wilson said since the installation of the new board he is unable to get the necessary paperwork from the former SPCC board members. "The only person who tried to assist was the former President Rolando Tobias, but he never gave us the paperwork. We don't even know who handles the SPCC bank account because the former members of the SPCC board were never changed at the Chamber of Commerce. I went to the Chamber of Commerce to retrieve the Chamber registration only to find out that the SPCC owed the Chamber of Commerce close to Naf.4000.00 and the new board members have to now pool monies to pay that debt. Furthermore, there is a new board in place since August 2011 and someone from the former board withdrew monies from the SPCC account in October 2011. Wilson said they managed to recover a statement from the Windward Islands Bank that was mailed to SPCC at # 3 Tangerine Road, St. Peters that showed that someone debited $474.82 from the account on October 31, 2011." Wilson provided the WIB bank statement to SMN News as evidence of the withdrawal.
    Maurice Lake provided SMN News with the statement of account which shows all the monetary transactions for the account for the years 2008 through 2011. The October 31st withdrawal shows that a bank overdraft was done on that day.
    The President of the St. Peters Community Council (SPCC) Rene Junior Wilson also reacted to newspaper article that was published earlier this week criticizing the SPCC. "The former Vice President of the SPCC Maurice Lake should be the last person to talk about running sewage water on the St. Peters public roads because Lake's mother has been pumping her raw sewage on the road for years." Wilson took SMN News reporter to # 3 Tangerine Road where a pipe and hose from the home is leading to the public road and water is constantly flowing out. When confronted with this Maurice Lake said that the water emanating from his mother's yard is spring water and not sewage water. He said the water is lodged in his mother's yard because the other neighbors blocked off the back of her yard. Lake also said the water that is running down Lime and Tangerine Road comes from the Hillside Public School.
    Wilson said that as recent as Thursday a pump was attached to the hose that is leading from the Lake's property and the fresh sewage water was pumped out on to the main road.
    Another resident who shared concerns and witnessed the sewage water from the Lake's property is Reginald Bakari Arrindell. Arrindell said he is trying to find out who might have provided a letter he wrote to the President of the SPCC to the former board members. He said he is currently investigating the leak because the contents of his letter to SPCC was printed in one of the daily newspapers and he neither Wilson gave anyone the letter. Arrindell said he is very much concerned about the current situation facing his community as such he penned a letter to Wilson asking him if the SPCC plans to hold a town hall meeting with the residents to update them on the activities that are planned by the SPCC. He said he also enquired if the activities were postponed and to his surprise the contents of his letter to Wilson appeared the following day in the newspapers.
    Another resident told SMN News that the persons working at the helpdesk approached her and offered assistance but to date she have not seen them back, instead she received a letter telling her that her address now comes into question. The woman said that her yard was flooded for years with sewage water and during the 2010 elections one of the candidates that ran on the National Alliance slate and Rene Wilson took sand to fill in her yard. "Thanks to Wilson and the NA candidate I can now walk at the back of my house."
    While the residents of Lime and Tangerine Road have spoken out hoping that they will attract Government's attention namely the Minister of Infrastructure Theodore Heyliger, students attending the Prince Willem Alexander School have to walk through a pool of sewage water on a daily basis to get to the school's compound. The raw sewage water that is running down from Lime Road and Tangerine Road passes in front of the school.
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    Click here to view photos of the sewage water on Tangerine Road and Lime Road in St. Peters.
  • Police Safe Burglarized by Cops --- Detainee’s Chain Stolen while in police safe.

    Philipsburg:--- A Jamaican national identified as Calbert Edwards who was arrested last week Wednesday for falsified documents is still in shock after he discovered that a police officer stole his gold chain while it was in the police safe. In an exclusive interview with SMN News, Edwards said he was arrested on Wednesday at the Census Office when he went to register his residency papers. Edwards said officials at the Census Office told him that the stamp on his birth and marriage certificates is false, therefore they called the police. Edwards said the officers took him to the Philipsburg Police Station where they arrested him. "While at the police station the arresting officer took my gold ring, gold chain, and my wallet with $47 and placed it in a plastic bag. Edwards said on Friday he was released from police custody after paying a fine of $300. He said after he was released an officer went to get his belongings and it was that officer who discovered that his chain was missing. "I was looking for the chain and when I could not find it the female officer showed me the plastic bag and said someone cut open the bottom of the bag and stole the chain. The officer further advised me not to sign for my belongings because the chain was missing. I even saw the officer that was dealing with my case and he told me he heard my chain disappeared." Edwards said that the officers asked him to return to the Philipsburg Police Station on Monday to file an official complaint with officers York or Wheil. "I still cannot believe that there are thieves in the Police Station, I think those things happen on the streets but now I am shocked to learn that the people who are supposed to protect us and our properties are in fact the ones stealing from prisoners.
    Edwards said the person (cop) who stole his chain probably believed that he would have been deported today and no one would have known about the stolen chain.
    Chief Commissioner of Police Peter de Witte has promised to look into the matter on Monday since he was not informed of the incident.
  • NAGICO Group acquires GTM Insurance Company in Trinidad & Tobago.

    gtmnagicolaunchtrinidad23012012On Friday January 20, 2012 the acquisition of GTM Insurance Company Ltd by the NAGICO Insurances Group was officially announced and celebrated during a grand champagne evening held at the Chamber of Commerce building at Westmoorings, Port of Spain in Trinidad.
    Many prominent guests attended the event including business leaders, agents, brokers, executive management of NAGICO and management and staff of the local NAGICO/GTM company.
    Chairman of the Supervisory Board of Directors, Mr. Michael Bishop, offered opening remarks in which he thanked the Central Bank of Trinidad & Tobago for their cooperation and guidance in obtaining the operating license for Trinidad & Tobago. He also confirmed "NAGICO's long term commitment to Trinidad & Tobago, the clients, brokers and agents and emphasized the financial responsibility of NAGICO across 16 territories in the Dutch, English and French Caribbean, which includes compliance with all regulatory authorities in each territory".
    In his presentation CEO of the NAGICO Group, Mr. Imran McSood-Amjad, gave the audience a general overview of NAGICO and outlined his vision for the local company, temporarily branded as NAGICO/GTM before assuming a full NAGICO branded identity in the near future. "NAGICO's financial stewardship is outstanding and we are proud to state that the general insurance group operations carry the prestigious AM Best B++ rating". The CEO further stated that "the GTM acquisition is in line with NAGICO's continued strategic expansion throughout the Caribbean as plans include expansion to 19 territories by the end of 2012".
    General Manager of the local company NAGICO/GTM, Mr. Christopher Henriques, addressed the audience in welcoming remarks in which he noted that "after the acquisition was completed in October 2011, the local company hired new staff and implemented a management trainee program to accommodate the growth of the company with the best people in the industry".
    NAGICO's Director of Finance & Operations, Mr. Glenville Blake, gave a financial overview of NAGICO. "NAGICO writes premiums of almost TT$ 600 million (USD 95 million) and has total assets of approximately TT$ 730 million (USD 115 million)". He further emphasized that "the solvency of NAGICO to be 300% over regulatory obligations".
    Mr. McSood-Amjad ended the official part w ith a Champagne toast after which a cocktail reception was held in a festive ambience.
  • Helping Hands Foundation (HHF) and the St. Maarten Housing Development Foundation (SMHDF) sign MOU.

    hhfandsmhdf25012012To mark its 15th anniversary and establishing one of its strategic goals to expand the service of Helping Hands Foundation, to include the clients of the St. Maarten Housing Development Foundation, the HHF and SMHDF signed a Memorandum of Understanding which provided the purpose and clearly identified the responsibilities of each party. In the MOU, the HHF Foundation agreed to:
    • Enhance the mobility of the SMHDF Elderly and Disabled Clients
    • Increase the opportunity to attend activities with the other Elderly
    • Reduce cost in transport and ability to enjoy other benefits for those disabled and over 60
    • Provide opportunity for better health care
    • Become more independent in moving around and not be dependent on anyone
    The SMHDF on the other hand committed to:
    • Support the HHF morally and comply with the MOU
    • Promote HHF services to clients
    • Sponsor when necessary clients who are in dire need to be transported
    • Evaluate the HHF services on a quarterly basis
    The Funding for this project has been provided by AMFO. The HHF, which celebrates 15 years existence this year, plans to mark this celebration with many events, which will honor our Elderly. AMFO has been loyal to HHF for many years and HHF is thankful for the many grants they have received which have kept the HHF in existence thus far. Thank you AMFO!
    The SMHDF will immediately provide the HHF with an additional 40 plus clients who will need transportation for medical purposes, recreation, bill payments, groceries and other tasks the clients might prefer. The SMHDF just last year celebrated its 15th anniversary as well and now supervises some 745 homes in various locations on St. Maarten.
  • Coalition MP’s Should Shape Up or Ship Out says WICLU --- Considers Abandonment as Blatant Disregard for New Country.

    Philipsburg:--- The term Shape Up or Ship out, now applies to the Members of Parliament that stayed away from the Parliament meeting which was scheduled for Tuesday to discuss the Jules James vote on November 17th, 2011 says the members of the Windward Island Chamber of Labour Unions. On Tuesday, the only Member of Parliament representing the coalition that attended the meeting was the chairlady Gracita Arrindell. The Members of Parliament were supposed to discuss the lawfulness of the vote cast by MP Jules James regarding a company of which he is the Managing Director. Vice President of the WICLU Claire Elshot told reporters on Thursday that the actions of the Members of Parliament is a slap in the face for the people of St. Maarten and the people cannot continue to tolerate this kind of modus operandi of the Parliament of St. Maarten. "We are more than year now as a country and I cannot remember one decent law that has been presented. Someone has to tell Parliament to shape up or ship out." Elshot further stated that the Members of Parliament were elected to represent the people and if they are unable to do so then they should demit from their offices. If this trend continues St. Maarten will be repeating what happens on St. Eustatius, whose governing coalition collapsed on Wednesday.

    President of the WICLU Theophilus Thompson described the actions of the Members of Parliament representing the coalition as blatant disregard to the country, Thompson said those MPs held their own meeting in the same building that housed their offices. Most of the Members of Parliament from the governing coalition were present at the time of the scheduled parliament meeting but refused to sign in. The only Member of Parliament who gave notice of his absence was MP Petrus Leroy De Weever. Thompson said the move by the MP's has placed a huge question mark on democracy. The unionist said the Members of Parliament do not understand their roles. "I consider this to be a very serious matter for the population and the country. To not show up at a meeting and take care of the people's business when the people are paying you good salaries is a very serious concern." Thompson said there is too much conflict of interest and everyone is defending their interest on both sides. It is clear something is wrong. Thompson further explained that it is regrettable that the leaders of the governing parties remained mum on the SBRMC issue and the workers plight.

  • Minister of Labor reacts to WIFOL statements.

    Great Bay:--- Due to the ongoing labor dispute regarding the former Pelican Resort workers, President of the Chamber of Labor Unions, Theophilus Thompson stated that he will be making an official complaint with the International Labor Organization (ILO) against the government of St. Maarten for violating certain ILO Conventions. The claims made by Thompson are not justified.
    Thompson stated in a press release that St. Maarten is violating Conventions 87, 98, 154 and 181. C87 Freedom of Association and Protection of the right to Organize Convention, 1948; C98 Right to organize and Collective Bargaining Convention, 1949; C154 Collective Bargaining Convention, 1981; C181 Private Employment Agencies Convention, 1997.
    The Kingdom of the Netherlands has ratified many conventions. It was therefore up to the then Netherlands Antilles to decide which conventions they would make applicable to them. Conventions 98, 154 and 181 were not made applicable by the Netherlands Antilles and are therefore not applicable to St. Maarten.
    Convention N0.87 Freedom of Association and Protection of the Right to Organize is applicable to St. Maarten. This Convention sets out the core framework of protection for the fundamental rights which is union rights, such as the right to join a trade union and the right to organize trade union activities.
    The Workers Institute for Organized Labor (WIFOL) from the very beginning were representing the workers of the former Pelican Resort. WIFOL as a member of the Chamber of Labor Unions on St. Maarten has had the freedom and the right to be established and to represent workers. The workers were free to join an organization of their own choosing and to elect their representatives in full freedom as stated in Convention N0.87
    Article 3 sub 2 of Convention N0. 87 states "The public authorities shall refrain from any interference which would restrict this right or impede the lawful exercise thereof." In no way has the rights of the workers and that of WIFOL been violated as far as this Convention is concerned.
    The Constitution of St. Maarten also promotes Freedom of Association. In article 12 it states "The right of association is recognised. This right may be restricted under national ordinance in the interest of public order."
    The government of St. Maarten never undertook, encouraged or sanctioned any action justifying the claim made by Mr. Thompson. The laws governing St. Maarten and policies of government guarantees freedom of association and conforms to ILO Convention 87, which guarantees core labor standards to all workers.
    Even though ILO Conventions 98, 154 and 181 are not applicable to St. Maarten, the laws and policies of the government respects and promotes the rights of said conventions as stipulated in the constitution of the ILO.
  • Minister De Weever encourages participants of “Employability through Training” project.

    employabilitythroughtrainingspeaker29012012Great Bay:--- On Friday afternoon Minister of Public Health Social Development & Labor, Cornelius de Weever encouraged the participants at the information session of the "Employability through Training" project to take advantage of this unique opportunity afforded to them.
    The "Employability through Training" is a Social Economic Initiative (SEI) project, which is aimed at taking people from welfare to work and giving them the opportunity of on the job training. The goal of the project is to assist unskilled unemployed individuals to acquire basic job skills and knowledge to help bridge the distance between them and suitable employment within the local labor market by offering specialized training and mediation for a period of two and a half years. This will allow them to not only get familiar with the supply and demand but will also develop their social, communicative and professional work related skills which will motivate them to actively participate in the local labor market.
    The target groups for this project are those between the ages of 18-55; Dutch nationals registered on St. Maarten; unemployed and have a willingness to learn and accept work.
    employabilitythroughtrainingaudience29012012More specific objectives of this project are as follows: reduce the welfare assistance list to only those that truly are not able to perform work; prepare the target group to be professionals; provide the target group with coaching, training and mediation to a suitable job; develop a constant structured working relationship with the business community and promote more job creation and lastly to establish contacts with the Chamber of Commerce and unions for close collaboration and participation in various activities.
    Over the next two and a half years 250 participants between the ages of 18-55 will be given specialized training whereby the curriculum is adapted to their specific needs, whereby their chances of unemployment will be alleviated and/or lessened.
    At the information session held on Friday for the participants, representatives of the three training institutes were on hand to give the participants information about the training being offered at their respective institution. The job coach was also on hand to explain to the individuals what her role will be throughout the process, which will be keeping in contact with them and assisting them throughout the entire process. At the end of the session, participants were given the opportunity to ask questions.
    Minister De Weever thanked the participants and the training institutes for coming out and reiterated to the participants the importance of the project, which has his full support.
  • BTP SXM ADDRESSES ILLEGAL WIRELESS COMMUNICATION DEVICES.

    Bureau Telecommunication and Post St. Maarten (BTP SXM) has taken note of the fact that, there are whole sale and retail stores in St. Maarten offering in sale devices not in compliance with the rules and regulations on the import and sale of wireless electronic communication devices.

    Inspectors of BTP SXM have conducted several onsite spot-checks, and have noted that several stores on St. Maarten are selling illegal devices to the general public. These devices can cause interference with public and governmental communications systems, resulting in unforeseen outages and/or service degradation.

    BTP SXM herewith reminds all sellers of electronic communication devices that, only the sale of FCC or CE approved wireless electronic communications devices is permitted in St. Maarten. All devices within the permitted category need to comply with FCC part 15 requirements or the EU R&TTE Directive.

    BTP SXM grants a two (2) week grace period, as of the date of publication of this notice, to sellers to review their inventory and conduct a compliance verification. Sellers are advised to utilize the grace period for the removal from their store of all devices that are not incompliance with the FCC or EU guidelines. Devices not in compliance with the standards listed herein may not be sold or gifted. These devices should be shipped back to the manufacturer or distributor (with proof submitted to BTP SXM) or destroyed in the presence of BTP SXM inspectors.

    A detailed list of the wireless electronic communications devices that are deemed illegal is available on the BTP SXM website (www.sxmregulator.com). Any device not in compliance, sold after the grace period will be confiscated and the business in question will be fined based on the Telecommunication act of 1995 No.196 art.15 sub1. and art. 20, which carry a penalty of maximum of six (6) months imprisonment or an administrative fine of Twenty Five Thousand Guilders (Naf. 25.000).

    The Director

  • Minister of Finance to meet with SHTA next week Wednesday.

    Philipsburg:--- Minister of Finance Hon. Hiro Shigemoto confirmed on Tuesday that he will be meeting with the St. Maarten Hospitality & Trade Association (SHTA) next week Wednesday to discuss the issue of tax reform.

    Minister Shigemoto said the Council of Ministers Secretariat attempted to schedule a meeting with the SHTA in December but the latter were not able to meet on any of the proposed dates.

    "I am looking forward to the meeting where I can address any concerns of the SHTA and update them on matters related to tax reform which we have diligently been working on. Additional information with respect to this will be provided within short," Minister of Finance Hon. Hiro Shigemoto said on Tuesday.

  • Kingdom Inter-parliamentary Conference to be carried live on Pearl FM 98.1 and via Internet.

    Philipsburg:--- The inter-parliamentary Kingdom conference that will take place from January 10 to 13, 2012 will kick off at the Sonesta Great Bay Beach Hotel at 8:00am on Tuesday, January 10.

    The parliamentary delegation leaders of Aruba, Curacao, the Netherlands and Sint Maarten will make brief opening addresses at 8:00am on Tuesday morning prior to leaving for a tour of the Princess Juliana International Airport and of Windward Islands Airways.

    The conference sessions at the Sonesta Great Bay Beach Hotel will be carried live on PEARL 98.1 FM Radio and can also be heard via the Internet on www.pearlfmradio.com.

  • Pensioners and Unions Seek Audience with Dutch MPs as they Rally for Equal Benefits.

    smspameeting09012012Philipsburg:--- The St. Maarten Seniors and Pensioners Association (SMSPA) has been strengthening its bonds with the other unions both on St. Maarten and in Curacao to attract the attention of the visiting Dutch Parliamentarians from the first and second chamber that are currently on St. Maarten.
    Raymond Jessurun, Vice President of the SMSPA told reporters on Monday that they sent an official letter to the Chairlady of Parliament Gracita Arrindell requesting that she schedule a meeting with them and the visiting Members of Parliament but to date Arrindell has not responded to them.
    Jessurun said they also met with several Members of Parliament of St. Maarten to lobby their support in order for the Dutch MP's to meet with them. "The Dutch MP's have so far refused to meet with us while they have agreed to meet and greet with the people of the BES islands." The SMSPA considers the refusal on the part of the Dutch as an insult to the people of St. Maarten.
    He said that the SMSPA wants to Dutch to understand that all pensioners within the Kingdom must be treated equally and so far the pensioners and seniors of the former Netherlands Antilles are getting the shorter end of the stick. "We want equal treatment as those pensioners and seniors in the Netherlands, our intention was to inform the Members of Parliament from the first and second chamber of the in-equality and since they have refused to meet with us we have decided to address them through the media." On Monday a meeting was head with the following persons: Alberto Bute President of SUNFED, Claire Elshot of WICLU and WITU, Robert Rawlins - WITU treasurer, Derie Leonard President of WICSU-PSU, Keturah Brown President of ABVO –SXM, Wilfred Manning President of Building Bridges Foundation, Patricia Flanders President of SMSPA / HAFH, Frances Rovelet SMSPA Secretary of Organization, Carl Cooner - SMSPA Secretary of Education, Warno Kartokromo - SMSPA assistant treasurer,Veronica Arndell SMSPA Secretary Contacts with Seniors in Institutions,Raymond Jessurun - SMSPA vice president and 1st president of KOPAMKO, Silvio Dap KOPAMKO Secretary Correspondence / FEPESCU Secretary General (Federation Pensioners Ex-Shell refiinery Curacao), Kenneth George - KOPAMKO board member / FEPESCU board member and Edgar Wanga KOPAMKO supervisory board member ASPD [association of pensioners from the Dry Dock Company) to further discuss their predicament. Jessurun said the Netherlands has to take its responsibility when it comes to Health Care and Social Assistance because St. Maarten is still a young country that lacks funding to properly care for its people.
    When asked if the unions and SMSPA plans to demonstrate during the visit of the Dutch Members of Parliament Jessurun made it clear that while they are still meeting to discuss their strategies they have not ruled out demonstration.
  • Youth Injured in Scooter and Car Accident.

    scooteraccident09012012Philipsburg:--- A young man riding a scooter on Long Wall Road on Monday afternoon was badly injured when he was struck down by a motor car. The young man who was wearing a helmet at the time of the accident was injured on the face. Paramedics from the Ambulance Department treated him on the scene before transporting him to the St. Maarten Medical Center for treatment. No details on the accident were released by the police department on Monday.

    Click here to view more photos of the accident.
  • WISHES FROM ALAIN RICHARDSON FOR 2012.

    alainrichard02062009The past year has proven to have been a difficult one. Not just as the year 2011 but as the actual political continuum of a five years mandate that has taken us into a new venture. This new frame work has tested each one of us as individuals, evaluated us in our respective occupations, in the carrying out of our duties and obligations. It has tested our resilience as a people, our ability to stand against all odds and to bounce back. This new reality has tried our capability to draw a most appropriate blueprint for the design of an adequate administrative system and the setting up of an economy suitable for the development of the territory of Saint-Martin and all its inhabitants.
    2007 to 2011 has weighed us and proven us and some have been found lacking. But as we stand at the beginning of a new year, as the leader of RRR, I feel that we are justified as a group, as a collective unit, in looking into the future with assurance, because we have been diligent and true, we have been the ones to constantly advocate a mode of living in which all could find the joy of life and the joy of work harmoniously combined. As a group, RRR has always encouraged and promoted a united approach and consideration, it has always defended the common good and every recommendation it made, every bit of advice it gave and every suggestion it has brought to the table always carried the general population best interest in mind and at heart. Nothing mattered more than fostering a spirit of ambition that would pervade our very being as a people, and help us make the duties of constructing a new country a prosperous endeavor.
    2012 must be the year when a project for this new community is finally written. Hope must be manifested and it must find substance in the setting up of structures and infrastructures for the further development of our country and of the island Saint-Martin. The present conditions of our country, the looming menaces that threaten, compel us all to approach this new year in particular, and those to follow, with sober consideration and wisdom. Last year's words belong to last year's language and next year's words await another voice. This next voice to be heard is that of RRR. We have understood that to make an end is to make a beginning.
    My fellow citizens, it is time to end the slow and consistent deconstruction of our land, the dying of our economy, the distress of our people and it is high time to begin to erect the new, sustained, and further development of the Collectivité d'Outre Mer of Saint-Martin.

    In the midst of it all, we at RRR continue to say that there's hope. We must go on and keep our eyes fixed on the goal until we finally come to a place of conquest, a place of success and general achievement and happiness for all.
    As the leader of RRR, my wish for Saint-Martin as a community in this present crisis is that it be repositioned as a strong hub of economic development within a region that is in motion.
    My wish is that we find the means to continue to represent the Republic in its grandeur within the new Caribbean region and demonstrate how much of an asset this land and its people can be in the building of the world of tomorrow. In this new Caribbean community we must not be an area of non-development. Our children would not forgive us for that.

    I wish that as a people we resolutely opt for an improvement of the collective balances and this includes the need for active partnership between both sides of this island. The future of St. Martin is in the hands of our young people, and we are committed to continue providing the necessary support, guidance and infrastructure that will allow them to develop, and St. Martin to flourish.
    The development of young people will always be one of RRR's leading priorities. The time has come to choose the development of economic activities knowing that the conquest of responsibility often costs. We must therefore create a strong economic entity in partnership with those who wish to participate in the building of the Saint-Martin of tomorrow.
    None must be neglected! Our seniors, the men and women who have provided us with this golden opportunity today, they too, must feel honoured, respected, regarded highly and valued rightly.

    As we begin 2012, my team, the women and the men who stand with me and I are determined to work putting the people of our country first. In the beginning of this New Year and this new era, we at RRR are positioned to build in partnership with every man, woman, young and young woman.

    Because of my faith, my wish for all the people of this land, whether unemployed or active, whether ill or in good health, whether young or old, is that we finally give substance to the things we have been hoping for and together, each man or woman in his own capacity, bring about a yet very favourable fate within which every inhabitant, young or old will find the joy of living and the fulfilment he or she deserves.

    We could not have been brought out this far to be left and abandoned. God will definitely take us in to our land of promise.
    Stay put, stand strong. He is faithful that has promised.

    A Happy and Very Prosperous New Year to all!

    Alain RICHARDSON

  • Prime Minister gives Dutch MP’s Clarity on CFT Relations.

    swescotwilliams11012012Philipsburg:--- Prime Minister Sarah Wescot Williams announced on Wednesday at the Council of Ministers press briefing that the Council of Ministers used the opportunity they had on Monday when they met with the Dutch Members of Parliament from the first and second chamber to bring clarity on a number of issues. Wescot- Williams said the meeting was requested by the Dutch Members of Parliament however, the Council of Ministers were able to clear the air on the relationship St. Maarten has with the CFT. She said that for Government the matter is simple since anything that is said about the CFT is placed in the right context. The Prime Minister said the principle of the CFT was to fill a void regarding checks and balances as St. Maarten moves into its new status. She said the spirit was for St. Maarten to have their own institutions conduct the checks and balances and as such the CFT goals should be to make sure St. Maarten has the required checks and balances done by St. Maarten's institutions.
    The Prime Minister said another objective of the meeting for the Council of Ministers was to dispel the notion that St. Maarten does not want to give accounts or be accountable while huge amounts of monies was given to St. Maarten from the Dutch tax payers. Wescot-Williams said that the story that is often told is not always correct and if one should look at the agreements they will see that the so called debt relief for St. Maarten only amounted to 65 million guilders instead of 183 million. "The only monies we got are the 65 million paid to the APNA while the balance is yet to be turned over. She said St. Maarten got all sorts of technical excuses, while St. Maarten had to take up the left open Antillean debt. The Prime Minister said instead of St. Maarten getting any relief they had to take on other financial obligations and the impression should not be given that St. Maarten got so much money that they do not know what to do with it. She said that based on the obligations St. Maarten took on since it assumed the new status they should have been getting much more monies than what the country generates. Hence, the discussion of the 2012 budget and the plans of approach and how St. Maarten will finance its projects.
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  • St. Maarten Cable TV Schedules Outage For Fiber Relocation.

    Philipsburg:--- St. Maarten Cable TV today announces another step in the final phase of the upgrade to an all-digital platform. On Saturday, January 14, 2012, both Cable TV and CableNet customers will experience periodic service interruptions between the hours of 1:00 a.m. to 4:00 a.m.
    This outage has been scheduled to allow the technical team to relocate the fiber to the new building. Cable TV engineers anticipate a complete outage that will affect all services for approximately one hour. Subsequently, there will be 30-minute outages in individual areas for the remainder of the projected outage period.
    Beulah Jonis, Managing Director of St. Maarten Cable TV stated, "With the migration to the digital platform, technical changes must be made and since we have an existing network with subscribers, the outages are inevitable. We are, however, making every effort to minimize the service disruption by not scheduling the outage during a peak time of day."
    "St. Maarten Cable TV apologizes for the inconvenience this outage may cause our subscribers and we are continuously grateful for the patience that you have exhibited throughout out the process," concluded Jonis.
  • Dutch Market Tourism Promotion Under Review.

    sxmanddutchpromotionalteamreviewmeeting12012012Great Bay (DCOMM):--- Director of the Sint Maarten Tourist Bureau May-Ling Chun stated on Wednesday that a working session took place to extensively analyze the campaign that has been running in the Dutch market.

    During the meeting the discussion focused on the branding to see what the effect has been so far and if changes are necessary. The group also discussed in detail the website and the results that have derived from it in bookings and website visits. New opportunities and actions will be discussed on Thursday.

  • Minister of Finance Shigemoto pleased with cooperative spirit after SHTA meeting.

    taxreformandshtameeting12012012Philipsburg:--- Minister of Finance Hon. Hiro Shigemoto met with the St. Maarten Hospitality Trade Association (SHTA) on Wednesday afternoon and is very pleased to see the positive attitude of the umbrella business representative organization to help make the engaged endeavour of tax reform work.

    The Minister of Finance welcomes and also extends the same cooperative sentiments which will count for all stakeholders who are willing to join forces like the SHTA has done to make this new tax system the best one for Country Sint Maarten.

    Another result of the meeting is to have extensive discussions with the SHTA and Ministry of Finance and A&M Taxand, which will take place in the coming weeks.

    The board of the SHTA which was well represented at the meeting included the President, members of the board, the Executive Director, reps from the Real Estate Association of Sint Maarten (RAM), and the Indian Merchants Association (IMA).

    The SHTA were impressed and found common ground in different areas and are willing to cooperate fully in making the redesigning of the nation's tax system work to the benefit of all.

    The Wednesday afternoon meeting with the SHTA and the Minister of Finance, also included advisors from the Ministry of Finance and A&M Taxand. The SHTA received a brief update on the program of reform of the tax system and tax administration that the Ministry of Finance and A&M Taxand are currently engaged.

    Key objectives brought forward by A&M Taxand together with the Ministry of Finance during the meeting were, to improve the process of compliance from the perspective of both the taxpayers and tax authorities; to redesign the tax system; and to build a modern state-of-the-art tax administration.

    The vision of the Government was also presented which includes raising predictable revenues in order to fund government expenditure based on the principles of economic efficiency, fairness, simplicity and transparency along with stability and predictability.

    According to SHTA Executive Director Valya Pantophlet, the SHTA was pleased with the level of information disseminated at the meeting.

    "The presentation on the plans for the new tax structure is in line with what SHTA has been advocating for years: lower tax rate, broaden tax base and simplify tax system. SHTA and the Ministry of Finance agreed that the new tax system should be designed in such a way as to stimulate the economy and attract foreign investors.

    "The SHTA looks forward to being involved in the process of redesigning the new tax system for country Sint Maarten," SHTA Executive Director Valya Pantophlet said on Wednesday after the meeting.

    Minister of Finance Hon. Shigemoto, said the principles identified, one can broaden the tax base -getting everybody to carry their own tax burden-, making tax issues easy to understand and calculate -thus raising tax compliance-, making responsibilities clear for all taxpayers and making the tax authorities more accessible to the public, are key to the future socio-economic development of Country Sint Maarten and its people.

  • Pelican Workers Angry at SBRMC and WIFOL --- Protested Silently at Great Bay Resort --- Two Dutch Parliamentarians promised to raise matter with St. Maarten Parliamentarians.

    mpslisteningtopelicanworkers12012012Simpson Bay:--- Several workers of the Pelican Resort Club now operating as Simpson Bay Resort Management Company who are also members of the Workers Institute for Organized Labour showed anger and frustration at both the Management of SBRMC and at the President of the WIFOL Theophillus Thompson on Thursday.
    The workers went to the SBRMC early Thursday morning after they read news reports stating that the company was willing to hire some 92 of the WIFOL members as early as Thursday. The distraught workers who are without salaries since early December thought their employers would have them return to their duties on Thursday morning but when they showed up at the resort they were each given a new application form to fill in. The workers said they were told that they have to re-apply for work at the SBRMC since the SBRMC would not recognize them as workers of the company. The angry set of workers collected the forms and went over to meet with their union representative Theophillus Thompson. At the WIFOL, several workers displayed their frustration claiming that they are of the opinion that the President of the WIFOL is playing some sort of game with them. The workers told Thompson that they are the ones suffering and they all have children to feed and bills to pay they also told him that if he knew he could no longer help them as a union representative then he needs to tell them that. "I have children to feed and bills to pay and I believe that you know what is going on and you are not being honest with us, if you know you can no longer help us then you need to tell us that up front." The workers also demanded answers from Thompson wanting to know if the union already filed an appeal with the Supreme Courts. They said SBRMC lawyers made clear that no appeal was filed with the Supreme Courts and that was the only reason why they have decided to offer them a job opportunity with the company. Thompson promised the workers that he will pose their questions to their legal representatives and he will get back to them with the answers. It is understood that Thompson met with his attorneys at 2pm Thursday to get clarity on the court cases and also to find out how they should move forward in the matter.
    Thompson also advised the workers to fill in the application forms and to return them to SBRMC and told them that they should wait and see if the company will call them for an interview or offer them a contract. The WIFOL President also offered the services of his office to assist the workers in filling in the forms, copies of which he will keep in their files.
    Despite Thompson's efforts to calm the workers down, several of them blew up saying that they are the ones who are not able to provide for their families. "One of the workers was overheard saying that they have been dragging their feet for two long and that now is the time to take drastic action. "The time to burn and set fires to the politician's homes and businesses is now. We have had enough and its time we take action, our union representative is not doing enough and he is playing a nice game while our children are hungry and the banks are going to foreclose on our homes."
    In the meantime, Attorney at Law for SBRMC Jairo Bloem said the application forms that were distributed on Thursday should have been a registration form for the company to know exactly which of the employees are willing to work with the company. Bloem said 52 workers picked up the forms on Thursday and six of them already returned the forms that were filled in and signed by the employees, Bloem said the next step in the process is that each worker will be called in separately and they will be provided with individual contracts, those workers who agree will have to sign the contracts and they would then begin to work.

    Silent Protest at the Great Bay Resort --- Police Re-enforcement called in.


    pelicanworkerstalkingtomps12012012The workers also suggested to Thompson that he should accompany them to the Great Bay Resort where the SBRMC General Manager Jules James was attending the inter-parliamentary meetings. "We need to take our plight to our Kingdom representatives and point out to them that a member of St. Maarten Parliament is acting in conflict of interest. However, Thompson told the workers that he was not against their plans to go to the Great Bay Resort but he will not accompany them there.

    The workers quickly moved over to the Great Bay Resort where they protested silently. Accompanying them was the vice president of the Windward Islands Chamber of Labour Unions Claire Elshot.
    When police noticed the workers at the entrance of the resort they quickly called for backup, the small and peaceful protest even attracted Commissioner of Police Carl John to the scene.
    By then, Leader of the National Alliance William Marlin exited the meeting hall and met with the workers outside. Marlin informed the workers that there is not much the Dutch Parliament could do for them even though they know of the situation. Shortly after, Chairlady of the Dutch delegation and the Chairperson of the Second Chamber's Committee of Kingdom Relations Brigitte van der Burg and Marijke Linthorst Member of the First Chamber and Deputy Delegation Leader joined Marlin outside of the resort where the angry workers were.
    pelicanworkersandmps12012012The workers told the two Dutch Members of Parliament of the amount of years they worked for Pelican Resort Club and the situation they are faced with today. Several workers showed the two Dutch MP's the application forms and they informed them that SBRMC got rid of workers who are residing legally on the island to hire undocumented workers for cheap labour. They also informed the MP's that the company was busy trying to de-unionize them which according to them is undemocratic. They also informed the Members of Parliament of Jules James who is also a Member of Parliament and his role in their dismissal. They went as far as highlighting the November 17th meeting of Parliament called by the National Alliance when the NA faction presented a motion for them to go back to work and Jules James voted against the motion even though the Chairlady of Parliament Gracita Arrindell knew he was acting in conflict of interest.
    The MP's informed the workers that there is nothing they can do for them, even though they shared their pain. "It's your Members of Parliament on St. Maarten who have to do something for you. The most we can do is bring the matter up informally with our colleagues on St. Maarten."

    They also informed the Pelican workers that de-unionizing of workers is taking place worldwide and what their bosses are trying to do is something every employer is busy doing in order to attract cheaper labour.

    National Alliance next move.

    Leader of the National Alliance William Marlin also assured the workers that he would raise the Pelican dismissal matter one more time in Parliament. Marlin said he already requested a meeting to discuss related issues and he will raise the Pelican issue in the meeting. He also assured that he will attempt to regulate the matter where Jules James voted on the motion that was presented by the National Alliance. He said statements were made that it was wrong and what should have been done but no one has corrected the matter thus far.

    Pelican Resort Club to Reactivate Petition to dismiss all Pelican Workers --- Aims at saving 4.5 Million Dollars --- Workers may now be able to access cessentia benefits.

    The chairman of the Tenants Association of Pelican Resort Club (TAPRC) plans to submit another request to the Ministry of Labour to terminate the 183 workers that worked for the Pelican Resort Club Management Company (PRCMC) that was managed by Royal Resorts Club. A letter from the chairman Arthur d'Itallia to the President of the Workers Institute for Organised Labour Theophilluis Thompson states they as party to the Collective Labour Agreement with WIFOL which expires on December 31, 2017 intend to write a letter to the Minister of Health a Labour Cornelius De Weever to reactivate the petition that was filed on January 18th, 2011 to dismiss all the workers. That petition was withdrawn on January 27th, 2011 by an attorney that was representing PRCMC. According to information SMN News received, the PRCMC will save a total of $4.5 million dollars in benefits and severance payments if the Department of Labour honours their request to dismiss all the workers. Should the labour department grant PRCMC their request the workers would also be able to access their cessentia benefits.
    {loadposition inset}
    Click here to view photos of Thursday's action by Pelican Workers.

    Click here to view the letter sent by PRCMC to WIFOL on Thursday.


  • Interpol and Immigration to hold two day workshop.

    Philipsburg:--- On Thursday January 19th and Friday January 20th, 2012 a two days "workshop" will be held on Sint Maarten by representatives of Interpol and the Immigration Department from the Dominican Republic along with representatives from Sint Maarten. The objective of the workshop is mainly to strengthen the ties and better operational information exchange between the Immigration Departments and Police organizations of both countries regarding criminality and in particular human smuggling/trafficking of women.
    The Dominican Republic is represented by Interpol: Rafael Atahualpha Cabrera-Sarita (Head of Interpol) and Voltaire Batista Matos. Representing the immigration are Marcos Benjamin Mota-Bodde, Juan Rafael Mejia-Baez, Marlys Gomez-Rosado and Officer Marco Elsenaar.
    This delegation will arrive on Wednesday January 18th, 2012 at 2:30pm and will depart on Friday January 20th at 2:30pm.
    Members of the Ministry of Justice, Chief of Police, Acting Chief of Police, members of the Public Prosecutors Office, representatives of the Royal Marechausse, Immigration Department heads and heads of different departments within the Police Force will attend this workshop. This workshop is being held in response to a working visit to the Dominican Republic by members the Police Force of Sint Maarten in October 2010.
  • Mrs. Els O’Connor donates to the St. Maarten Zoo.

    elsoconnordonatestosxmzoo16012012The St. Maarten Zoo recently received a donation from Mrs. Els O'Connor, a former schoolteacher on the island.
    Mrs O'Connor taught here for many years and was once married to the well known Fons O'Connor.

    Mrs. Connor recently celebrated her 75th birthday. Instead of gifts she asked friends and family to give her money which she would donate to a worthy cause. Mrs. O'Connor states that at her age she has everything she needs and she thought this would be a different more meaningful way to celebrate her birthday.
    As a result, Mrs. O'Connor presented a check in the amount of $500 to the St. Maarten Zoo.
    She requested that the money be used to upgrade and repair the Cotton Top Tamarin exhibit.
    Mrs. O'Connor also stated that she hoped other people might adopt the idea of contributing to worthy charities on their birthdays.

    Mrs. O'Connor and her entire family were at the Zoo to present the donation.

    The St. Maarten Zoo is deeply appreciative of this donation. We thank Mrs. O'Connor for her thoughtfulness.
    The Cotton Top Tamarin exhibit is one of our more important exhibit as these animals are highly endangered. We are pleased to have some funds to improve their exhibit.

  • CoM Meets with Governor in Quarterly meeting.

    comquarterlymeetingwithgovernor17012012Great Bay (DCOMM):--- On Tuesday the Council of Ministers (CoM) had their first quarterly meeting for the New Year with His Excellency Governor Eugene Holiday. All Ministers were present with the exception of the Minister of Justice who is currently off island.

    The meeting with the Governor usually focuses on the relationship between the two branches of government, and other general matters that regard one or more Ministry's. The last quarterly meeting with the Governor was October 20, 2011.

    Tuesday was a busy day for CoM, besides meeting with the Governor, they also met with the Financial Supervisory Committee (CFT) and the CoM also had its regular Tuesday meeting.

    Individual Ministers are scheduled to meet monthly with the Governor while the Prime Minister meets with him on a weekly basis.

  • "VESUVIUS" Suspects to Appear in Court on February 8th, 2012 --- Mos.

    hansmos26022011Philipsburg:--- The eight suspects that were arrested on November 16th for at least five murders and two attempted murders will make their first appearance in court on February 8th, 2012 confirmed Chief Prosecutor Hans Mos.
    Mos said the suspects that were arrested in the Vesuvius investigation are suspected of murdering Amador Jones, Rodolfo and Miguel Arrindell, Kevin Gumbs and Eric Lake, while they will also have to answer two charges of attempted murder. Omar Jones was arrested early 2011 when a national of St. Kitts fingered him as the person who shot him in the Dutch Quarter area. While the suspects who shot and killed Eric Lake and Kevin Gumbs will have to answer attempted murder charges for the Spanish woman who was shot in the leg the same day Gumbs and Lake were shot to death.
    Besides those murder and attempted murder charges, the suspects will be charged with possession of illegal firearms since police confiscated some firearms during the house searches.
    The Chief Prosecutor also confirmed that the two suspects that were shipped out to Aruba in the interest of the investigation were brought back to St. Maarten while the other two that are held in Curacao will return to the island soon.
  • Buncamper and Labega Cases to be Investigated this year.

    Philipsburg:--- The Prosecutor's office will speed up two major investigations that involves a civil servant and a former Minister confirmed Chief Prosecutor Hans Mos. Mos said the Lands Recherché managed to secure some additional manpower this year therefore, the cases that are pending will be investigated. Two of the pending cases are the Buncamper's sale of the economic rights of government lease land and the alleged fraud committed by former head of the tourist office Regina Labega.
    Former Minister of Labour and Health Maria Buncamper Molanus was forced to resign after it was discovered that she sold the economic rights of government lease land for three million dollars. The former Minister and her spouse received the lease land in the year 2008 when she was a commissioner and it was sold eight months later. Maria Buncamper Molanus was forced to resign when the scandal broke to escape a motion of no confidence which was tabled by the National Alliance.
    In the meantime, the former Head of Finance Bas Roorda provided information to the Prosecutor's Office which suggests that the former Head of the Tourist Office committed fraud while she was in office.
    The Lands Recherche is busy finalizing their reports on the investigation they conducted at the prison regarding the suicide death of Robert Reid and the VROMI inspector that was arrested for fraud. Mos said when he gets the report regarding the VROMI inspector a decision will be taken on whether or not the suspect will be prosecuted.
  • Three More Houses Searches in the Vesuvius investigation --- More Firearms and Ammunition Seized.

    Philipsburg:--- On Thursday, police conducted house searches on three different premises in Betty's Estate and Wymont Hill confirmed Chief Prosecutor Hans Mos.
    Mos said at one of the premises located in Betty's Estate where one of the suspects identified as A.O.J. who is already in custody lives three fire arms were seized as well as a large quantity of ammunition and a silencer.
    Three people who were found on the premises were arrested and taken in for questioning but released afterwards.
    A.O.J. was questioned immediately after the discovery of these weapons which could not be found at an earlier search back in November 2011. J. has admitted to the fact that he was the one who put the weapons and ammunition in the places where they were found.
    Thursday's seizure will be connected to the other investigative results in the Vesuvius investigation. The fire arms and the ammunition will be thoroughly examined.
  • Dutch 16 year old Sets World Record with Solo Trip --- Local media manhandled by Security.

    lauradekkerreturningtosxm21012012Simpson Bay:--- What was supposed to be a joyous moment for 16 year old Laura Dekker and St. Maarten became a nightmare for local reporters on Saturday afternoon when the Dutch 16 year old completed her trip around the globe. Laura Dekker came into the media spotlight when Dutch authorities tried to stop her from sailing alone at age 13.
    Laura Dekker sailed into St. Maarten shortly after 3pm Saturday afternoon escorted by the Coast Guards through the Simpson Bay Bridge to the St. Maarten Yacht Club. Scores of reporters representing the local and international media gathered at the St. Maarten Yacht Club to record the historic event but that was made almost impossible by the foreign security guards at the dock. Local reporters were pushed away from the dock where Laura docked her sailboat "Guppy" to greet her relatives and friends. However, certain foreign media representatives that were mainly Caucasian were allowed to get as close as possible to the 16 year old who is now considered a celebrity since she is the youngest sailor to sail the globe in one year and one day. Despite the achievement, it will not be recorded in the Guinness Book of records due to the controversy surrounding her sailing alone at such a young age.
    ldekkerhugshersister21012012Laura Dekker set out to sail single handedly a year and one day ago around the globe. She managed to complete the 27, 000 miles trip on Saturday evening when she sailed through the Simpson Bay Bridge.
    Several persons mainly of Dutch origin jumped and cheered as Laura stepped on the dock at St. Maarten Yacht Club. Hardly smiling Laura waved to the onlookers and those that supported her dreams of becoming the youngest sailor to sail around the world. When Laura saw her young sister Kim she jumped off her sailboat and gave her little sister a tight and long hug as her parents looked on.
    Laura Dekker who just celebrated her 16th birthday told reporters that she spent 41 days on sea when she left South Africa to sail to St. Maarten. She seemed disoriented when responding to questions that were posed by reporters. Looking somewhat dazed, she asked several times, "What was the question again?" It was obvious that the teenager was tired from the long journey. Shortly after the press conference, her mother and sister jumped on board the sailboat and gave the teenager a meal and a coca cola.
    ldekkereatingwithfamily21012012Her biggest fear along her journey was the whales that splashed water on her boat, while she enjoyed seeing the dolphins. "There were moments where I asked myself what the hell I am doing out here in the ocean but I never thought of giving up. It's my dream and I wanted to do it. I also learned a lot while on sea, especially how to take care of myself. While I saw mostly water, waves, and birds.
    Laura said her focus now is to complete her studies probably in the Netherlands but she wants to move to New Zealand where she would be able to concentrate on sailing. When asked why she wanted to move she said I can sail in New Zealand but that is not possible in Europe.
    Her manager told reporters that Laura and her family will be spending at least 10 days on St. Maarten before sailing to Bonaire where she will continue working on her book. Shortly after that, the family will fly back to the Netherlands.
    Minister of Education Dr. Rhoda Arrindell greeted Laura at the Simpson Bay dock where she gave her a lengthy speech and presented her with the St. Maarten flag.

    Below is the full speech by Minister Arrindell.

    What is a teenager doing sailing solo around the world like a modern-day Marco Polo? Many, like I, a mother and an educator, thought this was a dangerous adventure, too dangerous for a young girl who should be in school. I guess the point Laura Dekker was trying to make, apart from setting a new world record, is precisely that: we–the authorities, who knew little to nothing about sailing–saw her enterprise as too dangerous.
    Today I am compelled to ask when will we, as adults, refrain from projecting our own fears on our youth, and thus stop contaminating their brave minds with cowardice? When will we allow them to soar like eagles rather than chirp around like chickens?
    I ask these questions not because I think I have the answer as an adult, but because I know that we adults are always conflicted by what we believe to be best for our children and helping them to fulfill their dreams as they see them, especially when we fear they might be put in danger.
    Laura Dekker has conquered her own fears, if she had any, and dissolved ours, which we tried to impose on her in an attempt to dissuade her from embarking on a historic, record-breaking circumnavigation which basically started right here on St. Martin, and also ends here today, as a testament to the determination, iron-will, and sailing skills of this young lady.
    But, just so that the world should know, when Laura was reported missing in The Netherlands, and was found here on our island, it was not because we chose to harbor her from her family or from the Dutch authorities. I can say that without any equivocation, because coincidentally, I am also acting as Minister of Justice today, in the absence of my colleague, attorney Roland Duncan.
    And as Minister of Education, also with responsibility for Sports and Youth Affairs, I must stress that compulsory education is the law of the land; it is enshrined in the Constitution of St. Martin and it is being rigorously implemented. This means, Laura, that you have no excuse for not finishing your studies, and I really look forward to the day of your graduation from school. As a matter of fact, the record you must achieve now is that of completing your studies. I am gladdened by the fact that you have already made that commitment to yourself.
    But none of this can detract from the significance of your heroic feat. You did not allow anyone to steal your dream. You fought legal battles, defied all the odds, braved some treacherous seas, to arrive here today, with your head high, your eyes beaming with joy and satisfaction, and everyone around you proud of your accomplishment.
    Your quest began right here on St. Martin and rightfully ends here, too. Yours, I believe, is the first world record that started and ended on our island. It would, therefore, be fair to say that in you, St. Martin has its first world record.
    May I, therefore, seize this opportunity to appeal to you to help make sailing more attractive to our youth by encouraging them through your own life story to practice this sport. We are surrounded by water, and there is no reason why we should not be producing world champions in sailing. I am sure with your celebrity status, you will be able to convince your peers on the island to dedicate themselves to sailing.
    Congratulations and welcome back home, Laura!
    {loadposition inset}
    Click here to view more photos of Laura Dekker as she sails into St. Maarten.


  • Friendly Anger: that unique opportunity to know the labor history and people of St. Martin. By Oswald Francis

    alrettpeterswithunionofficers22012012It is not the norm for one to read a history book from cover to cover in one sitting. However, with Friendly Anger, one is compelled to read Joseph Lake, Jr.’s account of “The rise of the labor movement in St. Martin” from its inception to the present.

    Lake’s style of writing is very simple, yet effective. He writes with such simplicity that the grassroots can understand and yet he is able to provoke the thoughts of the intellectuals.

    a political scientist and veteran newsman, Lake combines narrative and analysis so well, that consequently one is never bored by the balanced information presented; hence one is motivated to read on.

    Friendly Anger, published by House of Nehesi (HNP), is a compilation of socio-economic and political events spanning over 35 years. It deals with the labor situation on the island from the late sixties, the groundbreaking events of the seventies such as the burning of the government administration building and the Lt. Governor’s residence, the “roundabout” effects of the nineties, and concludes with the challenges at the onset of the new century—giving clear reasons for the birth of trade unionism and its impact on society.

    As a cogent examiner of the industrial events in St. Martin, Lake, has categorized key periods, such as the birth of trade unionism, the glory days of the trade union movement, and the 1990s, which he describes as the period of “remote control leadership” as a number of trade unions in St. Martin were run from Curacao in the South and from Guadeloupe in the North.

    friendlyanger22012012The analysis of the “remote control” period will surely evoke animated discussions among trade unions on the island as it gives the perception that these unions had lost their “sting” in the 1990s and were not as effective as they ought to be.

    The introduction to Friendly Anger by Trinidad’s economist David Abdulah also reminds us succinctly of the book’s role in giving an “excellent … social history” account of the St. Martin people.

    As an educator, I exhort our educational planners to ensure that Friendly Anger finds a place in our school’s curriculum. At a time when there is hardly anything written about ourselves, by ourselves, it is crucial that this analytical book finds a treasured place in every household in St. Martin, and ultimately serves as a catalyst to inspire national pride and independence. This can be achieved if we adhere to the words of wisdom of the legendary calypsonian, King Obstinate:

    “A people are known by their culture,

    A people are known by their past.

    The past determines the future

    From the present we can forecast.”

    Finally, as we move into the new millennium, it is important for us to know where we came from and where we are going. The island did not evolve by itself but the “movers” and “shakers” in our society brought about these changes. Hence it is of paramount importance that we know who they are and what they have contributed to society. Friendly Anger, which also includes 26 pages of union-related photos and an appendix of labor contracts, union constitutions, and other documents, gives us that unique opportunity to know our history.

    Friendly Anger is available at www.amazon.com, LAMA’s office, and Van Dorp and Arnia’s bookstores.

  • Man shot in leg during armed robbery.

    Philipsburg:--- On January 23rd, 2011 at around 09:15pm police patrols, detectives, Forensic Department and Ambulance Department personnel were directed to Geo Villas on the Guana Bay road, where a man had been shot during an armed robbery. On the scene the investigating officers encountered the victims with the initials H.J.C and S.M. The male victim stated that he, his girlfriend, and child had just reached home when they were suddenly attacked by three unknown masked and armed men. They were forced into their home where the robbers demanded money from them, reported Police Spokesman Ricardo Henson.
    After being robbed of a small amount of cash the robbers demanded more money at which the time victim H.J.C. was shot in his right leg and S.M. was struck in her head with the butt of a gun. After committing their act the robbers fled the scene on foot. The victims were treated on the scene by paramedics and the H.J.C. was transported to the Sint Maarten Medical Centre for further medical treatment. The scene was closed off and the Forensic Department started their investigation by collecting evidence.
    A search of the vicinity for the suspects did not have any positive results. The Detectives are busy questioning potential witnesses. This investigation is ongoing.
  • Prime Minister was Keynote Speaker at Mayor World Conference Inc (WMC).

    swescotwilliamsreceivesbookfromdparks24012012Great Bay (DCOMM):--- Prime Minister Sarah Wescot-Williams was the keynote speaker at the Mayor World Conference Inc (WMC), National Bar Association and the Judicial Council last week.

    The theme was "Promoting Justice and Equality." The Prime Minister touched upon the topic of the country's judicial system, of having local judges, the language of the court system, the constitution, human rights, and the country's international reporting obligations.

    .

  • BLOOD DRIVE ORGANIZED BY THE Rotary Club of Saint Martin Nord on January 27 and 28, 2012.

    DONATING MY BLOOD SO THAT OTHERS MIGHT LIVE!
    It will cost you one half hour of your time...and you might be able to save lives!
    For those of you who are interested in donating your blood, please note that you must:
    • Be 18 years of age and no older than 71
    • Be In good health
    • Not have travelled to Haiti or Guyana, for example in the last three months
    When arriving in the hall of the Chamber where you will be donating your Blood, you are usually guided in answering questions prior to giving your blood. Your blood pressure is checked and you must then consult with the nurse whom you may ask all the questions. After that, you will meet the doctor who will review your chart and give the nurses the approval to take your blood or not. You might be referred for various reasons. When giving blood, you do not have to fast, on the contrary, you will have eaten and sandwiches are provided for you if you did not. The Blood donation takes about 10-15 minutes. After giving your blood you do need to drink at least 1 to 11/2 liters of water for rehydration. At the end of the day, you have satisfied yourself because you have given blood that will save many lives. ..and you've only spent half an hour doing that.
    Our Hospitals need blood for their operations and certain illnesses for their patients ... And who knows? One day it might be you who might need blood or a blood transfusion.
    Hence, the Rotary Club of Saint Martin Nord, the Rotaract Club, and HELP SAINT MARTIN Association have joined forces and we are proud to invite each and everyone who qualifies to donate Blood to do so at the CHAMBER OF COMMERCE building on French St. Martin in Concordia on Friday and Saturday, January 27 and 28 from 9AM to 2PM.
    SUPPORT OUR BLOOD DRIVE AND DONATE YOUR BLOOD TO SAVE LIVES!
  • Workers of SBRMC files Complaint against Employer for withholding Contracts --- Union writes Government.

    Philipsburg:--- The employees who responded to the offer given by the Simpson Bay Resort Management Company has filed an official complaint with the Labour Department since their employer has refused to hand over a copy of their contract to them.
    In the meantime, the Workers Institute for Organized Labour (WIFOL) has written a letter to the Labour Department about the matter. The WIFOL expressed concern in their letter of January 23rd, 2012 about the one year contract given to workers while the union also requested a copy of the contracts. The union also wrote a letter to the General Manager of SBRMC Jules James and the Human Resource Department of SBRMC requesting a copy of the contracts. WIFOL has also requested information from SBRMC as to how many of its members signed the short term contract. "The WIFOL is very concerned about the short term contract given to our members who were invited to continue working with the SBRMC." Thompson said several of the WIFOL members took up the offer by SBRMC and when they requested a copy of the contract they were denied. The union's president said that workers who respond to an opening at any company are supposed to be given a copy of the contract beforehand to review and analyze before they sign. Normally, workers are to be given a copy of their signed contract. Thompson alleged that the company's General Manager Jules James instructed the SBRMC Human Resource Department not to give the workers a copy of their contracts. Thompson said some of the workers refused to sign the contract when they were told that they could not get a copy and they reported the matter to the WIFOL. The WIFOL President said he is yet to receive a response from the Labour Department and the Resort. "We are extremely disappointed in the slow response from the labour department. A copy of the letter that was sent to the Labour Department was also sent to the Minister of Labour Cornelius De Weever, the Secretary General of the Ministry Jorien Wuite, and the mediator Derrick Holiday."
  • St. Maarten Cable TV’s Digital Launch Schedule.

    Philipsburg:--- St. Maarten Cable TV reminds its subscribers that effective February 1st, 2012, everyone is required to switch to a Motorola digital box to continue receiving service. It is necessary that subscribers visit the primary Business Office at Madame Estate to exchange their analog box in order to continue receiving service.
    To provide all customers the opportunity to gradually transition to the digital platform and to accommodate the change to the new digital platform, St. Maarten Cable TV will simulcast the analog channels until May 1, 2012. Thereafter, the Company will cease transmission of the analog channels and the Pioneer converters will no longer receive the signal.
    Subscribers in the areas listed below should come in during the periods mentioned to swap their analog cable box for a digital box. Customers must also bring their remote(s), coupon book and a valid ID. Those subscribers that have a shield on the cable box or not able to remove their cable box should call the customer service department at 542-4361 for further instructions.

    Area #1: February 1, 2012 to February 13, 2012
    • Madame Estate/Fort William
    • Sucker Garden, Upper & Lower
    Area #2: February 14, 2012 to February 24, 2012
    • Philipsburg / Fort William
    • Guano Bay / Hope estate

    Area #3: February 27, 2012 to March 9, 2012

    • Dawn Beach / Oyster Pond / Red Pond
    • Defiance / Middle Region

     

    Area #4: March 1, 2012 to March 13, 2012

    • Pelican
    • Simpson Bay

    Area #5: March 12, 2012 to March 22, 2012

    • Belvedere / Rice Hill
    • Dutch Quarter / Union Farm

    Area #6: March 14, 2012 to March 23, 2012

    • Airport Road
    • Beacon Hill

    Area #7: March 23, 2012 to April 4, 2012

    • Illidge Road / Bush Road / Cul De Sac
    • Betty's Estate / Saunders / Mary's Fancy

    Area #8: March 26, 2012 to April 5, 2012

    • Cole Bay
    • Cay Bay

    Area #9: April 5, 2012 to April 17, 2012

    • Cay Hill / Belair
    • Ebenezer / St. Peters / South Reward / L.B. Scott Road

    Area #10: April 10, 2012 to April 20, 2012

    • Maho / Pointe Pirouette
    • Low Lands

    Area #11: April 18, 2012 to April 30, 2012

    • Pointe Blanche

    Customers are also encouraged to call the office at 542-4361 or contact the office online at office@sxmcablenet.com to gather all the pertinent information prior to visiting the Business Office. St. Maarten Cable TV's Customer Service Representatives will gladly provide the requisite information needed to accelerate the process. Information about the swap process will also be included on St. Maarten Cable TV's website at www.innovativevi.net/sxmcable.

  • JOURNEY FOR EDUCATION HOSTS SUCCESSFUL DINNER --- Patricia Lourens challenges educators to prepare for the 21st century child.

    jfedinner29012012The Journey for Education Foundation hosted its annual gala dinner with an outstanding keynote address, students' testimonials, great entertainment and prizes for the supporters. Rescheduled from Last November, the dinner was held on Saturday evening at the Sonesta Great Bay Hotel.
    Educator and Head of the Education Innovations Division, Patricia Lourens challenged educators and parents to prepare for the 21st century child. This was one of the main messages in her delivery as keynote speaker for the Journey for Education's annual Gala dinner last Saturday evening. She encouraged the need for us to design flexible educational systems to meet the needs of the "digital child". Engagement, active learning and hands-on learning were all expounded upon in her presentation. Mrs. Lourens believes that generating knowledge should take precedence over the traditional sharing of information as is now being done in the classrooms. She envisions a global classroom where teachers are facilitators, classrooms are nerve centers and students are rewarded for their curiosity. "This is not just wild imagination, but is already being done in several parts of the world" she reassured the audience.
    The presentation by Mrs Lourens was well received and provided great insight into the challenges of the new century and the need for St Maarten to make some serious changes to the educational system in order to meet the needs of the digital child.
    Clara George, who was a past recipient of funds from JFE gave a short testimonial on the importance of the organization in helping her realize her goals of becoming an elementary school teacher. Paul Emmanuel, who had received assistance several years ago made a donation of One thousand Euro to the Foundation as he commended them on the work they are doing and pledged to support the organization annually.
    After dinner supporters were entertained by the Philosopher of Humor Fernando Clark who had the audience in stitches. Clark showed his versatility in comedy by incorporating aspects of Mrs Lourens keynote address in his comedy routine. Several attendees won prizes such as round trip tickets on Winair, weekend stay at Oyster Bay Hotel and a weekend stay at Ocean Terrace Villas in Anguilla.
    JFE President Rolando Tobias extended words of thanks and appreciation to all those who made the evening a success. He also thanked the Board for continuing to do the work of volunteering to continue the vision of the late Captain Gaston Boasman; founder of Journey for Education Foundation.
  • Middle Region Robbery Suspects and Klass Electronics Robbery Suspect Arrested.

    Philipsburg:--- On December 27th, 2011, officers from the December Offensive Team arrested a suspect identified as A. De St. J. from Curacao as one of the suspects in a large armed robbery that was committed in September 2011 in Middle Region, reported Acting Police Spokesman Giovanni Sprott. Sprott said the second suspect in this robbery investigation is already behind bars.
    In an unrelated case, on December 29th members of the December Offensive Team arrested a suspect identified as R. Ch., a national of Haiti that was wanted by police for an armed robbery he committed in July, 2011 in the Klass Electronics parking lot.
    Acting Police Spokesman Giovanni Sprott also reported that on December 29th the police was called to A.T. Illidge Road where a fight was taking place. Sprott said when police reached the area they were approached by a man identified as L.K. who told police that he had rented a car to another man identified as L.U. L.K. told police he rented the car since February, 2011 and L.U. had not returned the vehicle neither did he pay the outstanding bill. He further told police that when he confronted L.U. he became outraged and an argument started which got out of hand causing both men to engage in a fight.
    Both parties were arrested for fighting on the public road and were taken to the Philipsburg police station for further investigation.
    At the station, both men were examined by the ambulance personnel for their minor wounds. The detective department is further investigating the case.
    On Friday December 30th, 2011 around 08:10pm, a police patrol was directed to the Texaco Star Mart on Bush Road where an armed robbery had taken place. The first patrol that reached the scene was informed by workers of the establishment that three unknown young men armed with a shotgun and two pistols had held up the cashier and stolen all monies from the cash register. All three suspects had their faces covered while committing this act.
    They later fled the scene on foot. The ambulance was called to have the both employees checked as they were both in shock, the Special Robbery Unit is investigating this case further.
  • Deygoo Murder Suspect to Appear in Court on Friday.

    Philipsburg:--- The 18 year old suspect identified as K.C. from French St. Martin that was arrested as one of the two suspects that shot and killed Guyanese businessman Mark Anthony Deygoo is expected to appear before the judge of instruction on Friday confirmed Prosecutor Bart den Hartigh. Den Hartigh said that the prosecution will ask that the suspect's pre-trial detention be extended as the police continue their investigation. The suspect was arrested on December 28th on the Dutch side of the island.
    Mark Deygoo was the owner and operator of Fragile Bundle located on Back Street, he was shot multiple times by two young men who entered the store on September 21st 2011 and robbed the store of cash, a laptop computer, and other items. The eyewitnesses to the shooting were Deygoo's wife and his only daughter who have since left the island.
  • Truck Driver in Silvia Lynch Accident to Appear in Court February 22nd, 2012.

    Philipsburg:--- The truck driver that struck down 13 year old Silvia Lynch on Friday May 06th 2011 causing her instant death was summoned to appear in the court of First Instance to answer charges of involuntary manslaughter (dangerous driving resulting in the death of a person) confirmed Prosecutor Bart den Hartigh.
    The truck driver Marlin Benitez will have to appear in court on February 22nd, 2012, if convicted he can spend a maximum of one year behind bars. At the time of the fatal accident Benitez was not in possession of legal residency neither did he have a St. Maarten's driver's license. However, the driver was in possession of a driver's license from the Dominican Republic.
    The late Silvia Lynch (13) a former student of the Marie Genevieve de Weever School was killed when she hopped off a school bus in front of her Sucker Garden home. Her sudden death sparked outrage in the St. Maarten community. Residents and radio listeners bombarded Chief Prosecutor Hans Mos for releasing the undocumented and unlicensed driver the same day Lynch was killed. Mos had said on several occasions that the driver will be prosecuted.
  • Prime Minister Wescot congratulates newly elected leaders of St. Lucia, Guyana and Jamaica.

    Great Bay (DCOMM):--- Prime Minister, Hon. Sarah Wescot-Williams has congratulated newly elected St. Lucia Prime Minister, Hon. Dr. Kenny Anthony, President of Guyana, H.E. Donald Ramotar, and Prime Minister of Jamaica, Most Hon. Portia Simpson Miller.

    On December 06, newly-elected Prime Minister of St. Lucia, Dr. Kenny D. Anthony watched as his cabinet members were appointed to the executive arm of government for the next five years in a swearing-in ceremony at the House of Parliament.

    Prime Minister Kenny Anthony assumes the portfolios for Finance and Economic Affairs, Planning, and Social Security. His Cabinet consists of 14 members, two women and twelve men.

    St. Lucians went to the polls in a general election on November 28.

    Guyana also has a new President, H.E. Donald Ramotar, who was elected on November 28. He was sworn in as Guyana's seventh head of state on December 3.

    Portia Simpson Miller was formally sworn in as Jamaica's seventh Prime Minister on Thursday afternoon at King's House.

    All three countries are members of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM).

    "I wish the three leaders much success as they prepare their governing visions for the coming five years. Each and every country is confronted with many challenges, internally as well as externally, due to events such as the global recession and the current uncertainties that exist in Europe with respect to the so-called Euro Zone crisis.

    "Despite these challenges, as leaders of our countries, we must continue to govern and do what has to be done to move our countries forward in these challenging times.

    "Once again, I take this opportunity to congratulate the three leaders on their election wins and wish them God's strength and wisdom as they move their nations forward," Prime Minister Hon. Sarah Wescot-Williams said on Friday.

    In her letter to the Prime Minister of Jamaica, Wescot-Williams stated, "Your Party's win at the polls gives you a strong mandate to move your country forward during these tumultuous global times.

    "In times such as these, leaders are to be both a beacon of strength for their respective constituencies and at the same time a bastion of strong will and determination in their region and beyond.

    "I have no doubt that buoyed by your country's overwhelming support; you will take on both endeavors with unmatched vigor. While you will undoubtedly have many priorities on the home-front, I look forward in the not too distant future to meet with you and your other ministers to discuss matters that could be of mutual benefit to both our countries."

  • Several MP’s and Ministers Boycotted Governor’s New Year’s Reception.

    eholidayandswescotwilliams06012012Philipsburg:--- Several Members of Parliament as well as Ministers boycotted the Governor's New Year's Reception which was held at the Toucan Restaurant Friday night. Attending the event were the two Ministers representing the Democratic Party, namely Prime Minister Sarah Wescot Williams and Minister of Health and Labour Cornelius de Weever. All Ministers from the United Peoples Party did not attend the social gathering. Representing the Parliament of St. Maarten were Chairlady of Parliament Gracita Arrindell from the United Peoples Party and two members of the National Alliance Faction, they were the NA Leader William Marlin and Member of Parliament George Pantophlet. Among those that attended the event were Deputy Minister of Plenipotentiary Richard Panneflek, Chief Commissioner of Police Peter de Witte, former Lt. Governor's Ralph Richardson, Denis Richardson along with Acting Governor Reynold Groeneveldt and Senator Louis Constant Fleming of French St. Martin.
    The Parliament of St. Maarten comprises of 15 Members of Parliament while the Council of Ministers have seven Ministers.
    Invited guests to the reception were treated with a red carpet which lined the main entrance to the restaurant which is located behind the Divi Little Bay resort.
    Governor Holiday and First Lady Marie- Louise stood outside of the Toucan Restaurant where they humbly welcomed their guests as they arrived. Once on the restaurant's terrace the guests were served with champagne and had had ample to time to chit chat before Governor Eugene Holiday delivered his New Year's speech at 8pm.
    The New Year's speech delivered by Governor Holiday was entitled "Moving Sint Maarten to a higher national plane." Governor Holiday expressed gratitude on behalf of the Royal Family for the hospitality they received during their visit to St. Maarten in November, while he distributed a pictorial of the event to all who attended the New Year's reception.
    Governor Holiday called for excellence in governance and to achieve this mission he said individuals and corporations as well as public organizations and government should rise above the narrow confines of individual interests to the higher and broader concerns of society. Focus he said should be placed on improving education, more and better employment, less crime and drug abuse, a cleaner environment, cultural development, uncompromising observance of the Democratic principles of freedom and equality, solidarity, accountability, transparency and justice.
    Below is the full text of Governor Holiday New Year's Speech 2012.

    Moving Sint Maarten
    To a higher National Plane
    As A Center Of Excellence
    by
    Eugene B. Holiday
    Governor of Sint Maarten

     

    Ladies and Gentlemen,

    Good evening and welcome; It is wonderful to have you here this evening to celebrate the start of 2012 with you.
    At the beginning of this NEW YEAR 2012, Marie-Louise and I, are pleased to extend warm greetings and best wishes to you and the people of Sint Maarten. This evening's reception calls for you to enjoy the setting, dishes, drinks and music especially prepared for you. It brings a cross section of our community together in the unifying act of sharing in a light diner. I shall therefore not keep you too long, as I take this moment to make two remarks, a general and a specific one.
    My specific remark regards the grand Royal Visit to Sint Maarten in November of 2011 in which large numbers of people turned out and greeted the Royal Family. I am particularly pleased to convey the appreciation of Her Majesty to the people of Sint Maarten for the wonderful and warm reception which Her Majesty and the Royal Highnesses received during their first visit to Sint Maarten as a country in November of 2011. Thanks to the dedication and work of all who were involved in organizing the visit we can look back at a successful and unforgettable Royal visit. I have therefore decided to store the memories of this special visit in a pictorial documentary and to present a copy of it to all of you at the end of the evening. It is presented to you as a special keepsake proudly displaying the potential of the people of Sint Maarten as we hosted the Royal Family.
    Speaking about the potential of the people of St. Maarten brings me to the second and general part of my remarks and thoughts. Thoughts which I hope will be points of discussion and action for you in the year ahead. Thoughts which reflect the aspirations of and come from my conversations with residents during the past year.
    For the purpose of my message I have captured these aspirational discussions in the following question.
    Now that we have accomplished country status, where do we go from here?
    In my 2011 new year's message I preempted that question with the statement and I quote: "Looking ahead, as we gather here this evening at the beginning of 2011, at the start of the first full calendar year as a country, .........I trust that we will strive for excellence in governance"., unquote. To qualify that statement I went on to state, I quote: "My call for excellence in governance is based on the universal rule: that the better the level of governance in a society, the higher the level of wellbeing of and the stronger the community"., unquote.
    This evening a year later, looking back at 2011 and forward to 2012, I reiterate that call for excellence in governance. I do so this evening with my sight firmly set on Sint Maarten as a Center of Excellence in our region.
    This is a mission which we can only achieve when we, as individuals, corporations, public organizations and government, rise above the narrow confines of our individual interests to the higher and broader concerns of our society. Broader societal concerns such as:

    • improved education;
    • more and better employment;
    • less crime and drug abuse;
    • a cleaner environment;
    • cultural development; and
    • un-compromising observance of the democratic principles of freedom, equality, solidarity, accountability, transparency and justice.

    Fostering and achieving these broader societal objectives means a better life for all Sint Maarteners.

    Thus as we address the question: Where do we go from here?; it is essential that we, as the generations before us have done, strive to move Sint Maarten to a higher national plane. To do so it is imperative that each of us move beyond the sound of our voices to concrete actions. Let us embark on a search for and implementation of concrete national programs that will satisfy mentioned broader societal objectives. For the inspiration for a true leap forward to a higher national plane for Sint Maarten must come from within, from within the people – You and I – that make up our nation.

    It is critical therefore that we put our people first; this because people are the most critical factor for the quality of our governance and development. As we embark on this New Year let us renew our commitment to invest in and care for our human capital. Let us as we seek to move Sint Maarten to a higher national plane, to its place as a center of excellence, start by investing more in the academic, vocational and artistic development of our people.

    In this context it is my hope and recommendation that more concerted action be taken in 2012 to develop concrete and significant national programs. Specifically I recommend national initiatives such as the institution of a Law Faculty at our institution of higher learning, the establishment of a Sint Maarten Philharmonic Orchestra as well as a Center for the Performing Arts. The realization of these programs calls for excellence in educational governance and in cultural governance. They are programs which have the potential to inspire our people. They offer new opportunities and as such motivate our people to strive to realize our full potential as a nation.

    This ladies and gentlemen is critical because a motivated and inspired people is our best source of strength as we set our sails to navigate through the rough seas of the expected protracted unfavorable global financial and economic environment in 2012. That, however, will not be enough to weather the storms in 2012. It will in addition be imperative that we apply "best practices" in the governance of our economy through an innovative national economic program. An economic program – grounded in prudent fiscal, sound monetary, responsible business, balanced social, and sustainable environmental policies – all aimed at protecting our economic base from potential erosion and directed at laying a solid foundation as the global economy undergoes transformation. For it is only by making such governance investments that we can secure moving to a higher national plane of excellence for current and future generations.

    Ladies and Gentlemen,

    In closing, as the New Year 2012 begins, let us thank God for watching over our country. And at the same time let us individually and collectively commit to act to take Sint Maarten to a higher national plane as a center of excellence. This is your duty, my duty, our obligation. In my role as Governor I hereby, with a vision for a stronger Sint Maarten, reaffirm my pledge to continue to work with government and other stakeholders to serve the people of St. Maarten.

    With that pledge, I hereby on behalf of Marie-Louise and myself, wish you and your family a year of health, happiness and growth.

    Thank you, God bless you, and God bless Sint Maarten.

    The Governor of Sint Maarten
    Eugene B. Holiday
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    Click here to view more photos of the Governor's New Year's reception.

  • SCDF and FCDSM Unite for respective Carnivals --- Guest on Lloyd’s radio show.

    fcdsmandscdf08012012Philipsburg:--- The St. Maarten Carnival Development Foundation (SCDF) and Festivité Carnavalesque De Saint Martin Le comité Festivités Carnavalesques De Saint Martin (FCDSM) met on Tuesday evening to
    discuss areas of cooperation. "We will be assisting our French-side counterparts in the coming weeks and months ahead," remarked Stuart Johnson President of the SCDF. Present at the meeting for the FCDSM was its President Phillipe Richardson along with his three team delegation.

    The SCDF and FCDSM outlined areas of support in terms of advice, volunteering and marketing ventures for the respective Carnivals. The Carnival celebrations of the French-Side will be February 12th to February 22nd, while the Dutch side Carnival will be April 19th to May 2nd with each having their own line up of pre-events.

    "We will do our utmost to continue to be there for our French-side counterparts whilst continue to foster our working relationship with other islands, such as Aruba, Curacao and Anguilla," remarked Johnson. To kick off the initial joint venture the SCDF and FCDSM were guest on the popular PJD2 1300AM radio show of Lloyd Richardson on Sunday
    morning. For this interview FCDSM President Mr. Richardson, FCDSM Public Relations Officer Robert Fleming, SCDF President Stuart Johnson, and Erno Labega SCDF treasurer were present. "We are grateful for the opportunities being afforded to us such as this media interview as we continue to apprise the public of the ongoing preparations. We surely are eager and excited as we continue to gear towards Carnival 2012 on the Dutch-side," Johnson concluded.

  • Tourism officials discuss cooperation with Minister Plenipotentiary.

    touristofficerepsvisitmvoges09012012Great Bay (DCOMM):--- On Monday Head of the Sint Maarten Tourist Bureau May-Ling Chun met with the Cabinet of the Minister Plenipotentiary in The Hague at Sint Maarten House. Chun and the Minister discussed tourism promotion cooperation and the Utrecht Vacation Fair.
  • National Alliance Faction Objects to Amending Program for Dutch MP’s.

    Philipsburg:--- What is supposed to be a surprise for the Dutch Members of Parliament from the first and second chamber has now become a public debate between the Members of Parliament of St. Maarten.
    On Saturday, the Secretary General of the Parliament of St. Maarten dispatched an email to a Members of Parliament informing them that the program for the Dutch MP's was amended despite a vote that was taken on Friday in a Central Committee meeting.
    The email from Josef Semeleer states that after discussing the proposal with Member of Parliament Roy Marlin, Chairperson of the Kingdom Relations Committee and the Tourist Office it has been decided that due to logistics and time schedule the program will be amended. The amendment is about a surprise activity for the visitors that will be held on Thursday instead of Friday at the Great Bay Resort.
    However, the Leader of the National Alliance William Marlin responded on Monday saying that he strongly objects to the procedure and the amendment. Marlin said the objection is not regarding the day or the activity that is planned rather it is about the procedure that was used. Marlin said that after the Chairlady of Parliament Gracita Arrindell and the Chairman of the Committee Roy Marlin could not reach an agreement the matter was brought to the Central Committee where a vote was taken and seven Members of Parliament voted in favor of the event being held on Friday evening rather than Thursday while three Members of Parliament voted against. He said the Central Committee already took a decision on what the activity would be and now to learn that an amendment was made is against the basic principle of democracy. He said no members of Parliament can change a decision made by the majority of Parliament. "We cannot allow this practice to continue as it is undemocratic and against the principles of Good Governance," Marlin said. He further stated that last year there was a similar situation, when it had been discussed and agreed upon, that the Kingdom Affairs Committee was not willing to meet with a delegation of Faction Leaders from the Dutch Parliament on a Saturday morning. It was agreed upon in the meeting that a letter, informing them of the decision of the Committee would be sent to them and suggesting that the meeting be either held on Friday or on Monday.
    The Chairman of the Committee, MP Roy Marlin, took it upon himself to unilaterally change the decision of the majority of the Committee and decide to still meet with the Faction Leaders on the Saturday in question.
    Therefore, the Members of the National Alliance recognize a habit to this way of operating, which is against the basic principles of democracy. For this reason, they strongly object to the decision that was taken to change a decision taken by the majority of Parliament in a Central Committee meeting.
    The National Alliance suggests that this matter be dealt with properly, through consultation with all members of Parliament, after which a decision will be taken by the majority of Parliament.
  • PUBLIC NOTICE: WITU Holding Urgent General Membership meeting on January 12th, 2012.

    W.I.T.U. would like to invite ALL its members to an URGENT General Membership meeting at the WIFOL Building on January 12th, 2012 at 2 pm.

    Your attendance is of great importance as we have pertinent information to share with you.

    Agenda:

    1. Health Care Quality
    2. Sickness Insurance
    3. Old Age Pension
    4. and More by Special Speakers

    Yours in solidarity,
    Mrs. Claire Elshot-Aventurin
    WITU President

  • Minister of Labour Launched Internal Investigation into Pelican Dismissal Request --- SG at Center of Investigation.

    cdeweever11012012Philipsburg:--- Minister of Labour Cornelius de Weever announced on Wednesday during the Council of Minister's press briefing that an internal investigation will be launched at the Department of Labour Affairs to determine who exactly messed up with the dismissal request submitted by the Pelican Resort Club/Simpson Bay Management Company BV. Minister de Weever and the Department Head Peggy-Ann Dros met the Pelican saga when they entered office and the only person who should have known the details of the case is the Secretary General of the Department Joireen Wuite. Minister De Weever said based on the documents he saw, the company (SBRMC) provided all the relevant information that was requested. Minister de Weever said at some point in the correspondence a decision was made and it was up to the Secretary General to inform parties of the decision that was taken. The Minister's statements on Wednesday are contrary to those made by the Department Head Peggy- Ann Dros on Monday when she met with the workers to update them on the dismissal process. The hold up at the Labour Department is frustrating the 47 workers who are waiting on an official letter from the company and the labour department to access their cessentia benefits.
    Minister de Weever told SMN News that he is not responsible for dismissals and that Wuite is the one who has to take the decision based on the advice she receives from the dismissal committee. The investigation he said will determine if an advice was submitted and if anyone failed to take a decision. Minister de Weever also explained that the law is very clear when it comes to the dismissal of workers and the allotted time government has to respond. He said if a decision was not taken during the period of time government has to do so then government normally has to ask for an extension of time. "The internal investigation will also determine if the person responsible for these matters followed the law."
    Furthermore, Minister de Weever said the only thing he has is his word and he has asked the Attorney for SBRMC and the Workers Institute for Organized Labour not to divulge any information to the media as he tries to resolve the gridlock between the company and the union. His intention he said was pure because he wanted to avoid further damage to both the company and the workers. Minister De Weever said his vision was to get the workers back to work even if it meant going back to the first deal that was on the table over a year ago. He said thus far, he maintained his word and a meeting which was supposed to be an informative meeting for the workers turned into a media spectacle and grand standing which in his opinion will not help them to achieve their goals. Minister De Weever said he understands the role of the unions but he also understands that the workers have their bills to pay which includes mortgages, school fees, and putting food on their tables.
    He said his role is to maintain a stable environment while making sure that the workers are not abused. The Minister further stated that he is thankful for the letter he received from SBRMC informing him that they are willing to re-hire 91 of the workers. He said the President of the WIFOL Theophillus Thompson assured him that he was willing to entertain such an offer. Therefore, he is looking forward to see that the Pelican labour dispute is resolved in a timely manner.
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  • Christmas bonus to be paid out by February 6.

    Philipsburg:--- Minister of Finance Hon. Hiro Shigemoto announced on Wednesday that the Christmas Bonus will be paid out by February 6, 2012.

    All civil servants scale six and under will receive Naf.325,00. Pensioners will receive Naf.145,00.

    The total costs to the national treasury is Naf.325,000 gross which will come from the 2011 country budget, until the 2012 budget is passed in Parliament and signed into law by the Governor and the Minister of Finance.

    "All civil servants could not receive a Christmas bonus as there wasn't sufficient budgetary space. No bonus was paid in 2010, but we have made a start in the right direction and hopefully all civil servants will receive a bonus in 2013," Minister of Finance Hon. Hiro Shigemoto said on Wednesday.

  • Prime Minister Wescot and Prefet discuss issues.

    pchopinandswescotwilliams13012012Great Bay (DCOMM):--- Prime Minister Hon. Sarah Wescot-Williams on Wednesday received a courtesy visit from Préfet Philippe Chopin.

    Prefet Chopin has been in office since December 12, 2011 and is stationed in Marigot. Accompanying the Préfet on his official visit was Afif Lazrak, Secretary General of the Préfecture of St. Barths and Saint Martin.

    During the meeting which was also attended by the Prime Minister's legal advisor Hensley Plantijn as well as the Secretary General of the Council of Ministers, Cassandra Janssen, the priority areas of the Préfet were stressed upon which included among others security, economic development as well as the joint cooperation with the South side of the island.

    Currently the governments of each side of the island, including the Préfet, are working diligently on finalizing the joint letter of intent Sint Maarten – Saint Martin in order to have it signed within short.

    The Préfet and his Cabinet are looking forward to an open and fruitful relationship with the Prime Minister as well as the Council of Ministers.

  • Prison Guards Honored for Perfect Attendance.

    Pointe Blanche:--- On January 13th 2012, some 7 prison employees were honored for constantly showing up to work and never calling in sick in 2011.
    Although 2011 was a very stressful year these workers always came in to work and never reported ill.
    In his speech, the director encouraged other employees to follow the example of the honorees with perfect attendance so as to minimize the amount of absence due to illness.
    As a reward the honorees will receive a certificate and 2 extra vacation days.

    The honorees are:
    Denise Dasan-Claxton
    Myroegia Leverock
    Yvonne Mukhi-Ellis
    Renford Bell
    Humphrey Concincion
    Randall Salome
    Julianita Ambrosina
  • APS MAKES PRESENTATION TO FINANCE MINISTER --- First budget after 10-10-10 presented to Minister.

    hshigemotoreceivesapsfirstbudget16012012Philipsburg:--- Representatives of St. Maarten's new pension fund organization made a detailed presentation on the progress of the organization to the Minister of Finance, Hiro Shigemoto, on Monday. The new pension fund is known as APS, which is the Dutch abbreviation for 'Algemeen Pensioenfonds Sint Maarten' (General Pension Fund St. Maarten).
    APS is now responsible for, among others, the execution of the national pension fund ordinance of country St. Maarten. Members of the fund include active civil servants, former civil servants and employees of government owned companies.
    With the dismantling of the Netherlands Antilles as of October 10, 2010, services rendered by APNA have been taken over by this new entity. The establishment of APS is truly a historic exercise, with the country of St. Maarten having to assume its own responsibilities with regards to carrying out all pension tasks, previously assigned to the APNA, headquartered in Curacao.
    The organization falls under the jurisdiction of the Minister of Finance and has a board comprised of an independent chairman, who is also a member, and four other members. The members of the board are former Governor Franklyn E. Richards (chairman), attorney at law Richard F. Gibson (member), lawyer Eunicio S. Martina (member), manager at a local bank, Alfred de Windt (member) and businessman Michel Soons (member).
    The national pension fund ordinance also makes provisions for a three member investment committee consisting of experts.
    Members of the investment committee are Francis Bowman, manager at a local company and Myrtille Brookson, branch manager at an insurance firm. The third member is yet to be appointed.

    The committee will advise the board of directors on how to invest the monies which have to be invested according to, among others, the 60-40 rule established by the Central Bank of Curacao and St. Maarten. At least 60 per cent has to be invested locally and up to a maximum of 40 per cent can be invested elsewhere.
    Tasked with the daily operation of the fund is APS director Kendra Arnell and personnel.
    A highlight of the meeting was the presentation of the first APS budget to be presented to the Minister of Finance, after St. Maarten attained its separate status on October 10, 2010. The budget was presented by APS director Kendra Arnell, witnessed by board chairman Franklyn Richards. The budget presented covers the 2010 -2011 period.
    Based on the national pension fund ordinance, APS is subject to supervision by the Central Bank of Curacao and St. Maarten.

    APS aims to achieve the highest possible returns through prudent investments of the fund's assets, thereby contributing to the well-being of the members of the pension fund by securing future pension incomes, says board chairman Franklyn Richards.

    "This is a momentous development for our country. The potential for the fund to invest in St. Maarten is certainly present. This must be done in a most responsible manner in order to safeguard the longevity and strength of the fund for future generations", say APS officials.

    APS says that they take the interests of their stakeholders most seriously and that employers, employees and pensioners can rest assured that APS is looking towards the long term in representing the interests of their clients.

    Whereas APS mainly handles pension matters for present and former workers of government and government related organizations, APS does not handle other areas such as the old age pension of AOW recipients.

    Participation in a pension fund is a major benefit for government employees. Enrolment in the pension plan is mandatory for every employee who started employment on a contract or with an appointment for longer than 6 months, on or after January 1st, 1998. Prior to this, participation was on a voluntary basis.

    The pension premium is partly paid by the employee (currently 8%, withheld from salary by the employer) and partly by the employer (currently around 14%, visible on the employee's pay slip).

    From its temporary offices located at Cay Hill, APS has been diligently working on incorporating all pension schemes of government owned / related entities in its business model as well as introducing the finest possible level of service. This in keeping with its "objective of developing APS as a most efficient, professional and customer friendly organization", according to APS director Kendra Arnell. APS is scheduled to relocate to the Yogesh Commercial Complex in February upcoming.
    The Minister of Finance and staff were able to pose relevant questions pertaining to APS, with APS representatives providing detailed responses to those questions. Among the points raised by the minister was that of local investment opportunities by APS. Officials of the general pension fund assured the minister that APS would certainly entertain such possibilities, once they meet requirements as outlined by APS investment guidelines.

  • VROMI Responsible for Curtailing Midges Infestation --- Minister of Health Offered Financial Assistance.

    Philipsburg:--- Minister of Health and Labour Cornelius de Weever set the record straight on Wednesday during the Council of Ministers press briefing when he was asked which Ministry is responsible for the cleaning of the Fresh Pond and curtailing the midges that are currently infesting the island. Minister de Weever said the Ministry of VROMI is responsible for the midges. However, he personally contacted Deputy Prime Minister Theodore Heyliger and discussed the situation about the midges. Minister de Weever said Heyliger had told him back then that he did not have the salt neither did they have monies in the budget to order the salt to contain the midges and he offered to assist the Minister with monies from his budget but Minister Heyliger never got back to him.

    When asked if the Ministry of Health will take any further initiative to make sure something is done to eradicate the midges, Minister de Weever said he already took the first step when he contacted the Deputy Prime Minister and offered financial assistance to purchase the salt to contain the midges.
    On Monday, some Members of Parliament said on the floor of Parliament that it was the Ministry of Health that was responsible for the midges when some of their colleagues asked the Minister of Environmental Affairs about the midge infestation.

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  • APNA (AOV) Pensioners yet to be paid --- No Payments for January both Months will be paid in February --- SZV Head.

    Philipsburg:--- Former civil servants that are currently on pension are asked to contact the SZV head office in Philipsburg to regulate their information so that SZV can make their AOV payments in February 2012.
    Head of the SZV Reginald Willemsberg said in an invited comment that the APNA (AOV) payments to former civil servants residing on St. Maarten will not be made for the month of January 2012. Willemsberg said that St. Maarten took over the payments as of January 2012 but only recently an agreement was reached with APS and SZV. Willemsberg said that APS has decided they will not make the (AOV) payments and it should be done by SZV which according to Willemsberg is better for the department. He said that the recipients of APNA (AOV) pensions also have to sign a consent form so that SZV can process their pension payments. "SZV is busy calling everyone individually so that they can update their information. However, there are some persons who they cannot reach simply because there is no phone number in the system for them."
    Willemsberg said persons that were receiving APNA (AOV and old age) pensions need to contact his office to update their information such as bank account numbers so that the payments can be made. The SZV head urged the APNA pension recipients to contact Rosalyn Antersjn at the SZV office as early as possible. An announcement he said will be published in the newspapers sometime this week.
    In the meantime, APS has announced that they will be making their first pension payment for civil servants on January 20th 2012. A press release from APS states that the General Pension Fund of Sint Maarten (Algemeen Pensioenfonds Sint Maarten), APS, is scheduled to make its first pension payments to those entitled to such on Friday, January 20. APS is working diligently with local banks to facilitate this payment. "We are proud to be taking this step forward and consider it an important milestone for our organization", says APS director Kendra Arnell.
    Since October 10, 2010, Algemeen Pensioenfonds Curacao, APC (the former APNA), had continued to carry out pension payments on behalf of APS on the basis of a service level agreement between both parties. The agreement entails that as per December 31, 2011, pension payments would be transferred to APS. APS will be making pension payments on the basis of the same regulations as APNA, in the past.
    Pension beneficiaries can expect to receive a statement with a breakdown of their pension by mail. The statement will provide information on the gross and net pension amount and on withholdings for wage tax, health insurance and other social premiums. The statement will look different but essentially conveys the same information as previous statements.
    It is not anticipated that beneficiaries will see any changes in the pensions they receive. "We have been and are working closely with APC to ensure a seamless transition", says APS management.
    APS was established by law as per October 10, 2010 when the former Netherlands Antilles was dissolved and Sint Maarten became a country within the Kingdom of the Netherlands. APS is now responsible for the execution of the National Pension Fund Ordinance of Sint Maarten.
    Persons who have questions pertaining to the payments can contact the APS by calling telephone number 543 00 03 or by email. The APS e-mail address is info@apsxm.org.
  • Parents called upon to address children regarding behavior on school busses.

    Great Bay (DCOMM):--- The School Bus Inspection Section has received numerous complaints from school bus drivers regarding the behavior of some school children while bussing to and from school.

    Parents are being called upon to address this behavior before somebody gets hurt. A school bus driver must focus on driving and is not able to address students who are misbehaving.

    School bus drivers are asked to report the misbehavior to the respective school principal and the department.

    Students who behave in a disruptive manner on the school bus are creating a dangerous situation which puts the other children and motorists in danger thereby creating a safety hazard.

    The bus driver must focus his or her attention on the road and stay on schedule. Students need to act responsibly and parents need to address this matter especially those who use the school bus.

    Students must behave in a responsible manner at the bus pick-up point; they must follow instructions of the driver; students must remain seated and quiet. The school bus driver is responsible for the safe operation of the school bus and he/she requires the support of parents. Any behavior which could endanger safety on the school bus is unacceptable.

    Riding on the school bus is a privilege, a service provided by Government at no cost.

    School busses are privately owned vehicles and parents will be held responsible for their child/children's actions.

    Anybody who sees any unusual behavior on or with a school bus is encouraged to report this to the Inspection Section at telephone number 542-4511 or 542-4509 or call the Police if it is an immediate danger.

  • Joint Information Exchange Workshop Completed Successfully.

    interpoljointinformationexchangeworkshopparticipants22012012Philipsburg:--- On January the 19th and 20th, the Police Force of Sint Maarten hosted a very fruitful workshop with representatives of the Interpol Rafael Cabrera-Sarita, representatives of the Immigration department Marcos Mota-Bodden and Juan Mejia Baez and the Acting Counsel of the Dominican Republic, Ishmael Lopez. The topic of the meeting was:
    Establishing a structural information exchange between the Judiciary services of Sint Maarten and that of the Dominican Republic. The Police Force of Sint Maarten was highly represented. The Police Chief Peter de Witte and both the Head of the Uniform Division Commissioner Carl John and the Head of the Judicial Division Commissioner Denise Jacobs were present.
    Also taking part in this workshop were:
    The Immigration and Naturalization Department: Mr. Udo Aron and other staff members, the Public prosecutor's office, Mrs. Manon Ridderbeks and the Royal Marechaussee Ewoud de Ruijter which gives support within the police force.
    The outcome of the meeting was that all parties agreed to improve the information position of the judiciary chain within the countries where necessary. In both countries, the NCB's of Interpol that is incorporated in the Police Forces and Immigration Departments will support this process highly.
    Both parties agreed that judiciary organizations from different countries should have an established structural way of information exchange in place to combat any type of international criminal activity. These countries should regularly come together to monitor the progress and results of their working relation because, in crime fighting usually "to know a face is to solve a case." But this is not the only improvement that has to be made. The Judiciary departments on Sint Maarten, including the police department, are very much in need of an adequate information system, meaning uniformity in software and good hardware. Information sharing with other organizations and with partners abroad starts with a good information and communication system within the organization.
  • Minister Meyers to be present for Wednesday plenary public session of Parliament on GEBE.

    Philipsburg:--- A Plenary public session of Parliament with reference to the utility company GEBE is scheduled for January 25.

    The meeting will take place on Wednesday afternoon at 3:00pm in the General Assembly Chamber of the House of Parliament on Wilhelmina Straat #2.1 in Philipsburg.

    The agenda point to be dealt with during the session is developments at GEBE including the generation and distribution of electricity, water and the fuel clause.

    The National Alliance (NA) faction initially requested the plenary session in its letter dated January 06, 2012 to the President of Parliament.

    The plenary public session will be carried live on St. Maarten Cable TV Channel 20 and via Pearl Radio FM 98.1 as well as via the Internet www.pearlfmradio.com and www.sxmparliament.org.

  • No Quorum for Parliament Meeting to Discuss Jules James vote on November 17th --- Coalition did not show for meeting on Tuesday.

    emptyseatsofparliament24012012Philipsburg:--- The Members of Parliament representing the United Peoples Party and their coalition partners from the Democratic Party along with one of the Independent Member of Parliament absconded from the Parliament meeting that was called on Tuesday to discuss the vote cast by Jules James on November 17th, 2011. The only Member of Parliament who provided notice of absence to the Chairlady of Parliament Gracita Arrindell was Member of the Democratic Party faction Petrus Leroy De Weever. The other Members of Parliament from the UP faction including Member of Parliament Jules James were at the Parliament Building on Monday holding a coalition meeting with Member of Parliament Roy Marlin but none of them signed in for Tuesday's Parliamentary Meeting to discuss the agenda point requested by the National Alliance.
    Present for the meeting were the Members of Parliament representing the National Alliance William Marlin, Louis Laveist, Lloyd Richardson, Hyacinth Richardson, George Pantophlet, Independent Member of Parliament Frans Richardson and the Chairlady of Parliament Gracita Arrindell who had to sign in for the meeting since she was the one to chair the meeting of parliament. The Chairlady opened the meeting at 10:30am and announced that there was no quorum to hold the meeting since there were only seven signatures while eight signatures were needed out of the 15 Member Parliament. The chairlady further stated that an official report will be made on the meeting and that the meeting will be re-scheduled within four times twenty four hours based on the rules of order.
    nafactionmembers24012012Leader of the National Alliance William Marlin told members of the media shortly after the meeting was closed that the Members of Parliament representing the coalition namely the UP party does not know how to handle the meeting called by the National Alliance since it appears as though they cannot reach an agreement among themselves as to what direction to take. Marlin said everyone already knows that the members of the UP are divided on the issue involving Jules James since November 17th, 2011 when the motion was placed on the table for voting. Some of them he said voted against their conscience on November 17th, for party reasons they voted in favor of their motion and against the motion tabled by the National Alliance. The National Alliance leader said the meeting will be reconvened and they will watch to see what will happen then. "At this point in time there is not much we can say, the members of the coalition are within their rights to stay away and not sign in for the meeting while they are buying time to deal with the issue. One thing for sure is that they cannot stay away forever; if not there will be consequences." Marlin said based on the current rules of order, the Members of Parliament can stay away for a second time when the meeting is called again but on the third occasion the meeting will take place whether or not there is quorum and those that are present can vote on any motion since their vote will be considered a legal vote. Member of National Alliance faction Louis Laveist who was also present when his party leader made the statement said that the members of the coalition can run for now but they definitely cannot hide from what is coming to them.
    In the meantime, SMN News learnt that the Members of the United Peoples Party could not find a consensus among their membership on how to deal with the issue surrounding their colleague. Sources close to the UP faction said that the UP members met all day on Monday and Tuesday morning to discuss a way forward. On Tuesday, the leader of the UP Faction Romain La Ville did not show up for the meeting. One source said that La Ville informed his faction that he is not the one that created the Jules James saga and he will not be the one to solve the problem.
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  • World Wetlands Day 2012 Snoopy Island Cleanup.

    worldwetlandsdaycleanupvolunteers29012012Simpson Bay:--- World Wetlands Day 2012 under the theme of Wetlands and Tourism was observed on Saturday with about 20 volunteers cleaning up Snoopy Island in the Simpson Bay lagoon.
    The cleanup event was organized by Sint Maarten PRIDE Foundation, EPIC Blue Flag program and International Global Yachting Isle de Sol Marina. ACE hardware store donated tools for the wetland cleanup which made it easier for volunteers to grab trash stuck in the thick mangrove trees.
    Volunteers included Minister of Health and Social Affairs Cornelius de Weever who got down and dirty by helping fellow volunteers, students from the Learning Unlimited school, representative from Animal Welfare Foundation Pamela Sims as well as PRIDE and EPIC volunteers. Isle de Sol Management was also on hand removing trash and hauling out the filled trash bags and large pieces of an old oil boom, large swaths of plastic bags bundled together as well as land based trash that washes down into the lagoon like plastic bottles and single use styrofoam take away food containers.
    Sint Maarten PRIDE foundation thanks each and every volunteer and especially the parents who took the time to bring the students to this event. Volunteers did a fantastic job and have contributed to a clean lagoon not only for the tourism product but also for a clean habitat for birds and fish around our wetland.
  • National Security Service St. Maarten to be launched February 3, 2012.

    Great Bay (DCOMM):--- On Friday, February 3rd, the Prime Minister Sarah Wescot-Williams will cut the red ribbon and officially open the office of the National Security Service St. Maarten (VDSM).

    Just before the launch, the Department of Communication (DCOMM) spoke to the Head of the Department, James Richardson, who elaborated on the initiation, the tasks, and other general topics regarding the office, which is part of the Ministry of General Affairs that falls under the Prime Minister.

    From this interview, a TV special will be aired Cable TV, channel 15 at 7pm. The date of the TV program is Monday, January 30.

    "VDSM is an agency," Richardson said, "that was established in the formation of Country St. Maarten on October 10, 2010. At that time, the NSS Netherlands Antilles was dismantled."

    A new organization was created—National Security Service St. Maarten, an office that deals with the protection of the borders, the principles of democracy, and the perseverance of its constituent parts from external and internal disruptions.

    The main functions, according to Richardson, of the NSS are:

    1. to investigate persons or groups who pose a threat to the legitimacy of democracy on the island and the integrity of government;
    2. to provide background checks in relation to positions of confidentiality;
    3. to provide advice to the critical infrastructure, interest as it relates to National Security.

    Furthermore, Richardson said that although the VDSM is an investigative unit, it is not into enforcing the law. Therefore, we work closely with the Ministry of Justice. "As such, we pass on information to those responsible for law enforcement. What we produce are analysis and reports relating to national security matters. We are in the business of information gathering, but also passing on information to the relevant authorities. Importantly as well, we have to be proactive in order to prevent any adverse activities."

    The office of VDSM has an oversight committee, consisting of two judges and one member from the Council of State that monitors and evaluates the activities. This committee provides checks and balances to the operations of VDSM, Richardson pointed out.

    Besides the daily tasks at the department of VDSM, Richardson said that personnel are working diligently on revising policy, drafting legislation, and transitioning into a complete organization.

    Mr. Richardson is a former Police officer and holds a bachelors degree in Public Safety and Security Management.

    The Department of Communication special will air on Monday, Jan 30.

  • WITU Gets Response from Government on COL Payments.

    Philipsburg:--- The Minister of Finance Hiro Shigemoto and Minister of General Affairs Sarah Wescot Williams have informed the Windward Islands Teachers Union that they are conducting the necessary research to find financial room to pay civil servants and teachers their 2010 cost of living adjustments. The unions were informed on January 23rd, 2012 by the two Ministers that the cost of living adjustment for 2010 was not included in the 2012 budget due to financial constraints.
    "Regretfully, the initial approval last year to pay the 2010 cost of living adjustments was not preceded by the analysis of its financial feasibility that needed to be done as the budget 2012 was not yet up for discussion. Hence, the required financial evaluation that underpins this policy was not executed timely," stated the letter.
    "Given this unfortunate sequence of events, the government wishes to honor its original commitment to pay the 2010 indexations. However, this will have to take place by means of a budgetary amendment. The necessary research to find the financial room to make this possible is currently taking place. This will take some time and we therefore cannot beforehand give an exact payout date," the letter states. "We will however keep you informed as we also acknowledge that timely discussions must be initiated about the continued feasibility of this manner of indexation."
    President of the Windward Islands Teachers Union Claire Elshot told reporters on Thursday that the union needed concrete information so that they can adequately inform their membership. The WITU president said with regards to the evaluation issue, she is of the opinion that a delay tactic is being applied by government. Elshot said sooner or later the union and its members would have to take to the streets because it seems as though that is the only language the government understands. The intention of the union is to meet and to discuss the current issues they are facing.
    In its letter to the union, the two ministers said the union in a letter to government dated January 11, 2012, made reference to a "promised" meeting between the Council of Ministers and the advisory body GOA. The ministers said while the Council is willing to entertain a meeting with the GOA, it has no official record showing that such a request had been made.
  • Chief of Police hands out first new Police Badge.

    newandoldpolicebadges27012012Philipsburg:--- On Friday January 27th, 2012, the Chief Commissioner of Police Peter de Witte handed out the first new official police badge. Chief Inspector of
    Police Humphrey "Boy" Giterson, head of the Sint Maarten Maritime Police, who has been on the police force for more than forty years, was chosen to receive the first badge.
    In addition Boy Giterson is one of those experienced officers who have worked on all islands of the former Netherlands Antilles. Boy Giterson displayed his old badges and his new one.
    The new badge was designed by Major Paul Brown of the Police Department and his brother Charles Brown. This badge is a true representation of the people and the Police Force of Sint Maarten. On behalf of the Justice Ministry and mainly the Police Force of Sint Maarten congratulations to the designers for a job well done.

    Click here to view the St. Maarten Police Badge Description.

  • Second Suspect in the Deygoo Murder Investigation Arrested.

    Philipsburg:--- Police arrested a second person on December 28th, 2011 for the murder of Mark Deygoo who was shot multiple times in his Back Street Store "Fragile Bundle" on September 21st 2011. Acting Police Spokesman Giovanni Sprott identified the second suspect as K.C. from French St. Martin. Sprott said the investigation into the murder of Mark Anthony Deygoo is being conducted by the Armed Robbery Team.
    It should be noted that police had arrested an 18 year student of St. Maarten Academy PSVE in the month of November 2011 as one of two suspects that robbed and shot the Guyanese businessman. The 18 year old student identified as George Mardemborough was released two weeks later when three persons provided sworn statements to the police that gave the student an alibi at the time of the robbery and shooting.
  • Prime Minister Wescot Meets with EU Ambassador.

    euambassadorrkopeckyandswescotwilliams04012012Great Bay (DCOMM):--- Prime Minister Hon. Sarah Wescot-Williams on Tuesday received a courtesy call from European Union (EU) Ambassador Robert Kopecky, head of the delegation of the EU responsible for Sint Maarten with residence in Georgetown, Guyana.

    Ambassador Kopecky was recently appointed to his post in Guyana, and it was his first working visit to the country to present his credentials to the Prime Minister.

    According to Prime Minster Hon. Sarah Wescot-Williams, she provided factual information about the country and the structure of government.

    The Ambassador also met with the Vice Prime Minister Hon. Theo Heyliger and Minister of Tourism, Economic Affairs, Transport & Telecommunications Hon. Franklin Meyers.

  • SCDF reminds public that Carnival registration deadline is January 16th, 2012.

    The St. Maarten Carnival Development Foundation (SCDF) is reminding Carnival stakeholders and all persons interested in Carnival that the registration deadline for Carnival 2012 is January 16, 2012.

    The SCDF extended the registration deadline from December 1st, 2011 to give stakeholders some extra time to register. The registration process is for everyone involved in every facet of Carnival including booth holders, troupe leaders, calypsonians, queen contestants, bands etc.

    All registrations forms can be collected at the security desk of the Government Administration Building and submitted at the same location. The forms can also be sent digitally once requested. The public can request the form by emailing sxmcarnival@hotmail.com or calling 5225133 or 5220509.

    "We urge persons interested in being part of Carnival related events under the auspices of the SCDF to register before the deadline. We will not extend the deadline again. We hope to get great participation as Carnival remains the people's festival and we have an exciting fete planned for 2012," SCDF President Stuart Johnson said.

  • WIFOL plans to hold Government Responsible for Non Action of Labour Department --- Plans to meet with Pelican Workers on Friday --- Thompson.

    tthompson05012012Philipsburg:--- The President of the Workers Institute for Organized Labour (WIFOL) Theophillus Thompson plans to hold the Government of St. Maarten responsible for the non action of the Department of Labour, Thompson announced on Thursday.
    The WIFOL President explained that some 49 workers of the Simpson Bay Resort Management Company BV (SBRMC) and Royal Resorts Management Company Ltd (Former Pelican Resorts) are in limbo while they also did not receive their December 2011 salaries even though the company they worked for submitted a request at the Labour Department to terminate them. Thompson said based on the law, the Labour Department has six weeks to make a decision on the dismissal request but to date they have not done so. The Simpson Bay Resort Management Company BV (SBRMC) and Royal Resorts Management Company Ltd (Former Pelican Resorts) submitted the request since July 2011 and to date the Labour Department has not responded. "Because of the non action of the Labour Department, these workers don't know their status, they cannot move on with their lives neither can they seek employment elsewhere."
    Thompson also announced on Thursday during the union's weekly press briefing that the legal representatives of WIFOL and the Pelican workers are working on strategic ways to make sure the rights of the Pelican workers are respected based on the Collective Labour Agreement, as well the standards of the International Labour Organization (ILO), Human Rights charters on domestic and immigration workers, and the country's constitution.
    The WIFOL President assured media workers that the union is prepared for the challenges of 2012 even though they know that employers are always protected through various law firms. He said as a unionist it is "mind boggling" for him when he sees the silence on the part of Government while the struggle with the Pelican workers continue. "It is amazing to see and witness the silence of the Ministers of Tourism and Labour on this matter. As a union we will also hold the Minister of Labour responsible for not doing enough to resolve the Pelican issue." Thompson said in his opinion Government is responsible for paying the workers of Pelican especially those that are still waiting on a response from the Labour Department.
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  • St. Maarten Cable TV Upgrades to Digital Headend!

    Philipsburg:--- St. Maarten Cable TV has undertaken a major capital upgrade to encode and convert all analog services to the digital format. Effective February 1, 2012, all customers who subscribe to our services are required to switch to a Motorola digital converter to continue receiving service. It is necessary that our subscribers visit our primary Business Office at Madame Estate to exchange their analog converter(s) in order to continue receiving service.
    To provide our customers the opportunity to gradually transition to the digital platform and to accommodate the change to the new digital platform, we will simulcast the analog channels until May 1, 2012. Thereafter, we will cease transmission of the analog channels and the Pioneer converters will no longer receive the signal.

    Why is Digital better than Analog service? Digital cable TV offers many improvements over Analog service!
    • Better picture quality
    • Better sound
    • Many more channels due to greater bandwidth because of the digital compression.
      Eight channels will be added to the channel line-up
    • Interactive digital program guide
    • Pay-Per-View channels will be added to the channel line-up by June 2012
    • Parental Access and much more...
    How to swap the analog box for a digital converter:
    Exchanging the Pioneer cable box is very easy. Simply take the Pioneer analog box to our Business Office to upgrade to a digital converter. To ensure that every customer is addressed in an efficient manner, subscribers will be scheduled by residential area. We encourage our customers to stay tuned to all media sources, as the aforementioned schedule will be published in the local newspapers, on the radio and on television. We will also be opening a second location over the hill to accommodate our subscribers in those areas. More information on this will be forthcoming via the media as well.
    Customers are also encouraged to call the office at 542-4361 or contact us online at office@sxmcablenet.com to gather all the pertinent information prior to visiting the Business Office. Our Customer Service Representatives will gladly provide the requisite information needed to accelerate the process. Information about the swap process will also be included on St. Maarten Cable TV's website at www.innovativevi.net/sxmcable.
    Monthly Digital Converter Fee Rental:
    Customers will now pay $7.35 per month for the rental of the digital converter which is a difference of $1.05 per converter per month but this upgrade will also afford them the opportunity to gain additional digital channels over the next few months.

    Stay tuned in the coming weeks for area schedule listings and additional information about this exciting upgrade!
    On behalf of the management and staff of St. Maarten Cable TV, we thank you for your patronage and support over the last 25 years. We look forward to celebrating our Silver Anniversary with you in 2012 by providing you the best entertainment in St. Maarten. Happy New Year!
  • PJIA meets with fuel suppliers to discuss aviation fuel shortage --- Relief expected by month-end as Sol and Chevron address supply issues.

    Simpson Bay:--- PJIAE met on January 5 with Sol and Chevron as well as other stakeholders to discuss the current shortage of aviation fuel experienced in St. Maarten. Several measures are being taken to mitigate the current effects and better secure PJIA's operations in the future.
    Among these measures is a planned relocation of the fuel farm at PJIA, which will commence during the second quarter of this year, while a Service Level Agreement that includes performance standards will be put in place with all PJIA suppliers, including those who supply aviation fuel.
    Moving PJIA's fuel farm to an offsite location will result in increased storage capacity for fuel and will also free up valuable ramp space.
    Similarly, Sol has filed the required documents with the respective government authorities to enable it to commence construction of an additional storage tank that would double its storage capacity to a combined 25,000 barrels.
    Storage is indeed a major factor in the current fuel shortage. Once approval is received, the construction of the new tank is expected to take some six months. This means, before this year ends, the situation at PJIA with regards to aviation fuel would have improved dramatically.
    In the meantime, Sol expects relief of the current fuel shortage by the end of January. During the meeting with PJIAE, General Manager, Sol Aviation Services Ltd. (SASL), Andrew Niles, said the company is working hard to ensure that St. Maarten does not completely run out of fuel. The company gives special consideration to "feeder locations" like St. Maarten, given the island's hub function.
    One short-term solution being considered by Sol is to switch from Jet A1 fuel to Jet A specification fuel, which can be sourced more readily at other suppliers. This specification change would allow Sol to purchase fuel from additional suppliers rather than being limited to its main supplier of Jet A1 fuel, Petrotrin of Trinidad and Tobago.
    The primary difference between Jet A specification and Jet A1 is the freezing point, which Sol confirmed will not affect its clients.
    Although last week's tanker brought Jet A1 fuel from Curacao, Niles noted, however, that Curacao is not as dependable a source for this type of fuel as Trinidad and Tobago.
    The Sol general manager further explained why his company has not considered acquiring fuel from the US or Venezuela, given the acute shortage it is facing.
    While immediately available, it was noted that deliveries from the US would take longer than direct deliveries from Trinidad and Tobago or Curacao due to "transit times" and "tanker size." Niles noted that Venezuela does not produce Jet A1 fuel.
    Niles confirmed that Sol is in direct contact with the head offices of the various airlines that service PJIA to update them on the daily fuel allotments for their aircrafts. However, Sol will also now provide daily communiqués to PJIA and St. Maarten handlers for both commercial airlines and General Aviation (GA).
    "We are doing our best to manage the situation," said Andrew Niles, adding: "We could only operate with what we have."
    The General Aviation (GA) sector is the most hit by the current fuel shortage. Sol noted it is easier to manage commercial carriers as their schedules and requirements are fixed, whereas with General Aviation this is not the case.
    However, the pending deliveries and recertification of the fuel should alleviate some of the restrictions and result in possible relaxation this week.
    "The GA fuel situation is a bit more complicated," admitted Niles, "as some use brokers for their fuel purchases. Additionally, unlike Commercial flights, we do not have a clear picture of the fuel requirements for GA, as they operate and require fuel on 'as needed' basis."
    Following Thursday's meeting, however, Sol agreed to look into further "relaxing" the current restrictions, especially on General Aviation. Commercial Aviation has already been moved up from 50% to 75%. Nevertheless, the fuel rationing for General Aviation may continue a little longer.
    Commenting on the matter, PJIA managing director, Regina LaBega said, "the situation is really unfortunate, but it has our undivided attention."
    "We are working with our stakeholders, to share strategies that would enable us to spot potential problems in time so that we can respond in an effective, dynamic and informed manner," LaBega said. "The idea is to find permanent solutions for this issue."
  • Government and People Urged to Place their Confidence in God to Build and Move Nation Forward.

    governmentofficialsatnationaldayofprayer08012012Philipsburg:--- Government officials including the Governor of St. Maarten drs. Eugene Holiday his wife first lady Marie Louise along with Prime Minister Sarah Wescot Williams were among those that attended the National Day of Prayer at the Clem Labega Square Sunday evening.
    The ecumenical service commenced at 4:30pm with praise and worship by the Love and Grace Ministry. The call to worship was conducted by the Pastor of the New Testament Baptist Church Pastor Wycliffe Smith, with the welcome given by Wally Havertong. A prayer for Thanksgiving and for Government was done by Pastor Jerome Thomas, while Pastor Emmanuel Carbon prayed the family unit, the youths and against crime and violence. A special rendition was done by Landry Piper who sang against the crime and violence on St. Maarten. Piper who is no stranger to the community called the Prime Minister by her first name on a number of occasions which did not sit well with the gathering. He was asked by the organizing committee to apologize to the Prime Minister of St. Maarten Sarah Wescot Williams for addressing her by her first name in public gathering.
    asterallenatnationaldayofprayer08012012The sermonette was delivered by Pastor Aster Allen, a known cancer survivor on St. Maarten. Pastor Allen called on the Government and people of St. Maarten to place their faith and trust in God if they are to move the nation forward. She said when ones expectations and confidence are connected to God then that expectation and confidence is heightened. She asked upon what the Government and people are basing their confidence. The theme of her message was "Thank You Lord for Watching over Us as we go Forward." Pastor Aster Allen, a teacher by profession broke down the meaning of the theme of her message making sure that the persons that attended the ceremony fully understood the purpose of the ceremony. She also urged the St. Maarten nation to turn to God as Ezekiel did while they pray for the Government of St. Maarten so that everyone can live a peaceful life. "Keep your focus on God for he that is in you is greater than those that are against you. Therefore, no one should lose focus despite the odds." She asked Government where is there strategy and military forces to go up against a greater nation.
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    Click here to view more photos of the National Day of Prayer.
  • Several Companies Met with Labour Ministry to Discuss the Denial of Work Permits.

    Philipsburg:--- Several companies met with the legal advisor to the Ministry of Labour Eunicio Martina on Monday to discuss their concerns on how their workers work permits are processed. According to information reaching SMN News, the Department of Labour has rejected a number of work permits for foreign workers citing that there are locals available to work for the companies.
    SMN News has learnt that many persons whose permits were rejected had up to seven work permits but this year the department has decided to reject the work permits even though the Ministry of Justice is granting three year residency permits to workers who had more than five permits. Attending the meeting on Monday were representatives of Checkmate Security, Windward Roads, Avalon Construction, Total Protection, Capital Security and Clean St. Maarten. The source said that the Department turned down as much as 16 requests for Checkmate Security. The source further stated that while the companies met with the legal advisor to the Minister of Labour Cornelius de Weever, they already filed appeals against government's decisons. The source said that the Minister is seeking a follow up meeting with the Security Companies on the island because they believe that St. Maarten has enough local youths that can fill their positions.
  • Second Suspect in Deygoo Murder Investigation Released --- Police Lacks Evidence to further detain Suspect --- Mos.

    Philipsburg:--- The 18 year old suspect that was arrested on December 28th, 2011 as the second suspect in the Mark Deygoo murder investigation was released on Tuesday on the orders of the Public Prosecutor's office. Chief Prosecutor Hans Mos said the police does not have sufficient information to further detain the suspect identified as K.C. from French St. Martin.
    Mark Anthony Deygoo was shot multiple times in his Back Street store Fragile Bundle on September 21st, 2011 when two young armed gunmen entered the store and robbed the businessman.
    This is the second person police arrested in recent weeks for the shooting death of the businessman. Both suspects have been released. The first was a St. Maarten Academy P.S.V.E. student who was arrested in November 2011 but was later released when some persons provided an alibi for the young man.
  • Minister Voges Meets with S-4.

    mvogesmeetswiths413012012Great Bay (DCOMM):--- On Friday January 6th, 2012 the Executive Board of S-4 headed by its Chairman Brenda Emmen-Hassell accompanied by Secretary of the Board, Ben Brown and second-Treasurer, Rinaldo Hassell, paid a working visit to the Cabinet of Minister Plenipotentiary of Sint Maarten, Hon. Mathias S. Voges. The Cabinet was further represented by its Director, Cornelius James and Perry Geerlings holding the portfolio of Education & Welfare.

    The purpose of this meeting with the Executive Board of S-4 was firstly to introduce to the Cabinet the two new members of the Board, Brown and Hassell, as this was their first visit, as well as to be briefed on issues at hand and seeking of a more enhanced cooperation between S-4 and the Sint Maarten House.

    During what has been described as a very pleasant and fruitful meeting, the Executive Board informed the Cabinet of its plans and initiatives for 2012, whilst functional and operational issues of S-4 were discussed as well.

    The Board expressed its intention to have S-4 become more transparent in its operations and communications, whilst using the rules of Good Governance as their guideline.

    The Cabinet proposed to the Executive Board to seek ways and means in order to improve the communication between S-4 and Sint Maarten students in the Netherlands.

    The Cabinet pledged its support in this quest. Furthermore, it was discussed and agreed that S-4 will be looking to add additional activities to its operational program to the benefit of Sint Maarten students and graduates.

    The human resource strengthening of S-4's operations will be factored in the quest for improvement in the S-4 – student's relationship. Possible solutions in this area were discussed.

    It was agreed to have more frequent follow up meetings in order to monitor progress made, thus enabling a closer working relationship between the Cabinet and the S4 Foundation.

  • Minister of Tourism presents cheques on behalf of FCCA.

    fmeyerspresentsfccacheque14012012Philipsburg:--- Minister of Economic & Tourism Affairs, Telecommunications & Transport Hon. Franklin Meyers, on Thursday presented students Alyssa Sadheidha Clarke (St. Maarten Academy) and St. Dominic High student Kamila Gumbs (a former MAC-Browlia Mailard Campus pupil) with cheques as prizes for participating in the Florida Caribbean Cruise Association (FCCA) 2011 FCCA Foundation Children's Essay Contest held under the banner "What does sustainable tourism mean to your destination?" The cheques were presented by the Minister on behalf of the FCCA.
  • Fisherman Discovers Dead Body --- Gendarmes Investigating.

    Marigot:--- The Gendarmes are currently investigating the cause of death of man whose body was found on Saturday in the Sandy Ground Lagoon. A press release from the Gendarmerie states that the body of a 38-year old man was found on Saturday by a fisherman near the embankment of the Sandy Ground Lagoon. The victim was living on a boat that is docked at the Marina Royale.
  • DOMINIQUE RIBOUD forms Alliance with Daniel Gibbs to Contest Territorial Elections.

    dgibbsanddriboudgroup16012012Sandy Ground:--- Dominique Riboud, the known Dentist of French Quarter that led the list consisting of only Metropolitans in the first Territorial elections in 2007 has decided to pool his resources by joining forces with first vice president Daniel Gibbs to contest the 2012 Territorial Elections slated for March 2012.
    Gibbs and Riboud made the announcement on Monday night at the Mercure Hotel in Sandy Ground. Riboud decided to join the Union for Democracy which is led by Gibbs which also has the full support of Mayor Albert Fleming.
    In his address to the gathering, he said he finds that Gibbs and him have the same vision for St. Martin and with the two of them together they can form a new vision for the Collectivity of St. Martin. Riboud said he believes that the island can be fully developed through the subventions from France and Europe. Politicians he said do not have to re-invent the wheel but instead they must position themselves well in the global and aggressive environment. He called on the population to pool their forces together to reunite St. Martin since according to him the island has the capability of doing much better.
  • Minister of Finance meets General Pension Fund of Sint Maarten board.

    hshigemotomeetspensionfundboard16012012Philipsburg:--- Minister of Finance Hon. Hiro Shigemoto says that the General Pension Fund of Sint Maarten (APS) as of January 2012 will be paying out the pension of all former civil servants who have been receiving their pension from the General Pension Fund of the Netherlands Antilles (APNA).

    On Monday APS Board and Management gave what has been described as an extensive presentation to the Minister of Finance with respect to the state of affairs of the country's pension system.

    A steering group with a representative of the board of APS as well as a representative of the cabinet of the Minister of Finance will be formed shortly to guide and monitor some of the more technical exercises which still have to be completed such as having all administrations be on one line as far as pensions premium contributions and personnel information is concerned.

    "The APS fund is in its developmental phase and is hard at work to make this fund work efficiently and maintain its solvency as well provide adequate service to its customers both internal and external.

    "We were informed of the progress that has been made since the establishment of our national pension fund. The investment policy was also discussed at length as well as the challenges facing APS. Things are looking positive for 2012, but prudence is necessary in managing our pension system. We have to look at ways of keeping the pension fund solvent and manageable.

    "As we all know, pension systems in Europe and other parts of the world are under heavy stress due to the global financial and economic situation. Some very important decisions will have to be made in order to be able to deal with the costs involved in 15-20 years when our society would have aged considerably.

    "I have confidence in the board and management of APS that we will weather these challenging times based on the resilience of our people," Minister of Finance Hon. Hiro Shigemoto said on Monday.

    The Minister of Finance also pointed out that payment arrangements between government and the fund was discussed on a technical level and this too requires monitoring in order to ensure that payment of premiums are done in a correct and timely manner.

    Also discussed were payment arrears from the government, and the solution to remain current as well as try to catch up with the outstanding amounts which is to be finalized soon.

    Proper coordination between the Personnel Department, Salaries and Wages, and the fund is of utmost importance, and this too is currently being done, the Minister of Finance explained on Monday.

    Attending the presentation were two members from the Governments Accounting Bureau SOAB, two external advisors from MONTAE Investment Firm, the Secretary General of the Ministry of Finance, Head of the Accounting Department, the Concern Controller, as well as staff from the Ministry of Finance.

  • APS PREPARES FIRST PENSION PAYMENTS.

    Philipsburg:--- The General Pension Fund of Sint Maarten (Algemeen Pensioenfonds Sint Maarten), APS, is scheduled to make its first pension payments to those entitled to such on Friday, January 20. APS is working diligently with local banks to facilitate this payment. "We are proud to be taking this step forward and consider it an important milestone for our organization", says APS director Kendra Arnell.
    Since October 10, 2010, Algemeen Pensioenfonds Curacao, APC (the former APNA), had continued to carry out pension payments on behalf of APS on the basis of a service level agreement between both parties. The agreement entails that as per December 31, 2011, pension payments would be transferred to APS. APS will be making pension payments on the basis of the same regulations as APNA, in the past.
    Pension beneficiaries can expect to receive a statement with a breakdown of their pension by mail. The statement will provide information on the gross and net pension amount and on withholdings for wage tax, health insurance and other social premiums. The statement will look different but essentially conveys the same information as previous statements.
    It is not anticipated that beneficiaries will see any changes in the pensions they receive. "We have been and are working closely with APC to ensure a seamless transition", says APS management.
    APS was established by law as per October 10, 2010 when the former Netherlands Antilles was dissolved and Sint Maarten became a country within the Kingdom of the Netherlands. APS is now responsible for the execution of the National Pension Fund Ordinance of Sint Maarten.
    Persons who have questions pertaining to the payments can contact the APS by calling telephone number 543 00 03 or by email. The APS e-mail address is info@apsxm.org.
  • Sint Maarten tourism officials explore possibilities with KLM.

    sxmtouristofficialsmeetwithklm22012012Great Bay (DCOMM):--- Director of the Sint Maarten Tourist Bureau May-Ling Chun described her recent meeting with KLM Executives in Holland as positive.

    Ming-Ling Chun headed a delegation to Holland recently which met with several airlines including KLM. The delegation informed KLM that their fares to Sint Maarten are much higher than to most destinations in the Caribbean, Suriname and even as far South as Brazil.

    It was also pointed out to KLM that there is now a tendency to fly via the United States to Sint Maarten because it's less expensive. KLM addressed the matter by stating that they are well aware of the situation and the reason for the high fares is due to the lack of competition on the Sint Maarten route.

    KLM says they understand that this makes the situation to promote the destination in Europe more difficult, and added that KLM would be interested in looking into joint promotional opportunities to assist in promoting the route.

    The Sint Maarten delegation also asked to look into the possibility of delaying the departure time from Amsterdam to Sint Maarten in order to facilitate passengers being able to connect to other flights from other European cities to the island who are travelling on the same day. At the moment KLM flights depart Amsterdam minutes before 9:00am.

  • MP Laveist Criticizes Government for Potholes on Cole Bay Road.

    llaveist24012012Philipsburg:--- Member of Parliament Louis Laveist has issued a strong call to the current government asking that they take their heads out of the trough and to look up and see the clouds when it come to the traffic situation on St. Maarten. Laveist said each time he or anyone says anything members representing government takes it personally and therefore he believes they need to take their heads out of the trough.
    Laveist told reporters on Tuesday that there is pothole in the vicinity of Tropicana Casino which is becoming a crater. The National Alliance Member of Parliament said that the only thing the government has to do is repair the crater and allow traffic to flow freely. He said he is of the opinion that the current government is allowing the pothole (crater) to become a multi-million dollar project. Laveist said that is the only conclusion he could come to because he cannot see any other reason as to why the government would allow the businesses to suffer and to cripple the economy of St. Maarten. Laveist said that in his opinion, the government is putting the economy at risk in order to justify and satisfy some of their campaign promises. Laveist said he considers the traffic situation a "bloody shame" while he also calls on government to do that which they were elected to do. The Member of Parliament said the residents and businesses of Welfare Road Cole Bay went through enough frustration to facilitate the repairs on that road which are still incomplete. He said government cannot continue to purposely suffer the people to satisfy a few of their "fat cats."
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  • Central Committee of Parliament to meet with Mental Health Foundation on Friday.

    Philipsburg:--- The Central Committee of Parliament will be meeting on Friday morning at 10:00am.

    The 27 January meeting is open to the public and will take place in the General Assembly Chamber in the House of Parliament at the Wilhelmina Straat #2.1.

    Members of Parliament (MPs) will be introduced to the Mental Health Foundation (MHF) and MPs will be informed about the work that the foundation does within the mental health field.

    The MHF offers several care products, psychiatric care and counselling, day care for psychiatric patients, ambulant care for psychiatric patients, crisis intervention, voluntary and involuntary care, information and prevention campaign.

    The committee session will be carried live on St. Maarten Cable TV Channel 20 and only the audio via Pearl Radio FM 98.1 as well as via the Internet www.pearlfmradio.com and www.sxmparliament.org.

  • National Alliance Faction Posed Several Questions about GEBE --- Windmill at Minister’s Residence Questioned --- No Answers will be provided.

    Philipsburg:--- The Members of the National Alliance faction of parliament posed several questions during the meeting of parliament on Wednesday which was called to discuss GEBE in the absence of the Minister of Energy and Environmental Affairs Theodore Heyliger. The NA Faction Members wanted the Minister to tell them about constant water loss throughout St. Maarten while they needed clarity on the current fuel clause that is levied on the residents of St. Maarten. Member of Parliament Louis Laviest said the people of St. Maarten have been suffering for decades due to the high cost of energy. Laveist said the people expressed themselves several times about the fuel clause levied on them and they need urgent relief. Laveist said he wants GEBE structure be presented to parliament so that they can know who exactly is responsible for GEBE. Laveist said he believes that the Parliament of St. Maarten is used as a rubber stamp by the government of St. Maarten. He said government has been engaging in discussions to purchase the shares of GEBE in Saba and Statia and based on news articles agreements have been signed and to date the Parliament of St. Maarten was not informed. Laveist said that he also read that GEBE has three Managing Directors and the parliament was also not informed. He said it appears as though some Ministers are taking Government owned companies as their own property and as such they are using these companies to execute their own pet projects. He asked government to provide parliament with what sort of relief was given to people based on their promise. He also asked government to inform parliament of their view on green energy. Laviest then read a news article which stated that the Minister of Energy installed two wind turbines at his residence in Guana Bay. Laviest said he has nothing against the Minister and his vision to install wind turbines because if it is proven that wind turbines will help to reduce the "financial terrorism" that is imposed on the people by GEBE, he too will install them. Therefore, he wants government to inform parliament of the regulation on installing wind turbines on the island. "I need to know what the residents and business have to do so they too can install wind turbines so that they can get relief from the financial terrorism imposed by GEBE." Laveist said GEBE should also employ at least 10 persons to check the water leaks throughout the island. The Member of Parliament said that the island's visitors are of the opinion that St. Maarten has natural springs because of the constant flow of water throughout the roadways. He said the people of St. Maarten feels as though they are being ripped off because the company makes 20 million in profits. Laveist said residents of St. Maarten have to pay for rusty water that is flowing through their pipes because GEBE does not change their rusty water lines.
    The Leader of the National Alliance William Marlin and Dr. Lloyd Richardson also posed several questions about GEBE and its fuel clause all of which went on deaf ears because the meeting of parliament called on Wednesday was closed without the answers provided.
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  • Investigation into murder of Tiffany REID concluded.

    tiffanyreid07092011Philipsburg:--- The investigation into the violent death of 13 year old Tiffany REID on September 6, 2011, has been concluded confirmed Chief Prosecutor Hans Mos. The results of the investigation have proven beyond a reasonable doubt, that the suspect that was arrested in this case, Robert Emanuel REID, the father of the girl, is responsible for her violent death and the subsequent disposal of the body.
    On Tuesday, September 6, 2011 around 8:20pm, the police was informed that a body was found in the vicinity of the Reward Road. A witness at the scene of the crime informed the police he heard a loud explosion and saw large flames coming out of the bushes nearby. When he went closer to take a look, he saw a man getting into a white van. The witness memorized the license plate of the vehicle and immediately told the police.
    It was soon discovered this van belonged to the later suspect Robert Reid. When Reid came to the police station later that evening to report the missing of his daughter, Tiffany, the police noticed he had several fresh burn wounds. Around that same time the forensic department was able to retrieve the body from the ravine it was thrown in. A preliminary examination of the body showed that it appeared to be that of a young woman. Based on this information the prosecutor ordered the immediate arrest of Mr. Reid.
    Even though the suspect Reid has denied any involvement in the death of his daughter, the results of the investigation prove that he gave false statements about his whereabouts that evening and about the way he got his burning wounds.
    Reid stated he got burned while fixing the radiator of his van. According to his statement the radiator hose burst while he was under the van and he subsequently got burns from the hot radiator fluid.
    An expert mechanic from a local car dealer that carries the brand of Reid's van, was asked to do a report on the condition of the radiator of the van. His conclusion was that radiator or radiator hose bursting, or radiator explosion did not occur. Also a medical expert was asked to examine the wounds of the suspect. The expert concluded that the wounds were not consistent with hot water burns. Forensic experts from the Sint Maarten police have cut the eyelashes from the suspect, since they showed signs of melting. An expert of the Netherlands Forensic Institute has concluded that this type of melting cannot be caused by hot water or steam, since the temperature is not high enough to cause the melting of hair. This melting does however occur, when in contact with open fire.
    robertreid08092011Apart from his van and license plate, forensic evidence also puts Reid at the scene of the crime. Next to the burned body of his daughter, a flip flop from a grown man was found. The flip flop was partially melted. Forensics has shown this flip flop contains the DNA of Reid and no one else. When taken to the hospital that night, several witnesses had noticed Reid was wearing two different flip flops. After exiting the hospital, he had disposed of his flip flops and walked barefoot.
    The police investigation has further shown that Tiffany was last seen in the presence of Mr. Reid. He was seen leaving his home with her in his van, somewhere between 5pm and 5:30 pm. Seized camera footage shows his white van after leaving the crime scene at 7:45 pm. The whereabouts of Reid and Tiffany between 5:30 pm and 7:45 pm are unaccounted for.
    The autopsy on the body of Tiffany has shown that she died of suffocation. The results suggest she was strangled. It has been concluded that Tiffany was dead before her body was disposed of. The body had been wrapped in large plastic bags and set on fire. During a house search at the home of Reid, similar large plastic garbage bags were found. No signs of sexual abuse or pregnancy were found during the autopsy. Early speculations on the motive had mentioned this.
    Based on all these findings the prosecutor's office concludes that it is proven beyond a reasonable doubt that Robert REID killed his own daughter Tiffany Reid and subsequently disposed of her body by setting it on fire. No indications were found during the investigation that Reid was assisted by anyone or that anyone else could be held responsible for these crimes.
    Robert Reid died in the Point Blanche prison on October 25th, 2011. It is believed he committed suicide. The circumstances under which he died are still under investigation by the Landsrecherche.
    Since with the death of Reid the prosecution in his case has come to an end and therefore a judge will not be able to rule on his involvement in this crime, the prosecutor's office considers it appropriate to inform the general public of the investigative results by this extensive press release.
    The prosecutor's office wishes to commend the police force of Sint Maarten and the forensic team for their outstanding work in the investigation into this horrific crime. We would furthermore like to commend the witnesses that immediately came forward and gave very valuable information. Without their information it would have been far more difficult to solve this crime. This once again shows the importance of the cooperation of the public in solving crime.
  • Poetry resumes at Top Carrot.

    lysannecharles29012012Philipsburg:--- According to event organizer Lysanne Charles, the annual poetry event Winter's Words has been scheduled for Wednesdays, February 1 & 8, from 7:30-9:30pm at Top Carrot Restaurant in Simpson Bay.
    Charles, who also organizes Summer Speaks, said that the event would only run for two nights this year due to time constraints and said that the theme was "The Naked Truth".
    "This is the third instalment of Winter's Words, but the sixth instalment of the both series combined and I wanted to have the featured poets really come out and bare their souls with the audiences, some of the members who have shown up at least once during all the instalments," Charles said.
    She explained that the format for the evening had changed a big from the usual dinner and poetry to something a little more intimate.
    "Before the emphasis used to be on both the dinner and the poetry and sometimes even the dinner first and then the poetry as a backdrop, but this time the poetry will be most prominent and instead we will have a buffet of snacks for the audience to munch on while they get settled. Anyone who has dined at Top Carrot can tell you how delicious the food is and owner Peter Bonev is preparing platters which will be just as scrumptious," Charles said.
    Charles said that the number of poets featured had also been reduced for this series, from five or six per night to three, with each poet reading for roughly 15 minutes. The first night's line-up consists of Giovanni "Gino" Olivacce, Lorenzo "Sigma" Gomez, and Charles herself. Other veteran Summer Speaks and Winter's Words poets have also been asked to come and make presentations in the open mic part of the evening and Charles is also encouraging audience members who may be aspiring poets to come out and share their work.
    "The beautiful thing about these series is that they are safe spaces where poets and performers can present their pieces. Over the years the poets have really come together and are eager to hear what each other have created. So newcomers should not be afraid to take the mic if the urge arises," Charles said.
    Charles said that while the line-up for the following week has already been confirmed she would release it closer to the performance date. She also said that the MC for both nights would be Clara Reyes, the founder and director of Imbali Center for Creative Movement.
    "Clara has been a long time supporter of both Winter's Words and Summer Speaks and she is always the most creativity, energetic MC. I look forward to sharing this event again with her this year," Charles said.
    Charles said that the cost of the evening was $15 which covers the snack buffet and one drink. Other drinks would be on sale at the bar. She also said that rather than buying tickets audience members should reserve a seat with her at 586-1266 or Top Carrot at 544-3381.
  • Mullet Bay Cleanup Almost Complete --- Two Structures Remaining.

    mulletbaycleanup30012012Mullet Bay:--- The demolition of the Mullet Bay structures which started on June 6th, 2011 is almost complete confirmed the contractor that is executing the project. BBW was given a six month contract to demolish the ruins of Mullet Bay which had 55 buildings, a casino and a shopping mall.
    So far, only two of the structures remain standing since the contractor has not yet receive clearance to demolish them. They are building 31 and 46. A supervisor on the location told SMN News that they had expected to complete the project by December 2011 but they encountered some delay with some of the buildings since they could not obtain clearance to demolish them. The BBW supervisor said that right now they are busy cleaning the area up but they are hoping that clearance will be given for the last two structures before they remove their heavy equipments from the location. He said that besides buildings 31 and 46 the company has to also finalize the contract to demolish the smaller structures on the entire property such as the bus stops.
    Most of the materials from the demolition were crushed on site, such as the concrete and wood, while other materials like carpets were taken to the sanitary landfill.

    Click here to view photos of Mullet Bay clean up.

  • Anguillians Arrested for Armed Robbery of Tourists --- One Suspect Shot in the Leg.

    gsprott02012012Philipsburg:--- Police arrested five Anguillians who robbed a set of tourists on the Boardwalk early New Year's morning. One of the main culprits identified as only as T.M. 22 years of age was shot in his leg by police when he drew an illegal firearm at them. Acting Police Spokesman Giovanni Sprott identified the Anguillian robbers as A.C., N.B., K.L., R.P.C., and T.M. who are between the ages of 18 to 24 years of age.
    Sprott said around 5am on January 1st, 2012 some tourists reported to police that while they were in the Philipsburg area they were robbed by two unknown men on the Boardwalk and one of the robbers was brandishing a firearm. The Acting Police Spokesman said the bandits robbed the island's visitors of several personal items such as cellular phones, money, jewelry, cameras, and other items. Sprott said when the culprits finished robbing the tourists they fled the scene on foot and as soon as police learned of the incident they conducted an intense search of the Philipsburg area.
    Sprott said with the help and information provided by members of the community, police managed to locate the main suspect who was hiding on the premises of Oranje School on Front Street.
    The Acting Police Spokesman said police ordered the suspect to come out from his hiding place and surrender to police but instead the suspect T.M. chose to draw his firearm on the officers and the police officers were obligated to open fire on the suspect, shooting him in his left leg.
    The suspect T.M. a native of Anguilla was still in the possession of the stolen items belonging to the tourists at the time of his arrest. Sprott said police has since confiscated the stolen items and the illegal firearm as the detectives continue their investigation.
    As for T.M., the injured gunman was transported to the St. Maarten Medical Centre for treatment, he was later released and remains in police custody.
    Sprott said further investigation led police to the other four suspects: A.C., N.B., K.L., and R.P.C. were later apprehended in their hotel rooms. Police also found several other stolen items on the suspects.
    Currently, the Prosecutor's Office is busy investigating the shooting and robbery as they piece together the case.
    SMN News learnt that detectives from Anguilla were on the island on Monday meeting with the detectives that are busy investigating the robbery and shooting involving the Anguillians.
  • Five Chinese Supermarkets Robbed on Tuesday.

    Philipsburg:--- Five Chinese Supermarkets located in the St. Peters area were victims of armed robbery on Tuesday morning. SMN News learnt that a lone gunman walked into Man Chung Supermarket located on L.B. Scot Road and held up the cashier at gunpoint before taking off with the monies that were in the cash register. The gunman then walked a few yards away and held up the St. Peters Supermarket cashier at gunpoint, then he walked a few yards further and robbed Ho Supermarket. The lone gunman then walked further up St. Peters Road and held up Desham Supermarket then he went to Sunshine Supermarket located on Genip Road and robbed them also.
    Tuesday's robbery is the fourth robbery with the past two weeks for Ho Supermarket and St. Peters Supermarket. Acting Police Spokesman Giovanni Sprott confirmed the armed robberies had taken place on Tuesday morning. Sprott said when police reached the St. Peters area they conducted an investigation it was confirmed that all five of the Supermarkets were robbed within the span of an hour.
    The Acting Police Spokesman said the patrols conducted an intensive search in the area for the suspect(s) but did not encounter anyone. Therefore, the Police Department is asking the general public for any information that would lead them to the culprit(s) responsible for the spate of armed robberies that are plaguing the St. Peters community.
    While the Police Department is asking the community for information that would lead them to the culprits, SMN News learnt that some neighbors and one of the victims in Tuesday's robbery saw the suspect who robbed the five supermarkets hiding in the nearby bushes. One of the victims and proprietor of one of the supermarkets that was robbed on Tuesday said that when they saw the suspect they called the police who in turn responded to the scene only to inform them that they were not able to go into the bushes to apprehend the suspect. The victim said the suspect went as far as stripping off his clothes to hide in the bushes.
  • Nature Foundation to conduct research into Exotic Animals on St. Maarten.

    monkeyinpointeblanche04012012The St. Maarten Nature Foundation announces that it will be conducting baseline surveys in order to determine the abundance and level of threat posed by invasive and exotic animals on the island. The study will focus primarily on the monkey and raccoon population on island. "We have increasingly been receiving complaints and reports of various animals but monkeys and raccoons in particular, causing problems for residents in various districts. Before we can make recommendations as to what can be done to control the population we first have to see how many of them are out there and what types of threats they pose to the health and safety of the general public," commented Nature Foundation Manager Tadzio Bervoets.
    Many residents have been contacting the Nature Foundation regarding large groups of monkeys, possibly vervet monkeys (Chlorocebus pygerythrus), acting aggressively towards residents and pets. The Nature Foundation has also received calls concerning raccoons overturning garbage bins in numerous districts. Attempts have been made in the past to capture raccoons in particular but the Foundation was unable to due to equipment limitations. However specialized equipment has been purchased and will be deployed when necessary. Both animals may act aggressively if they feel threatened and can also have a negative effect on our local flora and fauna. "We urge residents to not approach these animals and contact the Nature Foundation so we can record them. In the coming weeks we will be having various exchanges with experts in various locations who are used to dealing with monkeys, raccoons and other exotic invasive animals. Based on our research we will be coming with recommendations to the authorities as to what should be the best way to approach this problem," concluded Bervoets.
    If a monkey, raccoon or any other unusual animal is observed contact the Nature Foundation at 5270490 or via manager@naturefoundationsxm.org.
  • Police Cadets Sworn In --- More Men in Blue on Streets.

    policecadetsswornin05012012Philipsburg:--- On January 4th, 2012 the police department held a swearing-in ceremony at the office of Justice Minister Roland Duncan.
    A total of 13 cadets from the BPO (Basis Politie Opleiding) who have finalized another part of the module of their police training have taken the oath in order for them to have the authority to make arrests and to be able to write out citations.
    Four other officers from the Netherlands were also sworn-in as part of reinforcement to the police department. This is in regard with the agreement St. Maarten has with the Netherlands that twenty officers will be reinforcing the Police Force of St. Maarten. Already, there are nine of the twenty officers on St. Maarten.
    The officers took their oath in the presence of the Minister of Justice Roland Duncan.
  • WITU Weighing its Options on COL Payments and Workers Bonus --- Academy yet to Register Teachers in Pension Program.

    celshot05012012Philipsburg:--- The President of the Windward Island Teachers Union Claire Elshot said on Thursday that the union and GOA is yet to hear from Prime Minister Sarah Wescot Williams about the Cost of Living Adjustments which were to be paid this month to all civil servants. Elshot said Wescot Williams promised the GOA and the union to get in touch with them after her trip to the Netherlands but to date she has not done so. "My secretary will be sending a letter to the Prime Minister who is also the Minister of General Affairs on Thursday requesting an update on the COL payments."
    Elshot said the union needs to know what Government is going to do about the payments because as a union they are obliged to update their members. "When I call an informative meeting they consider it as industrial action but Government must realize that our members meet us on the street all the time and are requesting information on when they will receive their COL payments."
    Another issue that is bothering the WITU is the fact that the Prime Minister announced on December 31st, 2011 that some Naf. 300,000.00 was allocated for the workers Christmas bonus, but none of the workers received their bonus for the holidays. Elshot said she will be seeking information from the Prime Minister on the bonus even though she knows that sometimes these payments are made in the month of February. The WITU will be meeting on Friday January 6th to start discussing their plans of action.

    Pension Plan.

    The Windward Island Teachers Union is currently trying to regulate its members registration in the Pension Plan program which is mandatory for all workers.
    Elshot said even though the Pension Plan has become mandatory since January 1998, the St. Maarten Academy School Board is yet to register 62 of its teachers. President of the WITU Claire Elshot told reporters that one of the bottle necks was with the Chairman of the School Board who refuses to pay for the medical examination for his workers. Elshot said even though the Medical Examination has been concluded, the board of the St. Maarten Academy has to take care of the bill while they also have to submit their teachers' information so that the workers can be registered and become members of the pension plan.
    Elshot said the union has been trying to regulate this matter for the past four years and while the teachers' pension premiums are deducted monthly from their salaries they are not registered. When asked if the School Board can be held liable for fraud, Elshot said she does not think so because whenever the registration takes place it will be done retroactively.
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  • PJIA flies 31 flags in recognition of international destinations it services.

    pjiaflags08012012Simpson Bay:--- The Princess Juliana International Airport (PJIA) ushered in the New Year by flying the flags of the various countries and territories it services as an international airport.
    The mounting of the 31 flags began Thursday night, December 29, 2011, on light poles that arch around the road leading to the airport, starting in the area of WINAIR offices with the St. Maarten flag, and up to the poles around the FBO facilities.
    The flags represent St. Maarten, Saba, St. Eustatius, Aruba, Bonaire and Curacao, the hub islands, (Anguilla, St. Barths), other Caribbean countries and territories, destinations in Central and South America (e.g. Panama, Brazil), the USA and Canada as well as Europe.
    "The idea of the flags is in recognition of the international character of PJIA, and a visual as well as concrete way to acknowledge all the destinations we service," said managing director, Regina LaBega.
    "We have been receiving very positive comments about the flags, not just about how colorful and beautiful they look, but also about the educational value to both young and not so young people of our island," she added.
  • Plenary public session of Parliament on GEBE and public infrastructure scheduled for January 16.

    Philipsburg:--- A Plenary public session of Parliament with reference to the utility company GEBE and infrastructure developments is scheduled for January 16.

    The meeting will take place on Monday afternoon at 2.00pm in the General Assembly Chamber of the House of Parliament on Wilhelmina Straat #2.1 in Philipsburg.

    There are three agenda points for the plenary session, firstly, incoming documents; second is infrastructure developments on Sint Maarten and the impact on the environment; and the third agenda point is developments at GEBE including the generation and distribution of electricity, water and the fuel clause.

    The National Alliance (NA) faction requested the plenary session in its letter dated January 06, 2012 to the President of Parliament.

    The NA in its letter also requested the presence of the Minister of Public Housing, Spatial Development, Environment and Infrastructure Hon. Theo Heyliger, and Minister of Economic & Tourism Affairs, Telecommunications & Transport Hon. Franklin Meyers.

    The plenary public session will be carried live on St. Maarten Cable TV Channel 20.

  • Ministry of Finance official meets with Chamber of Commerce regarding exchange of information.

    Philipsburg:--- Just before the 2011 Christmas holidays, a meeting was held with the Chamber of Commerce & Industry official and an official from the Ministry of Finance, to explore cooperation with respect to the provision of data.

    A follow-up meeting is planned between the Ministry and the Chamber before the end of January.

    The Minister of Finance Hon. Hiro Shigemoto says that he was informed that the initial meeting went very well and the Chamber is very much willing to cooperate.

    "It is the intention of Government to link all key databases with the Inspectorate of Taxes in order to be able to have a complete and transparent database system for Country Sint Maarten where every business that is established is properly registered.

    "At the same time it allows us to have an idea of registered functioning businesses and those that are not. It also provides an opportunity to build a complete database which has the correct information and is synchronized with others. Once you have these in place, one is able to find those businesses which haven't been living up to their social responsibility and contributing to the national treasury.

    "This process embarked upon is also part of reforming the tax system of our country. Everything is interconnected and we have to bring all the relevant agencies together in order to be able to offer better services to the business community," Minister of Finance Hon. Hiro Shigemoto said.

    Taxand/A&M Taxand/VMW Taxand/Taxand Curacao, the largest independent global tax organization which provides tax advice to clients worldwide, will be assisting the Ministry of Finance by advising on Information Technology possibilities for the Chamber and tax authorities.

  • Decision soon to be taken on BTA Investigation --- Mos.

    Philipsburg:--- The Prosecutor's office is soon to decide which of the suspects that were arrested last year in the Brooks Tower Accord scandal should face prosecution. Chief Prosecutor Hans Mos said that his office received the police report on the investigation and by April or May 2012 they will decide exactly which suspects will face prosecution.
    Some eight persons were arrested early last year when it was reported that a stamp from the immigration department was stolen. It was later determined that the stamp was loaned to the BTA section but it later disappeared. Police and the prosecutor's office conducted a number of house searches when they launched the investigation. They seized a large sum of monies and documents. Those arrested were later released.
  • H.E. Governor Holiday Visits Minister of Plenipotentiary Voges in The Hague.

    eholidayandmvoges12012012Great Bay (DCOMM):--- His Excellency Governor Eugene Holiday on Wednesday made a courtesy visit to the Sint Maarten House in The Hague where he met with the Minister Plenipotentiary Hon. Mathias Voges. The Governor was accompanied by his Chief of Staff of his Cabinet.
  • USGF calls all student bodies to board games --- Website launched to showcase positive activities of students.

    bimacoreceivescertificatefromusgf15012012Cul De Sac:--- The United Student Government Front (USGF), under the mission of promoting civic involvement, leadership, and academic excellence among students of secondary schools on St. Maarten, is calling on all high school student councils to attend its first event of the calendar year on Friday, January 20, at Milton Peters College.
    The annual board games competition is being organized for all students of the various high schools to see who can take home to prizes for best chess and dominoes players.
    Every year, USGF brings the teens together to form positive bonds and share ideas on how to make their schools better.
    This event carries an extra celebratory theme as the students now have a public platform to showcase their activities. With support from Windward Island Bank, USGF was able to launch its website last December at St. Dominic High School in the presence of representatives from the host school, St. Maarten Academy and PSVE, Caribbean International Academy, Milton Peters College, and St. Maarten Vocational Training School. The website address is sxmstudentsgov.org. Its launch also marked the fifth anniversary of the umbrella organization. Sundial and Learning Unlimited also form part of the organization.
    dominosreceivescertificatefromusgf15012012USGF started in 2007 after one parent made the suggestion that there should a general organization that brings all student bodies on the island together. At that time, there were four known student councils of government-subsidized high schools on St. Maarten.
    After exchanging views at St. Dominic High School, students of the host school contacted other schools and encouraged the first meeting of what today is known as the United Student Government Front. Through sharing of ideas and activities that worked, the participating students were able to return to their respective schools and enhance or build their own student councils.
    The new website hopes to create a forum for more interaction. Since its inception, the USGF has grown from strength to strength with each school contributing ideas and new platforms. The organization has moved from being a mere meeting and sharing ground, to one that offers leadership, financial and Parliamentary training, as well as opportunities to interact socially, for members and mentors of the participating schools.
    In the past years, members of the USGF were given to opportunity to participate in the Youth Toastmaster Club. Such training aided the leadership and communication skills of the young scholars.
    This year's board games, like previous years, will continue with prizes sponsored by businesses. Among the major sponsors over the years are Domino's Pizza and BIMACO and the organization expresses heartfelt appreciation for their support.
  • WIFOL Files New Case Against SBRMC and Royal Resorts.

    After many attempts made by the WIFOL to dialogue with Royal Resort (RR) and Simpson Bay Resort (SBRMC) and those attempts were rejected by the Management, Last week the attorneys of Wifol initiated a court case against Royal Resort (RR) and Simpson Bay Resort (SBRMC) at the Court of First Instance.

    Wifol asked the court to order both RR and SBRMC to stick with the "Pelican CLA". Such claim has been awarded twice in a summary procedure by the court of first instance and was also twice set aside by the Common Court of Justice.

    This new court action is a so-called procedure on the merits and therefore differs from the ones (the summary procedures) that have been tried last year. Those previous procedures were less extensive and does not give the Court a possibility to fully weigh all the evidence that is presented by parties. In a procedure on the merits, the Court will look more careful at the evidence and will be able to hear witnesses. Hearing witnesses is not possible in a summary procedure.

    WIFOL is of the opinion that, both the Court in First Instance and the Common Court will come to the conclusion that both RR and SBRMC are bound by the "Pelican CLA" and that those defendants will be ordered to fully respect the CLA and pay the members of Wifol in accordance with the CLA.

    A verdict is expected within a relatively short period. Moreover, Wifol has requested the Court to render a specific court order prior to a decision on the merits. Wifol hopes that this court order will be render

    Approach of individual members of Wifol
    WIFOL has noted that RR and SBRMC have approached the individual members of Wifol and have offered those members an employment agreement that is severely worse than what the members would be entitled to on basis of the "Pelican CLA".

    Those deviations from the CLA will however become null and void if the new court case has a successful outcome for WIFOL. RR and SBRMC would in that case obliged to pay the difference to the members of Wifol.

    Undermining the position of WIFOL members
    The public should be aware that the members of WIFOL have informed the Board of WIFOL that a large number of undocumented workers have taken over the positions of the members at the resort. Some of those workers are working at the resort via employment agencies and by doing so are taking away the labor of the members of WIFOL. Those workers are working under conditions which are in violation of Local Laws, Kingdom Laws and ILO Convention No. 181.

    Wifol regrets that, the immigration department nor the labor department have check those persistent rumors that some of the vacancies at the resort have not been filled in in accordance with the laws. As far as Wifol is aware of, none of these agencies have been scrutinized by the inspectorates neither.

    Complaint against government of Sint Maarten at the International Labor Institution (ILO) in Geneva.
    The attorneys of Wifol are drafting up a complaint against Sint Maarten at the ILO.

    The ILO is the international organization responsible for drawing up and overseeing international labour standards. It is the only 'tripartite' United Nations agency that brings together representatives of Governments, Employers and Workers to jointly shape policies and programmes promoting Decent Work for all. This unique arrangement gives the ILO an edge in incorporating 'real world' knowledge about employment and work (www.ilo.org).

    The reason for this complaint is that the government of Sint Maarten in the opinion of Wifol acts in conflict with certain ILO Conventions that the Kingdom of the Netherlands (and thus Sint Maarten) is bound by. More specific it concerns the ILO conventions 87, 98 and 154.

    Those conventions concern the freedom of association and protection of the right to organize and the right to collective bargaining.

    Wifol holds the opinion that the government of Sint Maarten has not fulfilled its obligations under these conventions by – among others – advocating the members of Wifol to bypass the union and to enter into individual employment agreements. Further, Wifol holds the opinion that government has not encouraged RR and SBRMC to enter into negotiations with Wifol, but to the contrary, lend its support to the way RR and SBRMC ignored the collective bargaining interests of the members of Wifol. A double role of a certain politician/ director will make more clear for ILO as well that the government of Sint Maarten has difficulty to fulfill its obligations under these conventions.

    Wifol expects that this United Nations institution will closely scrutinize the acts of government in the light of the Conventions and will consider the complaint to be well founded.

    For the Board of WIFOL,

    Theophilus Thompson
    President

  • Sewage Overflow and Constant Rainfall a Major Problem for St. Maarten Road Infrastructure --- Heyliger.

    Philipsburg:--- The Minister of Environmental Affairs and Road Infrastructure Theodore Heyliger told Parliament on Thursday that sewage overflows and the constant rain on St. Maarten are a major problem for the island. Minister Heyliger was responding to questions posed during the first round of the Parliamentary meeting called by the National Alliance to discuss the road infrastructure and GEBE.
    Minister Heyliger said that the businesses and residents of Cole Bay are pumping sewage water constantly but because of the heavy rainfall their sewage overflows from one day to another. He cautioned that there is urgent need to build a sewage system and to make sure homes are hooked up to combat the sewage overflow. Minister Heyliger said due to the mass development of the island there is a larger amount of sewage that has to be disposed of on a daily basis. Home owners he said are adding on to their homes to either accommodate their children or other relatives. The environmental affairs Minister also explained that he is still busy trying to find land to build a waste disposal facility somewhere in the Cole Bay area.
    Heyliger further explained that the island's road infrastructure and the Great Salt Pond are affected by the constant rainfall on St. Maarten. This too he attributed to the over development on the island. Minister Heyliger said because of the construction in the hilly areas of the island there is more water running off to the public roads and Great Salt Pond.
    The Minister said because of the greater amount of fresh water entering the Great Salt Pond this has created the breeding ground for midges and mosquitoes. He said that his Ministry has taken the initiative to install at least three more water pumps which will be used to pump out the fresh water from the pond. He said one of the pumps is already installed while another two are due to arrive on the island shortly. The Ministry of VROMI is also looking at the possibility of having a few wells around the edge of the pond, Heyliger said.
    The Minister said another solution that is being studied is the possibility of running underground pipes to bring in saltwater to the Great Salt Pond. However, he is not sure if the installation of wells and pipes will solve the problems that exist at the Great Salt Pond.
    As for the ring road project, the Minister said that the sand that was used to fill in areas around the pond for the ring road has to settle before the road construction can begin. He said so far some 12 lots were distributed mainly to foundations and at least three residents. Minister Heyliger also clarified that the environmental impact studies for the causeway and the ring road were conducted for both projects, copies of which were given to the Chairlady of Parliament to distribute to the Members of Parliament after the leader of the National Alliance and Member of Parliament William Marlin requested it.
    As for the various road projects, he said they will be completed by mid 2012. The drainage for Dutch Quarter he said should be completed by August 2012 but plans are underway to begin another road project in that area. Middle Region road construction should also be completed by mid 2012.
    Minister Heyliger made clear that while there are number of projects in the pipeline to further upgrade the road infrastructure, he needs to find funding for those projects since his Ministry has the smallest budget within Government.
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  • Chairlady of Parliament Stands firm on Parliamentary Procedures --- Parliament does not prepare Minutes of its Meetings --- NA Leader.

    Philipsburg:--- The Chairlady of Parliament Gracita Arrindell stood her ground on Wednesday when she closed the Parliamentary meeting based on article 48 of the rules of order. The procedural technicalities caused a heated debate on Tuesday night when the chairlady of parliament decided she will close the meeting and have the National Alliance request a new meeting if they want to question the Minister of Energy and Environmental Affairs Theodore Heyliger regarding GEBE.
    The motion to close Tuesday's meeting was seconded by Member of Parliament Roy Marlin who said that Arrindell was in order to close the meeting since the Minister was not present when the Members of the National Alliance Faction posed several questions to him regarding GEBE. During the Parliamentary debate Minister of Economic Affairs Franklin Meyers and his staff showed up and were ready to respond to Parliament regarding GEBE, since Minister Meyers is the Minister in charge of Economic Affairs. However, the Members of Parliament only posed four questions to the Economic Affairs Minister regarding the pricing structure and the company that provides GEBE with fuel. Minister Meyers provided the answers to parliament on the four questions they posed to him at the end of the first round of the meeting.
    The decision by the Chairlady of Parliament to close the meeting at the beginning of the second round did not sit well with the Members of the National Alliance since they said that the Minister and his staff was not obliged to be present when the questions were posed. Due to the disagreement between the Chairlady and the Members of Parliament of the National Alliance Faction, Member of Parliament Jules James tabled the same motion as the chairlady based on article 48 to close the meeting, which was eventually done despite the protest made by the Members of the National Alliance Faction of Parliament.
    The meeting was called by the National Alliance to discuss the road infrastructures and GEBE on January 6th 2012. The first agenda point was to discuss the road infrastructures with Minister of VROMI Theodore Heyliger but the National Alliance made a mistake when they submitted their request by stating that they wanted a meeting with the shareholder representative of GEBE instead of asking for the Minister of Energy and Environmental Affairs. National Alliance leader William Marlin told parliament that he made the mistake because he thought the Minister of Energy was the shareholder representative.
    The shareholder representative, Attorney at law Ralph Richardson showed up on three occasions including Wednesday to provide the answers to the questions the Members of Parliament might have for him about GEBE but the Leader of the National Alliance William Marlin informed the chair at the opening of the meeting on Wednesday afternoon that he made a mistake when he said he requested the shareholder representative in his initial request. Marlin informed Parliament that the shareholder representative could be excused since he intended to question the Minister of Energy and Environmental Affairs. The Leader of the National Alliance also submitted his request to the Chairlady of Parliament to invite the Minister at the end of the first round. He suggested that the meeting be adjourned and that Parliament send over a report and the minutes of the meeting to the Minster and his staff so that the Minister could prepare himself based on the questions that were posed in the first round of the meeting. Marlin said the only reason the chairlady opted to use procedural techniques and to close the meeting was because Parliament does not prepare the minutes of the meetings that are held and send them Government and the Members of Parliament.
    The National Alliance Leader William Marlin and Member of Parliament Louis Laveist cautioned the chairlady that she should not use impartiality when taking decisions. Marlin said that the chairlady should stop making a mockery of parliament and if the chair chooses to use might over right then she could have his blessings but not his support. Marlin said parliament has enough bungles and he does not want to see another one be added to the list. Member of Parliament Louis Laveist seconded the proposal of the NA leader.
    Laviest said that does not want to lose respect for the chair of parliament and therefore the chair should not allow her party colors or party lines to dictate her decisions when chairing the meetings of parliament.
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  • General Audit Chamber Launches Dutch Version of its Website.

    Philipsburg:--- The General Audit Chamber upgrades its web presence with the launch of the Dutch language version of the website as well as the introduction of new features.
    The website of the General Audit Chamber (www.arsxm.org) that was launched on November 14, 2011, provides information regarding the role and activities of the institution, as well as information on the public budget. From the home page users now can choose whether to enter the site in either English or Dutch. Content includes information about events and publications related to the General Audit Chamber. Among the items that can be found on the site are presentations, photographs, videos and published reports and documents. To increase the accessibility and utility of the information for the general public, many of the critical elements are provided in both official languages of Country Sint Maarten. Legislation related to public finance and the National Ordinance on the General Audit Chamber is now also available in English, and the Audit Chamber intends to add translated legal texts to the website in future. Video clips of the Symposium of the High Councils of State as well as the presentation of the Audit Chamber to Parliament are available on the website.
    Information on the institution's first major audit can also be found at www.arsxm.org. This audit related to personnel expenditures of government continues in 2012 with a final report expected in April – May of 2012. The report will be made available via the dual language website once completed.
    The General Audit Chamber, established in accordance with the constitution of Country Sint Maarten, commenced operations on October 10, 2010. The site was developed by the General Audit Chamber with technical assistance from the local technology firm COMPUTECH. With the public and other stakeholders making more use of electronic media, developing a web presence was a priority for the General Audit Chamber. Funding for the website project, which is part of the larger institutional development initiative for the establishment of High Councils of State, was provided by USONA. The Audit Chamber intends to continue developing the content of the website. Contact information and the location of the General Audit Chamber can be found at www.arsxm.org
  • Ombudsman to Resume Taking Complaints as of April 1st, 2012 --- Office almost fully equipped.

    nalynchandstaff30012012Philipsburg:--- The office of the Ombudsman of St. Maarten will resume taking complaints from the public as of April 1st, 2012 announced Ombudsman Nilda Arduin Lynch at a press conference on Monday. Arduin Lynch also gave reporters a tour of her office which is fully furnished and almost fully equipped with the necessary tools and materials for them to function optimally. Arduin Lynch said she is expecting another lawyer to join her team of staff as of March 1st, 2012, however, the office of the Ombudsman still needs one more senior legal adviser. The Ombudsman said her office made much progress during the months of November and December 2011. She said besides the much needed furniture a server was installed and computer software was tested and is being used on a trial basis. The office of the Ombudsman managed to make the necessary arrangements with the National Ombudsman in the Netherlands to provide training and support for the complaint officers for a period of six months starting March 1st, 2012, while two of the staff from the Ombudsman office is currently taking some courses to upgrade their Dutch in administrative law.
    The Ombudsman will be traveling to the Netherlands to meet with the National Ombudsman where she will finalize the arrangements for the detache who will be supporting her bureau for a period of six months. During the trip, the Ombudsman will meet with the Ombudsman of Curacao to discuss the software operation and the complaint registration system that is currently being tested.
    Since the installation of the Ombudsman Bureau on St. Maarten some 112 complaints were filed, 28 of which were civil cases. The bureau has completed 29 of the complaints filed while they intend to finalize 52 of them by the end of March. Of the 112 complaints filed the Ombudsman was not authorized to investigate two of them, while the Ombudsman initiated one of the investigations regarding the Kadastre's office.
    St. Maarten's Ombudsman Nilda Arduin Lynch also presented the handbook she put together on how the Ombudsman will function. The handbook she said will be at the library for everyone to peruse and make their comments. A copy of the handbook will be presented to the Governor, Prime Minister, and the President of Parliament at a later date.
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  • Detective Department Falling Apart as Armed Robberies and Murders Increase --- Detectives in Disagreement with Department Head.

    peterdewitte27062010Philipsburg:--- Several veteran detectives that have close to 40 years of service in the police force are seeking transfers from the department since they cannot agree with their department head Denise Jacob.
    SMN News has been reliably informed that at least five local detectives have requested a transfers from the department since they cannot get along with the head of the detective department.
    The sources said that Lucy Cashette the head of the Juvenile Department and Jarrel Kidjo have already left the detective department and are now working for the Lands Recherché. While veteran detectives such as Carlton Philips, Turhan "Pico" Simmons, and Edwin de Cuba have also requested transfers from the Detective Department. Philips and De Cuba have served the Police Force for some 37 years while Simmons has been there for 36 years.
    The source said that at least two of the detectives that are at odds with Jacob and her leadership skills have since sent letters to the Chief Commissioner of Police Peter de Witte asking that he intervene but so far they said De Witte has done nothing to rectify the situation. SMN News learnt that the local detectives have cited severe disrespect on the part Jacob. "Can you imagine she told one of the Detectives to shut the f--- up in one of the meetings." They further claimed that Jacob told the head of internal affairs George York that his reports on incidents can be considered as trash. "The new department head lacks respect for the local detectives, we have worked on several murder cases and know who the suspects are but they don't trust our work and that is why there are so many unsolved murders on St. Maarten while the spate of armed robberies are increasing daily."
    Some of the detectives spoke to SMN News exclusively on the condition of anonymity saying that they don't want to destroy the organization they built from scratch with little or no tools but something must be done to save the Police Organization on St. Maarten. The detectives said they already dispatched a letter to the Minister of Justice and the Prime Minister asking that they intervene before the police and its unions take matters into their own hands which according to them would further jeopardize St. Maarten.
    For the year 2011 there were 17 confirmed murders while there are two cases that are still pending. The detectives said that the Regatta murders were solved by the local detectives (namely the head of Armed Robbery Unit). "Our colleague heading the armed robbery unit had to fight tooth and nail with the Dutch detectives from the RST about the Regatta murders. He told them that the murders were committed by the same persons because of the Modus Operandi and they refused to listen to him. It was days later they decided to follow his advice and they solved those cases." As for the Afoo murder they claimed it was bungled by the RST because they deported the eyewitnesses who led them to the murder weapon.
    It should be noted that while the murder rate on St. Maarten has skyrocketed for the year 2011 most of them were solved. Namely the three suspects who are now serving life sentences for the Regatta murders and there are seven persons behind bars for at least five murders and two attempted murders. The other murder investigations are ongoing, just recently police arrested a second suspect in the Deygoo murder investigation.
    Efforts made to reach the head of the detective department Denise Jacob for a comment on the allegations proved futile since she is currently on vacation.
    In an invited comment, the Chief of Police Peter de Witte confirmed that two of the five detectives namely Phillips and Simmons requested transfers and the Minister of Justice Roland Duncan has to take a decision on where to send both men who has served the police force for a number of years. "The two detectives have requested transfers and I took their files to the Minister, so now it is in the Minister's hands." De Witte said that De Cuba did not submit a request for transfer.
    De Witte acknowledged receipt of the letters that was sent to him and he said he dealt with the matter internally. The top cop clarified that two of the five detectives that were transferred to the Lands Recherché was done with his permission. "The Lands Recherché was lacking men and they requested five people, at first I gave them three detectives and now I have decided to give them another two namely Cashette and Kidjo." However, in the case of both detectives the Minister has to sign off on the decree for them to go over to the Lands Recherché. "The two detectives that are going to work with the Lands Recherché did not leave because they have problems with the department head. The Lands Recherché asked for them for their qualities and I agreed to let them go because the Lands Recherché has a number of cases to investigate and they lack manpower.
    As for the solving of the Regatta murders. De Witte said when those cases were solved the Police, Prosecutors Office and the RST acknowledged that the most crucial information came from the local detectives. He said that for him it was all about team work and the Regatta investigation is proof of that team work. "The local detectives worked very well with the Dutch detectives and the RST and they got the results of good team work when the suspects were convicted for life last year," De Witte said.
    In defense of the head of the detective department, De Witte said that Denise Jacob is a very straight cop who wants a police force with integrity. "Integrity of the Police force means a lot to Denise Jacob and so she does everything in her power to provide proper leadership. Besides that, Jacob has the community at heart and she does everything possible to make sure that crimes are solved."
    He further explained that in the past everybody was their own boss and that has changed since Jacob arrived.
  • NPNA Strips PSS of all Assets --- Vehicles shipped out to Curacao.

    Philipsburg:--- Nieuwe Post Netherlands Antilles (NPNA) has stripped Postal Services of St. Maarten (PSS) of all its assets. SMN News learned that NPNA removed all the computers from the Post Office on St. Maarten while they also took away all the vehicles that were used by St. Maarten to service the community. SMN News further learnt that the Supervisory Board of PSS had to rent at least eight vehicles so that they could have continued to provide postal services in the different districts while the PSS board and the Prime Minister of St. Maarten Sarah Wescot Williams are currently negotiating the purchase of some vehicles from an auto dealer.
    While NPNA has claimed ownership of all assets at the Post Office on St. Maarten, it should be noted that St. Maarten does have 25% shares in the assets that are yet to be divided.
    A source close to Prime Minister Sarah Wescot Williams said that NPNA has claimed all assets on St. Maarten stating that the assets belong to the NPNA NV that is located on Curacao. The source further explained that when the vehicles were seized by NPNA they were taken to Soualiga Service Point. SMN News also learnt that the vehicles were shipped out of St. Maarten on Tuesday.
  • Robbery Suspects and Illegal Vendors Arrested --- Merchandize Seized and Destroyed.

    Marigot:--- The Gendarmes have arrested three persons who were caught robbing a business establishment in Howell Center on the night of January 1st, 2012. A press release from the Gendarmerie states that the Gendarmes were in the area when the culprits were burglarizing the store. The suspects are currently awaiting their day in court.
    In an unrelated case, the Gendarmes arrested another suspect who snatched a handbag from a woman who was walking in the center of Marigot. The culprit used a machete to cut the straps of the handbag before taking off. Bystanders who witnessed the robbery chased the suspect and eventually caught him. The suspect is expected to appear in court at a later date. The Gendarmes also arrested nine persons on Orient Beach for working illegally on the beach while they are also accused of selling illegal merchandize. The suspects will be summoned to court at a later date while the prosecutor ordered the destruction of the 50kg of merchandize that was seized.
  • Attorney General Hands over CBA to Minister of Justice.

    dpiarpresentscbatorduncan11012012Philipsburg:--- The Attorney General of St. Maarten and Curacao Dick Piar handed over the first Crime Pattern Analysis to Minister of Justice Roland Duncan on Wednesday at the A. C. Wathey Legislative Hall.
    The Attorney General asked the police to draft the CBA (criminaliteitsbeeldanalyse) in order to provide policy makers and the prosecutor's office with an instrument that would allow them to focus on the actual crime situation on St. Maarten. The CBA is intended to assists law enforcement agencies in setting priorities and making plans for tackling general and organized crimes. It provides insight into different criminal phenomena varying from property, violent, environmental, and juvenile crimes to drug trafficking and money laundering from 2008 to 2010.
    cbaaudience11012012According to a press release issued by the Attorney General, it is the first time actual facts and figures on general and organized crime are set out objectively in a very readable report. The CBA was compiled by two researchers from the Netherlands assisted by the local senior police officers who worked on the project for a period of nine months, three of which was spent on St. Maarten conducting research and interviews. Piar said a total of 46 organizations from St. Maarten and abroad were consulted during the research.
    Minister Duncan told reporters that he will be presenting the documented facts to the Council of Ministers and the Parliament of St. Maarten before making it public.

    The CBA Sint Maarten presents its readers with a description of the nature and scope of more than twenty criminal phenomena and concludes with suggestions in dealing with them. Some of these phenomena are reported upon frequently in news bulletins, such as violent robberies or murders. Other phenomena are fairly unknown. In that sense the CBA provides some new insights, for example in the case of health insurance and social benefits fraud. These types of fraud are a costly matter for the country of Sint Maarten. According to the researchers much can be gained by taking effective preventive measures and implementing strict identity checks of applicants.
    In the CBA, the developments in crime are depicted against the rapid economic development of the island of Sint Maarten in the last few decades. An important finding is that many government agencies have been unable to keep pace with that rapid economic growth. The vast group of illegal migrant workers drawn to Sint Maarten as a result of this growth – estimated at more than a third of the original population – has put Sint Maarten's infrastructure under pressure. As a result, government agencies such as the police, customs, Special Investigation Unit, prison, Immigration Service, Court of Guardianship, the Foundation for Social and Health Insurance, but also inspectorates and monitoring bodies had to contend with serious understaffing. The researchers state that this development caused various types of crime to thrive on Sint Maarten. Fact is that since October 10th 2010 Government has adopted and implemented plans to increase staffing at practically all agencies mentioned.
    This CBA gives those who are involved in law enforcement a clear picture of the background of the crimes that take place as well as a picture of the root causes of crime that need to be addressed.
    Not surprisingly also youth crime is a major concern which must be addressed swiftly and in the long term. Drug abuse and drug dealing, school absence and hanging around with the wrong crowd are key issues. Tackling the problem of youth crime should not only be the responsibility of law enforcement agencies. The government as a whole, NGO's and the private sector will all have to contribute, primarily in crime prevention. Only when the approach enjoys broad-based support, will it have a chance of success. The Attorney General emphasized this point while presenting the CBA to Minister Roland Duncan.
    This Crime Pattern Analysis on Sint Maarten follows those made on Aruba, Curacao and Bonaire. The production of these CBA's is the result of an agreement in the consultation among the Attorneys-General of the countries in the Kingdom.
    The full Dutch text and English summary of the Sint Maarten Crime Pattern Analysis is posted on the Government Website www.sintmaartengov.org. , click on " Ministry of Justice" and subsequently on "What's new".
  • Public Elementary Schools without Report Cards.

    Philipsburg:--- The parents of students attending the six public elementary schools on St. Maarten are yet to receive the end of year report cards for their children. SMN News learnt that the teachers of Marie Genevieve De Weever School, Dr. Martin Luther King School, Lionel Connor School, Oranje School, Charles Leopold Bell School, Ruby Labega School, and Prince Willem Alexander School were asked to meet with the parents of each student and discuss their students' grades with the parents based on what is recorded on the teacher's score sheets. Reliable sources said that the Ministry of Education promised the schools the report cards but those cards were never delivered. The source further explained that the Ministry of Education could not accumulate the necessary funding to pay for the printing of the cards by Toni's Printing.
    SMN News contacted the advisor to Minister Arrindell Fabian Badejo to seek clarity on the shortage of report cards. Badejo said he was not aware of the situation and he also does not think the Minister is aware of the shortage. He promised to further investigate the matter.
  • St. Maarten Community Warned to beware of Nigerian Con Artists.

    Philipsburg:--- Residents of St. Maarten/St. Martin are asked to be aware of some con artists (scammers) that are focusing on people living on the island. According to information reaching SMN News, someone has been contacting people by telephone on the island telling them that they won a huge amount of money as a prize. The caller told at least one person that the money can only be accessed if they transfer monies to them through the money transfer agencies on the island. The caller went on to tell the person whom he called a number of times that the only way to access the funds and to complete the transfer to his or her bank account is to send the required sum through Money Gram. The caller is also asking for personal information such as bank account numbers and other personal information. Further checks on the caller's telephone number showed the caller is calling from Nigeria.
    Nigerian criminals are known for their fraudulent attempts to lure people into transferring money to their bank accounts based on false stories. Sometimes these stories are well prepared and people tend to believe them. All over the world tens of thousands of people have become victim of these embezzlers. It appears as though the scammers are focusing heavily on the St. Maarten community.
    The country code for Nigeria starts with -2348-. Besides the phone contact, residents, and business people are being contacted through the internet. Residents are advised not to transfer any money to unknown accounts, not to provide unknown persons with bank account numbers or any private personal information whatsoever.
    It is likely that large criminal organizations with an East African origin are behind these fraudulent attempts to steal money from people.
  • Director of Tourism Meets with Arke Fly.

    mlchunmeetsarkefly13012012Great Bay (DCOMM):--- Director of the Sint Maarten Tourist Bureau May-Ling Chun recently met with Manfred Lahey from Arke Fly division of Tui Nederland.

    The Sint Maarten Tourist Office is trying to get an Arke Fly charter to the island. The preference is a twice a week charter which would translate into longer stays and island hopping vacation packages to the islands of St Eustatius, Saba, Anguilla and St. Barths.

    May-Ling Chun says that she informed Arke Fly about the product and had detailed conversations on various properties that will cater to their clients. The objective is to bring Arke Fly/Tui back to the island for an extensive fam trip.

  • Four Persons Arrested in Drug Investigation.

    drugmoney13012012Philipsburg:--- On Thursday January 12th, 2012 at approximately 9:40pm during a routine traffic control, the police stopped a vehicle with license plate M-9349. Due the fact that the driver of that vehicle with the initials D.R.C. from Jamaica could not properly identify himself, the patrol decided to take him to the Philipsburg police station to have is identity verified. During a safety search of the driver, a plastic bag containing a small amount of marihuana was found. The driver was immediately arrested for the possession of illegal drugs.
    The suspect was later taken to his home which is located on the Backstreet to verify his identity and continue the investigation in connection with the drugs that were found on him. At said address the step-father, mother, and brother of the suspect with the initials S.R.L, S.K.M, R.W.M. all from Jamaica, were at home. In the presence of an acting prosecutor, a search was done at the home in question. During this search an amount of cash, drug paraphernalia and several plastic bags containing marijuana were found and confiscated. All persons in the house at the time of the search were arrested and taken to the police station for further investigation.
    confiscatedmarijuana13012012
  • UP Faction Blames Residents and Heavy Equipment Owners for Deplorable Roads --- NA Faction wants Clarity on Ring Road and Bridge.

    theyligerandsupportstaff16012012Philipsburg:--- The Members of Parliament representing the United People's Party led by Minister of Infrastructure Theodore Heyliger laid the blame on the residents of St. Maarten and the owners of heavy equipments for the deplorable road network on St. Maarten. Member of Parliament Dr. Ruth Douglas addressed the Minister of Infrastructure Theodore Heyliger as their captain on the floor of Parliament House on Monday prior to making her statements about what the Ministry of VROMI should do to curb the running sewage water on public roads. Member of Parliament Douglas said that the government should begin issuing fines to those persons (residents) that are caught emptying their sewage on the public roads. The UP Member of Parliament also blamed heavy equipment owners for the deplorable state of Front and Back Street as well as for the many pot holes seen on the public roadways. She also called on her party leader "the captain" to take the necessary measures to make sure heavy equipments stay off the roads during peak hours. MP Douglas said that government should seek to implement some kind of taxation on the owners of heavy equipments that uses Front and Back Street because it is because of them the tiles on the two main streets are sinking.
    The United People's Party Faction leader Member of Parliament Romain La Ville was allowed to stray from the topic being discussed when he elaborated on youth delinquency during the meeting called to discuss the current road infrastructure. La Ville said the various road projects that are being undertaken by his government creates work for the youths in the various districts. La Ville also asked his party leader to provide some explanation regarding the drainage and irrigation plan for the Cole Bay area. He said it seems awkward to him that the manholes and drainage pipes is on one side of the road while the running water is on the other side of the road.
    Members of the National Alliance Faction namely Member of Parliament Louis Laveist and the leader of the National Alliance William Marlin posed several questions about the quality of work that is being delivered by the contractors that are contracted for the various road projects. Laveist asked Minister Heyliger to update Parliament on the Bridge across the lagoon and who will undertake the cost of building such a bridge. He also took the Minister to task regarding the deplorable state of Front and Back Street. The National Alliance Members of Parliament asked Heyliger when will the two main streets be upgraded and who will shoulder the cost of the repairs. Laviest said he also wants to know what will happen to the "ring road" and when this project will be completed. The former Democratic Party stalwart asked Minister Heyliger if the land that was created around the ring road was given out to the residents of St. Maarten and if that was so who obtained the parcels of land around the ring road. Laveist further asked the Minister to provide Parliament with criteria applicants for the ring road land had to provide before acquiring the parcels of land. Laveist then took a swipe at the Minister for the midges that are infesting the island all of which he said are due to the filling in of the Great Salt Pond.
    Leader of the National Alliance William Marlin asked Heyliger if he is bent on executing projects and not making sure that each project he executes is completed. Marlin said the Minister should make sure that there is a proper maintenance plan for each project. "Had government made sure there was proper maintenance plan and guarantee in place from the contractors Front and Back Street could have been in better shape." Marlin asked Minister Heyliger when would the Bridge project be brought to Parliament and who will be undertaking the cost of the project. He said he heard that a barge of piles is already on the island and he wants to know if there is any truth to that. Furthermore, Marlin said he heard that users of the Bridge will have to pay toll fees and that too he said needs to be clarified. The Members Parliament representing the National Alliance said they want to know if the SLAC articles of incorporation allows them to carry out such projects and if the necessary environmental impact studies were conducted for the Bridge and ring road.
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  • Social Affairs Workers Should Either Shape Up or Ship Out --- Minister De Weever.

    cdeweever18012012Philipsburg:--- The Minister of Health, Labour and Social Affairs Cornelius De Weever did not mingle with words on Wednesday when he informed the Head of the Social Affairs Department Mark Schloss to either "shape up or ship out". Minister De Weever said he visited the department head on Wednesday morning during a surprise visit and made clear to the department head that he has had enough with how the department and its workers are performing their duties. "I am extremely disappointed with the department and the services they provide. I will not stop until the services are up to par. Furthermore, I will install a customer service and complaint officer at the department to ensure better service to the people of St. Maarten."
    The Minister said over the past ten months his cabinet has been working diligently with the department to make sure they work more efficiently so that they can serve the population of St. Maarten in a professional manner. He said he invested the people's money to renovate the building and offices of Social Affairs while he gave directives to the department heads to assist the elderly and those that are mentally or physically challenged. However, it appears as though that the clients are still not getting the services they need and deserve. Therefore, several persons have stopped him while on the road and approached his office for assistance for themselves and or family members. Minister De Weever said his only advice now for those working at the Department of Social Welfare is to "shape up or ship out" since the people of St. Maarten deserve better. The people that paid into the system and those that are in need do not have to endure inefficiency and the lack of initiative on the part of the department. The Health and Labour Minister said his cabinet has been going the extra mile to assist those that are in need simply because those working at the department are not providing the much needed services to the people of St. Maarten. He said he personally asked the department head to assist everyone that approaches them for assistance the same way they would assist the members of their families or their friends.
    Minister de Weever also called on all persons that are receiving Social Welfare and are in possession of the Government Medical Cards to ensure that their documents are up to date. He said the cards are for a period of one year and renewals should be submitted in timely manner.
    The Health and Social Affairs Minister said that several persons confronted him and accused him of taking them off the Social Aid list. He said recipients should also make themselves aware of the laws and how the system works. Minister De Weever explained that persons who requested social aid normally has to fill in a form at the Department of Social Affairs and after perusal from the department an advice is sent to him which is what he follows when making decisions. However, persons who received a negative advice do have the option to appeal the decision which is dealt with by the Appeals Committee.
    Minister De Weever explained the objective of the system is to make sure that political games are not being played with the people and social assistance is granted to the persons that need it most.
    The Minister said last week Friday one of his cabinet members had to go over to the office of SZV to obtain a letter of guarantee for an elderly. He said that if the civil servants do their jobs then these things would not reach his cabinet.
    He said he provided the necessary trainings to the civil servants and he was clear with his directives.

    General Secretary to Submit Report on Investigation.

    Minister De Weever also explained that the department of Labour and Social Affairs is under investigation and he is expecting a report as soon as Thursday noon on the Pelican dismissal request which was submitted since April 2011.
    In the meantime, the Tenants Association of Pelican Resort Club has submitted a request to dismiss the 183 workers of the former Pelican Resort. Minister De Weever said he is also expecting an update on the Pelican labour dispute on Thursday.
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  • “My Intention is to Give the GEBE Supervisory Board Marching Orders” --- MP Illidge.

    pillidge25012012Philipsburg:--- Member of Parliament Patrick Illidge showed his anger and frustration on Wednesday during a Parliamentary meeting called by the National Alliance to discuss GEBE. The Member of Parliament said he agreed with the sentiments shared by his colleagues in Parliament regarding GEBE but his intention is not to ask the Minister of Energy and Environmental Affairs questions because the way GEBE is structured not even the Minister of Energy can get to the persons responsible for GEBE and its inadequacies. MP Illidge said he was taken aback when the NA faction members asked that the shareholder representative who showed up for the meeting on Wednesday be excused because his questions would have been directed to the shareholder representative Ralph Richardson.
    MP Illidge said his intention is to give the supervisory board of GEBE marching orders so that they can get their act together, while he also wants to know what the views of the shareholder representative of GEBE are. MP Illidge said that based on the balance sheet of GEBE, the company has 77 million dollars (cash) on their bank account and the people of St. Maarten are suffering on a daily basis with skyrocketing electricity bills. Illidge said since 1995 a decision was taken for GEBE to install underground cabling so that they can be prepared for the hurricane season. Besides that, the Independent Member of Parliament said he wants GEBE to change its supervisory board and make sure that the people that are appointed to the board have vision, a board that will give the Members of Parliament at least 10 ways in which they can reduce the cost of electricity for the residents of St Maarten. "I want the board to bring down the cost of electricity within 30 days and I don't want to hear anything about corporate governance because the people of St. Maarten have enough with GEBE. I am here to give GEBE marching orders and those who do not hear would have to leave." MP Illidge said he has no problem with the workers of GEBE but he does have a problem with the supervisory board and their vision for the company. "While GEBE has 77 million on their bank account we know they made 20 million in profit for the year 2009, very soon they will tell us they made 50 million in one year." MP Illidge went on to say that he is waiting for the day to come when his appliances are damaged by GEBE power outages and they tell him that he would have to go to court for them to replace his goods. "Madame chair that is the day I will be taken to Pointe Blanche, I don't like a lot of talking we need to get moving by making sure that GEBE gets its act together. The poor people are told that they have to take GEBE to court when their fridges and other appliances are damaged. This is injustice because it costs $1,500 for lawyer's fee alone. " The MP said GEBE has 30%- 40% of water loss yet they are able to make 20 million in profit one year. He cautioned that he is very serious with what he saying to GEBE supervisory board and he hopes they listened to his message via the floor of parliament. MP Illidge also said that he did not support the motion that was presented on the floor of parliament some months ago because he is not in support of a partial relief. "I want to break open "the chicken" (GEBE) and see what the problems are. One cannot go to a doctor with headaches and the doctor would keep pumping pills inside of you, at some point that doctor will have to do an MRI to see the source of the problem. Therefore, I am here to break open "the chicken" (GEBE) in order to find solutions."
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  • German Ambassador pays courtesy visit to Minister Voges in The Hague.

    hbehrandmvoges26012012Great Bay (DCOMM):--- On Thursday the German Ambassador Dr. Heinz-Peter Behr in The Hague, paid a courtesy visit to the Cabinet of the Minister Plenipotentiary at Sint Maarten House.

    Ambassador Behr met with Minister Mathias Voges where they discussed the Ambassador's planned visit to the island in February.

    The Ambassador will be holding a lecture on February 9 entitled "The Economic Situation in Germany and the European Union."

    Ambassador Behr during his working visit to the country will also be meeting with several ministers and will introduce the newly appointed Honorary Consul for Germany Karel Frielink.

    Minister Voges provided the Ambassador with information about the island and discussed future cooperation possibilities between Germany and Sint Maarten.

  • Two injured in Freak Motorcycle Accident on Saturday.

    fqmotorcycleaccidentvictim28012012French Quarter:--- Two young men are now nursing severe injuries after a freak accident on the French Quarter main road on Saturday afternoon.
    According to eyewitnesses at the scene, the two riders of Dominicano decent were racing along RN7 on Saturday afternoon when they ran into an oncoming car that was turning into a parking lot.
    "Those guys were racing real fast and they did not see the car turning so the first rider hit the car head on before going airborne. He landed a good distance away from the car, while the second rider tried to avoid the car, but when he saw what happened he panicked and tried to stop but he was riding at very high speed so he could not avoid hitting the car."
    Several persons living in the immediate area flocked to the scene as the car and two motorcycles were badly damaged. Several Gendarmes and two ambulances responded to the scene and transported both victims to the Louis Constant Fleming Hospital. The Gendarmes are still busy investigating the circumstances of the accident.

    Click here to view more photos of the accident.
  • UP Faction Working on Re-shaping --- Met With Coalition Partners on Monday.

    Philipsburg:--- The Members of Parliament from the United Peoples Party Faction and their Leader Deputy Prime Minister Theodore Heyliger met on Monday at the Government Administration Building to discuss the status of their party. SMN News has been reliably informed that the UP Members of Parliament met with their leader, adviser to the party Joe Richardson, and Minister Franklin Meyers to work on strategic ways of dealing with the meeting called by the National Alliance to discuss the vote of Jules on November 17th, 2011. That meeting was scheduled for Tuesday but was cancelled because the National Alliance leader requested that it be taken off the agenda for Tuesday as he is currently off island with his wife seeking medical attention.
    SMN News learnt that the UP leader and advisers want Jules James who is the General Manager of Simpson Bay Resort to stay as much as possible in the background at the SBRMC. The source said that the UP leader and advisers want James to stay away from the workers of SBRMC while he should not be the one to sign any documents on behalf of the company while being a Member of Parliament.
    SMN News also learnt that the UP Members had a discussion with their faction leader Romain La Ville who is at odds with the party regarding the SBRMC saga. The source said the UP leader also discussed with his faction leader prior to Monday's meeting. It is understood that Romain La Ville has promised to be loyal to his party despite their differences of opinion. La Ville could not be reached on Monday for a comment. SMN News learnt that La Ville did not show up for work neither did he attend any of the Parliamentary meetings since being at odds with his party. Sources say that the President of Parliament is threatening to have monies deducted from La Ville's salary for the days he did not show up to work or did not attend the meetings.
    In the meantime, the members of the UP fraction met with their coalition partners from the Democratic Party on Monday afternoon. SMN News learnt that the meeting was called by the Democratic Party Faction mainly to discuss the Jules James saga.
  • Civil Registry Dept Announces Employee of the Year.

    annamarlinreceivesgift30012012Great Bay (DCOMM):--- Head of the Civil Registry Department Leona Romeo-Marlin announced on Tuesday that Anna Marlin was selected once again as Employee of the Year at the Civil Registry Department for 2011.

    According to Marlin, the selection was based on Anna Marlin's performance, competencies, and willingness to learn. She has been working with the department for three-years and has proven to be one of the pillars of the department.

    Miranda Seabrookes, a new employee was voted the best newcomer of the department based on performance.

  • Andre PATRICK accepts his St.Martin cultural id-card --- In traditional St. Martin setting and with pride.

    andrepatrick09012012Former head of the Kadaster of St. Maarten, Mr. Andre PATRICK, in a short ceremony on Sunday, January 8, 2012 accepted his St.Martin Cultural ID-card.
    With pride he noted.
    The ceremony, took place in a real traditional, St. Martin setting on the grounds of the James family-estate in Friar's-bay, French St.Martin.
    Following the short ceremony, in which bush-tea was served, those in attendance, took time out to reminisce about the past and to discuss the importance of St. Martiners reclaiming and reinforcing their heritage in their country.
    The entire event was also video-taped by the movement itself, as part of its preparation to document and broadcasts its own events by means of the internet.
    It is very clear, that the grassroots movement has initiated a consciousness among a growing number of St. Martiners, to assume the role of host in their own country, instead of allowing themselves to be marginalized.
    For more information go to www.stmartinnation.org.
  • CARIBBEAN TWENTY20 CRICKET 2012 TELECAST LIVE JANUARY 9-22 ON ESPN CARIBBEAN (Ch. 9) and ESPN2 (Ch. 56) CARIBBEAN NETWORK.

    ESPN and ESPN2 Caribbean Networks will telecast LIVE the Caribbean Twenty20 Cricket 2012 from January 9-22 from Sir Vivian Richards Stadium in Antigua and Kensington Oval in Barbados. The networks will carry all 24 matches, including the Final on Sunday, January 22 from Kensington Oval. This marks the third consecutive year that ESPN will telecast the Caribbean Twenty20.
    The Caribbean Twenty20 opened yesterday at Vivian Richard Stadium with defending champion Trinidad & Tobago facing the Windward Islands, followed by Leeward Islands versus Guyana, at Vivian Richards Stadium.
    The Caribbean Twenty20 features 10 teams divided into Zone A: Trinidad & Tobago, Windward Islands, Guyana, Leeward Islands, Canada; and Zone B: Jamaica, Barbados, CCC, Sussex and the Netherlands. The winner of the Caribbean Twenty20 qualifies for the Champions League Twenty20 in September, which will be aired on ESPN's networks in the Caribbean.

    Sir Vivian Richards Stadium, Antigua:


    Date        TEAM 1                  TEAM 2 Time (ET) LIVE
    Mon 9 Jan
    Mon 9 Jan
    Windward Islands v Trinidad & Tobago
    Leeward Islands v Guyana
    2:50pm
    6:50pm
    ESPN - Ch. 9
    ESPN2 – Ch. 56
    Tue 10 Jan
    Tue 10 Jan
    Sussex v Netherlands
    Jamaica v CCC
    2:50pm
    6:50pm
    ESPN - Ch. 9
    ESPN - Ch. 9
    Wed 11 Jan
    Wed 11 Jan
    Canada v Windward Islands
    Leeward Islands v Trinidad & Tobago
    2:50pm
    6:50pm
    ESPN - Ch. 9
    ESPN - Ch. 9
    Thu 12 Jan
    Thu 12 Jan
    Jamaica v Sussex
    Barbados v Netherlands
    2:50pm
    6:50pm
    ESPN - Ch. 9
    ESPN - Ch. 9
    Fri 13 Jan Trinidad & Tobago v Guyana 6:50pm ESPN - Ch. 9
    Sat 14 Jan
    Sat 14 Jan
    CCC v Sussex
    Jamaica v Barbados
    2:50pm
    6:50pm
    ESPN2 – Ch. 56
    ESPN2 – Ch. 56

    Kensington Oval, Barbados:


    Date        TEAM 1                TEAM 2 Time (ET) LIVE
    Tue 17 Jan
    Tue 17 Jan
    Guyana V Canada
    Windward Islands v Leeward Islands
    2:50pm
    6:50pm
    ESPN - Ch. 9
    ESPN - Ch. 9
    Wed 18 Jan
    Wed 18 Jan
    CCC v Netherlands
    Barbados v Sussex
    2:50pm
    6:50pm
    ESPN - Ch. 9
    ESPN - Ch. 9
    Thu 19 Jan
    Thu 19 Jan
    Canada v Trinidad & Tobago
    Guyana v Windward Islands
    2:50pm
    6:50pm
    ESPN - Ch. 9
    ESPN - Ch. 9
    Fri 20 Jan
    Fri 20 Jan
    Jamaica v Netherlands
    Barbados v CCC
    2:50pm
    6:50pm
    ESPN - Ch. 9
    ESPN - Ch. 9
    Sat 21 Jan
    Sat 21 Jan
    Semi-Final 1: Winner A v Runner Up B
    Semi-Final 2: Winner B v Runner Up A
    2:50pm
    6:50pm
    ESPN - Ch. 9
    ESPN - Ch. 9
    Sun 22 Jan
    Sun 22 Jan
    Third Place: Loser SF 1 v Loser SF 2
    Final: Winner SF 1 v Winner SF 2
    2:50pm
    6:50pm
    ESPN - Ch. 9
    ESPN - Ch. 9

  • St. Peters Chinese Supermarkets Robbed --- Two Arrested After House Search --- Warning Shots Fired.

    St. Peters:--- St. Peters Supermarket and Ho Supermarket were robbed again on Wednesday January 11th 2012 at gun point reported Police Spokesman Ricardo Henson. A press release from the Police Spokesman states that the two supermarkets were robbed around 11:40am and several police patrols responded to the scene. Henson said while police were on the scene one of the victims pointed out the suspect who robbed them earlier to the police patrol. Henson said when the suspect realized he was fingered he began running through the yards of various residences. "Police chased the suspect on foot and they fired two warning shots hoping that the suspect would surrender but the suspect continued running. The foot chase ended up at a house on Apricot road where the suspect was last seen by police and where it was suspected that the suspect was hiding." Police searched the home under the supervision of an acting prosecutor and two suspects with the initials J.M. and A.S. were arrested. Henson said both suspects are from Sint Maarten. A small amount of marijuana, a mask, and several items which can be used to commit armed robberies were found and confiscated for further investigation. The suspects were handed over to the Special Robbery Unit who will continue the investigation.
  • Patricia Lourens to keynote Journey for Education.

    Former Academy Principal and Head of the Division for Educational Innovation DEI, Patricia Lourens will deliver the keynote address at the Journey for Education annual dinner. The dinner will be held at the Sonesta Great Bay Hotel this Saturday January 28th from 7:30pm.

    Mrs Lourens will deliver an address on education after 10-10-10 and the work being done by DERPI to develop education on St Maarten. Being involved in education and the innovations that have been introduced over the years, Mrs Lourens is an authority on education and it is expected that her keynote address will be well received.

    The annual Journey for Education dinner was originally scheduled for late November of last year, but had to be rescheduled to January 28th 2012. JFE President Rolando Tobias informed that all tickets purchased since last year are still valid and encouraged supporters to come out and enjoy a lovely evening of dinner, entertainment and information.

    Journey for Education Foundation hosts fundraising events and the proceeds are distributed to students seeking tertiary education.

  • PSS will not be Accepting Netherlands Antillean Stamps as of February 1st, 2012.

    Postal Services St. Maarten NV (PSS) hereby would like to inform the general public and business community on the island that effective February 1st, 2012, PSS will no longer permit the usage of stamps with the country name "Nederlandse Antillen" or any other country name on it, for mailing of postal items such as letters, picture postcards, printed matters, small parcels etc.

    All postal items with any other postage stamps other than with the country name "Sint Maarten" or "St. Maarten" will be returned to the sender, and if the postal item does not have a return address on it, it will not be mailed out.

    Postal Services St. Maarten NV (PSS) apologizes in advance for any inconveniences this may cause to the general public and business community.

    For more information on the purchase of country St. Maarten stamps, please contact the Post Office at tel. 542 2289 or e-mail: info@pssnv.com.

  • St. Martin Fruits used to Brew Local Wines --- Retired St. Martiner Harvesting Big from his Backyard.

    leopoldbaly29012012Friars Bay:--- A certified accountant, writer, school teacher and former politician is what most St. Martiners know of Leopold Baly of Friars Bay, however, there is a hidden talent in the well known charismatic St. Martiner that many of his own relatives and friends do not know about.
    Mr. Leopold Baly loves gardening, some years ago he used to sell his fresh produce alongside the Marigot main road. Baly said when he first built his house in Friars Bay he used to plant lettuce and tomatoes. "I had so much lettuce and tomatoes that I did not know what to do with all of it. Years ago, I used to take my vegetables on the road and sell it; I would park at the entrance of Howell Center and sometimes by the marketplace where people could see me with my fresh produce. To be honest, I made a lot of monies from that. The Indians use to look for me to buy my tomatoes because the ones I had here in my backyard were very sweet."
    Baly said after a while he realized that St. Martin was losing its fruit trees so he decided to harvest fruit trees. "I had many mango, gooseberry, star fruit, sugar apple, sour-sop, guava berry and several other fruit trees that the older people had on the island." I wanted to make sure that we don't lose the trees so I started to harvest them and I was selling them to homeowners." Like everything else, the elderly St. Martiner said that some people used to order the trees and they would never go to get them and when they are too big for the pots he would plant them at the back of his house. "Today, I have so much fruit trees in my yard that I cannot plant vegetables anymore. There is too much shade so I have very little vegetables in my garden now."
    whiteyams29012012Baly made sure he has water for his trees because he also has two concrete reservoirs that he stores water in. He said he built the reservoirs when he was building his house years ago. "We needed water for the construction and there was no pipes here so we had to build our own reservoirs. Today, I am using them to store water for my garden. They also help to hold water during the heavy rains."
    At the back of Mr. Baly's house, there are many fruit trees: a huge breadfruit tree, a sapodilla tree, several star fruit trees, sugar cane, sour-sop trees, billambi trees, sugar apple trees, gooseberry trees, and a number of blackberry (Jamun) trees. Between the trees, Mr. Baly plants white yams, sweet potatoes and sweet cassava. There are quite a few number banana trees among the lot, all of which he uses for his family and friends. He still plants some lettuce, tomatoes and local herbs like parsley and thymes.
    Besides the trees, the land behind Mr. Baly's house is very rocky. "It is a difficult area to walk in especially when it's raining. Many of my fruits and vegetables got washed away during the heavy rains last year because the water broke through the rock wall," Baly said.
    On Saturday, SMN News paid a visit to Mr. Baly's garden, it was surprising to see the amount white yams that Mr. Baly reaped from his backyard the day before. He said he only planted two beds of yams and he rooted up yams that weighed as much as 12 to 15 kilos. There were some with five yams on the root. "It's like my hands with the five fingers on it. I bought the yams in the Chinese Supermarket and I planted them and this is the result."

    Brewing Wine from Local Fruits.

    localgooseberryandcashewwines29012012While gardening is a hobby for Mr. Leopold Baly, he is also a talented wine brewer. Baly said that he first started to brew wine from the blackberries (Jamun) and while this is a very popular wine among the locals, he said many people do not know the true value of blackberries because it's a natural cure for diabetes while its extremely high in antioxidants. "Women suffering from breast cancer should consume blackberries. All parts of the Jamun tree are used for medicinal purposes."
    Gooseberries are a sour fruit that are usually used to make sweets but Baly makes wines and vinegar from the gooseberries. "The gooseberry makes a very nice wine but now I am testing it with the cashew apple. I am trying to blend the two to see the quality of wine I will get out of it." When asked if he markets his wines, Baly said he never sold his wines because it's never enough for his family and friends. "During the holiday season I did not have enough blackberry wine for my family and friends. My sister took a few bottles to the USA and now she is behind me to send some for her to sell. Her friends love it and they are willing to buy it but I am not ready to market the wines I brew here. I also make vinegar from the bilambi and I use it for my own salad dressings."

    Political Background.


    Leopold Baly said he is one of those men that people consider an "intelligent ass" because he refused to join the existing political parties when he returned to St. Martin years ago. "Back then it was only the Flemings and Petits in politics and every young person that went away to study was expected to join either clan when they returned but I did not. I formed my own party and many people thought I would not have survived it. My parents were angry at me for years, they used to call me the "intelligent ass" because I refused to join the Flemings and the Petits who might have given them some glory and recognition of my achievements in education. However, my belief was different and so I did something different. I was the first person in the history of French St. Martin to form a separate political party that contested the elections that Petit and Fleming were running in. Today, we have lots of young people forming their political movement but they are careful not to do the same as I did for fear of victimization. "I was victimized in several ways. Many young people who were taking their lessons by me were denied that opportunity when they stopped me from operating. I went on to write a book that is already on the shelves "The Forgotten Holocaust", that was to let people get a true sense of their history," he told SMN News in an exclusive interview.
    More about Leopold Baly's work can be found on the Elder of St. Martin at http://theelderofsaintmartin.blogspot.com/2011/06/st-martins-socio-culture.html?spref=fb

    Click here to view more photos of Leopold Baly's garden in Friars Bay, St. Martin.

  • Vital meeting for bands and calypsonians on Thursday.

    The St. Maarten Carnival Development Foundation (SCDF) is inviting all registered musical bands and calypsonians for Carnival 2012 to a meeting on Thursday, February 2nd, 2012. The SCDF is urging all bands and calypsonians to attend to receive vital information pertaining to various competitions.

    The meeting be two-fold, with the calypsonians from 7:00pm to 8:00pm followed by the bands from 8:00pm until 9:00pm. The meeting will be held at the Government Administration Building.

    "Every Carnival we adjust certain things here and there based on Feedback from the stakeholders themselves. Besides that, before the start of every season we make it a priority to meet with all stakeholders in every facet of Carnival to ensure that everyone is one the same page as we move forward. This year is no different," President of the SCDF Stuart Johnson said.

    Johnson said the meeting dates and times for other areas of Carnival will be announced at a later date.

  • U.S. Forward Operating Location (USFOL) Assists Fuik Community Center with After School Program.

    usfolassistsfuik10012012WILLEMSTAD, Curacao:--- On 9 January 2012, a contingent of U.S. Forward Operation Location (USFOL) personnel from the 429th Expeditionary Operations Squadron made a donation of their time, new recreation equipment and school supplies for children at the Fuik community center. Two personnel from the U.S. FOL fire department conducted a presentation for the children and presented Fuik leadership with an assortment of new basketballs, soccer balls, Frisbees and hula-hoops. Notebooks, pencils, pens and crayons were among the assortment of school supplies donated to help the children with their education. A U.S. FOL member commented, "It was a wonderful experience and a true eye opener." The U.S. FOL personnel have been long-time advocates for the local community and this was yet another outstanding effort to promote the welfare of Curacao's youngest members.
  • Minister of Finance expects significant progress to be made in tax reform in 2012.

    taxreformmeeting10012012Philipsburg:--- Minister of Finance Hon. Hiro Shigemoto says that he expects significant progress to be made in tax reform in 2012.

    The Ministry of Finance is currently steering the process to revamp the country's tax system making it easy to understand, easy to collect and leading to economic efficiency, fairness, transparency, and a stable and predictable system to fund public expenditures.

    At the end of 2010 and early 2011, a Tax Reform Workgroup was established to lay the ground work, and at the end of the process identified a number of areas and made several recommendations.

    During a working visit to the Netherlands in October 2011, the Minister of Finance met with consortium Taxand/A&M Taxand/VMW Taxand, the largest independent global tax organization which provides tax advice to clients worldwide.

    In November a contract was signed with Taxand/A&M Taxand/VMW Taxand/Taxand Curacao to work along with the country's tax authorities to redesign the tax system; assist the Ministry of Finance and the Tax Authority in building a modern state-of-the-art tax administration; and to significantly improve the process of tax compliance management.

    In the coming months meetings will be held with stakeholders once a preliminary design of the new tax system has been drafted to get the latter's input.

    "I am confident that we are on track to put in place a reformed tax system for the country in 2013. Everybody is upbeat and working diligently with respect to designing a system that is best suited for our economy.

    "This is a joint effort involving the Island Receiver, the Tax Inspectorate and Taxand/A&M Taxand/VMW Taxand/Taxand Curacao. As a nation, the safety and security of the country, the health of our citizens, the provision of a dynamic education system, and ensuring vital public services are delivered, are among some of the areas that a reformed tax system should be able to generate the resources necessary to meet our country's commitments to the people and taxpayers," Minister of Finance Hon. Hiro Shigemoto said on Tuesday.

    The Minister will be meeting with the St. Maarten Hospitality & Trade Association (SHTA) on Wednesday to discuss the Turn over Tax and tax matters.

    Minister Shigemoto said the Secretariat of the Ministry of Finance attempted to schedule a meeting with the SHTA in December but the latter were not able to meet on any of the proposed dates.

  • Septic Overflow caused Havoc on Front Street.

    septicoverflowonfrontstreet11012012Philipsburg:--- Several persons including the owners of Diamond International had to deal with a severe sewage stench on Wednesday morning when sewage began overflowing on Front Street in the vicinity of the Court House and Diamond International. Workers were seen at the scene with equipment trying to unblock the sewage pipes on Front Street. A worker who was busy checking the manholes to find the blockage told SMN News that the pipe was blocked with two tennis balls that he removed from the manhole in the vicinity of the Court House.
  • Sint Maarten elected as member of the 2012 Audit Committee at Ministerial OCTA Meetings in Brussels.

    sxmdelegationatoctainbrussels25012012Great Bay (DCOMM):--- Sint Maarten has been elected as a member of the 2012 Audit Committee at the Overseas Countries and Territories Association's (OCTA) Ministerial Conference in Brussels on Monday, Prime Minister Hon. Sarah Wescot-Williams announced on Wednesday.

    Representing Sint Maarten in the Audit Committee is Carol Voges, Head of Finance & Economic Affairs at the Cabinet of the Minster of Plenipotentiary of Sint Maarten.

    The other members of the Audit Committee are the Falkland Islands, President and the Cayman Islands. A number of other appointments were made to the Executive Committee of OCTA for 2012 until the next elections; a new Chairman and Vice Chairman of the Ministerial Meeting of OCTA.

    The officials elected as members of the Executive Committee of OCTA are hereby authorized to do all that is necessary to continue to further the objectives of OCTA as the official organization of OCTs in Brussels, according to the Strategic Plan approved in 2010.

    The delegations also reiterated in the administrative resolution that their position that OCTA does not release the European Union institutions and agencies and/or relevant Member States (France, Denmark, The Netherlands and the United Kingdom) from their responsibilities to the OCTs individually under the provisions of the Treaty and the Overseas Association Decision.

    The OCTs are non-European countries and territories that have special relations with Denmark, France, the Netherlands and the United Kingdom.

    They are associated with the European Community with a view to promoting their economic and social development and establishing close economic relations between them and the Community as a whole.

    There are in total approximately 25 OCTs. The OCTs are constitutionally linked to a Member State, but without being part of the Community.

  • Taxi and Bus Drivers Requested to Visit Inspection Dept before Picking up License Plates; New system put in place.

    Great Bay (DCOMM):--- In an attempt to further update its database, all Taxi and Bus permit holders are hereby required to retrieve a copy of the newly implemented "License Plate Collection Form" that grants a person permission to retrieve their number plate(s) at the Receivers office.

    Taxi and bus permit holders will have to present their permit with their Identification Card (ID) to the Inspection Dept. after which they will receive a copy of the referred to form that grants them permission to collect their license plate at the Receivers office on Pond Island.

    The License Plate Collection form will solely be presented to permit holders and not to help/employee drivers or any other third parties.

    In addition, Taxi and Bus permit holders are also reminded that they are to ensure that the insurance and vehicle inspection card reflects the name of the permit holder and not that of the help/employee driver since this would be a violation of their permit.

    The opening hours of the Inspection Dept. which is located in the Yellow Building on the Pondfill are: Monday to Friday from 8am-1pm and 2pm-5pm.

  • Civil Registry Dept and Sint Maarten Housing Development Foundation explore working relationship.

    civilregistryofficeandhousingmeeting10012012Great Bay (DCOMM):--- Head of the Civil Registry Department Leona Romeo-Marlin and Director of the Sint Maarten Housing Development Foundation Henry Lynch, met on Tuesday to explore a working relationship between both entities.

    The discussion focused on issues such as persons not changing their addresses when they move; the synchronization of databases; the prevention of fraud; and the enhancement of the registration process.

    Romeo-Marlin said that the possible partnership is in line with the objectives of the Civil Registry Department which are to maintain a well functioning Civil Registry that is based on integrity for the benefit of all citizens.

    The Head of the Civil Registry Department added that the aforementioned would allow for the execution of a high quality basic administration for internal and external clients and at the same time to be able to deliver adequate services to those clients in the area of basic administration and civil registry.

    "The Management of the Civil Registry Department is more than pleased that the Sint Maarten Housing Development Foundation understands the function and task of the department and the need to receive vital information from the largest rental entity on the island.

    "We are looking forward to finalizing a mutual agreement of understanding on the topics that we discussed," Head of the Civil Registry Department Leona Romeo-Marlin told the Department of Communication (DCOMM) on Tuesday.

    Civil Registry Department Section Head of the Front Office Kathy Snijders-Correa also attended the meeting.

  • SBRMC Failing to Provide Information to Labour Department on Dismissal Process --- Workers Stage Protest in front of Labour Department.

    labourdepartmentheads09012012Philipsburg:--- Workers of the former Pelican Resort now Simpson Bay Resort Management Company BV (SBRMC) and Royal Resorts Management Company Ltd protested in front of the Labour Department Monday morning demanding answers from the Department and Minister of Labour regarding the dismissal request that was submitted by their employer on April 26th, 2011. The workers who are currently not being paid by their employers also sought to register for social aid. They said that the non action of the Labour Department has left them in jeopardy since they are not able to meet their monthly bills. Many of the former Pelican workers said that they are not able to pay their mortgages and rent since it has been six weeks now they are not being paid which is in contradiction of the tripartite agreement signed between the Government of St. Maarten, the SBRMC, and the Workers Institute for Organized Labour.
    The protest on Monday morning led to an urgent meeting with the General Secretary of the Department Joireen Wuite, Head of the Department of Labour Peggy-Ann Dors, and Head of the Social Affairs Department Mark Schloss, while Loraine Scott Press Secretary of Minister De Weever attended in his absence.
    Dors told the Pelican workers that the department has been trying to obtain pertinent information from the Simpson Bay Resort Company through its legal representatives but the information they requested is not forthcoming. Dors said the application that was filled in by the company to dismiss some 49 workers has the name of two companies which are Pelican Resorts and Simpson Bay Resort Management Company. Dors said that the company has to say which of the two companies is requesting the dismissal or if the two companies Pelican Resort and Simpson Bay Resort Management Company is the same. Besides that, the company has to also provide the Labour Department with the historical data of the company as well as its financial status and its redundancy plan. She said her office requested the information a number of times including the recent court verdicts but to date the information was not turned over to them therefore, the Labour Department could not process the dismissal of the workers.
    It should be noted that while the SBRMC and Pelican Resorts requested the dismissal of 49 persons, two of the workers are now deceased they are Rodney Martina and Elva Aventurin. Among those facing dismissal is Glenda Smith- Groeneveldt, wife of Acting Governor Reynold Groeneveldt.
    pelicanworkersatlabourdepartment09012012Dors also explained the workers and its union representative Theophillus Thompson that the department needs to have the most recent court verdict because the Appeal Courts ruled that the SBRMC is no longer liable for the workers while the application to dismiss the workers was filed by SBRMC. Wuite and Dors said that while they understand that the issues surrounding the Pelican workers are sensitive and a number of people's lives are affected they are bound to follow the law and the legislation. According to the workers, the first court case initiated by the WIFOL was on February 8th 2011 while the dismissal was filed on April 26th 2011. Dors said parties signed a tripartite agreement and it is the union that has to hold the company responsible for breaching the agreement. She said while the company signed an agreement they went ahead and filed an appeal and has since abandoned the agreement they signed. "It's like they want to have their cake and to eat it too. Right now the company is in breach of the agreement as well as the law since they also cut the worker's salaries by 25% since the agreement was signed." Thompson told the Department heads that he went to the mediator Derrick Holiday to discuss the reduction of the workers pay as well as to request his assistance for mediation and so far Holiday has done nothing.
    General Secretary of the Department of Health and Labour Joireen Wuite said that the Department of Labour has to establish if the Pelican Resorts is completely dissolved because if that is not the case the workers will not be able to access their centitia benefits. Dutch nationals that are facing the dismissal can apply for Social Aid which can be between Naf. 505.00 to Naf. 700.00 per month depending on the applicant's martial and family status. Workers of the Pelican Resort or SBMRC that are not Dutch nationals will not benefit from Social Aid as stipulated in their working permits. A follow up meeting is planned for later this week with the Department Heads and a smaller group of workers who will assist in deciding how the department should proceed in assisting the workers.
  • Franca Resigns as MD of Harbour Group of Companies --- Serves as Consultant for a period of one year.

    keithfranca09012012Pointe Blanche:--- The Managing Director of the Harbour Group of Companies Keith Franca resigned from the Harbour Group of Companies since December 31st 2011. SMN News learnt that Franca will resume his business activities here on St. Maarten and on the other neighboring islands.
    An internal memorandum from the Chief Executive Officer Mark Mingo to the employees states that Franca worked for the Harbour Group of Companies for a period of six and a half years, first as Deputy Managing Director and then Managing Director since April 15th 2005.
    Keith Franca will however, work as a consultant for the Habour Group of Companies for a period of one year.
    On November 18th 2011, the supervisory board of the St. Maarten Harbour Holding Company N.V signed a resolution stating that Franca terminated his employment agreement with the Holding and that all parties wish to enter into a mutual agreement under the terms recommended by the Managing Director of the Holding.
    The resolution further states that since Keith Franca was the Chief Operations Officer (COO) of the Management Team of the Harbour Group of Companies and he was directly involved in the day to day management and operation, he also possesses a wealth of knowledge and experience regarding key and critical factors related to the management and operation of the Harbour Group of Companies and that the Holding wishes to benefit from those experiences during a transition period of one year after the termination of the employment agreement. The Holding therefore retains Franca as an independent consultant for the purposes of advising and supporting of the Holding in all existing and future operations of the Holding as of January 1st 2012 to December 31st 2012.