St. Martin News Network

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Aug 23rd
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  • John Thomas Godet.

    Revelations 21:4 And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away.

    We regret to announce the passing of

    John Thomas Godet
    Born: 27 Feb 1937 ~ Died: 3 June 2012

    Left to mourn:
      
    Mother: Casilda Godet

    3 Sisters:
    Ramona Godet
    Janet Godet
    Andrea Godet

    1 Brother:
    Cyril Williams Godet

    Wife:
    Soila Godet

    Daugthers:
    Rosa N. Godet
    Rosa M. Godet
    Petra Godet
    Magaret Godet

    Sister in law:
    Casilda Tyrol and Family

    7 Grandchildren

    Nieces and nephews too numerous to mention

    Partner:
    Ramona Ventura & fam.

    Many other friends in the St. Maarten’s home and relatives too numerous to mention.

    The Funeral service for the late John Thomas Godet will be held on Monday June 18, 2012 at the Emerald Funeral Home Chapel in Cay Hill. Viewing: 1:00pm to 2:00pm. Service: 2:00pm. 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

     

  • Marie Ulrique Richardson.

    "Let not your heart be trouble."

    It is will profound sadness that we announce the passing of our beloved Mother, Sister, Grandmother, Aunt, Cousin & Friend

    Marie Ulrique Richardson
    Sunrise: 6 Avril 1919 - Sunset : 17 Juin 2012

    She leaves to mourn:

    Her sons:                     Edgar JACOB & Family

                                        Victor BROOKS

    Her stepsons :             Jules Maximilien RICHARDSON
                                        Edward RICHARDSON  

    Daugthers in Law:       Daisy JACOB            
                                        Brenda RICHARDSON 
                                        Louise RICHARDSON

    Grand-Children:           Charles Florentin RICHARDSON
                                        Kimberly & Anika RICHARDSON
                                        Tania THUMANN
                                        Patricia JOHNSON
                                        Donna Maria, Edgar Todd, & Alphonse Rene JACOB

    Her sisters:                  Alice JOSEPH & Jacqueline VIVANZ  

    Her brothers:               Daniel, Jean, Michel, Louis, Emmanuel PETERSON                       

     

    Her Uncle:                   Joanes ILLIGE

    Her nieces & nephews:Yvette DAVIS, Monique DAVIS, & Joseph DAVIS

    Her cousins:                Gerville BROOKS & Family
                                                               
    Her godchildren:          Lisette CONNOR & family
                                        Eliene FARGEAU & family
                                        Carmen HODGE
                                        Kary BROOKS
                                        Arlene GIBBS     
                                        Rosita DURUO BROOKS

    Special cousins:          Cynthia LAKE & Family
                                       Eulalie CREQUE & family
                                       Alberta MILLER & family
                                       Judith RICHARDSON & family
                                       Alfred MANUEL & family
                                       The family of the late Charles MANUEL
                                       The family of the late Augustin GIBBS
                                       Augustine LEWEST & Family
                                       Rose MILLER & family
                                       Jean LEWEST & family
                                       Louis LAKE & family

    Special friends:           Anais & Hippolite GOMBS
                                       The family of the late Jean GOMBS
                                       Charles BALY
                                       Diana MORGAN & family
                                       Joyce FROSTON
                                       Simon CARTY
                                       Clement GUMBS

    Caretaker:                   Carmelita GRANT

    Her caring neighbors: Sady GUMBS & Patricia
                                                    ROGERS

    She was related to the following families:
                                                               
    Richardson, Hodge, Illidge, Davis, Peterson, Joseph, Johnson, Jacob, Thumann, Hughes, Roland, Thomas, Priest, Meyers, Miller, Creque, Gerard, Gibbs, Lewest, Manuel, Lake, Flanders, Gombs, Gumbs, Brooks, Hyman, Withfield, Arrondell, Philipps, Helligar, Rogers , Duruo and many others too numerous to mention.

    A wake will be held on Tuesday June 26 2012 at Cinthy LAKE residence in Colombier from 6:00 to 10:00 PM

    The home going service for the late Marie Ulrique Richardson will be held on Wednesday June 27th, 2012 at the Ebenezer Methodist Church in Marigot. Viewing: 3:00pm to 4:00pm. Service: 4:00pm.
    Interment: Sandy Ground cemetery.

     

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

    May Her Soul Rest in Eternal Peace

     

  • Melvina Agatha Powell Weeks.

    “The earth is the Lord’s and the fullness thereof the world; and they that dwell therein.”

    It is with deep sadness that we announce tha passing of our beloved mother, grandmother, aunt, greatgrandmother and friend

    Melvina Agatha Powell Weeks
    b.k.a Mello from over the bank

    Born: July 8th 1922 ~ Died June 23, 2012

    She leaves to mourn:

    Her daughters: Mildred Quarless- (U.K)
                                Dorothy Browne- St.Maarten    
                                Iona Weeks   -St.Maarten
    Sons: Narol Lescott Nevis
              Antonio Weeks –St.Maarten
              Urie Powell (deceased)
             Roy Powell (deceased)
    Daughters in law: Elvira Lescott Nevis
                              Katherine Weeks VanPutten
    Sons in law: George Quarless (UK)
    Anthony Browne  -      St.Maarten
    Agnant Thomas    St.Maarten
    Grandchildren: Alden Rombley-Holland
                                Albert Weeks USA
                               Lindzey Weeks St.Maarten
                               Denzil & Winton Browne St.Maarten
                            Gregory & Anuska Violenus St.Maarten
                             Akim Romney St.Maarten
                             Agnus Weeks St.Maarten
                            Nigel ,Neil & O’Larry Lescott Nevis
                            Sonia, Lornette & Jacinth Morton (UK)

    Many Many other relatives and friends too numerous to mention just to mention a few; Alan Busby, Alben Daniel, Helena Phipps, Fernette Payne, Shirley Huggins, Employees of Caribbean Liquors, Edith priest (Holland), Aubrey Rogers (St.Kitts),Dasie Bevon & Venise Jeffers
    She also leaves to mourn her friends at the St. Martin’s Home
    She was related to the Powell, Weeks, Quarless, Lescott, Caines, Rogers, Jeffers, Browne & Violenus families.

    The funeral service for the late Melvina Agatha Powell Weeks will be held on Thursday June 28th, 2012 at the S S Simon and Jude Anglican Church on Backstreet.
    Viewing: 1:00pm to 2:00pm.
    Service: 2:00pm.
    Interment: Cul de Sac.

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

    May Her Soul Rest in Eternal Peace

     

  • Culture of Deception and Destruction!

    In the days when I grew up on St. Maarten, we had no ball fields, no basketball courts, no television and one radio station "the voice of St. Maarten PJD2" with two disc jockeys Brother Mere and Sidney Lejuez which simply played godly sermons and religious music all day long.
    To entertain ourselves after school we made our own toys, Rollers with milk can covers, fishing line and thread spools, played marbles, spin tops and made kille bans. Most people today don't ever know what a kille ban is. Ask older St. Maarten people what it is...We also made little one-man zinc boats which we first tested in the salt pond to make sure they weren't leaking before taking them in the sea.
    As we grew older, about twelve years old or so, we received our own fish and pellet guns from our parents to go fishing and hunting with. Those of us who had no boats got hold of a used car or truck tube from "Cyrus Wathey" the only gas station at the time to be able to get far enough out in the ocean so we could snorkel and spear fish. Several days a week after school we went hunting through the hill with our pellet guns for mountain and ground doves.
    As we got a little older and more proficient at diving, we dove for lobster, grouper, snapper, turtle, goat fish, puppy shark etc. with our fish guns. Cock fighting was the pass time of our parents on weekends.
    In recent years, people from cultures that have sex with animals, pedophilia, homosexuality, abortion [the murder of unborn babies] and euthanasia [the killing of old people when they deem them to be no long useful to society], came to tell us we can't own a fishing gun, cock fight, have a Dolphin Park, or eat turtle and puppy shark.
    These people are: pro homosexuality [the origin of aids], which have already killed millions of people worldwide are against the death penalty for first degree murderers. However, they support the murdering of millions of unborn babies "abortion". They also came to tell us we can't cut down a tree in our yards. Yet, when they arrived here, they brought not even one tree in their suitcases with them. When you came here you met cock fighting.. If you don't like it; Leave.
    How much longer are we going to sit back and allow these people from deviant cultures to take away our personal freedoms and destroy hundreds of years of the St. Maarten culture? Stand up against these people of Deception and Destruction. "A man can't ride your back unless it's bent." - Martin Luther King, Jr.

    Peter Gunn

  • STRANGE BEDFELLOWS ON STATIA.

    Politics makes strange bedfellows, they say and no stranger are those political relationships that are based on the failure to communicate.
    I was therefore delighted that during a recent television broadcast on Statia, two former politicians invited the general public to come forward and voice their opinions and concerns. The subject of debate was the latest preposterous scheme to seek independent status from the UN.
    I am not sure just how ex-commissioners Van Putten and Kerkhoff came upon this instant craving for public participation. Both have been rudely ejected from office. Whilst in power, neither had real consultation before signing into law that other ridiculous scheme – an unsightly oil terminal in the centre of the island.
    No public referendum there. No apprehension or comprehension for a multitude of objections. So attracted were these NuStar-crossed lovers that dissenting voices from their own community were but a blip on the way to bliss.
    And so the decision was signed off during a weekend fling while discharging offices. Hardly a scrap of documentation was left over to assist the incoming administration. How thoughtful and communicative? Love is blind...
    It seems that this agreement was silently signed and dated by the two turtle doves. No coo, no boo! Such communicative skills and talents were absent then - as they are now.

    Love conquers all

    A similar sell-out in the name of democracy followed when the issue reached the passive floor of the Island Council. By then, Eros had deserted Golden Rock. Van Putten had bolted from the administrative mayhem that embraced his brother's cows. This fraternal gift was also not subject to public discussion or approval.
    Island council members discoursed and flirted with the romantic abstraction of an industrial wasteland in the heart of their Garden of Eden. How could Genesis be more complete with the mesmeric enchantment of the Serpent's rhapsody? No matter that marchers and media had lined up alongside the voices of reason. No matter that international treaties would be torn asunder. No matter that the Dutch Ministry of Infrastructure raised countless doubts and questions over the social, scientific and particularly safety consequences. Love conquers all.

    The community on Statia is now divided. Some would still like to know why our new commissioners were ready to sign the building permit - without genuine consultation or a referendum.
    Information is power and some questions will never be answered. Despite efforts to obtain various documents from the Executive Council via the BES law on Freedom of Information, lips defy express ion and filing cabinets withhold their secrets. Their silence is also communication...
    So what is the ticket now? Let us unify the divided population through a common United Nations cause. Step forward the DP and the four other useless parties on Statia. This Machiavellian smokescreen could also work for St NuStar.

    Fit of pique

    But wait a moment! How did we get into this constitutional mess? Not through referendum but through a fit of pique by a former DP member visiting Curacao. The same DP that now seeks a more independent status. Did the DP even care about the people they represented? Do they care now?
    A commission has thus been set up to promote the UN cause. So far this commission bears all the transparent contents of an oil storage tank. And therein lies the rub! Members of the commission are unknown. Their role and contribution are also unknown. It all rather smacks of Don Quixote tilting at Dutch windmills.
    Whereas the Dutch Government has a lot to answer for in terms of financial custodian, political representation as we have seen, should be a two way street. And this is a pity. The island has a wealth of human talent and skills to shape a successful future. It just has to be put together and put across.
    But local politicians are unable to promote the assets that the island has to offer. Despite flag waving at election time, their only focus is self interest not democracy. It is leadership that we miss, not bedfellows.

    James Russell

  • RESPONSE TO ARRINDELL III: SOME MEDICATION.

    Listen, just for you I am going to ask all the recipients of the CAF who read your column to make a collection to buy you a CD, blue ray, or DVD or HDMI, TNT etc. because that old-time cassette you keep replaying is desperately without hope.

    That went out of style way back with the ancient Albert FLEMING, Elie FLEMING elections and even Louis C. FLEMING.

    Well, if the CAF'ers does not send you a new CD do not feel bad because it is not because you do not deserve it, no, no, no it simply means that they do not read your articles.

    You have nothing intelligent to say so you go back to God, remember he said the poor shall inherit the earth and you dumped on that socialist thought; homo sex, what is the matter you cannot confront yourself, your feminine side? And race, put your evidence where you mouth is and do file your complaints with the prosecutor, marshals, gendarmes or police.

    I must say I have a lot more admiration for a Louis Constant FLEMING and any other Party endorsing Mr. Guillaume ARNELL than for M Daniel GIBBS joining up with the Right, the UMP, he said he wanted nothing to do with, and LE PEN's FRONT NATIONAL for personal career hopping interests. Oh yes, that must be the racism, discrimination and intimidation you are really trying to address. It has to be because even your so-call Caucasians in France use those descriptive terms when speaking of the character of a LE PENISTS. They even say that there is violence in their movement.

    Having supported Martin Luther KING and worked in the Civil Rights Movement I am absolutely sure that he would not have approved of their character just like he did not approve of Governor WALLACE and his racist gang.

    President HOLLANDE's election permitted us to take note that there are over 300 plus LE PENISTS that voted in SAINT-BARTHS and over 200 plus that voted in SAINT MARTIN. Mr. GIBBS starts out with a solid base of over 500 LE PENISTS. I am sure he will dance the SAINT-MARTIN SOCA with them. But that could never be deceitful or hypocritical!

    You are a patriot of what country? A patriot who votes on the French side knows that marshals are quite welcome in our voting halls. As a matter of fact at least two territorial Police officers are present, and a judge, a lawyer and someone from the "prefecture" controls every hall several times during the day. I can only conclude that your assertions are made to try and intimidate the voters and constitute a reprehensible form of violence and manipulation.

    I do not know what parasite has bitten you but it seems that your malady now includes witchcraft. Jump in the sea, it cures all... I will try to keep my head and feet stable on My Island.

    So join the Saint-Martiners and vote for Guillaume ARNELL, who spent over 10 years representing SAINT-MARTIN in the Conseil Général in Guadeloupe, elected Vice-President by the majority of the Guadeloupians present ; he handled several projects including the school for SAINT-MARTIN, a family man, a man of integrity committed to his country and his region.

    Remember that Mr. Guillaume ARNELL's experience will enable him to work efficiently with the majority of the National Assembly for France and at the same time redirect the different responsible State services of the specific development projects of the both islands, St-Martin and St-Barthes.

    Again and finally, President RICHARDSON and the Minister of the French overseas Territories, Mr. Victorin LUREL are explicit regarding the above and call for Saint-Martiners and Saint-Barthetians to vote for Mr. Guillaume ARNELL and Mrs. Inez BOUCHER-CHOISY to join to fight with the majority in France.

    Patricia Chance-Duzant

  • RESPONSE to ARRINDELL.

    Let me remind you that the majority of the Saint-Martiners are mixed and some of the Saint-Barthetians as well. Do not forget that three fourths of the world's population is mixed. As for France, I read in a history book that HANNIBAL made it from Africa to the SWISS Alps and to do that he and his African soldiers passed through FRANCE. Are you sure that they are all Caucasians?
    As for who put out racial slurs on whom, take note that if Mr. GIBB's presidential campaign poster got any paler and washed out people who did not know him would have thought he was a white ....and not mixed. I will let you make your own comment on the Representative Campaign posters.
    I myself had to answer people's questions regarding unfounded accusations spread about, maybe by people like you, against Mr. Alain RICHARDSON.
    It has to be an ignorant person who does not understand that Mr. RICHARDSON who is mixed and has a profession as an expert accountant, a businessman cannot indulge in such foolishness. He has an accounting firm that he created from scratch over 14 years now that services many companies in Saint-MARTIN. Let us be honest those who own the majority of the enterprises on this island are metropolitans and regarding the rest some are mixed
    Your assertions remain without proof and you logic is again incomprehensible whether it concerns economics or racism. In fact, for now the only nasty intentions I see come from you whose ultimate aim is to disparage self made men such as Mr. RICHARDSON, his father's friend did not give him a job, and Mr. ARNELL because of your jealousy and your inferiority complex.
    Mr. GIBBS, with all his and your intelligence, stood hugging up to Albert FLEMING and to Louis Constant FLEMING accepting their questionable acts for over 10 years. When Louis Constant FLEMING refused to do the right thing, accept Ms OUGUNDELE-TESSI, his first Vice-President as President, the people of this island and in particular the women shouted discrimination but I did not hear either you or MR GIBBS as you participated in silently bulldozering democracy and the game of puppeteering.
    Only when the Canadians decided that there were selected pockets they could fill by renting/buying what is left of SAINT-MARTIN did he budge. Where is the little man in all that? Where are our children and their future when this puppet sells out the island to power hungry foreign investors or pawns for 40 years?
    Mr. GIBBS managed to divide his own party into three and now wishes to divide the island and the new RRR government.
    Apparently you got your elections confused THE PEOPLE OF SAINT MARTIN VOTED FOR THE RRR PARTY OFFICIALS. We are now in the second round of the election of a Representative to Parliament, Mr. Guillaume ARNELL, 1er Vice President and President RICHARDSON of the RRR unanimously elected even by GIBBS and his party. GIBBS who was included on the executive board.
    President RICHARDSON and the RRR united everyone.
    The campaign is UMP Metro against RRR. So what parties "they say" are spreading racists' remarks? The local UMP just gave the RRR their support is it they? The socialists we hope are coming our way, is it they? And for Mr. Jeffrey or Mr. HAMLET...?
    So what "they say" is still "they say" and we all know what that means in SAINT MARTIN.
    Guillaume ARNELL, spent over 10 years representing SAINT-MARTIN even in the Conseil Général in Guadeloupe, he was even elected Vice-President by the majority of the Guadeloupians present he handled several propjets including the school for SAINT-MARTIN he is a family man, a man of integrity committed to his country and his region.
    Mr. Guillaume ARNELL's experience will enable him to work efficiently with the majority of the National Assembly for France and at the same time redirect the different responsible State services of the specific development projects of the both islands, St-Martin and St-Barthes.
    President RICHARDSON and the Minister of the French overseas Territories, Mr. Victorin LUREL are explicit regarding the above and call for Saint-Martiners and Saint-Barthetians to vote for Mr. Guillaume ARNELL and Mrs. Inez BOUCHER-CHOISY to join to fight with the majority in France.

    Patricia Chance-Duzant , Esq

  • Illegal Americans working at Diamond Resorts.

    Can someone please help me ascertain what is going on at Diamond Resorts? Is someone getting paid under the table for hiring illegal Americans and persons whose permits are under another company?

    Recently news broke out that Diamond Resorts International would be re opening its In-House Sales department. Before any vacancy was placed in the newspaper seeking a Project Director as well as an In House Marketing Director, there were already two Americans, Meggin and Sean who have already filled these positions. It appears that Diamond Resorts had no intentions of seeking any local candidates although there is a suitable candidate, the former UP candidate Glen Kemble to fill the position as Project Director.

    The ads are placed as a decoy. According to the law, the Ad must be placed in the newspaper for six weeks and if in the event there are no suitable local candidates, the company can then seek other alternatives. You don't hire illegal candidates then pretend you are looking for applicants when you already have illegal candidates working on the job. At the end of the 6 weeks the company will be dishonest with the labor office, claiming that they have not found any locals, so that they will submit work papers for these illegals Americans who have already filled the positions that are currently being advertised in the news paper. I am almost 100% certain that Glen Kemble applied for that position.

    In addition to hiring illegals, the company has also hired individuals who have been signed up under another company (Kemuel Henderson) from Dominica. According to the law quoted by the justice minister "The minute an employee comes to you with a permit that is under another company the permit becomes invalid the minute they begin working for you. I am going to this length to explain this to let employers know that they are operating in violation of the law." Employers who do not comply with the law are committing a crime and they will have to face the consequences." The Justice Minister said that these employers are acting in violation of the laws and his Ministry plans to take serious action which includes the implementation of fines that can amount to as much as Naf. 100,000.00.

    We will be submitting the names to the immigration department and we will be closely monitoring the situation.

    A few years ago immigration raided the Flamingo Beach Resort targeting two black Bahamian Directors in addition to other illegals. We will be patiently waiting to find out if preferential treatment will be given to these two illegal White Americans.

    You will be updated next week in reference to these individuals including the employee who is signed up under another company who is currently employed at the Resort. Minister of justice, I trust that you will do your job. We will be following up with you next week.

    Name Withheld on Author's Request
  • Hope versus despair.

    Dear Editor,

    This election on French St. Martin is about hope versus despair. Despair means the loss of hope or hopelessness. This election is one of the nastiest elections French St. Martin has ever seen. It includes racism, discrimination, witchcraft and deceitfulness. French St. Martin has gone to a new low. We are witnessing the other candidates going against one man, in particular Daniel Gibbs, and it is nasty.
    I am not going to hold back. We see hypocritical people like Louis constant Fleming who's supposed to be from the right joining with the left; it is clear he is a self-interest person and just destroys his credibility. I heard of complains, especially in French quarter, that some people were intimidated and afraid if they do not vote for the socialist candidate of RRR.
    I am asking the French government to put French marshals at each polling station, that if it occurs to lock people up.
    French St. Martin is still a democracy and every person has the right to vote for any party without any one being intimidated. I am asking all Christians to vote on our St. Martin values and not for a party that says they are Christians, but back President Hollande who loves breaking God's law by promoting homosexuality. You owe it to God to vote for a party with values. Any party that fabricates lies against a fellow St. Martiner (Mr. Gibbs) is not worthy of your vote. A lying tongue is destructive to mankind. It is hypocritical for that party that is playing the racist card calling their opponent a white boy (Mr. Daniel Gibbs) and then asking the electorate to vote for them to enter into an assembly where the masses of people are white.
    My people of French St. Martin, we were never a people that promotes racism and discrimination; distance yourselves far from that RRR party that promotes racism and hatred of white people. Remember the most of our tourists come from USA and Europe who are white people. That mentality can destroy us as a tourist destination. Racism against black or white is equally wrong. I hate it. Martin Luther king said it best; judge a man not by the colour of his skin, but by the context of his character.
    The big lie the socialist party RRR is telling the people is that Mr. Gibbs is going to cut the CAF. My people do not be fooled; the social welfare is controlled by the state and not the collectivité, so Mr. Daniel Gibbs cannot cut it even if he wanted to. And Mr. Daniel Gibbs never said so; it is the socialist party that is fabricating that false story. The socialist party of RRR is the party that keeps people dependent and is vindictive if you oppose them; they believe in the socialist doctrine of shut your mouth and do as you are told.

    Mr. Daniel Gibbs' party is a party of inclusion for all people, always listening to see what people have to say and allows them to make their contribution. Mr. Gibbs' party is a party of respect and agrees to disagree while it maintains a team spirit over personal interest. That is the party free of racism and discrimination, where all people are welcome and respected as such. Do not vote for despair which is RRR; vote for hope and economic prosperity, the ideology of Daniel Gibbs. Vote for the best possible candidate for the job, who is Daniel Gibbs, a native St. Martin man and proud of it.

    The Patriot Miguel Arrindell

  • Workers Rights need to be Respected.

    Dear Mr. Editor,

    Kindly allow me some space in your paper to vent on behalf of the ordinary men and women of St. Maarten, a bit of the frustration they endure in trying to make life here on St. Maarten. I do so, being cognizant of the recent change if government and what it portends for the drastic and deliberate change that will be realized when the working class on eventually decide to rid itself of the pressures associated with eking out an honest living on this island.
    In simple language, the treatment of workers on St. Maarten by many employers is downright horrible. Needless to say, the despicable manner in which the Pelican issue has been handled by those who possessed the power to intervene, has given companies and their assertive attorneys an assurance that they can dictate the direction of the labor force on St. Maarten.
    Yet, the treatment experience of the Pelican workers is not unique. On a daily basis, employee's across this land, are abused and exploited by employers who wield tremendous power in political circles. It all goes back to campaign financing-power hungry politicians selling themselves to unscrupulous business persons to win political favor.
    In so doing, monies that could have been used to improve the social lot of workers are channeled into political campaigns. In reflection for their expenditures, business owners expect, are even guaranteed and receive all kinds of favors, including protection in the most unlikely of places, much to the detriment of taxpayers.
    Thus, employees, including unsuspecting party supporters are made to pay the price for political greed. Employees are being pawned by the politicians because there are insufficient guidelines for employers to follow. There are too many loopholes and grey areas in the labor regulations to be exploited and when recommendations are made to address these, they are either postponed or watered-down in favor of the employers.
    The issue of the minimum wage is often referred to, but never addressed. Workers in the private sector must face increased cost of living, while salaries remain the same, because employers apply the regulations as it suits them. At the same time, the worth of specialized labor is devalued by employers, importing laborers to perform functions that were previously done by locals.
    Compounding this is the demoralizing notion that some politicians have shares in companies that continue to abuse workers. Where are the relevant authorities in this? Lip service is given to labor rights and consumer protection, but the consumers foundation is paralyzed, if alive.
    Spasmodic media releases and occasional correspondences are a far cry from the stashing of standard guidelines and recommendations to adequate consumer protection. As for the implementation of and adherence to that, this is already on the books. The Minister of Justice and that of Labor need to work in closer collaboration in order to protect the working class from the kind of abuse we see taking place.
    In the absence of this kind of protection, unions must engage the services of legal professionals to safeguard the rights of members. The fight against unscrupulous employers must and will continue.

    Mr. William Reed

  • Disrespecting Court Decisions.

    In the Daily Herald of Friday June 15, I read that the President of Wifol said that a dangerous precedent is being set by employers on St. Maarten, who continue to disrespect court decisions and utilize legal loopholes to prolong cases. Although I am not aware of the employers, I do know for a fact that Government, more specifically the Minister of Justice and/or the Prison director, is disrespecting the Law and the court decisions for a decade now.
    I know plenty people who will say that inmates do not have any rights. I will not blame the people of thinking that, but I do blame the government who apparently share that same opinion. I want to believe that my country is a civilized country. A civilized country has a civilized legal system with civilized government officials that obey the law and obey the court. Our country does not only have a penal code to punish, it also has this law and many other laws to protect individuals from unlawful punishments.
    Those who have followed the news these last days know that the Inmates Association had the right to strike in order to bring injustice within the prison walls to the surface. The Court of first instance ruled that the collective punishment was unlawful and considered specifically that it was despicable that the whole board of the association was transferred to the police cells on June 2, clearly with the sole intention to clip their wings and break down the strike. Not only is country Sint Maarten guilty of collective punishing inmates who did not break any rules, Sint Maarten is also guilty of infringing basic human rights.
    Although the acts of the director/minister were called despicable by the Court on Monday, the president, vice president and a member of the inmates association were still being held at the police station Friday morning. Now tell me, if the prison director is instructed or backed up by the Minister of Justice to break his own prison rules and international human rights despite a court order, can we still tell ourselves that we live in a civilized country? No one stands above the law, not an inmate, not an employee, not an employer, not a prison director, not a Minister.

    Yahaira Romney,

    On behalf of the Inmates Association.

  • Thanks for the cleanup MULLET BAY, but why be anti-social?

    Private property is private property; I understand and respect that. But now after finally tearing down their buildings which were left to lie in ruin for more than 15 years for various reasons, the owner(s) and management of the MULLET BAY property have in their wisdom decided to ensure that the St. Maarten/St. Martin public and visiting tourists do not trespass ANYWHERE on their private property (they are in their good right to do so), by placing boulders on the immediate shoulders of the road that for all intents and purposes can be considered a public road through their land. My question is: even if they are trying to force everyone to use the one and only access road they must allow for the public to get to the public Mullet Bay beach ( so they do not walk across their golf course), what about when a vehicle has a mechanical problem and gets stuck on the road running through the property. From the parking in front of the former Chase Manhattan Bank (bldg. 15) to past the former locations of bldgs. 14, 13 and 9, the boulders along the road make a statement. And so do the ones further towards the Cupe Coy area, accentuating the issue of people not being able to park in designated areas where formerly buildings 61, 62, 63, 64, 65 and 66 stood (directly across the beach, including in the dip under the trees past the entrance to the Towers going to the Low Lands). It is true, having people trot across an active golf course is dangerous and could cause damage to them and to the grass. But guess what: When the resort and the golf course were originally planned and built, the guests staying in those buildings were sold on the fact that they "just had to cross the fairway from their suite and enjoy the immaculate white sand of Mullet Bay beach and the crystal clear water of the magnificent Caribbean Sea". So Mullet Bay, why not put your demarcation boulders a bit ON your property and put up signs: "PRIVATE PROPERTY. PARK AT YOUR OWN RISK & CROSS THE GOLF COURSE AT YOUR OWN RISK". You can even add: "TEMPORARY PUBLIC PARKING ON OUR PRIVATE PROPERTY", if your attorneys are afraid you may give away your rights. I am no lawyer, but am sure that where there is a will (by you to prove that you are not anti-social and don't really mind that our people and our visitors use small parts of your property while you have no immediate need to use the land yourself), your attorneys and engineers can find a way.

    Michael J. Ferrier
  • Despite Gloom and Doom: Medical Tourism Still on Track.

    The global economy is puttering. When the world sneezes we get a cold. Without a doubt our country is impacted by what is taking place and going on in Europe and the United States. Time and time again we have seen this, and the last impact and influence on our economic growth has been the financial collapse of the markets in late 2008 with the fallout hitting us in the latter half of 2009.
    The current European debt crisis is having a negative impact on the U.S. economy; the world's largest, suggesting that it is facing a mid-year slump similar to episodes in 2010 and 2011. Prolonged weakness in the U.S. economy according to economists could worsen slowdowns in European and Asian countries that depend on doing business with U.S. consumers. Economists have already noticed slowdowns in China, India and Brazil.
    The global recession ended for Asia and South American countries in 2009, but today things are different, and changing.
    However, despite the gloom and doom, medical tourism is still on track within the Caribbean region. Investors see the potential and continue to develop their plans for Caribbean communities including Sint Maarten.
    In the Cayman Islands, work continues to develop the vision of Dr. Devi Shetty's medical facility on a 600 acre plot comprising of a 2000-bed hospital, a medical educational facility, and assisted living homes for seniors. The 15-year project starts off with a 140-bed hospital, the "Narayana Cayman University Medical Centre."
    Dr. Shetty is the founder of the Bangalore, India-based Narayana Hrudayalaya Group of Hospitals (14 hospitals in 11 cities, with close to 5,600 beds).
    The hospital is expected to cater to 120 patients per day in its first year of operation. Patients would stay on island approximately 10 days. The hospital will eventually offer open heart/bypass surgery, angioplasty, heart-valve replacement, cancer treatment, bone-marrow transplant, organ transplant and orthopaedics.
    Cayman Premier McKeeva Bush said in 2010 that in 2013 some 87,000+ patients and accompanying family members would arrive on Grand Cayman because of the medical facility, and by 2025 the number of stay-over medical tourists would increase to over one million per year (2010, stay-over Cayman air arrivals were 288,000). According to Bush's projections, the medical facility would lead to a 30 per cent increase in tourist air arrivals in 2013.
    The aforementioned figures give an insight into the potential of the medical tourism facility to be established on Sint Maarten within the coming years.
    Dr. Shetty's group back in April signed a document of public commitment with Ascension Healthcare Alliance to manage the Cayman medical facility besides handling group purchasing, facilities management and biomedical engineering services, another indication that the project here is moving forward. Ground breaking is expected in August and the 140-bed facility is expected to be open for business sometime in 2013.
    Last week we were greeted with news that the Florida-based Advanced Orthopaedic Center, one of two groups interested in developing medical tourism on the island, met with Government to give them an update on their plans and how things are progressing.
    The project will be an investment of US$250 million and will be developed in two phases. The group hopes to break ground in a few months and completing the entire project in two to three years.
    The benefits of medical tourism will be tremendous, besides being an impetus for tourism; diversification of the type of tourist – medical; the medical care to be offered and also available to residents will enhance the health care of the Sint Maarten people.
    At the end of every dark cloud there is a silver lining, and in our case, medical tourism is the key for the future development and enhancement of our tourism product and as a tourism destination.

    Roddy Heyliger
  • Pedophiles in St. Maarten.

    In life we all make mistakes but then sometimes we catch ourselves, ask ourselves a question and make changes for the better. We will all continue to make mistakes in our lives but then if we decide to continue a particular mistake for years then we have a problem.

    I have known this person for a little under a year now and I only recently found out about his pedophile behavior which was rather shocking...I have asked the gentleman on many occasions to seek help but up till this moment he hasn't made one move to seek any assistance for his problem. As a matter of fact, although he got caught he continues to deny everything.

    I have not notified the authorities although this is the right thing to do. I am posting this here to get his attention and let him know that he needs to get help now before it's too late.

    There is a particular individual working for the government of St. Maarten who has been frequently visiting Jamaica for many years, seeking vulnerable or destitute young school girls to prey on. He has also created several face book accounts with fictitious Facebook names. He scans Facebook seeking out his next victims.

    All of his Facebook accounts are strictly for Jamaican school girls from the ages of 12 to 21. This guy has a sick obsession; He scans young girls on Facebook several times a day for hours; seeking to befriend them, paying more attention to dark skin skinny young teenagers. He starts off by complimenting them on how cute, sweet, and sexy they look. He also mentions that he has fallen in love with them at first sight and he wishes he could be their boyfriend. Some of these girls are so tiny they look like 8. He goes on by asking them about school pretending to show concern and offers to send them ten to fifteen thousand Jamaican dollars to buy themselves gifts asking for their full name and home address; Some do accept the offer but others refuse: He also asks these girls (some underage) to send him sexy private pics of themselves; He also sends them private pics of himself. (obviously of his private parts). I contacted one of the 14 year olds and she did confirm that he sent naked pics of himself to her.

    Practically every 2 to 3 months, he sends about $75 US dollars to different Jamaican school girls via Western Union and sometimes tops up their cell phones. After the initial contact, he continues to maintain communication with them via Facebook and telephone. After he befriends these young girls, probably gains their trust, he then prepares to launch his attack.

    When talking to those teenagers, he creates an inflated impression of himself to impress these girls He states that he has lots of money, he is well traveled, he goes on off island business trips, goes on cruises and he also claims that he currently owns boats. LIES LIES LIES. On one of his Facebook accounts, he has as his profile pic, his chest exposed, waving 20, 50, and 100 US dollar bills.

    Every two to three months and sometimes every three weeks, he goes to Jamaica to exploit these girls. He takes every opportunity to fly to Jamaica and has stated that Jamaican teens are easy to get as most of them are poor and would do anything to obtain money.

    This guy would leave his girlfriends at his house in St. Maarten and disappears for days, weeks, even months without saying one word. They would wake up one morning and he would be gone (to Jamaica of course to exploit these teenagers). Sometimes if you happened to see him before his departure he would mention some bogus story claiming that he was going down the road to come back but you would never see him again, well not for at least a few days, weeks, or months.

    This has been going on for years. The first time he did his disappearing act and was confronted about it he became extremely enraged and asked in an aggressive psychotic manner if I was prepared to take a bullet for him. I had no idea what he was talking about. And he said to me; "You know where I was? You know where I was? I WAS IN THE JUNGLE."

    When he gets to Jamaica he calls to inform some of these girls of his arrival: He would then make arrangements to meet with them; when he does, he may offer them notebook computers, phones cameras, money etc. He goes on to sleep with some and often times he would promise to marry some of them although he is supposedly still legally married which was found out recently. He also promises to take them to live with him in St. Maarten.

    After having slept with some of them he would promise to help them with their school books and support them in any way. Some he has helped but many he hasn't: His next move is to delete and block some of them he has had sexual encounters with and refuses to take their calls: Eventually some realize that they were just being exploited.

    After having found all the information from his cell phone text messages as well as on his Facebook page which he forgot to close and overhearing phone conversations and video chats, he blatantly denied everything stating that he wasn't the one who sent the e-mails it was hacked by a young school girl from Jamaica who got pissed off at him for not giving her any money: He stated that this young girl added a lot of young school girls to his page. With regard to the overheard phone calls and video chat his response was that he was just playing with them. The excuse for the numerous DHL and Western Union receipts of money sent to different Jamaican women was that it was some business he is doing that he will not or cannot reveal to anyone and the money has to be sent to different women to avoid any trace. With the reservation/ticket print outs to Jamaica; the excuse was; he goes through Jamaica as his transit destination to go to Cuba. What a pathological liar!

    The reason he gave for the young dark skin teenagers who visit his home in St.Maarten is that, he has been very close to their parents and when they come over, they are there on the behalf of their parents and he has to accompany them to their parents' home so that he could help out financially:

    I did mention to him that he has a sick problem and urge him to seek help: Months earlier I really did notice that he had this sick obsession to Facebook. He was always looking at very young Jamaican school girls in their school uniforms and other sexy outfits. This 50 year old claimed that these were his friends and even had the audacity to ask if I wanted to take a look: I was just so disgusted. Also, he would casually ask about young teenagers that I know and ask who their friends were; I had found it rather odd. In addition he kept insisting that I bring over my young friends even though I told him that I do not normally bring friends over to where I live. It so happened that one of my young friends came over and he insisted that he take her home alone. The young girl was smart enough to say that she was not going anywhere alone with this guy as we both figured he was up to something.

    After indicating to him that if he doesn't stop what he was doing and get help I would expose him, he flew into a fit of rage and mentioned that he had set me up and would inform the police that I had broken into his room and stolen his money.

    For now, I will not post this on the local newspaper neither will I mention your name. I hope you are reading this. Please get some help. Stay away from Facebook and computers and find yourself in some institution somewhere before it's too late. You are destroying these young girls' lives. You have daughters and this would be rather embarrassing if they were to find out. In Jamaica you can be faced with up to 15 years for child porn. With pedophilia I'm not sure how many years you may be faced with.

    Please people if you are commenting please do not speculate and mention persons by name as we often time have the tendency to give misleading information about others based on second hand information and without having facts. This is coming from the horse's mouth and I do have all the proof so I can talk.

    Lee B.

  • Who is fooling who or what’s going on in little St. Maarten?

    Dear Editor,

    Allow me a space in your paper. I am not pointing fingers; I just want answers.

    I have been hearing so many reports and reading a bunch of articles in connection with education in the space of one month. When for years our education system has been on the back burner, with our Education Department staff saying one thing, but doing nothing. Then there is the educational system that does not even make sense, when you look at it. Teachers go along with it maybe because they have no choice and need a job. A lot of parents go to school to complain and find out things about their children's education and they are told nothing can be done about it. Most of the schools have no Parent Teachers Association (PTA).

    Education is on the bottom list of the agenda's of our politicians, because if our children are not educated, it is not their concern, as far as I can see. Everyone wants to sit in an office, because "our children are too rude" they say. Easy way out isn't it. Why is it we are trying to de-motivate our children, by implementing all kinds of rules and regulation that would hamper instead of help our children? "Keep the children in school" should be our motto.

    There are no schools for children with special needs. Most of these children attend regular school and when they don't achieve the system puts them on the side and are only promoted because of their age.

    As parents we have been asking the question for many years about the Technical section at Milton Peters College and why it was taken away? As parents we would also like to know what the role of the school board is in this equation. The technical section was so important, because of its hands on approach.

    Now let us talk about the absenteeism of our school teachers. We are on the verge of beginning a new Academic Year and as has been the case for many years, we still we do not have enough Teachers and they are far too many teachers sick and stress during the school year.

    Who pays the price of the above? The parents, who pay the school fee every school year and the children who sits the exam every year.

    Why they are always cutting the budget of education, when money is being spent on all sorts of projects that can be put on hold and purchase vehicles, when we say that the island is in financial trouble.

    Where are our priorities? Can we think for a moment on families who put their trust in our political system and get screwed over?

    Then there is a press conference and an article this week in connection with decision makings on granting scholarships.

    I am representing parents, who have many questions, because we read in the paper "Minister of Education, Culture, Youth and Sport has now made a decision".

    • Is there a board of educators that sits and take decision with the Minister?
    • Does the department seek additional information from the scholars?
    • Which nationalities have been given scholarships?
    • After waiting six months, how they go about granting scholarships and do you keep n contact with the parents?
    • Is the St. Maarten University accredited?
    • Do we have capable teachers?

    Former Minister of Education spoke about the University not being accredited. Were their meetings held with parents and students before these decisions?

    The politicians get paid and move on with their lives. St. Maarten is stressed. When is enough!

    Parents we need to stand together. Wake up and speak out. But then we ask for what? Nothing isn't going to change any way.

    YOUR VOICE and OPINION WAS HEARD. They can't say we did nothing. Please answer my questions.

    Concerned parent,

    Miraida Carty

  • Hitting the Ground Running.

    george21082009Member of Parliament George Pantophlet says that government is indeed hitting the ground running. The reduction of the price of gasoline and the future plans to deal with the propane gas and Gebe fuel clauses are on stream. He is looking forward to stricter controls with regard to prices in the supermarkets because bringing these essential components under control will surely increase the purchasing power of the consumers. What is also important is adding more products to the list of basic items. This will be discussed with the Minister of Economic Affairs and tourism Mr. Romeo Pantophlet who is presently abroad. He will also inquire as to the progress on the Casino Gaming Board. The member said he had a discussion with the Minister of Finance Mr. Roland Tuitt with whom he brought up the subject of the dividends. As one can remember the question was posed by the Member of Parliament to the former Minister of Finance Hiro Shigemoto as to why government owned companies were not paying dividends to the shareholders (people of St. Maarten). Mr. Shigemoto had promised to look into the matter of establishing a committee but this never materialized. The Member of Parliament was assured by Minister of Finance Roland Tuitt that a committee will be set up to look into the possibilities. Just recently in a report the Committee for Financial Supervision had stated that based on the last financial reports of the government owned companies, they are healthy and they see no reason why these government owned companies can't contribute by paying dividends into the government coffers. To be clear this will be in addition to the concession fees already being paid by some of these companies. Another matter discussed with the Minister was the procedures on tax collections. Apparently government can withhold one third of your salary and do so without informing the tax payer. The Member of Parliament is looking into how this law can be amended. The right to withhold the taxes owed is no problem but the person should be informed beforehand. He can imagine what happens to the people who are confronted with this and especially those in the low income bracket. What was also discussed were the outstanding casino related fees of some 25.9 million guilders since 2001. It appears that there are court litigations ongoing. The Minister promised to also look into this matter. The Member of Parliament feels that it is not right for millions to be owned by these companies who by the way don't pay Turnover Tax, while personal taxes are being withheld left right and center. Even the pensioners are not spared. What he did not discussed as it only came up during a discourse with someone later on is the issue of the gold reserves. St. Maarten needs to know that its share is secured. Telling us it is there is not enough we need to see it. The Member of Parliament plans to meet with all the other Ministers to get a sense of how they are progressing. They have their responsibilities and he has his as we all should be hitting the ground running.

    Member of Parliament George Pantophlet

  • REPONSE TO MR. MIGUEL ARRINDELL.

    I have been waiting quite some time for the chosen One to appear and for the Coming that is to save this sinful earth, just like All God's Children have been waiting.

    Yes, the US finally elected some black mayors in their big cities but only when those cities were bankrupt or on their way to being bankrupt. Yes, we got President Obama but only when the US was on it way to being bankrupt, or already bankrupt, some say.

    Now we have a breath of fresh air, we have Mr. Alain Richardson and the RRR but these elected saviors can neither walk on water nor can they turn water into wine.

    I do believe that in most democratic governments there is a serious attempt to separate state from religion, and even to separate the judicial, the legislative and the executive branches. This is done in an attempt to sort of keep the balance and manage the government equitably for all the people, and not just the ones who voted for the elected leader.

    I voted for Hollande and for the RRR that they are the best persons right now to put your confidence in to straighten out some of the devastating problems facing us. Maybe God will help us with the rest:

    President Hollande has France and the European Community on his shoulders, President Richardson has Saint-Martin and France. President Hollande will propose legislation in certain domains, such as health, family immigration, fiscal, etc. that we may be happy to assimilate others that we may be able to avoid by voting for derogations and others that we may have to fight against or swallow.

    President Richardson has not even had 75 days in his seat! So he has not even had the time to scope out all the financial intricacies and dead weights creating the 30 years monstrous nightmare called DEFICIT for Saint-Martin, must less obtain financial possibilities, savoir faire, tools to repair and arms to fight to put this ship back in the race.

    And you condemn him as godless, unconscious of the complexities of immigration in Saint-Martin and think that you can frolic the frontiers of defamation with impunity calling him and the RRR communist?

    Such talk can only dribble out the mouth of a man of little faith, a spoil child who fantasizes that elections is really " a game" and forgets that Papa God said "...the poor shall inherit the world/earth". A hell of a Communist that rebel God!

    But really, how dare you? Who are creating the CRISIS today the overabundant banks and institutions or the tired and downtrodden, the poor, or those in need?

    By the way, I believe the majority of the World's Powers on whatever continent you wish to venture to will confirm to you that the present world economic problem is a result of greed, abuse, theft and rape of the ordinary man in the Capitalists countries and enterprises, national and multinationals; as well as the same among the exclusive hungry rich "paradise hypocrites" in even the socialists' countries and, worse, the dictatorship countries.

    Mr. Alain Richardson, considering his profession, has spent over 20 years study functional economics of companies and over 14 years practicing professionally the art of saving companies, creating others and keeping them profitable as well as working to ameliorate the economical situation in Saint-Martin. He is not about to give up and neither am I, the RRR nor the real Saint-Martiners because we are ready to help.

    Patricia Chance-Duzant , Esq

  • OPEN LETTER TO: BRENDA K. WATHEY.

    Dear Editor,

    After the verdict of April 13, 2012, in which the court ordered the Wathey family to provide me with full accountability for all of N. C. Wathey Estate or pay a penalty of Naf. 20,000.00 per day to a maximum of Naf. 25,000,000.00 for non-compliance, I contemplated "giving the pen a rest" only to, once again, have to go back to the same pen because I still can not tell the court that I am one step closer to receiving what is due to me, almost 2 months after this verdict and now the penalty is running up.

    To date, the notary involved to execute the division of the estate, has not received the requested list of information they need to finish their work. Received is a baseless report compiled by their tenant and private accounting firm; Price Waterhouse Coopers, that shows check numbers missing, checks for large sums written out to Brenda Wathey for repairs on some house without any receipts for payments made whatsoever leaving me to wonder whether she can produce these receipts or not.

    The question remains, why is Brenda not forthcoming with the requested information; does she have somethings she would prefer kept a secret, why am I not allowed to see the tax returns for the estate as well as for all the dozen or so companies, bank statements, shareholders registers and other documents in support of Price Waterhouse Coopers so-called report.

    Miss Brenda seems not to realize that the verdict I have against them is not against Price Watrehouse Coopers, it is against them themselves, I have nothing with Price Waterhouse Coopers, they were not condemned to give me anything and they are not even independent in this matter.

    I hereby would like to make abundantly clear to Brenda that I still need the requested information and that the longer she takes to hand it over, the higher the penalty will run.
    I expect no problem in collecting it when the time comes!

    Norman C. Wathey

  • Prime Minister Wescot-Williams attends Baker and Tilly Opening Reception.

    swescotwilliamsattendsbtopeningreception10062012The Honourable Prime Minister of St. Maarten Sarah Wescot-Williams and members of her Cabinet attended the opening reception of Baker and Tilly accountancy and business advocacy firm on St. Maarten. Baker Tilly International is one of the world's leading networks of independently owned and managed accountancy and business advisory firms.
  • JCI International to Host Annual Mid-Year Meeting for Dutch Caribbean JCI.

    meandrahazel01062012The JCI International (St. Maarten) is pleased to announce that they will be hosting the annual mid year meeting for the Dutch Caribbean JCI on Friday 8th June, 2012 & Saturday 9th June, 2012.

    A series of workshops are planned for the approximately 40 JCI members who are expected to travel to St. Maarten from Curacao and Aruba to take part in the meeting.
    All workshops are open to the public. Generally these meetings are attended by Presidents and the board members of the local Chapters where they discuss issues coming out of their respective chapters and report on their activities during the first half of the of the year and their plans for the second half.
    While the National Meetings are being held the trainings will be held for the other non board members who have traveled along with general public. All trainings will be held at the University of St. Martin.
    The program will begin on Friday 8th June at 9 am with a motivational speech with the Topic: "Passion into Action" The speaker will be Ms. Valarie Brazier.
    At 10 AM to 12 PM Training on "Parliamentary Procedures" using Roberts Rules of Order will be given.
    This training is highly recommended by persons pursuing Leadership positions be it in a civil club, social clubs, and sports club or even to one day take up a position in Government.
    The attendees will be taught the methods by which effective meetings are conducted and representative decisions can be reached. The price is $20.00
    Saturday 9th June, 2012 an all day workshop will be given on the Topic: Progress is attainable through Challenges. The attendees will be equipped with the tools to maintain a positive self image, the power of active listening, effective communication and how to resolve conflicts. The price will Be $40.00 for this all day Training. Lunch will be an additional $10.00
    Dutch Caribbean Leadership Academy "an all day training for members who wants to pursue a Board Position will also be offered on Saturday 9th June, 2012 from 9 am to 3:30 PM.

    Friday's opening Ceremony will be held at the Tauola Mangoes on the Boardwalk at 7 P.M to 11 P.M.
    The closing Ceremony will be held On Saturday 9th June, 2012 at the Roof Top Restaurant upstairs the Belair Community Center. The Theme will be Mardi gras.

    JCI St. Maarten President Ms. Meandra Hazel is hereby extending an invitation to all members Senators and Associated members to join in and make this a memorable Dutch Caribbean Mid Year Meeting.

    For bookings or Further Information please contact: JCI Sen. Sandra Hazel Tel; 5537753 or JCI Sen. Jerome Chittick 5814565.

  • WICSU Discusses Grievances with St. Eustatius Postal Workers.

    On the 19th April WICSU/PSU decided to call their members of the Postal Services of St. Eustatius to hold a meeting concerning the many issues that were affecting them over more than two (2) years, of which at a giving moment was affecting them mentally and physically. One of the main issues socially is the building that are housing the post office is unsafe to work in and it is a danger to the workers and public at large, and many, many more.

    After many correspondence to which no answer a firm decision, had to be taken by the union to take the workers off the work site to put a stop to this abuse by those in management position. The workers of the post office is very hard and dedicated workers and should not be judge or victimize when taken a stand to defend and protect themselves. That in the near future will benefit one and all of St. Eustatius.

    The tactics which management use is completely unacceptable by this union seeing the motto is to protect and defend our members to the last extend. The way of living on St. Eustatius has change, but the working conditions and benefits of the postal workers remains the same, or must I say decreased as everyone is collecting in dollars and their salaries is in guilder.

    Is this not justifiable for the union to take drastic steps to \wards these issues? But most of all the customer service has increased, because of love and dedication of my members of the postal office to the community.

    Together we stand, divided we fall.

    Press Release from WICSU/PSU

  • Whale Sanctuaries intensify cooperation in the Caribbean.

    marinemammalconference07062012On June 4 and 5 the Caribbean Marine Mammal Sanctuaries Initiative (Caribbean MAMAS), a group of countries (France, Dominican Republic, the USA and The Netherlands) with marine mammal (whales and dolphins) sanctuaries or sanctuaries under development together with the Regional Activity Center (RAC) of the SPAW (Specially Protected Areas and Wildlife) Protocol, met on St. Maarten together with marine park managers and marine mammal experts, to discuss how they will be cooperating for conservation of marine mammals (whales, dolphins and manatees). The group reaffirmed their intention to work together, guided by the Marine Mammal Action Plan of the SPAW Protocol, and to embark on a number of joint actions listed in an Action Plan. The group also invites all other countries in the region who are interested to join the group. The participants were all extremely happy with the outcomes of the workshop, which has now firmly established the partnership.

    The group of marine mammals sanctuaries first came together at the International Convention for Marine Mammal Protected Areas (ICMMPA 2) in Martinique in November last year where a Declaration of Intent was signed outlining the fields of cooperation the partnership would undertake. This workshop on St. Maarten was intended to discuss how the cooperation could best be realized and to identify specific actions on which to work together. Several of the Sanctuaries already have or are working on bilateral so-called Sister Sanctuary agreements. The Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary first made such an agreement with the Dominican Republic Sanctuary because humpback whales spend the summer in the north on the Stellwagen Bank in Massachusetts but in winter they migrate to the Caribbean concentrating especially on the Silver Banks where thousands of humpback whales congregate, from all over the Northern Atlantic. The Humpback whales can also be found around other islands in the Caribbean, including the Dutch and the French islands, and those countries are also working on similar Sister Sanctuary agreements with Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary and with the Dominican Republic Sanctuary.

    At the meeting the Dutch Ministry of Economic Affairs, Agriculture and Innovation (EL&I) informed the other partners that it intends to establish a Caribbean Netherlands Marine Mammal Sanctuary, before the end of this year. The French 'Agoa' Sanctuary and the Dutch Caribbean islands had already been working together on surveys for marine mammals around the French and Dutch Windward islands in March, including St. Maarten and also the Saba Bank, and the meeting was informed about some surprising preliminary results of that survey. Many Humpback Whales were heard singing on the Saba Bank and in the deep channel between Saba and St. Maarten numerous Sperm Whales were recorded. It was agreed that this successful joint survey work will be continued in October of this year and in 2013 another survey will be undertaken starting in the Dutch ABC islands and then up through the arc of Eastern Caribbean islands all the way up via the French islands to the Dutch windward islands. This expedition will also include outreach on the various islands to inform the communities on the work being done and the marine mammals around their islands. Participants in this expedition will also be invited from Venezuela and the various Eastern Caribbean islands.

    Other actions agreed on during the meeting were the set-up of a regional network of acoustic underwater listening posts spread out among the partners to get records of songs and other sounds produced by whales and dolphins, but also to quantify the underwater noise generated by human activities all over the region in order to assess the impact of such noise pollution, not only from ships, seismic explorations, but also from recreational noise from speedboats, jet skis and such. Because the Caribbean has one of the highest shipping densities in the world, interactions between ships and whales must be better studied. Stakeholders from the shipping authorities will also be invited to join in this work. The group further agreed to exchange expertise and build capacity by mutual participation in joint work, training in stranding response and disentanglement of marine mammals, standardization of methods and sharing of marine mammal data.

    The participants all expressed their appreciation of the Dutch Ministry of EL&I for hosting this meeting with logistical help of the Nature Foundation St. Maarten. Everyone found the workshop extremely useful and the partners decided that they will meet at least once every year to discuss progress and new actions.

  • Prime Minister attends St. Dominic High School’s first International Baccalaureate Graduation.

    swescotwilliamsattendsstdominicinternationalbaccalaureategraduation18062012The Prime Minister of St. Maarten joined dignitaries in celebrating the graduation of St. Dominic High School's first International Baccalaureate Graduating Class of 2012. The graduating students celebrating the pinning ceremony with teachers, family, and friends at St. Dominic High School on Friday.
  • Prime Minister to attend Rio+20 Conference on Sustainable Development in Brazil.

    Will be discussing challenges and success with regard to issues of equity and sustainable development.

    The Prime Minister of St. Maarten the Honorable Sarah Wescot-Williams will be departing for Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, to attend the United Nations Rio+20 conference on the 19th of June. The Rio+20 is the short name for the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development and is considered an historic opportunity to define pathways to a safer, more equitable, cleaner, greener and more prosperous world for all. At the Rio+20 Conference, world leaders, along with thousands of participants from governments, the private sector, NGOs and other groups, will come together to shape how poverty can be reduced, discuss the advancement of social equity and ensure environmental protection on an ever more crowded planet. The Prime Minister will be representing St. Maarten as part of the Kingdom of the Netherlands Delegation and will be addressing issues specific to St. Maarten.

    "It is important that St. Maarten is represented at the conference due to our fledgling position on the global stage and the sensitivity our country has with regard to the topics being discussed during the Rio+20 conference. All of the points are of particular importance to St. Maarten as we are what is known as a Small Island Developing State and as such we are most vulnerable to environmental changes and external shocks. It is also important that we highlight not only the challenges we face in the areas of social equity and environmental protection, but also that we highlight the steps Government has been taking to address these issues. As a young nation we have to be at the forefront of putting in place mechanisms to address the issues we are faced with;" commented the Prime Minister

    The United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development will take place in Brazil from the 20-22 June 2012 to mark the 20th anniversary of the 1992 United Nations Conference on Environment and Development in Rio de Janeiro, and the 10th anniversary of the 2002 World Summit on Sustainable Development in Johannesburg, South Africa.

    The Rio+20 Conference is envisaged as a Conference of the highest level; attendees to the conference will include Heads of State of various nations and high-level Government representatives. The Conference will result in a focused political document which will serve as a guiding framework to assist nations in meeting the goals of equity and sustainable development.

    The main themes of the conference are a green economy in the context of sustainable development, poverty eradication; and the institutional framework for sustainable development. There are also seven priority areas which include decent jobs, energy, sustainable cities, food security and sustainable agriculture, water, oceans and disaster readiness.

    The core theme of the conference will be the development of nations on a sustainable level "As is stated in the charter of the United Nations Environmental Program, sustainable development meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs. This is seen as the guiding principle for long-term global development. It is important to realize that sustainable development consists of three main pillars, namely economic development, social development and environmental protection. Taking all of these factors into consideration is essential in developing our National Development Program and other framework and guiding documents on which Government will base its governing program. It is therefore essential that St. Maarten is represented at such an important conference as Rio+20," stated the Prime Minister. The Prime Minister departs on Tuesday for Rio and will return on Friday.

    Press Release from Prime Minister's Office

  • Prime Minister meets with Ambassador of the European Community to the Dutch Overseas Territories.

    swescotwilliamsmeetswithrkopecky26062012The Prime Minister of St. Maarten the Honorable Sarah Wescot-Williams met with the Ambassador of the European Community to the Dutch Overseas Territories Mr. Robert Kopecký (seated third from left) and members of his staff. Mr. Kopecký is the resident Ambassador to Guyana as well as the non-resident Ambassador to Suriname, Trinidad & Tobago and the Dutch Overseas Countries and Territories. He holds the overall portfolio of Head of Delegation of the European Union to Guyana, Suriname, Trinidad and Tobago and for the Dutch Overseas Countries and Territories.

    Various items related to St. Maarten's activities with regards to the European Community were discussed including the signing of the Single Programming Document for the 10th European Development Fund that will significantly upgrade the infrastructure of the Dutch Quarter district.

  • Central Committee of Parliament to meet on Civil Code.

    PHILIPSBURG:--- The Central Committee of Parliament will meet in a public session on June 14 to discuss the Civil Code.

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

    The Central Committee will discuss with the Minister of Justice Hon. Roland Duncan about the draft ordinances for the new Civil Code.

    Professor De Boer is also expected to be present to provide Members of Parliament with any additional explanation about the legislation.

    The committee meeting will be carried live on St. Maarten Cable TV Channel 20 and via Pearl Radio FM 98.1. The audio will be carried via the Internet www.pearlfmradio.com.

  • Prime Minister Receives Copy of Integrated Neighborhood Development Plan.

    swescotwilliamsreceivescopyofintegratedneighborhooddevelopmentplan18062012Discussions held on how to address social issues outlined in report.

    The Prime Minister of St. Maarten the Honorable Sarah Wescot-Williams was presented a copy of the Integrated Neighborhood Development Program last week and was given a presentation on its contents by Mr. Pyt Lucas of For a Change Unlimited. The Report included information on the social makeup of the various districts and communities on St. Maarten. Information was given on the general population description in the various districts; the population makeup in terms of birthplace in the various districts; the gender and age bracket of citizens living in the districts based on extensive interviews which were carried out to gain information which formed the basis of the Report; the religious makeup of those living in the various districts; education level; the differences between the neighborhoods based on income level; unemployment level in the different districts; access to medical insurance; housing; the availability of services; and parenting.

    During the presentation the Prime Minister discussed the various approaches her Government can take on how to address some of the social issues outlined in the report. Discussions were also held on how foundations that are established to address social ills such as Community Centers should become financially self-sustainable and the possible funding opportunities that may become available through the newly established St. Maarten Development Fund, the official signing of its establishment the Prime Minister oversaw on June 7th. Information campaigns on the Integrated Neighborhood Development Program will be conducted in the various districts in the future.

  • Rotary Club of St. Martin Sunrise celebrates its Change of Board for the Year 2012-2013.

    rotarystmartinsunriseinstalls2012-2013boardmembers19062012Philipsburg:--- Rotary Club of St. Martin Sunrise together with the Rotaract Club of St. Maarten Sunrise celebrated together the successes of the nearly ended Rotary/ Rotaract Year 2011-2012 and the installation of the board members for the year 2012-2013. The event took place at the Sonesta Great Bay Hotel on Saturday, June 16, 2012 in the presence of Rotarian, Rotaracters, Interacters their families and other guests also present as guest speaker was the Deputy Prime Minister, the honorable William Marlin who addressed the audience on the theme "Peace through Service" and highlighted how government, individuals within the community, and the Rotary clubs emulate this.

    Outgoing President Hendrik-Jan van Ieperen thanked his fellow board members and entire membership for their enthusiasm and support during the year. He summarized the executed projects including strengthening the club's membership with the introduction of the successful Open House on every fifth Tuesday of the month also focusing on the projects and activities that the club had started in previous years such as Readers are Leaders reading program, Benefit concert for the Simpson Bay Community Center upgrade, delivery of school furniture's donated by Prins Claus School of Tiel (the Netherlands) to the Starlight School, Cleanup and beautification of the Dr. Martin Luther King School in Dutch Quarter, we also helped out with the organization of the Vaccination week of the America. President Hendrik-Jan van Ieperen concluded in wishing the incoming president Marcellia Henry and her team of board members a successful Rotary Year 2012-2013.

    The new Rotary Board consists of: President Marcellia Henry, Vice-President Virginia Asin, Past President Hendrik-Jan van Ieperen, Secretary/President Elect Angela Gordon, Service Projects Director Joseanne Peterson, Treasurer Ahmed Bell, Sergeant at Arms Solaika Serbony, Membership Director Ronald Wever, Club Administration Director Peter Dialani, Public Relations Director Martha Pouchie, Rotary Foundation Director Meredith Boekhoudt, Fundraising Director Cookie Bijlani, New Generation Chair Paula Gordon and Club Disaster Chair Claret Connor.

    In her speech incoming president Marcellia Henry outlined her goals for the new rotary year consisting of Sustaining and diversifying the club membership, re-energized club members by following her slogan '100% Participation from All', We will also continue to cooperate and support the other Rotary clubs on St. Maarten and the neighboring islands in the district, establishment of a new interact club and continue with our programs such as the very successful Readers are Leaders and bring to completion the upgrade of the Simpson Bay Community Center, finally and most important we will promote and model our Rotary theme for 2012-2013 'PEACE THROUGH SERVICE'.

    Rotary Club of St. Martin Sunrise also thanked all Rotaracters and Rotarians involved in the organization of the Change of Board Ceremony.

    The club meets at Air Lekkerbek Restaurant every Tuesday mornings at 7:00am for fellowship and breakfast. For more information on the club visit us at sxmsunrise.org or email sunriserotary.sxm@hotmail.com, we are also on Facebook: Rotary Club of Saint Martin Sunrise.

  • Prime Minister Sarah Wescot Williams To Sign Single Programing Document for European Development Fund (EDF).

    The Prime Minister of St. Maarten the Honorable Sarah Wescot Williams will be signing the Single Programming Document for Curacao, Sint Maarten, Bonaire, Sint Eustatius and Saba for the implementation of the 10th European Development Fund (EDF).

    The main activities of the overall 10th EDF intervention on St. Maarten are centered around various improvements in the Dutch Quarter district including the placement of public street lighting and related works, the construction of pedestrian pathways, the expansion of the sewer network, including home connections and connection to the existing main sewer line, and the construction of a 1000 m3 drinking water tank.

    Based on the conducted research, sewerage is considered one of the major issues on the island. The 10th EDF, through the planning procedure conducted by government, will also seek to reduce flooding leading to pollution down hill from poor infrastructure-equipped upper areas towards the densely populated areas. The proposed intervention has direct impact on poverty reduction and is line with a comprehensive strategic action of the Government summarized in the Sewage Master Plan 2006-2016.

    The result of the project will directly benefit the deprived areas of Dutch Quarter through better collection and treatment of the storm and wastewater and as such will have a very positive impact on the health situation in the neighborhood. Lack of sufficient sewage infrastructure has become a critical issue, leading to the deteriorations in the quality of surface and coastal waters for recreational purposes and adversely affecting the quality of life for the residents on the island. Within the governing program for St. Maarten, the improvement of the socially deprived districts with special attention to sanitation, drainage and wastewater treatment is of high priority.

    The ultimate objective of the 10th EDF is to improve the living conditions of low-income residents and reduce poverty on St. Maarten. Furthermore, this project is aimed at eliminating pollution in the form of nutrients and pathogens to the surface water bodies and coastal areas to keep them pristine for use by both tourists and residents alike.

    Prime Minister Wescot-Williams will attend the signing of the 10th EDF on Monday at the De Weever property in Dutch Quarter together with other Kingdom Partners. The activities concerning the signing will commence at 15:30.

  • Hoyer in Business goes Caribbean: Live broadcast from Sint Maarten.

    hibhosts26062012Willemstad, CURACAO:--- For the first time in its two year's existence, the entrepreneurial radio talk show from Curaçao, Hoyer in Business, will broadcast from Sint Maarten on Thursday 28th of June, from 17:30 to 19:00 hrs. on Tropixx 105.5. In this weekly radio show the hosts, media experts and entrepreneurs Clifton Wallé and Jefka Martha-Alberto, interview other entrepreneurs and people from the business community. The radio talk just launched its fanpage facebook/HoyerInBusiness, where it's raking up 'likes' at an impressive rate.

    In May producer Gwenny Visser of Radio Hoyer together with the hosts took the show to the next level by introducing "Hoyer in Business goes Caribbean" with Insel Air. "Hoyer in Business goes Caribbean" will broadcast regularly from various destinations of Insel Air, such as Aruba, Colombia, Miami, Charlotte, Surnam, Caracas, Valencia, Las Piedras i Medellin. The first destination was Bonaire, which the crew visited in May. Now it's the turn of the friendly island of Sint Maarten.

    The radio show, consisting of four fixed sections, will have a number of guests. In the first section, "Den ADREI", the hosts will welcome the president of the Chamber of Commerce, Arthur Bute. Next will follow several Curaçao entrepreneurs, who will share their experiences of doing business in Sint Maarten. "Den SALA" will be Kurt and Valeska Luckert of the Palapa Marina. "Den BALKON" Zaida Urvina of Travel Planners is interviewed, followed in "Riba STUPI" by Bernardo de Castro of Print 2000.

    Mingle
    On June 28, Hard Rock Café on the Boardwalk will be the broadcast location of Hoyer in Business. It will also be a meeting place for entrepreneurs from Curaçao and Sint Maarten where they will mingle, do business and just have a good time. After the show, starting 19:00 hrs., DJ Ruby will add a musical note to the gathering.

    Sponsors
    The tropical and multi –lingual radio station of Sint Maarten, Tropixx 105.5 FM, will broadcast the Papiamentu show simultaneously with Radio Hoyer on Curaçao. "Holland House", the official hotel of "Hoyer in Business goes Caribbean, Sint Maarten edition", is where the whole team, consisting of the producer, the hosts and the technician Rob de Wolff will stay. "U-Save Car and Truck Rental" also joined this initiative, and will provide transportation for the crew.

  • U.S. FOL Volunteers Help Fuik Prepare for Vacation Bible School.

    usfolhelpsfuikprepareforvbs27062012On 21 June 2011, nine volunteers from the 429th Expeditionary Operations Squadron, located at the U.S. Forward Operating Location (USFOL) donated their time and service to help staff members of the FUIK community center prepare for an upcoming Vacation Bible School (VBS). This event, for the area's children, is scheduled from 2-6 July, with 450 attendees expected. The volunteers assisted by cleaning a storage area and painting backdrops essential to the VBS program.
    Mrs. Emma Eman, one of the center's directors, commented that the volunteers accomplished what normally takes one week in just a few hours. Caroline Van Romondt added, "This team is tremendous! We are so very thankful for them!" USFOL personnel have long been advocates for the local community, and this was yet another outstanding effort to promote the welfare of Curacao's youngest citizens.
  • 2012 FCCA Foundation – Children’s Environmental Poster Contest; Learning Unlimited and Sister Borgia Schools Win.

    emilievanderwaals13062012PHILIPSBURG:--- Emilie van der Waals from Learning Unlimited School has come in third place in the senior category of the Florida Caribbean Cruise Association (FCCA) Children's Environmental Poster Contest.

    Van der Waals will receive a check of US$1000 while her school will receive the same in value of art materials.

    Giana Copeland, was also one of the finalist from the Sister Borgia School whose poster was chosen in the Junior category. Copeland will receive a prize of US$200 for being an on-island winner.

    This year's competition was a collaboration of the Sint Maarten Tourist Office and the FCCA. Director of the Tourist Office May-Ling Chun would like to take this opportunity to congratulate all participants from the primary and secondary schools that took part including art teachers who coordinated at the school level. One poster from the Senior and Junior categories was chosen.

    Chun also extends a special congratulation to Van der Waals and Copeland who won the competition in their respective categories with excellent posters that truly depicted and exemplified Caribbean excellence and creativity.

    This year's poster competition attracted entries from 15 nations with images on how to preserve the environment.

    The FCCA poster competition seeks to promote and stimulate environmental awareness among Caribbean students, while effectively educating the younger generation on the importance of environmental protection.

  • Minister Jacobs Attends Dance Recital; Country possesses immense talent.

    GREAT BAY (DCOMM):--- Minister of Culture Silveria Jacobs on Sunday attended a dance recital by the St. Maarten Dance Theatre, headed by Susha Hien and Ihndhira Marlin.

    It was an evening of dance from three-year-olds and up which was thoroughly enjoyed by parents, family and friends as well as the many dignitaries in attendance.

    As a dancer herself, the minister was filled with pride to see this generation of dancers' growth and development in this art form. It is evident that St. Maarten possesses immense talent. Many senior dancers returned from their studies to dance with the companies.

    Minister Jacobs's vision is for each child on St. Maarten to be able to excel and develop his/her personal talents in this very way.

    The Minister will actively seek to be able to offer more opportunities for students' talents to be recognized and nurtured in the school environment so that a child's artistic and athletic development is not dependent on the size of their parents' wallet.

    Minister Jacobs extends congratulations to the directors, choreographers, instructors, and dancers for a beautiful and professional show.

  • Prime Minister Wescot-Williams Opens Protection of Vulnerable Immigrants Workshop.

    swescotwilliamsopensatipworkshop26062012We need to ensure that we are not consciously or otherwise participating in the trafficking of human beings.

    The Prime Minister of St. Maarten the Honorable Sarah Wescot-Williams opened the training workshop to enhance institutional response under the banner of protecting vulnerable migrants. The training workshops, attended by various law-enforcement agencies, government officials and non-governmental agencies, will address the protection of asylum seekers, refugees, victims of human trafficking and children adversely affected by migration.

    The workshop was organized by the local branch of the Anti-trafficking in Persons (ATIP) Foundation in collaboration with the United Nations Refugee Agency UNHCR and the International Organization for Migration (IOM) and the Government of St. Maarten in a continued effort to combat trafficking in humans and to ensure that institutional responses are adequate in dealing with numerous aspects of migration.

    "I did not want to be here and I am sure you did not either," commented the Prime Minister. "I mean by that that I wish there was no reason to have this workshop on St. Maarten. But there is a reason that this workshop is being held in our country considering the issues with regards to immigration and trafficking in humans".

    The Prime Minister continued by stating that, as St. Maarten will be celebrating Emancipation Day in the coming days it behooves all stakeholders to ensure that the people of St. Maarten are not consciously or otherwise participating in the trafficking of human beings. "St. Maarten, as a part of the Caribbean region, has also been part of the immigration flows and shifts which the Caribbean is known for. Many of our families had to leave this island in search of better economic opportunities and I am one of those whose parents needed to leave St. Maarten in search of a better life for their families. Now St. Maarten is on the receiving end in having people migrate to our country from not only the Caribbean region but also from outside. Therefore it behooves us to recognize that the attraction that St. Maarten has to immigrants also has the risk of having people with bad intentions coercing and forcing vulnerable persons into being trafficked to our shores. Human dignity and the abolition of discrimination in our society is one of the most important tasks which are being tackled and it is for this reason that this workshop is so very essential in combatting issues related to immigration and trafficking in humans" concluded the Prime Minister.

    During the course workshops on national protection frameworks, screening of trafficking victims, detention facilities and third country resettlements will be conducted. The workshop will last until Friday June 29th. Also attending the opening ceremony of the workshop were The President of Parliament the Honorable Gracita Arrindell; Cassilda ven der Neut, President of ATIP Foundation; Ms. Chissey Mueller, Project Manager at IOM; Ms. Iris Blom of UNHCR Washington; Mr. Udo Aron, Director of Immigration; and Ms. Irene Simmons of the Ministry of Justice.

    From the cabinet of the Prime Minister

  • Seventeen graduate from Rotary Leadership Institute.

    17graduatefromrotaryleadershipinstitute05062012Rotary held a Rotary Leadership Training last weekend at the University of St. Martin. Past Assistant Governor and RLI (Rotary Learning Institute) director of Jamaica Haresh Ramchandani, facilitated the Saturday session after which President Rebecca Low and 2 other members of the club became certified trainers. Sunday's session was the last of the 3 level leadership training and was facilitated by Mr. Ramchandani and the three new facilitators. This training attracted no less than fourteen Rotarians and Rotaractors from Anguilla, St. Barths, and the four Rotary clubs on Dutch and French St. Maarten. The training covered subjects such as the history of Rotary, International service, effective leadership strategies, The Rotary Foundation, and communication techniques.
  • Arrindell recommends quarterly report of Parlatino to Central Committee.

    mpsattendparlatinomeetinginecuador07062012PHILIPSBURG:--- President of Parliament Hon. drs. Gracita Arrindell says she will recommend that Members of Parliament (MPs) who attend Latin American Parliament (Parlatino) meetings, prepare a quarterly report for the Central Committee and to also present the results of the meetings to the people of the country.

    "Our parliament joined Parlatino in 2010 and MPs sit on a number of committees. They also attend meetings on a regular basis and I think with respect to transparency and open government, it would be an opportunity for MPs to inform the people in the setting of a plenary session about the issues they discussed and how our country can benefit from this and what steps will be taken in this direction," President of Parliament Hon. drs. Gracita Arrindell said on Wednesday.

    This issue was discussed in a presidium meeting in the past and a proposal will be sent to the Central Committee of Parliament within short.

    Arrindell's last Parlatino meeting that she attended was in Cuenca, Ecuador back in May, which was an Executive Board meeting where she signed the meetings final conclusion points. The President of Parliament attends the Junta Directiva meetings.

    "It is very important to be part of this group as the issues that are dealt with also have a bearing on the development of our own country.

    "The rights of self-determination and autonomy were debated and these are current affairs for us when we look at recently achieving country status within the Kingdom of the Netherlands only short 19-months ago.

    "In one session the discussion was about expanding autonomy of small communities. Sint Maarten as a country can relate to this and can expound on our own experience. As a country we can make a meaningful contribution at this hemispheric forum as we are in a unique geographical position.

    "95 per cent of the sessions are in Spanish so one has to be well grounded in this language. One of the issues discussed in my last meeting related to Argentina and the Falkland Islands of Great Britain with respect to oil rights etc," President of Parliament Hon. Gracita Arrindell said on Wednesday.

    MPs are represented on the following Parlatino committees: Economic Affairs, Social Debt and Regional Development; Citizen Safety, Combat and Prevention of Narco-Traffic, Terrorism and Organized Crime; Education, Culture, Science, Technology and Communication; Health; Human Rights, Justice and Prison Policies; Gender Equity, Childhood and Youth; Agriculture, Cattle Raising and Fishery; Environment and Tourism; Labor, Social and Legal Affairs; and Energy and Mines.

    MPs who were also present in Ecuador for meetings were MP Hon. Romain Laville, MP Hon. Roy Marlin and MP Hon. Patrick Illidge.

  • Central Committee of Parliament to meet with CFT and about Kingdom Government Oversight.

    PHILIPSBURG:--- The Central Committee of Parliament will meet in public session on June 12 with the Committee of Financial Supervision (CFT).

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

    The first agenda point is a meeting with representatives of CFT where an exchange of views will take place between the former and Members of Parliament (MPs).The first agenda point of the meeting will be discussed behind closed doors; not open to the public.

    The second agenda point is an advice from the Permanent Committee Kingdom Affairs and Inter-parliamentary Relations regarding participation in the control of the Kingdom Government where it concerns extraordinary matters. Discussion of the second agenda point is open to the public.

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

  • Prime Minister Attends Rotary Club Change of Board Gala Event.

    swescotwilliamsattendsrotarychangeofboardgalaevent11062012The Prime Minister the Honourable Sarah Wescot-Williams attended the Rotary Clun change of Board Gala Event at the Westin Resort on Saturday. The evening, during which the St. Maarten Rotary Club changes its annual Board, also functions as a fundraising event for the Rotary Club's various community programs.
  • Government Celebrates Flag Day, June 13th.

    Philipsburg (DCOMM):--- The Government of St. Maarten will commemorate Flag Day, June 13th with a ceremony at the Government Administration Building in Philipsburg. The law regulating the flag of St. Maarten was established on June 13th 1985 by Island Decree. The flag was hoisted for the first time on November 11th 1985. On June 16th 2005 the Executive Council of St. Maarten proclaimed June 13th as Flag Day.

    The Council of Ministers invites the general public to attend the Flag Day ceremony, which starts at 9 am. Persons who are unable to attend the ceremony will have the opportunity to view the entire ceremony live on St. Maarten Cable TV Channel 120, as a result of a collaborative effort of the Department of Communication and St. Maarten Cable TV.

    Highlights of the ceremony includes a march by Uniformed Troops consisting of Police, Fire and VKS Officers. The St. Maarten Flag will be hoisted and speeches will be given by the Prime Minister and Minister of Education, Culture, Youth and Sports. Additionally Ms. Roselle Richardson the designer of the flag will participate in a Toast and a selection of school children will also make their contribution to the celebration.

    The general public should be aware that during the ceremony the Government Administration Building offices and the road in front will not be accessible (9 -10 am). Additionally, the weekly Council of Ministers press briefing will be cancelled.

  • Academy Art Exhibition at Library Friday.

    CUL DE SAC:--- The general public is being invited to the Philipsburg Jubilee Library on Friday (June 15, 2012) for the opening of a mini Art exhibition of pieces done by students and teachers of St. Maarten Academy.
    The one-hour event, which kicks off at 6:00pm, will debut two final year students – Leandre Santos and Shawn Williams – as well as second former Janean Peterson. On show will also be other work done by one of the school's English teachers, Rochelle Ward, and Art teacher Henry Thomas.
    The display marks the culmination of one year of Saturday morning Art classes conducted by Thomas.
    "We are closing off the year and it will be the first time for these young, budding artists," Thomas said in reference to the students. "I am proud to see their accomplishment due to hard work and determination."
    Thomas said he is also proud of Ward, who was once his student when she attended St. Maarten Academy. Although art is not currently her major, Ward has done pieces that would rival any veteran's work.
    "Each student is unique and on Friday the public will be able to see life and still life drawings – about five to seven pieces from each artist," said Thomas.
    Thomas, who has been teaching at St. Maarten Academy for many years, started the Saturday morning classes in 2009 for anyone interested in art. Students were able to explore their artistic abilities in water colours, pastels, basic paints, pen and ink, and charcoal, to name a few. The areas of study included painting and mixed media, portraits, calligraphy writing, graphic and communication and print making.
    The exhibition will run until June 22.
  • Baby Wellness Clinic Relocates; Open Monday at new location on Brouwers Road.

    GREAT BAY (DCOMM):--- The Baby Wellness Clinic has moved from the offices Youth Health Care (YHC) at the Vineyard Office Park Complex to Brouwers Road 6A which is the building behind FATUM Insurances.

    The Clinic is open five days a week Monday thru Friday from 8:00am to 4:30pm, lunch-break from 12:30pm to 1:30pm.

    As of Monday, June 17, clients are requested to visit the clinic from the aforementioned location.

    Persons who need additional information can call the Baby Wellness Clinic at 5592333.

    YHC falls under the auspices of Collective Prevention Services (CPS) executing agencies of the Ministry of Public Health, Social Development and Labour.

  • Prime Minister Congratulates Emergency Service Providers on EMS Week 2012.

    Men and Women in the Emergency Medical Services do Critical Work to Improve and Strengthen our Communities.

    The Prime Minister of St. Maarten the Honorable Sarah Wescot-Williams took time out of her travelling schedule to the Rio+20 Summit on Sustainable Development on Tuesday to congratulate the men and women who work in the Emergency Health and Medical Services for EMS Week 2012.

    "On Behalf of the Government and the people of St. Maarten allow me to extend gratitude and appreciation to the dedicated men and women in the emergency medical services for the critical work they do to improve and strengthen the health services in our communities," commented the Prime Minister.

    The Prime Minister, who because of her travels will be unable to attend the festivities surrounding EMS week 2012, continued by stating that she further wishes to extend her best wishes for a memorable and successful celebration to the Ministry of Public Health, Social Development and Labor and to the management and staff of the Emergency Medical Services as well as to the organizers of the EMS Week 2012.

    Press Release from Prime Minister's Office

  • Arrindell explores MPs having accessibility to laws at all times via website.

    garrindelldiscussinglegislationviaicttech26062012PHILIPSBURG:--- The House of Parliament is exploring possibilities to make legislation more accessible to Members of Parliament (MPs).

    President of Parliament Hon. drs. Gracita Arrindell on Monday met with officials from the Dutch Ministry of Interior Affairs & Kingdom Relations Rene Mazel (Project Consolidation Sint Maarten Laws and Legislation) and Onno Muchall (Center for Government Publications).

    Muchall gives a brief explanation about the publication of laws and other documents (for example Kamerstukken) on www.overheid.nl and how the technology works in the Netherlands.

    He also explains how Sint Maarten can benefit from the acquired knowledge and experience over a period of 10 years.

    Muchall indicates that there is an offer on the table for the Sint Maarten government to be able to use the database/server of this website and its search engine to publish legislation. When this contract is finalized, the Parliament of Sint Maarten can opt to make use of this provision as well to publish draft legislation.

    "Having a user friendly and an up to date website with such legislation for access to MPs and the public has been a constant concern from the outset when the present structure was established.

    "We are happy to explore available options with the objective to further professionalize Parliament's website by making use of all Information Communication Technology (ICT) options that are available.

    "Other options discussed were the possibility of MPs being able to access legislation via their IPads. This will reduce the costs of copying as well as ensure that MPs have at all times access to laws when preparing for parliamentary sessions," President of Parliament Hon. Gracita Arrindell said on Tuesday.

    Arrindell said she will follow up with the Minister of General Affairs with respect to how to coordinate the services.

    Also present during the meeting were Nancy Joubert and Alvin Prescod from the Secretariat of Parliament.

  • Minister Voges presents investment opportunities at Carekine Business Summit; Follow-up meetings planned for July and August.

    mvogesanddumfries27062012GREAT BAY (DCOMM):--- Minister of Plenipotentiary Hon. Mathias S. Voges represented the country at 2012 Carekine Business Summit, held in Amsterdam, the Netherlands last week Friday.

    The objective of the business summit was to connect the business world of the Netherlands with the Caribbean Region.

    The organizer created a platform where companies, government representatives and (development) banks were able to get acquainted and whereby parties had the opportunity to discuss opportunities and to see how parties could facilitate each other.

    In the presence of other speakers, such as the Ministers Plenipotentiary of Aruba and Curacao, the Dutch representative of the BES islands, and the Vice-President of the Caribbean Development Bank, Dr. Carla Barnett, Minister Plenipotentiary, Hon. Mathias S. Voges, outlined the position of Sint Maarten with regards to the possibilities we have to offer in order to attract investors from the Netherlands.
    He informed the audience that Sint Maarten as a country is busy intensifying her efforts in the sustainable growth of her own market, but also looking at possibilities to increase possibilities of mutual trade in the Caribbean.

    The Minister in light hereof emphasized the hub-, and gateway function Sint Maarten has in the Caribbean region.

    Minister Voges said the modern harbour and airport facilities should be able to support these efforts as well as the efforts the government of Sint Maarten is undertaking to diversify her economy.

    Emphasis was also placed on the historical fact that investors from around the world were able to find their way to Sint Maarten throughout the past decades, while the interest from the Netherlands, besides a few large contractors and wholesalers, remained rather conservative.

    We must not see the ocean that divides the countries as an obstruction but as a means of getting in contact with each other Minister Voges said.

    The audience was further informed about Sint Maarten's import duty free status and the possibilities of favorable tax-rulings. The spotlight was also aimed at the Government's development priorities, such as sustainable economic development, a (financial) sovereign rating for Sint Maarten, small business development, revised tax legislation, green sustainable energy, and human resources. These all being ingredients which should create trust and stability as an "investment partner", Hon. Minister Mathias Voges told his audience.
    Minister Voges, accompanied by his cabinet staff members Perry Geerlings and Carol Voges, invited the attendees to meet with his staff in the scheduled parallel sessions for more detailed information on our economy and procedures with regards to establishing a business on Sint Maarten.

    The parallel session scheduled for Sint Maarten was very well attended by interested parties from all segments of the business world. We were able to further inform and discuss possibilities and policies with people interested in green and sustainable energy, building of green energy production and development facilities, construction and expansion of harbor facilities, hotel construction, facilities for the production of goods for the Caribbean and Latin American markets, education and human resources, agriculture and small business entrepreneurship, Minister Voges told the Department of Communication (DCOMM) on Tuesday.

    Follow up meetings with interested parties are being scheduled for the month of July and August.
    Minister Voges extended his gratitude and appreciation to the organizers for a well-organized event and the opportunity created for all involved.

    He particularly thanked Evelin-Pierre Dumfries and as token of appreciation he presented her with the "Golden Book" of Sint Maarten.

  • THE APNA OFFICE WILL STOP WITH HER SERVICES ON THE 1ST OF JULY 2012.

    PHILIPSBURG:--- The Algemeen Pensioenfonds van de Nederlandse Anillen (APNA) ceased to exist after 73 years of services rendered to the civil servants and pensioners of St. Maarten due to the dismantlement of the Netherlands Antilles on 10-10-10. APNA had on October 9th 2010 approximately, 22.900 members, of which 11,400 active members, 3,200 members free of contribution obligation and 8,300 pensioners.
    The total Capital of APNA was on October 9th, 4,343 million Antillean guilders.
    As agreed between Netherlands, Sint Maarten, Curaçao and the Netherlands Antilles the total assets and pension obligations of APNA on the date prior to the dismantlement is divided between Netherlands, Sint Maarten and Curaçao according to an allocation key. This allocation key takes into account the share of a country in the estate of APNA based on the relation between the sum of the pension reserve as per October 9th 2010 of all the participants that upon October 10th pertained to that country and the total pension reserve of all participants of APNA as per October 9th 2010.
    Meanwhile the total assets of APNA have been divided and paid out to Sint Maarten and the Netherlands to the amount of ANG. 291,594,000 respectively ANG. 241,607,000. Upon finalizing the estate balance sheet of APNA of October 9th 2010 the final division and transfer of assets of APNA to Sint Maarten and the Netherlands will be completed. The countries Sint Maarten, Curaçao and Netherland instituted their own pension fund for civil servants. The allocation of the APNA participants to the respective pension funds of the new countries is also completed. By agreement between Algemeen Pensioenfonds van Sint Maarten (APS) and Algemeen Pensioenfonds van Curaçao (APC), the latter pension fund continued providing pension administration services and services with regard to the pension payment to APS. Since January 2012 APS is providing full services to its participants concluding the services of APC to APS. As of July 1st 2012 the APC office on Sint Maarten will be closed down permanently.
    We are grateful to our officers, Mrs. Marelva Daniels and Mrs. Yolande Arrindell who for so many years has served APNA and civil servants and pensioners on Sint Maarten so well.
    We are also grateful for having been part of the Sint Maarten community, and hope to be able to continue strong ties with this community in the future.
  • Honorable Prime Minister Sarah Wescot-Williams addresses the opening of the tenth annual St. Maarten Book Fair.

    No better place in the world to see Caribbean interaction than these 37 square miles we call home.

    swescotwilliamsspeaksatopeningofsxmbookfair01062012The Prime Minister of St. Maarten the Honorable Sarah Wescot-Williams gave an address at the opening of the tenth Annual Book Fair on Thursday Evening. In her comments during the event the Prime Minister stated that she feels fortunate to have brought words of greetings for the past nine Book Fairs to guests and residents. "I would like to recognize the vision of the founders of the Book Fair and their steadfast contribution over the years and the commitment to the originality of the book fair; the book has remained the center piece and works of literature the forte of this event," commented the Prime Minister.
    The prime Minister went on to state that the communication, information and education factors which the Book Fair has embraced since its inception are ever evolving and there has always been an evolution in the St. Maarten Book, keeping the event exciting year after year. "What has been impressive has always been the line-ups of writers and poets which the organizers have been able to secure and which has allowed so many different cultures to converge on St. Maarten. As a society we need critical thinkers and over the years and inspired by the Book Fair many persons have put pen to paper; many writers have honed their skills because of the book fair. We take it a little for granted when the Lasana's, the Nicoles and the Dows and many others make regional and international headlines. We live in exciting times and St. Maarten is no exception. Our country is a work in progress and we need to make sure that these times are documented from the different perspectives that make up our society and this documentation should be promoted. There is no better place in this world to see Caribbean interaction in a global environment than in these 37 square miles we call home," concluded the Prime Minister. The Book Fair will run to the 3rd of June with numerous sessions and events being held on both sides of the island.

  • Prime Minister of St. Maarten opens Integrity Program for Civil Servants.

    "Support the development of an honest, well trained, impartial, structured and reputable public service rooted in the principles of integrity"

    swescotwilliamsopensintegritytrainingforcivilservants04062012The Prime Minister of St. Maarten the Honorable Sarah Wescot-Williams opened the Integrity Dilemma Training for Civil Servants at the University of St. Maarten on Monday.

    During her opening address the Prime Minister explained to the gathering of civil servants and invited guests from various sectors of the Government of St. Maarten that the objective of the Integrity Code of Conduct is to give civil servants a grip on decision making processes and establishing standards and values with regards to conduct within Government.

    The Prime Minister has always actively supported the planning process and the implementation of an integrity program for Government and explained that integrity training for the Government of St. Maarten has been on the books for quite some time; "an important agreement was reached in March last year for the financing of an integrity program for the Government of St. Maarten and finally a visions document for the government of St. Maarten was arrived at last year in November. It is the aspiration of the Government of St. Maarten that within the next five years there will be a higher level of commitment to the level of integrity for the entire public service in operating in accordance with the Integrity Policy of St. Maarten and observing the principles of Good Governance," commented the Prime Minister.

    "And in doing so to support the development of an honest, well trained, impartial, structured and reputable public service rooted in the principles of integrity; a public service capable of professionally serving and meeting the constitutional needs of the citizens of St. Maarten," continued the Prime Minister

    The Prime Minister also outlined that integrity and subsequently integrity training is extended to all levels of Government; "Having integrity is required from the highest level in Government to those at the lowest level in terms of coming together and working on the Integrity Program for St. Maarten. At the end of the day it is how we view the topic and how we decide to move forward as a Government and as a people. It is about how we wish to deal with integrity and the many complex factors civil servants may encounter during the course of their jobs. It is about how those in the Civil Service deals with the integrity within the Government of St. Maarten," concluded the Prime Minister.

  • Prime Minister takes part in Fashion Show for Smiles for Christmas Program.

    Let us ensure that our youth have the love and support necessary to become the future leaders of St. Maarten.

    swescotwilliamsatcouturecharity04062012The Prime Minister of St. Maarten the Honorable Sarah Wescot Williams wowed the crowd at the Couture for Charity Pearls and Fashion event 2012 at the Westin Resort and Casino on Saturday. The event, at which the Prime Minister was the Honorable guest, raised money for the Salvation Army Smiles for Christmas program, where gifts are distributed to less fortunate children during the Christmas Holidays. "This event is about coming together for a good cause to bring St. Maarten's children the help they need to make so much of a difference in their lives during a very special time of the year. While we celebrate here tonight we do it for a very good cause. One of the reasons I agreed to take part in this fashion show because it will eventually make a difference in the life of a child during a very special time of the year during the Smiles for Christmas program. Let us celebrate this event and ensure that our youth have the love and support necessary to become the future leaders within the St. Maarten community," commented the Prime Minister. Le Rosh provided fashion for the event and the Dance Theatre of St. Maarten provided entertainment. Proceeds from the charity event will go directly towards the Smiles for Christmas program of the Salvation Army.

  • Meeting between Governor Holiday and Préfet Chopin.

    pchopinandeholiday06062012Harbour View/Fort Louis:--- On Tuesday June 5, 2012, His Excellency Governor Eugene B. Holiday paid a working visit to Saint Martin and met with Mr. Philippe Chopin, Préfet for St. Martin and St. Barthelemy, at Fort Louis.
    During the meeting, the Governor and the Préfet discussed several matters of mutual interest for St. Maarten and St. Martin. Topics discussed included cooperation between Sint Maarten/Saint Martin and more specifically the Joint Declaration of Intent which was signed on February 15, 2012. In addition to that, they discussed border, immigration controls, law enforcement, environment, education, and related mutual assistance matters.
  • Public Plenary Session of Parliament on Credentials of Rodolphe Samuel and Vice Presidents of Parliament.

    PHILIPSBURG:--- The House of Parliament will meet in a public plenary session June 12 to discuss a three point agenda.

    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 first agenda point will deal with approval of the decision lists of plenary public meetings.

    The second agenda point is the approval of the credentials of Rodolphe Emile Samuel who would be the next Member of Parliament (MP) for the National Alliance (NA) faction. He will fill the vacancy created by former MP William Marlin who tendered his resignation to become a Minister.

    Once parliament approves the credentials of Rodolphe Samuel, those will be sent to His Excellency Governor Eugene Holiday who will set a date for his swearing in as the 15th MP.
    The third agenda point is the appointment of the first and second Vice Presidents of Parliament with respect to Article 6, third paragraph, Rules of Order of the House of Parliament.

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

  • EMS Organizes for the public Live Drill and CPR Demonstrations at Three Locations.

    GREAT BAY (DCOMM):--- The Emergency Medical Services (EMS) as part of its annual EMS Week 2012 under the theme "EMS More than a job. A Calling," has organized a live drill for Wednesday morning at 9:00am on the Pondfill Road between the Government Administration Building and the Post office.

    On Thursday Cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) demonstrations at three different locations, Old Fire Station Philipsburg, Le Grand Marche Bush Road, and Simpson Bay Fish Market, are planned to kick off simultaneously at 9:30am until 12:00pm.

    The public is invited to come out to see the aforementioned.

  • Gracita: Happy Public Service Day.

    PHILIPSBURG:--- June 23 is United Nations (UN) Public Service Day.

    The UN General Assembly, designated 23 June as Public Service Day. It became a reality in 2002. The day has been acknowledged to celebrate the value and virtue of public service to the community.

    It also highlights the contribution of public service in the development process; it also recognizes the work of public servants, and encourages young people to pursue careers in the public sector.

    "I would like to take this opportunity to commend the public servants who work in the secretariat of the House of Parliament as well as faction workers and all those working in the seven Ministries of Country Sint Maarten, and the High Councils of State, happy Public Service Day.

    "Public servants play an essential role in building a sound civil administration. As servants of the people, we have taken on the challenge and are well on our way to further improving the existing public administrative sector.

    "While some may consider providing service to the public is routine, I share the view that it is a privilege and honour to provide service to the public in general. Sint Maarten's economy will definitely benefit when all of us who are employed to provide service are united in achieving this common goal.

    "We must be proud of what we have achieved so far together, and we must look forward to continuing to build our institutions in order to build a stronger Sint Maarten.

    "I leave you with these words: 'Without an effective civil administration, democracy and prosperity are virtually unattainable.' – Guido Bertucci. Once again, happy Public Service Day on behalf of the Parliament of Sint Maarten," President of Parliament Hon. Gracita Arrindell said on Friday.

  • WINAIR Held Annual Shareholders Meeting.

    winairholdsannualshareholdersmeeting22062012On Wednesday June 20th, 2012, the annual shareholders meeting was held in St. Maarten, attendees from left to right are Roberto Gibbs-CFO and Change Manager, Robert Budike-Supervisory Board of Directors member, Peggy Ann Brandon legal representative, George Greaux Jr.-Chairman Supervisor Board of Directors, Michael Cleaver-Managing Director, Michael Ferrier-St.Maarten Shareholder representative, Gerrit Draai-Supervisory Board of Directors member, Hans de Jong-Shareholder representative of the Netherlands.

    In the short time, the new management has had the daunting task to meet deadlines in order to present the annual accounts for approval by the shareholders spanning 4 years of financial reporting, notably years 2008, 2009, 2010, and 2011. In the management report to the shareholders, the continued improvements in the core route plan in terms of revenues, load factors, and yields were highlighted, and the other areas of operational and cost center concerns that are still being worked on.

    Amongst the agenda proposals that were handled, the installment of the second managing director was passed, effectively establishing the managing board with Michael Cleaver as President, and Mr. Roberto Gibbs as the Vice president.

    A draft business plan has been submitted for comments before finalizing it and will be the basis for Winair to continue its operations while working out the structural solutions to its considerable debt position that was inherited from the previous Netherlands Antilles shareholder.

    Press Release from WINAIR

  • U.S. Donates Baseball Equipment to RBI Curacao.

    usdeadonatestorbicuracao22062012The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) Curacao Country Office has teamed up with Reviving Baseball in Inner Cities (RBI) Curacao, the Cal Ripken Sr. Foundation in Baltimore, Maryland, and Pitch in for Baseball in Harleysville, Pennsylvania, to support youth baseball in Curacao.
    The first shipment of donated equipment recently arrived in Curacao and will be used by RBI Curacao to make sure all players have the proper baseball equipment. Representing the U.S. Government, Consul General Valerie Belon and DEA Curacao presented the donated equipment, on behalf of Pitch In For Baseball and Cal Ripken Sr. Foundation, to Chairon Isenia of RBI Curacao during a small ceremony at Brionplein, today.
    RBI is a Major League Baseball youth outreach program that encourages participation in baseball as well academic achievement and teamwork by youth in underserved communities. The Cal Ripken Sr. Foundation helps to build character and teach critical life lessons to disadvantaged young people residing in America's most distressed communities through baseball themed programs. Pitch In For Baseball (http://www.pitchinforbaseball.org.) is an American organization committed to helping kids and making friends all over the world by sharing the great game of baseball. Pitch In For Baseball collects and gives baseball equipment, and other assistance, to young people around the globe.
    The U.S. and Curacao share a common passion for the game of baseball. Everyone involved in sending the donated baseball equipment to Curacao knew of Curacao primarily through their success at the Little League World Series and the accomplishments of Curacao born players in Major League Baseball. Special thanks go to the following people who helped to make this donation happen:

    Mr. David Rhodes, Founder and Executive Director of Pitch In For Baseball
    Mr. Tom Schoenfelder, Operations Manager, Pitch In For Baseball
    Mr. Bobby McCaffrey, Assistant Director of Program Operations, Cal Ripken Sr. Foundation
    Mr. David James, Director, Reviving Baseball in Inner Cities Program (RBI)
    Mr. Kevin Moss, Administrator for Community Affairs, RBI
    Mr. Michael Rzepczynksi, Country Attaché, DEA Curacao
    Mr. Sergio Luna, Assistant Regional Director, DEA Caribbean Division
  • CPS says Happy World Environment Day; Calls on nation to help make environments healthier.

    GREAT BAY (DCOMM):--- Collective Prevention Services (CPS) would like to congratulate the nation on World Environment Day (WED), 05 June, which is also part of CPSs calendar of health observations.

    WED is an annual event that is aimed at being the biggest and most widely celebrated global day for positive environmental action.

    The 2012 theme for WED is "Green Economy: Does it include you?"

    The United Nations (UN) Environment Programme defines Green Economy as one that results in improved human well-being and social equity, while significantly reducing environmental risks and ecological scarcities. In its simplest expression, a green economy can be thought of as one which is low carbon, resource efficient and socially inclusive.

    Environmental hazards are responsible for as much as a quarter of the total burden of disease world-wide, and more than one-third of the burden among children.

    Heading that list are diarrhea, lower respiratory infections, various forms of unintentional injuries and malaria.

    The disease burden is much higher in the developing world, although in the case of certain non-communicable diseases, such as cardiovascular diseases and cancers, the per capita disease burden is larger in developed countries.

    Health impacts of environmental hazards run across more than 80 diseases and types of injury.

    Well-targeted interventions can prevent much of this environmental risk. Worldwide, as many as 13 million deaths could be prevented every year by making our environments healthier.

    WED celebrations began in 1972 and have grown to become the one of the main vehicles through which the UN stimulates worldwide awareness of the environment and encourages political attention and action. Let us join the global population in keeping our community and our environment healthier!

    WED is also a day for people from all walks of life to come together to ensure a cleaner, greener and brighter outlook for themselves and future generations.

  • Measles can be a serious and potentially fatal illness for children.

    vaccinationopenhouse05062012GREAT BAY (DCOMM):--- There are a number of measle outbreaks throughout the world. Measles can be a serious and potentially fatal illness and children who have not been vaccinated are particularly at risk of measles during this time.

    Parents are urged to ensure their children are protected against measles. Measles is a highly infectious disease; one in 20 will get pneumonia, one in 1000 will get encephalitis and 1-2 in 1000 will die from the disease.

    To be protected you either need to have received the Measles, Mumps and Rubella (MMR) vaccine to have had the disease. There is no other way to prevent measles infection. Two doses of MMR vaccine are recommended, the first given at 12-months of age, and the second at 4-5 years of age.

    Dr. V.S. Asin Oostburg, Head of Collective Prevention Services (CPS) told the Department of Communication (DCOMM) that the open house was one health programme that is part of the public health ministry's interventions to reach out to the community to have their health status "Checked" against measles, and the results demonstrated how successful the open house was.
    After an analysis of the May 19 Vaccination Open House held at the Festival Village, Youth Health Care (YHC) at CPS is very pleased with the interests and turn-out to the event with more than 500 persons of which 192 children's vaccination status were checked.

    Out of this group 75 children were vaccinated, while 117 were up to date with their vaccinations and the remainder got appointments to visit the clinic at the Vineyard Building for their additional shots.

    The Dental Mobile Unit catered to 47 children who received complete prophylaxis with cleaning and fluoride application. 50 information packages were also handed out to parents and the children by Dentist Hilda Guevara.

    Out of the 47 children, three were already part of the dental school program while 44 were new.

    The Minister of Public Health, Social Development & Labour Hon. Cornelius de Weever, Secretary General Jorien Wuite, and Pan American Health Organization (PAHO)/World Health Organization (WHO) Dr. Christian Morales, an expert on health systems and services were present throughout the day of the open house.

    Dr. Asin says she would like to thank the organizing committee who started working on the preparations for the open house since March. The organizing committee was chaired by Anita Priest who was assisted by committee members Claudia Yhan, Irene Serfilia, Anuska Gibbs, Deborah Granger, and Irma Knight.

    vaccinationopenhousegroupofyouths05062012Asin was also full of praise for the stakeholders who took part, which comprised of governmental and non-governmental organizations, private sector and civil society: Rotary Club of Sint Maarten, Nagico Insurance, Diabetes Foundation, Abbot Nutrition, Elderly & Pensioners Association, Alzheimer Foundation, Love of Kids Foundation, Red Cross and the board and staff of the Festival Village.

    Minister Hon. Cornelius de Weever provided each participant stakeholder with a certificate of appreciation.

    The theme for this year's open house was "Vaccination: An Act of Love – For you for me for everyone, get checked, get vaccinated."

    Immunization is a way of protecting children against serious vaccine preventable diseases. Once a child or an adult has been fully vaccinated, their bodies can fight those diseases if one comes into contact with the respective virus.

    Unprotected children are at greatest risk of contracting vaccine preventable diseases. Parents and guardians must ensure that their children are protected. Adults should also consult their physician to ensure that their vaccination coverage is up to date.

    YHC can also be contacted if you want to verify your own vaccination status by calling Tel. 542-3003, 542-2078 or 542-3553.

  • St. Martin Book Fair 2012, highest turnout to workshops in 10 years.

    papaumphowithkidsatsxmbookfair06062012GREAT BAY/MARIGOT:--- The "Children's Room" at the St. Martin Book Fair last Saturday, reflected the attendance in most of the workshops on the festival's main book fair day at the University of St. Martin (USM).

    The 43 boys and girls, from age 2 to 12, amounted to the largest number of participants in the Children's Room since the book fair started in 2003. It was also the first time that the overwhelming majority of the workshops had a high number of attendance across the board, said Jacqueline Sample, president of HNP, a book fair organizer along with Conscious Lyrics Foundation (CLF).

    In the Children's Room, "the kids responded very well, paid keen attention to the storyteller and gave good answers to questions that Papa Umpho asked. They had fun and want to do it again. They actually wanted it to be longer," said Nzinga Lake, coordinator of the children's activities.

    Special guest "Papa Umpho" told Kompa Nanzi or Anansi stories "and actually got a brave boy to impersonate the legendary mischievous spider," said Lake. Kiara Meyers, Little Miss St. Martin 2011, made a guest appearance and read a folktale to her peers.

    Children from throughout the island and various schools, including the MAC and the I-Can Foundation kept the room abuzz. At least two grandmothers stayed with their grandchildren for the length of the activities, from 9 am to 1 pm.

    "A two-year-old boy got his granny to stay with him because he didn't want to leave after his parents dropped off his bigger brother," said Lake. Both fathers and mothers brought their children to the university campus.

    The coordinator had the youngsters participate in activities for boys and girls separately, and activities in which all of the children joined in, including self-esteem motivation and anti-bullying exercises, said Lake.

    After 11 am, the girls made an impromptu trip upstairs to Room 202, the massively-attended "Dance Workshop," coordinated by Broadway star Nicole de Weever, while the boys worked on communication skills with Papa Umpho in Room 108, said Lake.

    Other activities that had a full-to-capacity or tremendous amount of people compared to previous years were the following workshops – How to make Guavaberry (Colombier Cultural Association), "Writing Your Life's Story" (Jacqueline Bishop from NYU), and "Caribbean Vegan & Vegetarian Cooking" (Taymer Mason), said Sample.

    The "Books Are Boring!" and "literature + technology = future" workshops by novelist Wena Poon and Italian scholar Dr. Sara Florian respectively, "had a fairly good turnout of very appreciative audiences, compared to other years. One mother told Wena that she had been using comics books to get her son interested in reading fir his exams. Both Wena and Sara were pleased," said Sample.

    The "FAQs About St. Maarten" presentation (on Friday) and "The Copyright Workshop" on Saturday were cancelled due to scheduling challenges by the coordinators. The Saturday morning literary talk at the Public Library in Marigot was cancelled because of non-attendance.

    "This 10th anniversary edition of the book fair had over 20 activities, between six to ten more workshops and other activities than in other years," said book fair coordinator Shujah Reiph of CLF.

    "I think this is the best book fair that we've ever had, and that's with all the glitches aside that we have to work on internally," said Reiph.

    nicoledeweeverandkidsatsxmbookfair06062012"We have a good message to send to our partners, potential sponsors, and the general public about this wonderful 'book fair for the entire family': the St. Martin Book Fair is growing. It is answering a positive need for our island's people and for the visitors' experience," said Reiph.

    Some of the 10th anniversary book fair activities will continue. "The 10th anniversary activities started very late because of the timing with regard to funding release but these activities still have to be carried out," said Sample.

    "Thanks to Dr. Rhoda Arrindell, when she was minister, for jumpstarting the book fair activities. The Ministry of Education and Culture provided a small sponsorship toward a book of new St. Martin writings that HNP will invite the general public to submit poems for shortly. That anthology will be launched at the book fair in 2013," said Sample.

    "The 'Cuisine as culture' poster presentation to the schools is continuing along with the presentation of a selected book to the libraries, the prison, and the government archives in Philipsburg and Marigot," said Sample.

    Furthermore, "The Book Fair Committee is part of the anti-bullying campaign for the rest of the year with the Peace Is Foundation," said BFC member Ari Sutton. The campaign was launched at the book fair on Saturday with the workshop, "How to Stopping Bullying," coordinated by Eric Fenwick.

    The usually three-day St. Martin Book Fair takes place annually during the first weekend of June.

    CLF and HNP organized the literary/book festival on May 31-June 2, 2012, in collaboration with the University of St. Martin, the Ministry of Education & Culture (MECSY), the Collectivité de St. Martin, and the strategic partner St. Maarten Tourist Bureau.

  • Italian Ambassador visits Sint Maarten House.

    italianambassadorvisitsmvoges08062012GREAT BAY (DCOMM):--- Minister of Plenipotentiary Hon. Mathias S. Voges received a visit from Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of Italy His Excellency Francesco Azzarello at the Sint Maarten House.

    Ambassador Azzarello presented his credentials to Her Majesty Queen Beatrix in February.

    During his meeting with Minister Voges, Azzarello showed great interests in Sint Maarten and informed Voges about his upcoming visit to Sint Maarten in February 2013.

    Minister Voges presented the Ambassador with a copy of the Sint Maarten Golden Book, which he greatly appreciated, and both discussed economic opportunities.

    Ambassador Azzarello has invited Minister Voges and his spouse to a concert on June 27 in honour of Queen Beatrix by the President of the Italian Republic and Mrs. Napolitano during their state visit to the Netherlands.

  • Wanted: Treasure Seekers for Glitter Events’ first Annual Mega Flea Market.

    Glitter Events is teaming up with Soggy Dollar Bar and Antillean Liquors to bring the St. Maarten public the first annual Mega Flea Market on Saturday, June 30th.

    "Dust off that old treadmill you now use as a clothing rack, stack up the Barney DVDs your 13 year old no longer watches and take those pretty dresses that don't fit out of your closet. It is time to Clean House and turn all that clutter into cash" says Riselle Roidis from Glitter Events, organizers of the Mega Flea Market.

    This day-long sellathon takes place on Saturday June 30th from 11:00am until 8:00pm at the Soggy Dollar Bar in Simpson Bay. Treasure seekers and bargain hunters will have quite a lot to go through as the market will feature both used and new items from jewelry, clothing and shoes to house ware and furniture. Food and drinks will be on sale, a DJ will be spinning the latest tunes and raffles are all part of the program. Kids' activities will keep the young ones busy while you browse the booths. Admission is free.

    Vendors are welcome! Sign up today via email info@glitterparties.com or by calling +599 520-1905.

  • Chinese Ambassador visits Minister Voges.

    chineseambassadorrbekinkvisitsmvoges31052012GREAT BAY (DCOMM):--- Minister of Plenipotentiary Hon. Mathias S. Voges said on Thursday he received a courtesy call from Rudolf Bekink, Ambassador to the People's Republic of China at the Sint Maarten House in The Hague.

    Bekink, the new Ambassador accredited to the Netherlands in Washington in August, showed great interest with respect to Sint Maarten. Voges informed Bekink about the country and the various opportunities that exist for foreign investment.

  • Preparations underway for second pregnancy market.

    GREAT BAY, Sint Maarten (DCOMM) – Preparations are well underway for the second Pregnancy Market organized by Youth Health Care (YHC), under the auspices of Collective Prevention Services (CPS) in collaboration with the Department of Community Development, Family & Humanitarian Affairs (CDFHA), both executing agencies of the Ministry of Public Health, Social Development and Labour.

    The pregnancy market is planned for Wednesday, June 13 at the Vineyard Office Park Building, W.G. Buncamper Road #33 in Philipsburg from 6:00pm to 8:00pm. The entrance is free and YHC are urging women and their partners to start marking their calendar.

    The pregnancy market is for women who are planning a pregnancy, pregnant women, parents of newborns, and persons who would like information in order to make an informed decision about future pregnancy.

  • CORALLO: ACCUSATIONS ARE TOTALLY BASELESS, UNTRUE, AND SLANDEROUS.

    francescocorallopressrelease04062012
  • Acting Chairman of General Audit Chamber visits St. Maarten House in the Hague.

    rhalmanvisitsmvoges08062012Philipsburg:--- Acting Chairman of the General Audit Chamber, Mr. Ronald Halman, paid a courtesy visit to the Sint Maarten representative in The Hague, Minister Plenipotentiary Mathias Voges, on Thursday June 7th. The acting chairman presented the Minister Plenipotentiary with a copy of the annual report 2010 of the Audit Chamber.
    The annual report of 2011 is currently in the final stages of production for presentation to the Governor and the Parliament prior to July 1 as prescribed by law.

    Mr. Halman fulfills the role of chairman of the General Audit Chamber in a temporary capacity since May 20th 2012 following the resignation of the former chairman Roland Tuitt. During his visit to the Netherlands, Halman also met with representatives of the Court of Audit of the Netherlands as well as the municipal Audit Chamber of Amsterdam.

  • More than 10 Stakeholders to be Present for Second Pregnancy Market on Wednesday.

    GREAT BAY (DCOMM):--- More than 10 stakeholders from the public and private sector will be present for the second Pregnancy Market organized by Youth Health Care (YHC), under the auspices of Collective Prevention Services (CPS) in collaboration with the Department of Community Development, Family & Humanitarian Affairs (CDFHA), both executing agencies of the Ministry of Public Health, Social Development and Labour, on Wednesday.

    Businesses still have an opportunity to sign up and participate in the Pregnancy Market on Wednesday. It would have to be businesses that sell maternity clothing, kid's furniture or anything related to the subject matter.

    The pregnancy market is for women who are planning a pregnancy; pregnant women; parents of newborns; provision of information to those women and their partners in order for them to make an informed decision on a possible pregnancy in the future; information on staying healthy during pregnancy; provide information on nutrition for both mother and baby; provision of information on materials to be used during pregnancy and after delivery; and information on what to wear and topics that stimulates a healthy and safe pregnancy and childbirth.

    The 10 stakeholders will provide a wealth of information to the visitors of the pregnancy market. The stakeholders are: St. Maarten Medical Center (pediatric ward, OB/GYN ward, Children's Ward, Gynecologist/Midwives); AHLIP/Physiotherapy Clinic, Angelique Martis-Roumou (breast feeding), Philipsburg Jubilee Library, Marinique & Capriles, Diaper Cakes, Dance Dimension, Oduber Agencies, Diabetes Foundation, White & Yellow Cross (post natal care), SIFMA, Civil Registry Office, Community Helpdesk, and CPS (Youth Health Care, Dental Care program, Nutrition).

    The pregnancy market planned for June 13 at the Vineyard Office Park Building, W.G. Buncamper Road #33 in Philipsburg from 6:00pm to 8:00pm. The entrance to the market is free.

  • Parliament Approves Rudolph Samuel’s Credentials.

    Philipsburg:--- The Parliament of St. Maarten unanimously approved the credentials of incoming Member of Parliament Rudolph Samuel. Samuel's credentials were checked by a committee that was installed by the chairlady of parliament. The committee reported to parliament that the incoming MP's documents were in good order and he was accepted as a Member of Parliament. The documentation will be sent to the Governor's office for approval. It is not yet known when Samuel will take up the seat in Parliament that was vacated by Leader of the National Alliance William Marlin.
  • Rotary Club of St. Maarten Honuors Two and Changes the Guard --- 2012-2013 Rotary International Theme “Peace Through Service”.

    Saturday night, the Rotary Club of St. Maarten used their Change of Board ceremony to honour two individuals for their outstanding contributions to St Maarten. Heather Mercuur of Love for Kids Foundation and Geoff Heilman of Chesterfields were named Paul Harris Fellows. Also recognized for her tremendous dedication to the club, was new Rotarian Henna Budhrani who received the award of Rotarian of the year by outgoing President, Rebecca Low.
    Elie Bendaly, Country Head of Scotia Bank will be taking over the reins as president as of July 1 with his theme "strength in numbers". Building on the recently elected Lions' District Governor Claudius Buncamper' s quote, he praised the outgoing president as he pointed out that she and her team understood the importance of vision and the required action to get things done. Elie Bendaly said: "They aligned their vision with Rotary principles and values, put a plan in place and with hard work accomplished a great deal. They maintained our traditional events – they presented 700 grade 3 students their own dictionary; distributed over 180 food hampers to those in need at Christmas; took the Islands' seniors on an afternoon luncheon cruise; held a Christmas party for children in need; placed water fountains in schools and planted trees. But in addition they put their own stamp on the year. Two of the exceptional accomplishments of Rebecca and her team were first providing support for the Alzheimer's foundation which included a massive public education campaign in which 3000 public service announcements were aired, t-shirts sold and $5,000 donated for the work of the foundation and organizing and second hosting the GSE (Group Study Exchange) leadership youth from Devon, England which involved enormous planning, coordinating and long hours during the hosting.
    Under Rebecca's leadership the St Maarten Rotary Club was awarded the Platinum District Governor Award at the District Conference that was recently held in Haiti.
    Rebecca, on behalf of our club I say to you, thank you, for your generous volunteer time and commitment to Rotary. I know it was not simple and easy in particular in dealing with all of the triple A type personalities in our club. I tip my hat to you and am looking forward to working with you on my Board ". Several other persons were thanked and the incoming president ended his presentation with presenting and pinning his board for the year 2012-2013. The board is comprised of President Elie Bendaly, Past president Rebecca Low, Secretary/President Elect Maria Buncamper, Treasurer Frederick Fleming, Aadu Abel, Pierre Decelles, Valda Hazel Woodly, Henna Budhrani, Fred van de Peijl, Jeff Sochrin, Deepak (Danny) Ramchandani, Oliver van de Gevel, Franklyn Maynard and Robert Judd.
    The Change of Board ceremony followed a tremendously successful third annual fundraiser on Oasis of the Seas – the world's largest cruiseship. This year's fundraiser collected close to $23,000 which has been earmarked for projects aimed at children with special needs. President Rebecca Low stated, "Once again, RCCL and Oasis of the Seas have shown they are true partners in corporate social responsibility. They continue to graciously donate all their services for the event and have been instrumental in Rotary help the children of St Maarten."
  • Prevention of Elder Abuse in Sint Maarten supported by European Anti-Poverty Network Netherlands.

    Today June 15 all over the world countries is commemorating World Elderly Abuse Awareness Day. Many abusers are individuals in the home or family environment that put seniors to suffer from physical, verbal, emotional, financial abuse and neglect. Providing poverty pensions and social allowances under poverty level is a violation of the right of older persons to a decent standard of living. Violation of human rights of the elderly is also a form of elderly abuse. So not only individuals but also governments can be abusers of elderly who put seniors to suffer from systematic, structural, collective, financial, emotional abuse.

    On June 9th a year ago, in preperation of World Elderly Abuse Awareness Day, the Sint Maarten Seniors and Pensioners Association (SMSPA) to stop the abuse of the seniors in Sint Maarten and in defense of the human rights of the seniors in Sint Maarten, handed a petition to the Council of Ministers of Sint Maarten and to the representative of the Dutch government in Sint Maarten, to equalize the old age pensions, the social allowances and all other social provisions in the Kingdom of the Netherlands, just as the social provisions on the French side of Sint Maarten are equal to the social provisions in France.

    In january of this year together with the social organizations of Sint Maarten, the Parliamentarians of the countries of the Kingdom who came to meet in Sint Maarten, the Prime Minister and deputy Prime Minister of the Sint Maarten Council of Ministers, and the Dutch representative in Sint Maarten on behalf of the Kingdom Council of Ministers, all got a request from the social organizations to address the poverty in this part of the Kingdom and to put an end to the abuse that the poor and in particular the seniors of Sint Maarten have to suffer, because of the geo-political systematic structural discrimination that the Kingdom government is maintaining in the Kingdom of the Netherlands.

    Having received a letter from Minister Spies of Interior Affairs and Kingdom relations of the Netherlands, which basically refers the social organizations to address their request to the Council of Ministers of Sint Maarten, drs Raymond Jessurun, the coordinator of the seniors organizations in the Sint Maarten Anti-Poverty Platform this week met in Amsterdam with representatives of the European Anti-Poverty Network in the Netherlands.

    Information was shared of the struggle of the social organizations of Sint Maarten for equality and of the EAPN organizations for a decent standard of living for all in the Kingdom in the Netherlands.

    Today we have received a letter from EAPN Netherlands in which they express their solidarity with the poor and especially with the seniors on Sint Maarten.
    EAPN Netherlands has offered support and has expressed ther willingness to cooperate with the Sint Maarten Anti-Poverty Platform, to address the eradication of poverty throughout the Kingdom of the Netherlands.

    Together the Kingdom government and the governments of the countries in the Kingdom will be reminded to comply with the obligation to implement the non-discrimination principle as a signatory of International Human Rights Conventions and Declarations throughout the Kingdom of the Netherlands.
    Not only the government in the Hague but also the European Commission in Brussels will be addressed together in joint actions of the anti-poverty platforms in the Kingdom of the Netherlands:

    • to eradicate poverty in all parts of the Kingdom of the Netherlands
    • stop the discrimination of seniors and their family members in the Kingdom of the Netherlands and
    • to implement non-discrimination and equality in the social provision level throughout the Kingdom of the Netherlands
    • for old age pensions, social allowances, etc for seniors on the Dutch side of Sint Maarten to be equal as in the Netherlands, just as is the case in France and on the French side of Sint Maarten
    • to stop the violation of human rights conventions in the Kingdom of the Netherlands all human rights of elderly.

    Press Release by Sint Maarten Seniors and Pensioners Association (SMSPA).

  • EMS kicks off EMS Week 2012 with Sunday Church Service.

    GREAT BAY (DCOMM):--- The Emergency Medical Services (EMS) on Sunday kicked off its annual EMS Week 2012 with a church service on Sunday at the Risen Christ Catholic Church, South Reward.

    The theme for EMS Week 2012 is "EMS More than a job. A Calling."

    According to Head of the Ambulance Department Cylred Richardson, various activities have been planned for the week up until Saturday when the week's activities concludes with an EMS Masquerade Ball for staff and invited guests.

    Some of the activities planned for the week are radio interviews; primary school lectures; live drills; Cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) demonstrations at three different locations; EMS lecture at the Fire and Ambulance Station in Cay Hill; and the Big Five EMS Motorcade 2012.

    EMS is an emergency service dedicated to providing out-of-hospital acute medical care to patients with illnesses and injuries which prevent the patient from transporting themselves.

    The goal of most emergency medical services is to either provide treatment to those in need of urgent medical care, with the goal of satisfactorily treating the presenting conditions, or arranging for timely removal of the patient to the next point of definitive care.

    Richardson invites the public to attend the demonstrations that will be organized at different venues. Information with respect to the venue and times will be published in the Government Information Page published in the two daily newspapers.

  • COVER GIRL SEARCH --- Chic Fashion 2012 Catalogue.

    "The Chic Fashion 2012 brand is about style and fun. We are looking for a confident and fun cover girl to promote the swimsuit edition."

    The search is on across the Caribbean for the Chic Fashion 2012 Catalogue Swimsuit Edition Cover Girl.
    On August 1, Green Mango Media will announce the new cover girl and reveal swimsuit collections by two Caribbean designers. The winner will be chosen via online voting.
    Additionally, the winner will receive a full beach kit – a customised summer dress, a stylist swimsuit with sarong, beach bag, a pair of leather sandals and a straw hat made by a Caribbean designer.
    Distributed in the Caribbean, United States and in Europe, this new full-colour travel size catalogue - a window into the world of the cream of Caribbean designers - was launched in April 2012 in the British Virgin Islands.
    "The Chic Fashion 2012 brand is about style and fun. We are looking for a confident and fun cover girl to promote the swimsuit edition. Caribbean model Nikita Barker was our cover girl for the first issue which featured the stunning Hummingbird Collection by Guyanese designer Pamela Fox of the House of Niya Bingi."
    "Since the catalogue was launch to promote fashion and champion Caribbean talent, we decided to make the cover girl search regional. So far the response from the Virgin Islands, Guyana, Trinidad and St Kitts has been great."
    Girls must be 16 years and older to enter the online contest. All photos will be posted online from July 1 and voting will run for one month.
    The swimwear collections are colourful, fresh, fun and sexy and will be previewed on Saturday, June 30 at the exclusive Peter Islands Resort in the British Virgin Islands.
    "We have so many unbelievably talented and original designers in the Caribbean, among the best the world has to offer, but we rarely get to see their work because of a lack of promotion and a lack of investment. Green Mango Media is going to change all that with this great catalogue and well-funded, world class runway shows from only the best designers in the region - celebrating the latest trends from our most creative minds for all to see."
    Green Mango Media is a London-based multi-media company committed to the positive promotion of the Caribbean's political, economic, social and cultural achievements.
    Our versatile and gifted team of journalists, television producers, cameramen, editors, graphic designers and PR experts, bring decades of experience in the fields of global politics, economics and business, tourism, development, diplomacy, photography, entertainment, sports and leisure.
    For more information, contact us on mail@greenmangomedia.co.uk or on +284-340-1995.

  • SGPH advises on leptospirosis; Minimize your risk of transmission by keeping premises clean in order to protect public health.

    GREAT BAY (DCOMM):--- Section General Public Health (SGPH) says leptospirosis, zoonosis, is an infectious disease caused by a type of bacteria called spirochete. Leptospirosis can be transmitted by many animals such as rats, skunks, mice, raccoons, and other vermin.

    Leptospirosis is transmitted through contact with infected soil or water. The soil or water is contaminated with the waste products of an infected feral or domestic animal. Those at high risk are veterinarians, pet shop owners, sewage workers, and farm employees, slaughterhouse workers, and people hiking and camping outdoors.

    People can contract the disease by either ingesting contaminated food or water or by broken skin and mucous membrane (eyes, nose, sinuses, and mouth) contact with the contaminated water or soil.

    SGPH is therefore advising owners of households and businesses to keep their premises clean. Un-kept premises can be a breeding ground for bacteria from infected animals. Rodents require a source of food and water and a place to live. Carelessness can lead to increased populations of pest.
    Open garbage cans and food left out, derelict buildings, abandoned cars, and dense bush can attract rodents.

    Leptospirosis occurs worldwide, but it is most commonly acquired in the tropics.

    Leptospirosis symptoms begin from two to 25 days after initial direct exposure to the urine or tissue of an infected animal. The illness goes through two phases. The first phase includes flu-like symptoms that include headaches, muscle aches, eye pain, chills and fever. After the fifth or ninth day, symptoms seem to improve.

    The second phase entails initial symptoms recurring after a few days of feeling better, which includes fever and aching with stiffness of the neck. Some patients develop serious inflammation of the nerves to the eyes, brain, spinal column, or other nerves. Right upper area abdominal pain may occur. Less common symptoms relate to disease of the liver, lungs, kidneys, and heart.

    Treatment of leptospirosis must be done by a physician that involves high doses of antibiotics.

    For further information you should consult with your family physician or call SGPH at telephone number: 542-3553, 542-2078.

  • Transformer failure at GEBE Power Plant leads to island wide outage.

    Cay Bay:--- The island suffered a brief total blackout at 1:18 pm. The protection mechanism of one of the transformers that powers the GEBE power plant was activated as a result of an over current. This resulted in an abrupt shutting down of all the production units in order to safeguard the power plant.

    GEBE technicians were able to quickly locate and solve the problem. Part of the load from the faulty transformer was transferred to another transformer, and the technicians quickly initiated the start-up sequence to bring the plant back online.

    Affected customers were kept up to date via the GEBE Facebook page and SMS service. All areas were back online by 2:45 pm.

    To receive updates via the GEBE SMS service or GEBE Facebook page simply visit GEBE's website www.nvgebe.com/sms.aspx or www.facebook.com/nvgebe respectively.

    NV GEBE apologizes for any inconvenience this has caused.

     

  • Prime Minister Sarah Wescot-Williams meets with EU Project Manager.

    swescotwilliamsmeetswitheuprojectmanager28062012The Prime Minister of St. Maarten the Honorable Sarah Wescot-Williams held a meeting on Wednesday with EU Project Manager Ms. Jones, Suzette Moses of the St. Maarten HIV/AIDS Program Management Team and Steering Committee Members regarding the preparatory planning meeting in preparation for the European Community/ Overseas Countries and Territories Steering Committee meeting and year four planning committee meeting of the EC/ OCT to be held in Aruba from the sixth to the seventh of September.

    The prevention of and fight against the spread of HIV/AIDS is a major priority of the EC Program for Action to Confront HIV/AIDS, Malaria and Tuberculosis in the context of poverty reduction and it is also one of the objectives of the Millennium Development Goals and of the EU Development Policy "The European Consensus". The recent Communication on EU‐Caribbean relations emphasizes the political priority for the EU to support the efforts of the Caribbean region in general and St. Maarten more specifically to tackle HIV/AIDS.

    From the Cabinet of the Prime Minister

  • Prime Minister meets with French Ambassador for Cooperation in the Caribbean Islands.

    swescotwilliamsmeetswithfconstant28062012The Prime Minister of St. Maarten the Honorable Sarah Wescot-Williams received Mr. Fred Constant, French Ambassador for the Cooperation in the Caribbean Islands on Wednesday during a courtesy visit. Items related to St. Maarten/ St. Martin relations were discussed in addition to St. Maarten's role as a Caribbean OCT.
  • PUBLIC NOTICE: USM Urges Public to Register for Fall Courses.

    The University of St. Martin would like to inform the public of the following:

    • GED Classes: Will start August 20th, 2012 for 15 weeks.
    • GED Exam: A date has been requested for the next GED exam in August 2012.
    • ESL Beginners Level 1: Starts August 20th, 2012 for 12 weeks. Price: US$ 425.00
    • ESL Beginners Level 2: Starts August 20th, 2012 for 12 weeks. Price: US$425.00
    • Date of placement test: 1st week of August 2012
    • DUTCH for Foreigners Beginners Level 1: Starts August 20th, 2012 for 25 weeks. Price US$775.00. Students of DFF Level 1 need no prior knowledge.
    • DUTCH Law Studies: Information Brochure is ready.
    • Info session is scheduled on July 6th, 2012

    To register or obtain more information about these courses, please call the University of St. Martin Student Service Center at 542-5171 extension 1001.

  • Government to begin Integrity Dilemma Training for Civil Servants.

    swescotwilliams31052012In keeping with the overall execution of The Government's Integrity Program (Integrity @ Work - "it starts with me"), an Integrity Dilemma training has been scheduled to take place at the University of St. Martin. This training is in line with the recently approved Integrity Vision for the government of Sint Maarten. The vision statement reads:
    The Government of Sint Maarten within the next five years, aspires to a higher level of commitment throughout the entire organization and at every level, towards improving the level of integrity throughout the public service in the execution of its duties as an accountable government, operating in accordance with the integrity policy of Sint Maarten and the principles of good governance.

    In doing so:
    The Government of Sint Maarten continues to support the development of, a well-trained, honest, reputable, impartial, structured public service, rooted in the principles of integrity, capable of professionally serving and meeting the constitutional needs of the citizens of Sint Maarten.

    The Honorable Sarah Wescot Williams, Prime Minister of Sint Maarten has invited all civil servants to the upcoming Integrity Dilemma Training. The mandatory trainings starts on Monday June 4th, 2012 and will end on June 15th, 2012. The Training will be given by Life Transforming Institute (LTI) from Aruba. LTI has been succesfully giving training in leadership, transformation and development and teambuilding in the region since 2008. Mr Ralston Bennet is the director of LTI and is a certified facilitator, trainer, speaker and coach and is associated with powerfull speakers like John Maxwell, Franklin Covey and Dr. Myles Munroe.

    The government expects all civil servants to follow the prescribed guidelines (LMA) and make integrity based decisions when faced with a dilemma. The Code of Conduct which forms part of these guidelines will be discussed during the training.
    When faced with a dilemma it is not always between a right and a wrong situation. When trained in the area of dilemma management it will enable the civil servant to make more confident, well thought out decisions when it concerns difficult integrity related choices.
    After following such a training participants leave with insight in to the meaning of Integrity and what dilemma's are. They will be able to do this by means of using the tools provided during the training. These tools empower and enable the participants to discern an integrity dilemma, know what considerations are important when making an integrity based decision and follow a 6 step question process as a tool that will enable this process. The participant will know what integrity is and will be able to use this tool to guide them when making integrity based decisions.

  • Dr. Nilda Arduin to be a featured speakers at the International Ombudsman Conference in Curacao.

    nildaarduin04062012PHILIPSBURG:--- Dr. Nilda Arduin, Ombudsman of Sint Maarten will be attending the Second Curacao International Ombudsman Conference on Curacao to be held at the World Trade Center from June 4th-7th 2012, and is scheduled to be one of the featured speakers.

    The theme of the conference is "Investigative methods and techniques". This international conference is organized by the Office of the Ombudsman of Curaçao and the Caribbean International University with the cooperation of the Institute of Latin-American Ombudsman and the Office of the Ombudsman of the Republic of Argentina, Province Santa Fé.

    During this conference three investigative methods and techniques will be presented by renown experts such as dr. Andre Marin, Ombudsman of Ontario, Canada, dr. Raul Plascencia Villanueva , the President of the National Committee on Human Rights of Mexico and expert in the field of investigation of serious violations of Human Rights and dr. Alex Brenninkmeijer, Nationale Ombudsman of the Netherlands who has an outstanding track record in conducting investigation on own initiative with continuous successful results.

    Several other Ombudsman, financial and legal experts, will present their thoughts and discuss the importance and influence of a meticulous investigation and the impact on the authority of the Ombudsman. Dr. Arduin has been invited to present on the topic "Threats a young Ombudsman's office faces while conducting investigations".

    The President of the ILO is the keynote speaker at the opening ceremony. Ombudsmen from the Caribbean, Latin America, Europe and Africa are expected to attend the conference. All lectures will be translated simultaneously in English and Spanish.

    Dr. Arduin's attendance at this conference will allow for the Ombudsman to establish and maintain contact with other institutions in the Caribbean, Latin America, Europe and Africa; networking being one of the priority areas of the Strategic Plan 2012-2021.

  • 2012 Lionfish Hunt ends on World Ocean Day --- Ocean Explorers wins best Lionfish Hunting Diveshop 2012.

    oceanexplorerswinsbestlionfishhuntingdiveshop04062012The Lionfish Hunt 2012 officially came to an end on World Ocean Day Saturday June 2nd.

    Ocean Explorers Dive Center was anounced as 'The Best Lionfish Hunting Dive Shop 2012' with the most lionfish caught. Second place was taken by Aqua Mania and thirth place was shared by Blue Bubbles and Scuba Fun. Also prizes were for the 'Biggest' and 'smallest' lionfish. The biggest lionfish was brought in by Blue Bubbles and the smallest by Ocean ExplorersPrizes were donated by Artist Johanny Dietvorst van Bussel, The Scuba Shop, Vanity Firts, Ray's Jewellery, Tommy Hilfiger, Endless Summer, and Mist of the Carib, Chesterfields and Oualichi restaurants.

    The aim of this contest was to get diveshops involved in helping to control the lionfish to protect our local reef. 'We need experienced divers and local fishermen to control the lionfish for protection of our local reef species. We really appreciate that enthousistic dive instructors want to help within the Man of War Shoal Marine Park and are happy with the positive responses by the divetourists. We hope that dive shops are willing to continue lionfish hunting to have a continious impact on the lionfish distribution'. said Tineke van Bussel, Lionfish researcher at the Nature Foundation and hunt organiser.

    Fisherman are also continuously contributing to the control of the lionfish by trapping the animal in offshore areas. The skipper of the fishing vessel Sabrina brought in nearly a dozen lionfish over the weekend.

    Lionfish are an invasive venomous fish that can inflict a painful and sometimes fatal sting. Lionfish are usually found in the Indian and Pacific Oceans but were introduced into the Atlantic thru the aquarium trade. Native fish species don't recognize the Lionfish as a threat so they are unable to defend themselves against it. In other places were lionfish were spotted there are hardly any snappers and grouper left because those are the type of fish the lionfish likes to eat.

    The Nature Foundation encourages fishermen, divers and all those who may have captured or sighted lionfish to report their catch or sightings to the Nature Foundation through calling 5270490 or via email at manager@naturefoundationsxm.org.

  • Prime Minister presents National ID Cards to MAC Students.

    swescotwilliamspresentsidcardstomacstudents04062012The Prime Minister of St. Maarten the Honorable Sarah Wescot-Williams presented the Identify Me Student ID Cards to students of the MAC school in Philipsburg. The Ministry of General Affairs in collaboration with the Ministry of Education launched the its "Identify Me" school campaign on Wednesday. The Prime Minister presented the ID Cards to the students and explained them the importance and reasoning behind having national student identification cards. Various other schools will be distributed their ID Cards in the coming weeks.
  • DJ POWER RELEASES “FLY SO HIGH” OFFICIAL VIDEO WITH MACHEL MONTANO & KARDINAL OFFISHALL.

    djpower06062012Award winning Dj Power has released his official music video to the current dance smash single "Fly So High" with Soca superstar Machel Montano and Canadian rapper Kardinal Offishall. The video was world premiered May 31st on Aol Music's site theboombox.com. The track stays true to Power's mashup style fusing Dance/House, Soca, and Hip Hop with a pulsating beat, infectious chorus from Machel and fire spitting verse from Kardinal. The video was shot in the beautiful Dutch/French island of St. Maarten/St. Martin as well as Trinidad and Tobago's amazing beaches and world renowned Carnival. The video features cameos from Soccer superstar Dwight Yorke and famous cricketeer Brian Lara as well. "We wanted to pick the best locations to bring the feel good high energy vibe of the track to video, and it came out so crazy!", states Dj Power. The single has been steadily gaining momentum since being featured on audio company MaxSound's promotional cd at the 2012 Grammy's and has been charting on the top dj sites worldwide. The video was shot by film company The NE's director Chris Strikes.

    The YouTube link : http://youtu.be/ECyiH6nJaAM

  • Academy students’ life-changing perspectives at St. Martin Book Fair lecture by George Lamming.

    glammingwithsxmacademystudentsatsxmbookfair07062012GREAT BAY/MARIGOT:--- Third-form students of the St. Maarten Academy attended the book fair symposium last Saturday to hear leading Caribbean novelist, essayist, poet, critic, social commentator, and professor, Dr. George Lamming, who explored the life and legacy of Dr. Walter Rodney, a prominent Caribbean historian and political activist from Guyana.

    Lamming, who hails from Barbados, was the feature presenter at the President's Forum held at the University of St. Martin during the 10th annual St. Martin Book Fair, extrapolated on Rodney's early life, his work, and how he influenced the shaping of Caribbean history and politics.

    Prior to the days leading up to the event, none of the students had heard of Rodney, and were challenged on Saturday to not only know "the room they occupy" (their country or territory), but also "the house" (Caribbean region), as well as the relationship between them, said their teacher Kim Lucas-Felix.

    Lamming stressed the importance of people emancipating not only their physical being, but also their mind. He said people should "transform the reality" in which they find themselves.

    For example, "Novels are directed to an area of feeling, with specific intentions to make the 'feeling' think...[They] depict aspects of social reality," the noted author stated.

    In presenting their reports upon their return to school, the students were able to discuss points of Rodney's influences in the working class society of not only Guyana, but the Caribbean region as a whole.

    "One of the things that resonated with them was that Rodney used history as a way of ordering knowledge and as an instrument of social change," said Lucas-Felix.

    One student, Claudia Simms, said: "I got to know his past and people in the past and I liked the fact that the Book Fair took the time to invite Dr. Lamming to talk to us."

    Many students found the information very helpful, especially for history classes, said Lucas-Felix, who heads the English Department.

    "It was educational and it is encouraging me to be like Dr. Rodney [and] further my studies in history. I find it was very good having someone talk about Mr. Walter Rodney and I love how the discussion was set up," said another student, Christa George.

    Students were also happy to have been photographed with a renowned literary figure such as George Lamming after the Presidents Forum, said their teacher.

    This was the first time that the forum was held on a Saturday and the larger- than-usual audience will make us think about keeping the Presidents Forum in the future on the Saturday instead of on the usual Friday afternoon of the book fair weekend, said book fair coordinator Shujah Reiph.

    On Friday, June 1, two other visiting authors, Wena Poon (Singapore/USA) and Myriam Chancy (Haiti/Canada) shared their work with students at the St. Maarten Academy high school.

    The St. Martin Book Fair ran from May 31 – June 2 and attracted authors and presenters from a myriad of areas, including St. Martin, Cuba, Guadeloupe, Martinique, and Italy.

    Conscious Lyrics Foundation and House of Nehesi Publishers organized the literary/book festival on May 31-June 2, 2012, in collaboration with the University of St. Martin, the Ministry of Education & Culture (MECSY), the Collectivité de St. Martin, and the strategic partner St. Maarten Tourist Bureau.

  • Caribbean told to prepare for Chikungunya Virus; Health authorities to incorporate virus into dengue response plans.

    chikungunyaworkshop07062012GREAT BAY (DCOMM):--- Section General Public Health (SGPH) Head Maria Henry, an entity that falls under the Collective Prevention Services (CPS), and Dr. Grace Spencer, local family physician returned over the weekend from Jamaica after attending a workshop on Chikungunya.

    Chikungunya (CHIK) fever is an emerging, mosquito-borne disease caused by an alphavirus, Chikungunya virus (CHIKV). This disease is transmitted predominantly by Aedes aeqypti and Ae. Albopictus mosquitoes, the same species involved in the transmission of dengue.

    Caribbean health officials have called on countries and territories to prepare for the introduction of CHIK into the Region, and to review present dengue response plans and adjust them to incorporate the aforementioned virus, which is more active than dengue.

    The Ministry of Public Health, Social Development and Labour's Dengue Action Response Team (DART) will be incorporating CHIK into its preparedness and response plan.

    CHIKV epidemics have shown cyclical trends, with inter-epidemic periods ranging from four to 30 years. Since 2004, CHIKV has expanded its geographical range, causing sustained epidemics of unprecedented magnitude in Asia and Africa.

    Although areas of in Asia and Africa are considered to be endemic for the disease, the virus produced outbreaks in many new territories in the Indian Ocean islands and in Italy. This recent re-emergence of CHIKV has heightened the world's public health awareness and concern about this virus.

    According to the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO)/World Health Organization (WHO), controlling the spread of anthropod-borne viruses in the Americas has not been very successful.

    Dengue continues to ravage many areas in the Americas, reaching as far North as the United States and as far South as Argentina. During the first trimester of 2010, several dengue virus outbreaks in the Region occurred at unprecedented rates for this time of the year, especially in Central America and the Caribbean.

    Although indigenous transmission of CHIKV does not occur in the Americas now, the risk for its introduction into local vector mosquito populations is likely higher than had previously been thought, especially in tropical and subtropical areas where Ae. Aegypti, of the main vectors of CHIKV, has a broad distribution.

    Between 2006 and 2010, 106 laboratory-confirmed or probable cases of CHIKV were detected among travelers returning to the United States, compared to only three cases reported between 1995 and 2005. There also have been nine imported CHIK cases reported in the French territories in the Americas since 2006-three in Martinique, three in Guadeloupe, and three in Guyana.

    To date, none of the travel-related cases have led to local transmission, but these cases document an ongoing risk for the introduction and possible sustained transmission of CHIKV in the Americas.

    Family Physician Dr. Grace Spencer, is one of the physicians contributing to the local sentinel surveillance system, a weekly reporting diagnosed diseases under surveillance.

  • CPS Continues Surveillance for Cholera; Maintains travel advisory for persons travelling to Haiti and Dominican Republic.

    GREAT BAY (DCOMM):--- The Collective Preventive Services (CPS) which is part of the Ministry of Public Health, continues surveillance for Cholera, and also maintains its travel advisory for persons traveling to Hispanola (Haiti, Dominican Republic).

    The Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) issued an epidemiological alert last month seeking the cooperation of Central American and Caribbean countries to step up efforts to detect the occurrence of outbreaks and implementing intervention actions to reduce cholera spread determinants.

    Due to the start of the rainy season in the aforementioned geographical areas, there is an increased risk of transmission for various diseases, including cholera.

    Persons traveling to Hispanola during after-school summer holiday are advised to take preventive measures while vacationing in either in Haiti or Dominican Republic.
    Ensure that you take vital precautions such as hygienic food preparation, boiling or purifying all water, and washing hands often with soap and clean water.

    Family physicians are requested to be on alert and report any cholera symptoms to CPS to ensure proper case management and follow up according to World Health Organization International Health Regulations 2005.

    In countries where no cholera cases have been reported such as Sint Maarten, CPS as part of its surveillance system will continue to monitor for any trend of acute diarrhea diseases with an emphasis on adults; immediate notification of all suspected cases to WHO; investigation of all suspected cases and clusters; and laboratory confirmation of all suspected cases.

    Symptoms can occur within 24 to 48 hours of being infected with the cholera causing bacteria. Cholera symptoms are generally mild; they include diarrhea, vomiting, and muscle cramps. About one infected person out of 20 has severe signs and symptoms, such as increased heart rate, dehydration, and shock. Immediately consult your physician if you have travelled and have any of the symptoms, while maintaining proper hygiene.

    Cholera is a bacterial infection spread through contaminated water. It causes severe diarrhea and vomiting that can lead to dehydration and death within hours.

    Cholera is transmitted through fecal contamination of water and food. In places where there is infrastructure damage, the lack of safe drinking water and poor sanitation and hygiene can increase the risk of cholera, as well as numerous other diarrhea diseases.

    Cholera is easily treatable, and if patients are given oral re-hydration salts promptly to replace lost fluids, and they can nearly always be cured.

    In a small percentage of people, cholera can cause very severe dehydration potentially leading to death. To minimize the number of people infected, frequent hand washing, personal hygiene, safe water use and food preparation are a necessity. Maintain these basic hygienic habits as you travel.

    By taking a few basic precautions, cholera as well as most other food and water-borne diseases can easily be prevented. The main rule is, always be aware of the quality of what you eat and drink. Enjoy and keep safe as you travel and help us keep Sint Maarten Cholera Free!

  • Technical failure at GEBE Power Plant leads to island wide outage.

    Cay Bay:--- A total shutdown occurred at GEBE's Power Plant at 2:28pm, which caused an island wide outage. The origin of the failure was a high tension switch (Magnafix installation), which resulted in a small fire that was put out by attentive plant personnel. Their quick action averted a larger problem. 

    The high tension switch gear was isolated, and current rerouted to other sections of the plant in order to restore electricity supply faster.

    The first areas (St. Maarten Medical Center, Belair and surrounding areas) were back online by 3:30 pm, followed by Philipsburg. We expect power to all areas to be restored tentatively by 5:30 pm.

    GEBE apologizes for any inconvenience caused by this equipment failure.

  • CFT Meets with COM.

    comandcftmeeting14062012GREAT BAY (DCOMM):--- The Council of Ministers on Tuesday, June 12 met with the Committee of Financial Supervision CFT for Curacao and Sint Maarten, to discuss various matters related to both the 2012 national budget as well as preparations for the 2013 national budget. The annual financial accounts of the previous years were also an agenda point that was deliberated upon. (DCOMM Photo)
  • SCDF meets with counterparts in Saba --- More neighboring islands to follow.

    scdfmeetswithscf17062012Philipsburg:--- The St. Maarten Carnival Development Foundation (SCDF) recently met with its counterparts in Saba namely, the Saba Cultural Foundation (SCF). President of the SCDF Stuart Johnson went on a working visit to explore the possibilities for a working relationship between the respective organizations. "We discussed many areas of mutual interested and ways we could jointly work together," Johnson said. Prior to this initial working visit to Saba, Johnson and President of the SCF met on St. Maarten to commence the working relationship. "We are available for advice always against the backdrop of our unconditional support to the SCF," he said. Johnson expressed his best wishes to Mr. Charles and his team as they continue to plan Saba Summer Festival 2012. Saba Summer Festival will run from July 23 to July 29, 2012.
    "Besides the SCF, we are also finalizing our working relationships with our counterparts in St. Eustatius and Anguilla, amongst others," Johnson said.

    "We are already making the needed preparations for Carnival 2013 and we are looking forward to the overwhelming support from our carnival lovers, once again," Johnson concluded.

  • Minister of Public Health visits Baby Clinic.

    cdeweevervisitsbabyclinic18062012Great Bay:--- Minister of Public Health Social Development & Labor Cornelius De Weever paid a visit to the newly opened Baby Wellness Clinic on Brouwers Road 6A behind Fatum Insurances to get a first-hand view of what opening day was like. By 12PM on opening day the two nurses had already seen 26 babies.
    The response of those visiting the clinic for the first time was very positive, although there is still work to be done to the new location. Presently the two nurses have their own space, which offers the much needed privacy that the customers have been longing for.
    "I believe the new location is centrally located and more convenient for our customers, although there is still some work to be done by the Departments of Public Works and Facility Services, but in the meantime the staff is busy offering the services of the Baby Wellness Clinic in a private and personal manner," said Minister De Weever.
    Minister De Weever further stated that he is looking forward to the official opening once all pending matters has been resolved.
    The Baby Wellness Clinic has been housed at the Vineyard Office Park for some time now, but space and easy accessibility has been a problem, so a new location was sought for the clinic. The clinic is open five days a week Monday-Friday from 8AM-12:30PM and from 1:30PM to 4:30PM. For more information, please call 559-2333.
  • Minister of Education Silveria Jacobs Commencement Address at USM.

    sjacobsdeliversaddressatusmgraduation18062012GREAT BAY (DCOMM):--- Minister Silveria Jacobs's Address at the 18th Commencement Exercises at the University of St. Martin.
    June 16, 2012
    Westin Resort & Spa

    It is an honor for me, as your Minister of Education, Culture Youth and Sports Affairs to address you at this your commencement ceremony.
    This evening I will focus on this word Commencement.
    Today marks:

    • The commencement of your Life as someone who has fulfilled a dream, reached a goal, taken a bold step towards the achievement of your ultimate goal
    • The commencement of your career in the field you love, and are dedicated to excel in, leave your footprint in
    • The commencement of your next level of studies as you endeavor to research, study, dialogue, analyze, hypothesize, summarize, apply, synthesize and evaluate more than you've done to earn the degrees you have even now earned, as you yearn to KNOW more.

    Today marks your commencement, because you have perceived who you want to be,
    believed it to be possible,
    and
    achieved it through hard work, dedication and determination.

    To Graduate signals the end,
    TO COMMENCE signals a beginning.

    Again the next step is totally up to you, the success of your next endeavor depends for 90% on you!!!
    The Government of your Fledgling Country, St. Maarten, would like to pledge at this time to do all within its power to help you to achieve whatever your next goal may be.
    We also pledge our continuous support to USM so that it can grow to be a University – not just with community college status – but a University our students, as well as students from abroad will clamor to attend.
    This is indeed a lofty goal, A University on Tiny St. Maarten which will firstly serve the needs of its people, and its community and also the extended region and even the world.
    Our MOUs with renowned Universities around the world continue to increase to also afford our students the opportunity to experience University life outside our beautiful shores. We hope to be able to entice their students to want to experience ours as well.

    TOGETHER WE CAN!!
    With accountability, cooperation, and hard work, we can make USM and therefor its students as well as St. Maarten Proud.

    COMMENCE your new life after this ceremony with pride that you have achieved it right here at home, amid the struggles, and challenges you've faced each day. A hard won fight is more valuable than one in which you've won each round without much competition.
    It proves your character, stretches your intellectual muscles, and gives you a sense of achievement.

    Congratulations CLASS of 2012

  • Rudolphe E. Samuel sworn in as Member of Parliament.

    eholidayandrsamuel19062012Harbour View:--- On June 15, 2012, His Excellency the Governor General of Sint Maarten, administered the oath of newly appointed member of Parliament Rudolphe E. Samuel. The oath was taken at the cabinet of the Governor General in presence of the family of M.P. Samuel and of the Prime Minister.
  • John Larmonie Center hosts contemporary art showcase.

    PHILIPSBURG:--- Two of the island's premier art institutions will be joining forces to present a full immersion into the world of contemporary arts at the John Larmonie Center this Saturday, June 23.
    The event, which is a collaboration between Imbali Center for Creative Movement and Head Made Factory, will feature the work of artists residing on both sides of the island.
    Clara Reyes, founder and director of Imbali Center for Creative Movement explained that the event would begin at 4pm with a press conference open to all members of the press, where the details of the exhibition would be presented. The exhibit would then continue until 10pm with audience members being taken on guided tours of the different art pieces in each of the several rooms at the center.
    "It is our intention to create a new artistic experience at the John Larmonie Center and to bring art showcases to a new level. In this vein artists have been given the opportunity to totally take over a space and use it to showcase his or her work," Reyes said.
    According to Reyes the artists to be featured include Florence Poirier Nkpa (visual art), Albina Matuzko (contemporary clown), Peggy Oulerich (choreographer), Franch Fournes (painter), Bastien (painter), Lannig (video artist), Stephen Winkel (visual artist) and Reyes herself (choreographer).
    Reyes said that the format of the exhibit would allow for a new kind of art experience, unlike any which had been presented on the island before.
    "We plan to present a new dimension of artist and art exhibition on St. Maarten. It is our aim to feature artists in a variety of mediums and expressions, from video installations to photography installations to live visual art using dancers' bodies as canvas. We also explore modern contemporary dance improvisation and other formats," Reyes said.
    Art lovers of all ages are encouraged to come out and indulge in this unique venture. Food art will also be presented by Florence Poirier Nkpa (who is also a co-founder of Head Made Factory) and there will be presentations by Klusha the clown (Albina Matuzko) and Peggy Oulerich (Modern contemporary dancer and choreographer).
    Entrance cost $5 for adults and children under 18 years old can partake in the experience free of charge.
  • Prime Minister congratulates St. Maarten Chamber of Commerce and Postal Savings Bank on signing MOU.

    The Prime Minister of St. Maarten the Honorable Sarah Wescot-Williams congratulated the St. Maarten Chamber of Commerce and Industry and the Postal Savings Bank (PSB) on the signing of the memorandum of understanding (MOU) on Thursday. The MOU will enable small hotels and guesthouses to benefit from affordable loans to upgrade their properties.
    "I would like to sincerely congratulate both the St. Maarten Chamber of Commerce and Industry and the Postal Savings Bank on the signing of this important MOU. This is an excellent example of how two entities can join forces resulting in an increased level of excellence for which our hospitality industry already is known. Small hotels and guest houses form an important part of our tourism product and this is an excellent opportunity for these important types of accommodations to upgrade their services," commented the Prime Minister

    Press Release from Prime Minister's Office
  • Harbour Opens Commercial Department.

    harbouropenscommercialdept25062012POINTE BLANCHE:--- St. Maarten Harbour Group recently soft opened of its Commercial Department in the John Craane Cruise Terminal. The department will oversee sales and marketing, yachting and cruise operations.

    and Economic Affairs Minister Romeo Pantophlet and members of his cabinet were given an outline of the department's responsibilities which was given to by Harbour Group Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Mark Mingo prior to a tour of the department's office.

    Department's team comprises Rosina Romeo, Ichel Moeslikan and Alexander Gumbs. Pantophlet pledged his support for the commercial department and its goal "to move forward in a positive direction."

    Pantophlet was concerned about yacht charters from the country because of the fees charged. Moeslikan, who recently joined the harbour group with more than ten years' experience in the yachting sector, said more of the complaints from captains are about the dockage fee at the marinas, rather than the bridge fees levied by the harbour group.
    She said the department would have to work with the marinas on ways to sustain and create new yachting business for the country.

    Cruise passenger satisfaction will also be the purview of this department; from handling of complaints to anticipating needs of harbour group clients. A focus on collection and analysis of statistics will also be a core task. Those numbers will help identify further projects for the harbour group based on trends and evolving niches.

    High on the department's agenda is the cruise conversion programme. Similar programmes were tried at least three times in the past with no success. Mingo is confident of success this time round with the support of St. Maarten Tourist Bureau and Princess Juliana International Airport.

    The minister was presented with a large photo showing all six berths at the two cruise piers occupied by cruise ships, including Royal Caribbean's behemoth Allure of the Seas to mark the opening.

  • PJIAE Section Head Security Guards delivers moving keynote address at PWAS graduation.

    elsidrostjagodeliveringaddressatprincewillemalexanderschool27062012ST. PETERS:--- PJIAE Section Head Security Guards Elsidro St. Jago, delivered the keynote address to some 18 graduates of the Prince Willem Alexander School (PWAS) on Friday.
    When, as corporate citizen, Princess Juliana Int'l Airport adopted the special learning institution a few months ago, little did management know that St. Jago spent his early years at PWAS, which influenced his climb up the company ladder.
    The theme of the graduation ceremony was "We Will Learn, Grow and Make the Whole World Proud" and St. Jago explained to students how he did the same with his life.
    The newly appointed Section head of security guards at St. Maarten's international airport recounted his first day at the school to eagerly listening students, teachers and administrators, parents, and invited guests, which included PJIAE officials.
    St. Jago said that his "first day was hard and he sat in a corner and cried for weeks." He then disclosed how he "decided to stop waiting for others to make changes" in his life and "decided to make changes" on his own.
    St. Jago spent four out of the seven required years at PWAS, which at that time was called John Larmonie Primary School, and went on to attend the Milton Peters College (MPC). He told the class of 2012 that after MPC high school, he received a scholarship and attended the Dean Institute of Technology in Pittsburg, USA, and obtained an Associate Degree in Architectural Drafting Engineering.
    On returning to St. Maarten fresh out of college, St. Jago's said he found that all of the companies that he contacted for employment wanted "experience."
    He told the students that he did not give up and eventually "found a job with Windward Islands Airways International NV (WINAIR) for just over two years and a half." Thereafter, from 1995 until August 2011, he spent 17 years in the Fire Department, with the latter years as a supervisor at Princess Juliana Int'l Airport.
    In 2011, St. Jago said that as he was always on the look out for a change in his life, he answered an internal job vacancy at the airport security department and after going through the required process for the position, he was appointed Section Head of Security Guards.
    St. Jago said that he wanted to inspire the school leavers with his story with the hope that they "see the end of their school life as the beginning of a new road to success and ... continue striving and set goals for themselves as they go forward."
    The PWAS graduation ceremony also consisted of song and dance performances by the popular dance school Imbali. During a tearful part of the ceremony, teachers spoke of their experiences during the school year and students bid farewell to their classmates. Along with their diplomas, graduates also received special awards for consistent attendance, home economics, mathematics, and reading.
  • Second EOC Meeting held to Assess State of Country Preparedness for Hurricane Season; National Preparedness Level Good.

    2ndeocmeeting2012hurricaneseason31052012GREAT BAY (DCOMM):--- Disaster Coordinator/Fire Chief Winston Salomon chaired his second pre-hurricane season meeting on Tuesday, held to assess national state of preparedness for the hurricane season.
    All stakeholders present representing the 10 Emergency Support Functions (ESFs), gave an update and according to Disaster Section Head Paul Martens, the general state of preparedness and readiness is good.
    The hurricane shelters have been identified which is similar to the listing of 2011. Some upgrading of the shelters will take place within short.
    ESF-5/Police is working on a curfew plan, roadblock controls and traffic circulation based on different scenarios.
    ESF-8/Department of Communication: The annual hurricane awareness campaign started with the statement issued mid-May by the Prime Minister calling on the nation to be hurricane ready.
    The Meteorological Services is working with the Dutch Service KNMI to get the weather radar back into service.
    ESF-2/Telecommunications (TELEM) is addressing weak spots within in cellular network.
    ESF-3/Ministry of Public Housing, Spatial Development, Environment and Infrastructure: Trench cleaning is underway; a new flood water pump system is near completion and emergency contingency plans have been developed for constructions areas such as Dutch Quarter, Middle Region and Cay Hill.
    ESF-7/Social Services: the community help desk personnel will be involved with the hurricane shelters, providing district information as well as identifying persons with special needs who will need assistance in the event of a hurricane strike.
    Salomon is once again appealing to the Sint Maarten community to make sure they have plans in place for the 2012 Atlantic hurricane season which officially opens on June 1.
    The season has already seen the birth of two tropical storms (Alberto, Beryl) even before the June 1st official start of the season.
    The U.S. National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), the parent body of the National Hurricane Center (NHC) out of Miami, Florida, predicts a near-normal 2012 Atlantic hurricane season.
    The forecasts calls for nine to 15 named storms, of which four to eight can strengthen to become hurricanes, and of that one to three can become major hurricanes.
    The remaining names of potential storms for the 2012 season are: Chris, Debby, Ernesto, Florence, Gordon, Helene, Isaac, Joyce, Kirk, Leslie, Michael, Nadine, Oscar, Patty, Rafael, Sandy, Tony, Valerie and William.
    The 2012 hurricane season officially runs through November 30.
  • Five New Draft Parliamentary Ordinances added to Website.

    PHILIPSBURG:--- Five new draft ordinances have been added to the parliamentary website for citizens to review. The laws are in the official Dutch language.

    The draft new laws that have been added are: Criminal Code; draft National Ordinance change in connection with the introduction of Emancipation Day as holiday on July 1; draft ordinance related to the introduction of rules related to energy savings; Changes to the Stamp Ordinance 1994 in connection with the introduction of a new Identification Card and Driver's License; and changes to the National Ordinance Voluntary Corps of Sint Maarten 1997.

    Parliament's website address where the various laws can be reviewed is: www.sxmparliament.org.

    There are 13 other national ordinances that can be viewed by going to the "Documents" tab.

  • PJIAE and WINAIR treat PWAS students to special island tour.

    pjiatreatpwasstudentstoislandtour03062012SIMPSON BAY:--- The Princess Juliana Int'l Airport operating company N.V. (PJIAE) brought smiles to faces of the graduating class of the Prins Willem Alexander School (PWAS) on Friday by organizing a very unique adventure. The students of PWAS were treated to an around-the-island tour – by airplane!

    The St. Maarten-based airline Winair, was the designated carrier that took the students on a 15-minute flight around St. Maarten.

    "The management of Winair was more than willing to accommodate us in this initiative, and for that we are very grateful," said PJIAE Marketing & Communications Manager Kalifa Hickinson, who also accompanied the students on the flight.

    The 21 students arrived at the Princess Juliana Int'l Airport around 9 o'clock on Friday morning. By 9:30 a.m., the group had begun its tour of the Air Traffic Control facilities followed by a tour of the airport's Terminal Building. Three school officials accompanied the 21 students.

    Around 11:45 a.m., the 11 pupils (those with permission from their parents), along with one teacher and their guidance counselor, were ready to commence boarding at Gate C1. The students were bused to Winair's DH 6 Twin Otter aircraft, after which the scenic flight of a very excited group of students ensued. Menzies provided busing.

    "This is my first time flying on a small plane," one student mentioned, while others had never been on an airplane. All, however, were happy to be airborne, said Hickinson.

    Upon landing, the students began to cheer and applaud the pilots for the experience, and for bringing them back safely. "This was my first time ever on a plane ... it was 'fresh!'" one student commented. WINAIR gave the young passengers goodie bags after the flight and PJIAE provided lunch to the students.

    PJIAE, in early April 2012, "adopted" the Prins Willem Alexander Primary School for special needs children, and remains committed to the school. "We were happy to have received the request for the tour from PWAS, and even happier that we were able to make it possible. The children were delighted," Hickinson said.

  • Environmental Lab established at St. Maarten Laboratory Services.

    cdeweevertourssls04062012Great Bay:--- The Inspectorate of Public Health Social Development & Labor now has an established environmental lab at St. Maarten Laboratory Services (SLS) to carry out all necessary testing of surface water and sewage treatment plants.
    The establishment of an Environmental laboratory at SLS provides Government with the most important tool in monitoring the quality of Surface water and Sewage treatment Plants, which include inland pond, and surrounding seawater. The Environmental Hygiene department has prepared a complete monitoring program. The program will also be executed on a quarterly basis unless there are situations, which require further testing. With regards to surface water and treated sewage water, microbial contamination, Biological Oxygen Demand and Chemical Oxygen Demand Nitrates and Phosphate are most important parameters. Based on the results the Inspectorate will be better able to provide advice when and where necessary.
    "Now we have the means of testing sewage water to confirm rather than assume. Secondly, any sewage system being used can now be tested to see whether or not they are complying with the standards, which also includes the sewage treatment plant. We have a responsibility to protect our environment as much as we can and ensure that sewage water does not become a public health risk," said Minister of Public Health Social Development & Labor, Cornelius De Weever.
    With regards to Sewage treatment plants, SLS can provide analysis of the effluent. These results will better allow operators to control the treatment of sewage water to ensure that the end product meets the requirements as stated in the Hindrance permit.
    However here to the Inspectorate will be conducting independent audits of all sewage water treatment plants and will advise the owner/ operators as to the quality of their operation and where necessary what corrective actions to take and the timeframe in which to remedy the situation.
  • TAX-AN has Connection with Contractors that are working at Finance Ministry --- Tuitt.

    Philipsburg:--- Minister of Finance Roland Tuitt confirmed on Wednesday during the Council of Ministers press briefing that the TAX-AN group does have connections with contractors that were working with the former Minister of Finance Hiro Shigemoto. SMN News has been reliably informed that the TAX-AN contract was awarded to Mrs. Judith Brewster while her sister Ruth Brewster is working for the Ministry of Finance. According to our sources, an investigation is now being conducted by SOAB to determine which of the two sisters was working as an adviser to the former Minister of Finance Hiro Shigemoto.
    TAX-AN was awarded a contract on March 22nd to restructure the tax system on St. Maarten. On Monday, the Minister of Finance told Parliament that basic procedures to grant the contract were not followed and a biding was not conducted even though the restructuring would cost St. Maarten over ten million United States Dollars over a two year period. Minister Tuitt also said he stopped the payments that were due to TAX-AN while he is busy seeking legal advice on how to proceed.
    Minister Tuitt said on Wednesday that he was advised by the legal experts to tread carefully when dealing with the matter. He said SOAB still has to provide him with an invoice as to how much it will cost St. Maarten to conduct a judicial investigation into the TAX-AN affair.
    When asked by SMN News to further elaborate on the legal opinion he received on the TAX-AN affair since he already indicated to Parliament that proper procedures were not followed and if St. Maarten would be confronted with legal ramifications now that he has stopped the project. The Minister said when he gets the report from SOAB he will put it together with the legal advice which he said was much more specific and present it to the Council of Ministers, at that point they will decide collectively on how to "tread carefully."
    {loadposition inset}
  • Daniella Jeffry attends 37th Annual Caribbean Studies Association Conference in Guadeloupe.

    djeffryattendscsaconference06062012Author Daniella JEFFRY attended the 37th Annual Conference of the Caribbean Studies Association which took place in Gosier, Guadeloupe, this year from 28 May to 1st June. The theme of the Conference was centered around "Unpacking Caribbean Citizenships: Rights, Participation, and Belonging. She participated in the panel chaired by Professor Fred Reno from the Antilles-Guyane University, dealing with Citizenship and Nationality in the Non-Independent Territories of the Caribbean on Thursday, May 31. Her paper highlighted the situation in St. Martin and was entitled Citizenship, Nationality and Identity on the island of St. Martin. That evening her book, Destabilization, was presented by Professor Reno at the Book Launch and Awards ceremony at Simone Schwartz-Bart's home in Goyave.
  • 11 Public Shelters Available for Hurricane Season.

    GREAT BAY (DCOMM):--- Disaster Coordinator/Fire Chief Winston Salomon says there are 11 public shelters available for the hurricane season. A number of buildings are chosen and equipped (prior to a definite hurricane strike) to serve as public shelters.

    These buildings are chosen based on the buildings' ability to withstand hurricane conditions and their height above sea level.

    Space in shelters is limited and is meant for people who feel that their home is unsafe and can't find another safe place to stay.

    If your home is hurricane proof and is in a safe location, it is probably best to stay there during a storm. Alternative options are to stay with family or friends whose house is also hurricane proof, however if you are unsure, do not hesitate to go to a public shelter.

    Shelters are meant for temporary stay of up to 72 hours. Persons utilizing a public shelter must realize that many people have to share a small space and therefore must be prepared for some amount of discomfort.

    There is a management team in charge of the shelter once it is opened. Safety is a main concern, and persons will have to follow shelter warden instructions.

    Take the time now to assess your house, and if you can, get an architect to do a proper assessment. This will determine whether you will stay with friends or family or make use of a public shelter.

    The U.S. National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), the parent body of the National Hurricane Center (NHC) out of Miami, Florida, has forecasted a near-normal 2012 Atlantic hurricane season.

    The forecasts calls for nine to 15 named storms, of which four to eight can strengthen to become hurricanes, and of that one to three can become major hurricanes.

    It only takes one hurricane strike to make this a bad season, and therefore the Office of Disaster Management is urging the community to be prepared as it is your responsibility to do so every season.

    The remaining names of potential storms for the 2012 season are: Chris, Debby, Ernesto, Florence, Gordon, Helene, Isaac, Joyce, Kirk, Leslie, Michael, Nadine, Oscar, Patty, Rafael, Sandy, Tony, Valerie and William.

    The 2012 hurricane season officially runs through November 30.

     

    HURRICANE SHELTERS 2012

     

    1. Leonard Conner School – Venus Drive – Cay Bay
      (for the Cay Bay & Cole Bay districts)
    2. Christian Fellowship Church – Welfare Road – Cole Bay
      (for the Cay Bay & Cole Bay districts)
    3. Salvation Army Building – Union Road – Cole Bay
      (for the Cay Bay & Cole Bay districts)
    4. Milton Peters College – L.B. Scot Road – South Reward
      (for the St. Peters, Ebenezer & South Reward districts)
    5. Rupert Maynard Youth Center – St. Peters Road – St. Peters
      (for the St. Peters, Ebenezer & South Reward districts)
    6. Sr. Marie Laurence School – Ellis Drive – Middle Region
      (for the Middle Region & Defiance districts)
    7. New Testament Baptist Church – Cannegieter Street – Philipsburg
      (for the Philipsburg & Pointe Blanche districts)
    8. Allan C. Halley Community Center – Simpson Bay Road – Simpson Bay
      (for the Simpson Bay & Beacon Hill districts)
    9. Marie Genevieve de Weever School – Guana Bay Road – Hope Estate
      (for the Hope Estate & Sucker Garden districts)
    10. Epheses SDA Church – Belvedere Estate Road – Belvedere
      (for the Belvedere & Dutch Quarter districts)
    11. St. Maarten Academy – Cupper Drive – Cul-de-Sac
      (for the St. Peters, St. Johns & Cul-de-Sac districts)
  • Philipsburg Toastmasters Club Install Five New Members.

    5newtoastmastersinstalled08062012Philipsburg:--- On May 31st, 2012, the Philipsburg Toastmasters Club installed five new members a few weeks after Hosting 2012 May District 81 conference here on the island
    Toastmasters offer a proven way to improve your listening, thinking, speaking and leadership skills. Whether it is about improving your confidence in order to talk to your boss, presenting to clients, giving that dreaded wedding speech or simply to meet like minded people then Toastmasters is the place for you. For less than the price of a weekly exercise class you can regularly participate in a fun and supportive environment and we guarantee you will become a better and more competent speaker and leader. The increased confidence you gain will help you succeed in whatever path may chose in life. Toastmasters club meetings include short prepared speeches by members, impromptu speaking, evaluation, and leadership opportunities.
    Toastmasters International is a world leader in communication and leadership development. Our membership is 270,000 strong. These members improve their speaking and leadership skills by attending one of the 13,000 clubs that make up our global network of meeting locations.

    How Does It Work?

    A Toastmasters meeting is a learn-by-doing workshop in which participants hone their speaking and leadership skills in a no-pressure atmosphere.
    There is no instructor in a Toastmasters meeting. Instead, members evaluate one another's presentations. This feedback process is a key part of the program's success.
    Meeting participants also give impromptu talks on assigned topics, conduct meetings and develop skills related to timekeeping, grammar and parliamentary procedure.
    Members learn communication skills by working in the Competent Communication manual, a series of 10 self-paced speaking assignments designed to instill a basic foundation in public speaking.
    Philipsburg Toastmasters Club meets every 1st & 3rd Thursdays at the Philipsburg Jubilee Library Meeting Room at 7:45pm. Our next meeting will take place on Thursday 21st June, 2012.
  • Daniel Gibbs Leads in First Round of Legislative Elections --- Mussington and Jeffry to Endorse Arnell as Early as Monday.

    Marigot:--- Leader of Team Daniel Gibbs who is also a Territorial Councillor came out ahead of the other candidates in the first round of the legislative elections held on Saturday. This is the first time voters on St. Martin and St. Barths were called to the polls to vote for their own deputy for the two islands. Due to the results, there will be a run off next Saturday. The winner next Saturday will be deputy to serve in the National Assembly.

    Gibbs captured 1,852 votes in St. Martin and 789 in St. Barths which brings his total votes to 2,641 (39.90%). In second place was Guillaume Arnell with 1,597 votes in St. Martin but only 98 in St. Barths, this brought his total to 1,695 (25.61%). Gibbs and Arnell will be the two main front runners heading into Saturday's run-off election.

    Louis Mussington had 982 votes in St. Martin and 125 in St. Barths for a total of 1,107 (16.72%). Jacques Hamlet, arguably an outsider, fared better than Louis Jeffry by taking 455 votes in St. Martin and 56 in St. Barths which brought his total to 511 votes (7.72%). Louis Jeffry won 324 votes in St. Martin and 29 in St. Barths for a total of 353 (5.33%). Nicole Thiebault garnered 201 votes in St. Martin and 111 in St. Barths for a total of 312 (4.7%).

    SMN News has been reliably informed that Louis Mussington and Louis Jeffry will be endorsing Guillaume Arnell as early as Monday. Discussions were also held with Jacques Hamlet but it is not yet known if Hamlet will call on his supporters to vote for Guillaume Arnell.

    Supporters of the RRR party said they believe they lost votes because the party did not work as hard to campaign for the legislative elections because they felt they still had the same momentum from the territorial elections held two months ago.

    Out of a possible 17,853 eligible voters, 5,560 persons cast their ballots at thirteen polling stations in St. Martin on Saturday (31.14%). From that figure 5,411 were legitimate votes. There were 149 blank votes. For both islands 6,619 legitimate votes (29.11%) were cast out of a possible 22,734.

    Shortly after the results were released, Gibbs thanked the voters in St. Martin and St. Barths who came out to the polls on Saturday.

    "There could have been, should have been, more voters because these are historic elections for the Northern Islands," he said in a statement. "We the elected officials are responsible for our citizen's lack of interest in politics. I repeat that one of my major priorities will be to reconcile our people with politics."

    "I would also like to congratulate the other candidates for their respective forceful ways in defending their ideas and for the good debate performances carried out with dignity, respecting the individuals, throughout the campaign of this first round. I appeal for unity today: more than a man, it is the Northern Islands that should be the winners of these historical elections."

    "Finally, I address a special cordial thank you to the voters, who placed the duet that I formed with Karine Miot at the top of this first round in order to make the Northern Islands win. In St. Martin as well as in St. Barths, you have placed us at the head of the vote: I consider these votes as a new stage of this contract of trust that I have with you for the five coming years. I will honor without failing the contract with obligation of results on our territories as well as in Paris, with the same enthusiasm, energy and will, to the service of the general interest. The battle continues: I'll meet you at the polls next Saturday."

  • Prime Minister Attends Hurricane March for God’s Mercy --- Hopes for a safe and quiet Hurricane Season.

    swescotwilliamsathurricanemarch10062012The Prime Minister of St. Maarten the Honourable Sarah Wescot-Williams attended an evening of song and praise at the Cyrus Wathey Square on Saturday evening. The evening included prayer, songs, and a candle light march asking for God's mercy during the 2012 Hurricane Season. During her address to the crowd, the Prime Minister wished a safe and uneventful hurricane season; "Hopefully we will have a safe and quiet hurricane season God willing. Through gathering and uniting ourselves in prayer for a safe 2012 season we will see this season through," commented the Prime Minister.
  • Parliament needs to get its act together when it comes to keeping Records --- DCOMM Employee Abandons Parliament.

    Philipsburg:--- The Parliament of St. Maarten was established almost two years ago and Chairlady Gracita Arrindell is one who has to make sure that the people's business and records are in order. To date, Parliament does not have a recorder to take minutes which is required by law. Parliamentarians are supposed to be given copies of the minutes of each meeting that is held at the Parliament House but to date no one has been preparing the minutes of the meetings. While there are no minutes, the Parliament of St. Maarten has the necessary equipment in place to digitally record the meetings while it is also aired live on Cable Television and Pearl Radio.
    However, the digital recording of these meetings are now in jeopardy because the civil servant working for the Department of Communication (DCOMM) that was assigned to Parliament has decided that he will no longer work for Parliament due to disagreements he had with the chairlady. SMN News learnt that while the person is a civil servant, he was hoping to get a contract to work solely for Parliament but somehow that was delayed. SMN News also learnt that the DCOMM employee did not train any other person to use the recording equipments at Parliament House.
    Last week, media houses on St. Maarten were not able to obtain the digital files for the Central Committee meeting held with the Minister of Finance concerning the letter sent by the CFT, TAXAND, and the COLA payments. SMN News and other media houses managed to receive those digital files in good order two days after the meeting was held.
    SMN News further understands that the Presidium of Parliament hired a web designer to do the recordings of the meetings but the person has no knowledge on how to operate the equipments and he is being assisted "trained" by the messenger boy of Parliament who also doesn't know how to fully operate the equipments to record the meetings.
    On Monday when the Central Committee meeting resumed with the Minister of Finance regarding the TAXAND, COLA, and CFT letter issues, the two persons that were supposed to record the meeting did not record the first half of the meeting since they did not know how to fully operate the equipments and there was no other person trained during the 20 months the Parliament of St. Maarten is existing.
    While the Minister of Finance divulged valuable information during the continuation, Parliament does not have everything on the record.
    It is clear that the person at the helm of the Parliament of St. Maarten has her priorities wrong while the Griffier Joseph Semeleer needs to know that there are procedures to follow when it comes to civil servants who refuse to do their job or jeopardizes the operations of government.
    It would be wise for the new coalition to ensure that the new chairperson is appointed along with a recorder who could start taking minutes for the Parliament of St. Maarten.
  • Central Committee of Parliament Continues on Thursday about National Ordinances and Initiative Law Labour Contracts.

    PHILIPSBURG:--- The Central Committee of Parliament will continue its meeting in a public session on June 14 with respect to changes to national ordinances and the Civil Code.

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

    The first agenda point was concluded in a June 11 session and it related to a letter to the Council of Ministers dated May 09, 2012 from the Committee of Financial Supervision (CFT).

    Members of Parliament will continue their deliberation on the second agenda point, the National Ordinance, with respect to changes to the Stamp Ordinance 1994 as well as other ordinances regarding the introduction of a new identification card and driver's license.

    The third agenda point is an initiative draft ordinance which requires changes to the Civil Code Book Seven A, regarding the elimination of misuse of labour contracts.

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

  • Arrindell encourages community to visit 14th Annual Diabetes Fair on Saturday.

    PHILIPSBURG:--- The Diabetes Foundation of St. Maarten will be having its 14th Annual Diabetes Fair at the Belair Community Center, opposite the Medical Center in Cay Hill, on Saturday.

    The two-day fair actually kicks off on Friday with an information session for men.

    President of Parliament Hon. drs. Gracita Arrindell is calling on the community to attend the activities that have been organized and to gather as much information about diabetes with respect to how to enjoy a quality healthy lifestyle while living with diabetes.

    The theme of the fair is "Education is the key to knowledge...so come to the FAIR and find out how to live well with diabetes."

    The fair on Saturday is at the Belair Community Center from 9.00am to 12.00 noon where there will be diabetes information sessions for English-speaking persons, including a session with a podiatrist (foot care specialist).

    The number of people with high blood pressure and diabetes is drastically increasing in both developed and developing countries, according to a United Nations (UN) report.

    The World Health Organizations (WHO) World Health Statistics 2012 report, which includes data from 194 countries, states that one in three adults worldwide has raised blood pressure and one in 10 suffers from diabetes.

    With respect to diabetes, the global average prevalence is around 10 per cent, with up to one third of populations in some Pacific Island countries having this condition.

    Left untreated, diabetes can lead to cardiovascular disease, blindness and kidney failure.

    An increase in obesity is also highlighted in the report as being a major health risk. Half a billion people, 12 per cent of the world's population is considered obese. The highest obesity levels are in the Americas, with 26 per cent of adults suffering from obesity, and the lowest in the South-East Asian region, where only three per cent of the population is obese.

    In all parts of the world, women are more likely to be obese than men, making them more vulnerable to diabetes, cardiovascular disease and some cancers.

    "Statistics don't lie. They create a picture of a certain timeframe about diabetes and obesity, which are linked. I commend the Diabetes Foundation of St. Maarten for their annual organization of their fair and I encourage the community to inform themselves about diabetes by visiting the fair on Saturday, where they will receive a wealth of information about the subject," President of Parliament Hon. drs. Gracita Arrindell said on Thursday.

  • CPS calls on men to attend Friday lecture on diabetes.

    GREAT BAY (DCOMM):--- Collective Prevention Services (CPS) of the Ministry of Public Health, Social Development and Labour, is calling on the male population to attend the St. Maarten Lions Club lecture entitled, "Men and their Diabetes."

    The lecture will take place at the Belair Community Center on Friday, from 7:00pm to 9:00pm.

    As men's health is identified on the Calendar of Health Observances, it is an opportunity for men to attain as much information as necessary but also to build networks in their approach to ensure a healthy lifestyle and to mitigate diabetes as much as possible and if not for them, think about your family members and friends.

    Diabetes is an epidemic in the world as incidence of this devastating disease has doubled in the past 30 years, according to a report in the Journal Circulation, and the biggest jump is diabetes diagnosis was among men.

    The risk for type 2 diabetes climbs after the age of 45, although the disease is showing up in younger people.

    The risk factors for type 2 diabetes include: being overweight or obese; a sedentary lifestyle; a diet high in sugar and refined carbohydrates and low in fiber and whole grains; a history of type 2 diabetes in your immediate family (mother, father, sister, or brother).

    Having diabetes, in turn, increases the danger of heart disease, as well as a range of problems associated with impaired circulation, such as eye disease and nerve damage.

    Information helps you make informed decisions; cope with the demands of living daily with a complex chronic disease; make changes in your behavior that supports your self-management efforts and improve outcomes.

    All people with diabetes and those at risk of diabetes, no matter where they live, have the right to learn about diabetes, how it can be prevented, how it can be managed effectively and how to access educational and clinical resources for the betterment of your lifestyle.

    The Lions Club has teamed up with the Diabetes Foundation of St. Maarten to bring awareness to men about diabetes with respect to the lecture on Friday evening.

    All men are encouraged to attend and bring along a family member or a friend.

  • Alex Richards Plagiarizes Again --- Why is the President and the TC not taking Action against Richards?

    Marigot:--- Several newspaper articles surfaced on Wednesday and Thursday about the former Director of the President's Cabinet Alex Richards who was again caught copying other peoples' work on the internet and presenting it as his work to the Territorial Council. Days after the RRR party won the Territorial Election with a landslide victory, reporters on St. Martin became the President's worst enemies when they all wrote that the President's national address on April 1 was stolen off the internet from the Prime Minister of Burkina Faso. It took the President almost one week before he responded to the news of his stolen speech, in his response he said that reporters on St. Martin placed special emphasis on his speech and not on RRR's political program and the real issues facing St. Martin. It might be true that the reporters on the French and Dutch sides of the island have been watching Alex Richards closely but that is only because all reporters on St. Martin know that Alex Richards is someone who loves to surf the net and copy other people's work. He was dismissed from the tourist office some years ago when it was discovered that he stole the tourism plan of Nieve and presented to then municipal council.
    President Richardson told reporters in his first press conference that Alex Richards no longer works in his cabinet and he was dismissed as his Director of Cabinet, yet Richards is seen every day at the Collectivity among the Presidential Cabinet. It was also announced that Alex Richards will be in charge of Cooperation and European Affairs. On Tuesday morning, Alex Richards presented a motion to the Territorial Council which will be sent to Paris and the very first lines of the document show that the motion did not fit St. Martin's reality. While the motion was presented to the council and voted upon it appears as though the members of the Territorial Council did not read the document Richards presented to them. In the third line of the motion, Richards said that if the motion is accepted it will allow St. Martin to be part of the European Union. It appears as though Richards himself did not read what he was copying from the internet because St. Martin is already part of the European Union since 1989. For clarity on St. Martin's status in the EU click on the POSEDOM link here: http://ec.europa.eu/agriculture/eval/reports/poseidom/2.pdf
    It does not seem as though Alex Richards would ever change his ways when it comes to stealing copyright work from the internet. His actions so far have been detrimental to the RRR government and it is of utter importance that the President of the COM take serious sanctions against Alex Richards.
  • Daniel Gibbs Elected Deputy for St. Martin --- Won Election without Endorsements.

    danielgibbs10062012Marigot:--- Leader of Team Daniel Gibbs and President of the Union of Democracy Daniel Gibbs won the first and second round of the legislative elections held on Saturday.
    Results from the Prefecture of St. Martin state that 4,107 people voted for Daniel Gibbs making him the first Deputy of Saint Martin. It should be noted that several candidates that participated in the first round last week Saturday endorsed Guillaume Arnell. However, he received total of 3756 votes, this includes votes from Saint Martin and St. Barths. The second round of the legislative elections could be considered as very close since Arnell lost by 351 votes.
    It is clear that Daniel Gibbs received all the votes he received during the Territorial Election even though there were voters from both St. Martin and St. Barths.
    The results of this first legislative election clearly shows that the people of St. Martin are vigilante and are paying close attention to those at the helm of the Collectivity.

  • Obesity prevention program kicks-off for 2012/13 School-Year.

    Great Bay:--- The Ministry of Public Health Social Development & Labor Section General Public Health recently presented their obesity Prevention Program to a group of stakeholders in the form of a nutrition and physical education program, which is to kick-off for the 2012/2013 school year. Swinda Richardson, Nutritionist at General Public Health and David Forsythe, Physical Education Coordinator at the Ministry of Education, Culture, Youth & Sports made the presentation.
    Also making a presentation at the event was Dr. Danielle Hollar, a consultant for Obesity Prevention Programming, Research and Evaluation, who made a presentation on "The OrganwiseGuys" Comprehensive School Program, which focuses on improving children's health and academic performance.
    Thirty children from cycle 2 of each school will be participating in this breakfast program. The schools participating in this program are the Oranje School, Sister Marie Laurence and Hillside Christian School. These schools were specifically chosen because research showed that the children at these schools were not having breakfast regularly. Research shows that children who do not have a good breakfast usually have problems concentrating in class.
    In addition, the teachers will also be consulted to inquire if there is any progress in the children as it relates to their grades and general participation in class. The breakfast menu will include fruits, dairy products, vegetables etc. The menu will be nutritional balanced with foods from four food groups; dairy, grains, meats, fruits/vegetables.
    "It is important for us to see how the children will respond to the items on the menu, we will switch it up as much as possible, by offering a variety weekly," said Richardson.
    The menu will be rotated weekly. An example of the menu will be tuna sandwiches, ham and cheese sandwiches, turkey sandwiches all with lettuce and tomato; peanut butter sandwiches; cereal; hardboiled eggs; yoghurt; milk; 100% fruit juice; milk and water.
    At the end of the 2012/2013 school year the program will be evaluated. "We hope by 2013/2014 school year to expand the program to other schools, and we encourage others to take it up," said Richardson.
    Minister of Public Health Social Development & Labor, Cornelius De Weever stated that "it is a great program that if it is executed properly it will have a positive outcome especially for the children."
    The Ministry of Public Health Social Development & Labor will fund the breakfast program to a tune of Naf 90,000 and the Ministry of Education, Culture Youth & Sports will fund the physical education part of the program. The project has been presented to the respective schools' managers and community project coordinators.
  • NAGICO Insurances awards its top agents.

    imcsoodamjadawardsagentsforoutstandingwork18062012NAGICO Insurances hosted their annual Agent's Awards dinner on Friday evening at the Sonesta Maho Resort, where several local and overseas agents were awarded for their outstanding premium production over 2011.

    Under the theme Reaching Further; agents, staff and invited guests were urged by CEO of the NAGICO Group, Imran McSood Amjad, to be passionate about what they do.
    "If you want to succeed at your job or anything else that you do, you have to have a passion for it," he said in his address. "Knowing something very well does not mean you are motivated to do it very well, motivation comes from passion and passion gives you the drive to achieve."

    He lauded all the agents for their tireless efforts which he believes is evident and key in NAGICO's success. McSood Amjad also had high praises for the top producers who generated premiums exceptionally higher than others. They are as follows: Agent of the Year for NAGICO N.V which went to Joshua Dharamraj; the owner of North Eastern Insurance, Most Improved Agent; Richard Boyd of RAI Insurance Company and Top Life Producer, which was captured by Neil Henderson of Henderson Insurances.
    Several other agents received awards in Diamond, Gold, Silver and Bronze categories based on their premium production.

    The year 2011 was a significant year for NAGICO, as it was during this period that NAGICO started operations in St. Lucia and bought GTM in Trinidad & Tobago and British American Insurance Company in St. Maarten, Aruba, Bonaire and Curacao. NAGICO Insurance is now operational in 19 Caribbean territories and growing.

  • Heat stress can cause illnesses; SGPH urges vigilance of elderly, infants and young children.

    GREAT BAY (DCOMM):--- Section General Public Health (SGPH) observes that for several weeks it has been very warm and it could get warmer as we move into the months of July and August.

    SGPH is calling on the community to monitor closely friends, family members and co-workers with respect to heat stress and to minimize their exposure risk.

    The potential effects of climate change may exacerbate the threats to human health posed by thermal stress in the future, according to the Climate Change and Adaptation Strategies for Human Health project.

    One heat-wave does not prove that the world is getting hotter, but scientists have noticed a trend in different parts of the world that have seen previous records broken with increasing regularity leading to heath-induced human deaths.

    Heat-related illnesses occur as a result of heat exposure. Hot conditions put your body under a lot of stress. Physical activity stresses the body even more. When heat is combined with physical activity, loss of fluids, fatigue, and other conditions can lead to a number of heat-related illnesses and injuries. Death is even possible.

    Certain individuals, such as the elderly (people 65+ years of age), infants and young children up to four years of age, the obese, and those with chronic medical conditions are at increased risk for developing heat-related illness.

    The six main factors involved in causing heat stress are: high temperatures; humidity; lack in movement of air; radiant temperature of the surroundings; heavy clothing; and physical activity.

    To reduce the possibility of heat stress, you can use air-conditioning, fans to circulate the air and reduce physical activity; increase the frequency and duration of rest breaks; and schedule tasks to avoid heavy physical activity during the hottest parts of the day.

    Drinking cold water regularly; wear lightweight clothing which allows moisture to evaporate quickly; rehydration; using sunscreen.

    Knowing what to look out for in heat stress is important to avoid life threatening situations. Serious heat stress conditions cause the victim to become disoriented and unaware of their condition.

    The major heat stress injuries and illnesses are: heat rash (on the skin, a bumpy rash which itches severely); heat cramps (painful muscle cramps caused by a loss of salt through excessive sweating); heat syncope (sudden fainting); heat exhaustion (as a result of inadequate salt and water intake); heat stroke (the deadliest of all heat stress conditions, the victim's skin is hot, red and dry, their pulse is fast and may complain of headache or dizziness).

    For further information you should consult with your family physician or call SGPH at telephone number: 542-3553, 542-2078.

  • Prime Minister meets with Delegates of the Kingdom to prepare for Rio+20 Summit.

    swescotwilliamswithkingdomdelegates21062012The Prime Minister of St. Maarten the Honorable Sarah Wescot-Williams met on Wednesday with the other delegates of the Kingdom of the Netherlands to prepare for the Rio+20 Summit on Sustainable Development in Brazil. Pictured are Kingdom State Secretary Ben Knappen, Prime Minister Wescot-Williams, and Legal Advisor to the Cabinet of the Prime Minister Mr. Hensley Plantijn. The Prime Minister is in Rio de Janeiro representing St. Maarten at the high level Summit where various agenda points concerning equity and sustainable development will be dealt with. The Prime Minister will return to St. Maarten on Friday.

    Press Release from Prime Minister's Office

  • St. Maarten Academy Teachers meet with Union on School’s Fingerprinting Machine.

    celshot21062012Philipsburg:--- President of the Windward Islands Teachers Union (WITU) Claire Elshot told reporters during the Windward Islands Chamber of Labour Unions' weekly press briefing on Thursday that she met with some teachers of the St. Maarten Academy to further discuss their frustration of the finger printing machine that was installed at the school earlier this school year.
    Elshot said that the teachers of that institution who are members of the WITU are very concerned about their information getting in the wrong hands and places. Elshot further explained that she is of the opinion that something is wrong with the school's administration because in her view, it is impossible for any teacher to forge their signing in form.
    Elshot said she is now seeking the intervention of the labour mediator because the WITU held several meetings with the board and to date they are not able to resolve the matter. She said the teachers of St. Maarten Academy are being threatened by the school board.
    When asked by SMN News if she believes that students should have a teacher in the classroom and under what basis these teachers were hired, Elshot said that teachers are facilitators to the students and they don't necessarily have to be in front of the classroom. She admitted that the teachers were hired as subject teachers and are required to be in school from 7:30am to 3:30pm. Elshot said that teachers do not have to be in school to do their preparation or marking of papers. She said that the schools are not safe and lack proper materials as required by law. Elshot further stated that if an inspection is conducted then many schools on St. Maarten would have to be closed. When asked if the union is concerned about the teachers' absenteeism, Elshot said that education has gone through a number of innovations. Therefore, the students have to use other resources available to them to gain knowledge.

    Unqualified Teachers.


    The WITU President also expressed frustration about the term used by the labour and education Ministry to classify teachers as unqualified when they have been teaching on the island for years.
    Elshot said several teachers who are now told that they are unqualified contacted USM to see if they can participate in courses to upgrade their skills and they were told that the degrees the teachers already have are way higher than what USM offers. Elshot said that she believes that if teachers are evaluated and it is determined that they need further training then the school boards or government should provide the extra training that will bring them up to par.
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  • Thompson Concerned about Boasman’s reasons for wanting him off the Committee that deals with Employment Agencies.

    tthompson21062012Philipsburg:--- The President of the Workers Institute for Organized Labour (WIFOL) Theophillus Thompson told reporters on Thursday during the Windward Islands Chamber of Labour Unions' press briefing that he is concerned about the request by the policy advisor of the Island Labour Department Raphael Boasman. Thompson said he was informed that he cannot be part of the committee that will deal with the workings of the employment agencies on St. Maarten because he is a member of the tripartite committee. However, he is of the opinion that the only reason Raphael Boasman does not want him on the committee is because he has too much information on Employment Agencies on St. Maarten whom he said is abusing workers rights.
    Thompson said he is also of the opinion that he is being blocked from the committee because of his strong views on Employment Agencies that are operating on St. Maarten. He said these agencies are operating in the form of slavery which is contrary to the International Labor Organization. Furthermore, Thompson said the agencies are only supposed to provide companies with workers for a specific period of time. He said companies that are operating permanently on the island are allowed to escape from their obligations to workers through these employment agencies. "When these companies want to pack up and leave or file bankruptcy, they can do so without having any obligations to their workers. Even though many workers worked for those companies for many years via these Employment Agencies they are left aside without anything. This one of the predicaments workers at the Pelican Resort have been facing because that company was allowed to put aside permanent workers and replace them with people from these Employment Agencies."

    WIFOL to hold Summer Program.


    The President of the Workers Institute for Organized Labour Theophillus Thompsons said that WIFOL will be holding its annual summer program this year. The program is for all students who wish to participate in their IT summer camp. "The idea is to assist working parents who are members of WIFOL with programs for their children during the summer vacation," Thompson said. The WIFOL summer program is open to all students and it is not only for members of the WIFOL. Thompson said that WIFOL has been organizing the IT summer camp for the past six years. The program will begin from July 3rd to August 3rd. Students ages 3 to 19 can participate in the summer camp.
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  • VROMI invites contractors to informative meeting for Hurricane Season.

    Philipsburg (DCOMM):--- The Hurricane season 2012 has begun, since June 1.

    In light of this potentially active period, the Ministry of Public Housing, Spatial Development, and Infrastructure (VROMI) is inviting all general contractors and heavy equipment owners interested in partaking in the Hurricane Cleanup , which includes the 'Before and After the Storm' time period, to attend an informative meeting on Wednesday, June 27 at the Ministry of VROMI located in the Savance Building (The Yellow Building ).

    In the meeting, which begins at 9am, information will be given on the preparation for the Hurricane season 2012. It is also requested that the contractors and heavy equipment owners bring along their equipment lists, crib number of their company and contact information in the event the Ministry needs to call on contractors both before and/or after the storm or in case of an emergency.

    Present at the meeting will be Operations Manager Edelmiro Jansen and Project Manager Mr. Hensley Kwidama.

    e-mail: edelmiro.jansen@sintmaartengov.org

  • Cft to analyze budget amendment of Sint Maarten.

    Philipsburg:--- The Board of Financial supervision (College financieel toezicht - Cft) recently received the requested budget amendment of Sint Maarten. The Cft will analyze the amended budget and submit its advice on July 2nd, the latest.

    The Cft requested the Government of Sint Maarten to present a budget amendment to address the projected revenues from taxes on rental income from real estate owned by non-residents, and the payment of the remaining part of the COLA (Cost of Living Allowance; ANG 17 million).

  • Minister Pantophlet meets with Aviation stakeholders.

    rpantophletmeetswithaviationstakeholders25062012Philipsburg (DCOMM):--- On Thursday, June 21, the Minister of Tourism, Economic Affairs, Transport & Telecommunication Romeo F. Pantophlet met with Aviation stakeholders to discuss current issues in the industry, challenges, possible solutions and action points.

    Minister Pantophlet said, "We are busy working hard to increase the standards in the civil aviation sectors by increasing the supervision of aviation, improving the communication among aviation partners, and improving necessary legislation, regulation hiring key , personnel and establishing procedures."

    One of the key Civil Aviation issues that has the attention of the Minister is the downgrading of the Civil Aviation status of Curacao and St. Maarten, by the US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) from Category I to Category II, and the actions that Curacao and St. Maarten Governments have been undertaking to return to the Category I rating.

    Also present were the Supervisory Board of WINAIR who met and briefed the new Minister of Aviation, on the current operations and future plans of the airline.

    In conclusion, the stakeholders and government agreed to possible actions and cooperation in order to strengthen the Civil Aviation industry, to ensure that St. Maarten aviation becomes an independent entity, the strengthening of the cooperation with other Civil Aviation Authorities within the Kingdom and other potential parties as well as to increase the sustainability of WINAIR.

    Present were Robert Budike (Secretary of the Supervisory Board), Robert Gibbs (Change Manager and Interim Financial Director), Mr. Michael Cleaver (Managing Director of WINAIR), Hans de Jong (representative of the Netherlands) and Gerrit Draai (Representative of the Netherlands on the Supervisory Board of Directors), George Greaux (Chairman of the Supervisory Board) and Michael Ferrier (Aviation Stakeholder) and from the side of government, Mr. Dexter Doncher (Advisor to the Minister), May-Ling Chun (Director of Tourism), the Minister Romeo F. Pantophlet, Miguel de Weever (SG TEZVT) and Louis Halley (Head of the Civil Aviation & Shipping and Maritime department).

  • Caribbean forts: "more than old stones".

    semfsignsforfortoranjetobepartofcariforts25062012St. Eustatius' Fort Oranje will be part of an international virtual route linking historical forts in the Caribbean. The St. Eustatius Monuments Foundation (SEMF) signed on as a participant in the Cariforts Network, an initiative of the General Council of Guadeloupe. The project aims to connect Caribbean fortifications through mutual promotion and awareness building and stimulate visitors of one fort to also visit the other strongholds that are part of the network.
    The other founding participants are Martinique (Municipality of Fort-de-France), Puerto Rico (San Juan National Historic Site), St. Kitts (Brimstone Hill Fortress National Park Society) and Antigua (Nelson's Dockyard National Park).

    "They are more than old stones. They are driving forces of economic development," is how the President of the Guadeloupe General Council, Jacques Gillot, summed it up at the ceremony for the official joint signing of the charter inside the impressive Fort Delgrès in Basse-Terre (Guadeloupe). According to the charter "The Caribbean forts and fortifications constitute a shared heritage offering potential for tourism and cultural development, and for further cooperation and regional integration." The aim of Cariforts is to capitalize on this potential.

    A website, leaflets, videos, booklets, PR campaigns and gifts and souvenirs for the tourist markets are amongst the activities to be undertaken. They are to promote the entire route at each of the participating locations so that every island can benefit from publicizing the whole network at any one of the member forts. As an illustration, it means that the more than 2 million annual visitors to the Fortress of El Morro in San Juan, Puerto Rico, will also be informed about Fort Oranje in Statia as an attractive place to visit.

    In fact, the promotion already started at the signing ceremony since it was part of the celebrations for the abolition of slavery in Guadeloupe and the opening of a new permanent exhibition in Fort Delgrès - with St. Eustatius mentioned before every musical or dance performance and in every public address. SEMF Monuments Director Walter Hellebrand was invited over by the Guadeloupe General Council to sign on behalf of the SEMF. He was also able to do several interviews about Statia's forts with the local French language radio and television.

  • Inspection Dept. thanks public for safe school bussing.

    GREAT BAY (DCOMM):--- School Bussing and Taxi Dispatching Inspection Department of Economic Affairs, would like to thank the public for their cooperation during the 2011-2012 school year in making busing of school children a safe one as the school year comes to an end on Friday.

    The Department will continue to ensure a safe, reliable and comfortable transportation for school children.

    "Another school year comes to an end this Friday. The Department would like to thank the school busses and students for their cooperation and looks forward to more continued support during the upcoming new school year.

    "The Inspection Department who is also responsible for the Traffic Controllers and Inspectors who are visible during the peak morning hours, would also like to thank the public at large for their cooperation when they approach school zones.

    "School bussing was faced with some behavior problems during the past few months and would like to ask the parents and guardians to continue to encourage their child/ren to behave on the bus.

    "The Department would also like the public to be observant that although school is out and summer is in, a number of children will be using the school bus for their summer camp excursions, therefore motorists should remain vigilant on the public roads.

    "Thank you to the school principals as well for their cooperation throughout the school year, and on behalf of the department, wishing the principals, teachers and staff a happy and safe holiday season," School Bussing and Taxi Dispatching Inspection Department of Economic Affairs.

    School bus inspections are scheduled to start July 30 through August 1. School bus owners and drivers are hereby advised to take note of the date and times.

    School bus owners/drivers are requested to call the department to make an appointment. Inspections will take place between 8:30am – 12:00pm and 1:30pm – 3:00pm.

    For further information about services rendered by the Inspection Section, call telephone number 542-4511 or 542-4509.

  • UP Faction Leader Commends AUC Corporate Collaboration with USM; UP Appeals to Young People to Apply for a Scholarship.

    The United Peoples (UP) Party Faction MP Hon. Sylvia Meyers-Olivacce would like to congratulate the American University of the Caribbean (AUC) for taking the initiative to create the opportunity for citizens of the nation to pursue higher education on the island through the University of St. Martin (USM).
    AUC is making available up to US$30,000 for residents 23+ years-old and who have been accepted to USM. Applications for this scholarship should be submitted by July 16 in order to start for the August semester. A scholarship application form and guidelines can be found at www.aucmed.edu.

    MP Meyers is calling on the nation's youths and other interested persons to apply for a scholarship at AUC in order to go to USM.
    The UP MP is also appealing to the business community to consider what the business sector can do to help the nation's youth and unemployed with respect to upgrading their skills and academic credentials.

  • Minister Jacobs Attends Catholic Education Graduation Ceremony.

    sjacobsatcatholicschoolgraduation29062012GREAT BAY (DCOMM):--- Minister of Education Hon. Silveria Jacobs addressed the graduates of the six Catholic Schools on Wednesday at a ceremony held at Port de Plaisance Resort and Spa.

    The Mass officiated by Father Manuel was touching and well received by all present, according to the Minister. Jacobs commended the School Board and Management Teams and teachers for providing the students with a firm foundation rooted in Christian virtues, morals and values.

    "You are now equipped with a well-rounded education, not just in academics but in all areas. Your parents and your school have provided you with the foundation, and if you try to see Jesus in all people you will be truly successful in all you do."

    The Minister also pledged to do all within her power to bring Information Communication Technology (ICT) in education up to world standards in order to allow the technology natives the opportunity to excel in the ways they are naturally inclined to do.

    "We have a lot of catching up to do with the changes in education, and we applaud the progress some schools have made on their own. It is now up to the Ministry of Education to make these opportunities available for all students across the board," Minister Jacobs said on Friday.

    The Minister also encouraged the parents to continue to be a support to their children as they were entering the most difficult phase of their lives at this time of pre-adolescence and the teen years.

    "Our children need our love, support understanding and constant encouragement to deal with the pressures that they will face in the new school situation, the new friends and with the extra freedom. Allow them to grow in responsibility as well," Minister of Education Hon. Silveria Jacobs said on Friday.

    The Valedictorians of each school was awarded one year tuition at the High School they have opted to attend by the Minister.

  • Prime Minister Sarah Wescot-Williams launches Facebook and Twitter Pages.

    In an effort to keep the public informed on a real-time basis the Prime Minister's Cabinet has launched both a Facebook and a Twitter account. With the advent of social media there is an increased need to update and keep the public informed on the activities of the Prime Minister and her Cabinet. People who follow the Prime Minister on both Facebook and Twitter will also have the opportunity to exchange and interact with her Cabinet using the social media sites and will also be able to follow the activities and posts of the Prime Minister's Cabinet on a real time basis as they become available.
    The Prime Minister, who is no stranger to sites such as Facebook, sees social media as complementary to the official channels of communication with and by members of government. "With the hectic pace of life for all of us, members of government need to ensure that they remain accessible and that policies and decisions are communicated and explained to the public at large," commented the Prime Minister.
    The URL for the Prime Minister's Official Facebook Page is http://www.facebook.com/primeministersxm and the URL for her Twitter Account is https://twitter.com/#!/PrimeMinisterSX. Special notifications and addresses will be made available through both accounts.
  • Minister De Weever congratulates Jules Carty.

    Great Bay:--- Minister of Public Health Social Development & Labor, Cornelius De Weever would like to congratulate Jules Carty on celebrating 25 years with the St. Maarten Medical Center as anesthesia assistant. "I would like to thank him for his service to the people of St. Maarten and for enduring the good and challenging times at St. Maarten Medical Center," said Minister De Weever.
  • Rue de Hollande closed for Repairs and Upgrading.

    ruedehollandedeviation31052012Within the framework of the repair and upgrade of the Rue de Hollande, between the Rue Kennedy and The Rue Doigt de Gant, the companies TTGCE, GETELEC TP and SOUALIGA WORKER will carry out a complete upgrade of the roadway, communication, electrical and other networks as well as the sidewalks.
    This public works project will begin on June 11, 2012 and will be completed on October 11, 2012. During the entire period of this construction project access to the Rue de Hollande between the Rue Kennedy and the Rue Doigt de Gant will be prohibited to everyone, except the residents of the area.
    Rue Kennedy will be re-opened to one-way-traffic coming from the Rue de Hollande. Work by the construction crews will take place from 7:00 am to 5:00 pm.
    All efforts will be made in order to minimize any inconvenience that might be caused by this road repair work. For more information, please contact the contractor at 0590 87 7632 or the project manager at 0590 81 9393.
  • Government holds Healthy cooking workshop this Monday, June 4 at St. Peters Community Center.

    Philipsburg (DCOMM):--- The Department of Community Development in collaboration with the Health Department of the Foundation of Seventh Day Adventist Churches is having a series of Healthy Cooking Demonstrations.

    Classes will take place on Mondays and Thursdays in the month of June from 6:30 pm – 8:30 pm at St. Peters Community Center and are facilitated by Mrs. Sabine Lake-Flanders.

    The focus of the workshop will be on how individuals can incorporate the eight laws of health in their lives: pure air, sunlight, abstemiousness, rest, exercise, proper diet, the use of water and trust.

    Instructors will share different ways of preparing traditional dishes but in a healthful manner. There will also be less familiar ingredients such as quinoa, millet, barley, spelt, amaranth and more.

    In addition, there will be information provided on various health related topics.

    Participants will learn, but not limited to, the following:

    Week 1: fruit pancakes, baked oat loaf, baked rice loaf, apple stew, fruit Jams, granola, seed milk, zwie-back bread, etc.

    Week 2: sandwich spreads, pesto, firm cheese, macaroni & cheese, quiches, Salad dressing and sauces, etc.

    Week 3: meat substitutes, meat balls, croquette, lasagna, sauerkraut, soups etc.

    Week 4: desserts, sprouting, cookies, no bake crusts and pies

    The dates for the healthy cooking demonstrations are June 4, 7, 11, 14, 18, 21, 25, 28 at the St. Peters Community Center. All recipes will be plant based.

    The nightly contribution is $6 per class and participants will get samples to take home.

    For more info please contact Mrs. Lake-Flanders at cell number 553- 8781 or Denise Vijber at phone number 542-1122. Space is limited so please register in advance. Classes will start on time.

  • Non-Governmental Organizations can now Link to the Healthy Caribbean Coalition to Combat Chronic Diseases.

    GREAT BAY (DCOMM):--- Collective Prevention Services (CPS) Head Dr. Virginia Asin Oostburg, recently attended the Healthy Caribbean 2012 "Rallying for Action on NCD" conference and workshop, where a gateway to the region is now offered to local Non-Governmental Organizations where they can join this Regional Civil Society movement.

    Approximately 250,000,000 people live with a Non Communicable Disease (NCD) in the American region. In 2009 a total of 4.5 million people died from these NCDs such as Heart disease, Diabetes, Stroke and Cancer. Of these deaths 80% occur in Low and Middle Income Countries (LMIC) and 37% are persons below age 70.

    This NCD situation is not sustainable because if no interventions are undertaken, NCD will cost up to US$30 trillion per year globally in 20 years and US$500 billion annually in Low and Middle Income Countries which equals four percent Gross Domestic Product.

    These are some of the findings presented by Dr. James Hospedalis of the Pan American Health Organization/World Health Organization (PAHO-WHO), Washington office, during a Caribbean meeting of Civil Society organization in Jamaica from 28 and 29 May 2012.
    A study from Caribbean countries show that this epidemiology profile is also seen in the Caribbean and according to CPS Head Sint Maarten will be no exception.

    By now it has also become common knowledge that these diseases collectively called NCDs have common risk factors such as tobacco smoking, excessive alcohol consumption, obesity, poor nutritional habits and lack of physical activity. Because of the behavioral nature of the risk factors it has also become common knowledge that these diseases are "preventable".

    The Healthy Caribbean Coalition (HCC) is a civil society network established for the purpose of combating chronic disease (NCD) and its risk factors and conditions. This Coalition is being introduced to Sint Maarten by CPS Head Dr. Virginia Asin Oostburg, who is a standing member of the Executive Committee since 2008.

    The mission of HCC is to harness the power of civil society, in collaboration with government, private enterprise, academia, and international partners, as appropriate, in the development and implementation of plans for the prevention and management of chronic diseases among Caribbean people.

    HCC envisions for the future a reduction in disability and death from chronic diseases among people of the Caribbean and has as specific objectives to contribute to and participate in all aspects of advocacy as a tool for influencing positive change around NCDs through mobilization of Caribbean people and the creation of a mass movement aimed at responding to the NCDs; development of effective methods of communication for and among members of the Coalition and the people of the Region and to contribute to NCD public education campaigns and programs. HCC also pledges full support for Caribbean Wellness Day which is held annually throughout the region, as mandated by Heads of State and Government of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM).

    The strategic approach for advocacy and support for NCD risk factor reduction is through: a. tobacco control and implementation of the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control; b. increased physical activity; c. improved dietary intake including reduction of salt and sugar, elimination of trans fats, and responsible alcohol use; d. support of initiatives, plans and programs at country and organization level, and e. advocacy and support for enhanced detection and management of chronic diseases.

    Membership of the Coalition is open to all voluntary associations and informal networks in the Caribbean and extra regionally where individuals and groups engage in activities of public consequence, and have similar objectives, goals and interests as the Healthy Caribbean Coalition, and include nongovernmental health organizations, professional health and other associations, faith based organizations, neighborhood organizations, cooperatives, charities, unions, social movements, and special interest groups. No fee is attached to being a member of the Coalition.

    The HCC offers a platform for civil society organizations to partner in a common cause to fulfill the collective purpose "prevention and management of heart disease, diabetes, stroke, cancer and other preventable diseases". A collective approach has many advantages such as combining resources so we can be more effective and efficient in our actions and activities and joint cooperation to be more successful in achieving our common goals and objectives.

    To become a member of HCC or get more information about HCC visit the website http://www.healthycaribbean.org/ or follow them on Facebook, Twitter and Youtube.

  • Raymond Romeo receives Competent Communicator Award from Toastmasters International.

    rromeoreceivescompetentcommunicatoraward03062012Philipsburg:--- Toastmasters International announced that Raymond Romeo has achieved the Competent Communicator designation. On March 15th 2012, Raymond completed his tenth project in the Competent Communication Manual. Once the CC has been achieved the Toastmaster then can go on to more advanced projects with 15 manuals to choose from.
    Valerie Brazier DTM, District 81 Secretary presented Raymond with his Competent Communicator certificate to recognize this important milestone. Raymond joined Toastmasters on February 17th 2011 and is a valued member of the Philipsburg Toastmasters Club. He sought out this communication and leadership organization because he wanted to further refine his leadership and communication skills. Raymond has served his club on the executive board for the 2011/2012 term as Treasurer.
    "Achieving my Competent Communicator award is just the beginning. I see this as a stepping stone towards achieving my Distinguished Toastmaster (DTM) Award" said Raymond Romeo.
    Toastmasters International has a proven program in leadership and communication that is available for each and every individual who decides to take the initiative and invest in professional development. After all toastmasters are where leaders are made.
    The Philipsburg Toastmasters Club meets at the library every first and third Thursdays of every month
    from 7:45pm to 9:00pm. I would like to encourage persons to attend a meeting in the very near future so
    they can benefit from the Toastmasters experience.
  • Finance Minister Provides Parliament with Government Financial Status and CFT Concerns on 2012 Budget --- TAXAN Agreement a Major Concern for MP’s.

    Philipsburg:--- Finance Minister Roland Tuitt and his staff including former commissioner of Finance Xavier Blackman were bombarded with questions from Members of Parliament regarding the 2012 Budget and the letters sent to government by the CFT regarding the 2012 budget. The CFT sent two letters to government outlining their concerns with the figures of the 2012 budget. The CFT also indicated to the government of St. Maarten that if corrections are not made to the budget they are prepared to have an instruction be given to St. Maarten.
    Member of Parliament Frans Richardson posed several questions about the agreement signed with TAX-AN. MP Richardson said he wants to know if the TAX-AN group has direct connections with any persons that were in government at the time when the agreement was signed. Who are these people and are there people that were in government that are connected to this group that is from the United Kingdom?
    Member of Parliament Roy Marlin also posed several questions about the agreement signed by the former Minister of Finance Hiro Shigemoto. Marlin said he wants to know if proper procedures were followed and why there was no bidding for a project that will cost over ten million dollars in a span of two years. Marlin said he also wants to know if a landsbesluit was signed by the governor to make the initial payment of Naf. 17,000.00 to TAX-AN.
    Marlin said that the Minister of Finance should be the gate keeper of the people's money and he is very much concerned about how the agreement was signed. He said the TAX-AN issue is not a laughing matter especially while government owes the civil servants their COLA payments. Marlin said he would not mind if the COLA payments were made to the civil servants without a landsbesluit because those monies would remain on St. Maarten. Marlin further lamented that the monies paid to TAX-AN will not stay on St. Maarten. He said he also wants to know if the government of St. Maarten could face any legal ramifications now that the payment and contract have been stopped by the current Minister of Finance. Member of Parliament Louis Laviest expressed the same concerns about legal ramifications that government might face and how much that could cost government. Laveist said he also wants to know who is TAX-AN and where does these people come from. Laviest said when he examined the TAX-AN deal done by the former Minister of Finance and the condominium fees he realized that government finances ran amuck. He said he is nervous as to how the current Minister of Finance will clean up the mess left behind by the former Minister of Finance. Laviest said no information was shared by the former government and no accountability was given to Parliament, he said that it appears as though there was a "cowboy" show taking place in the Government Administration Building. Laviest made clear that the government finances are not the piggy bank of the former Finance Minister Hiro Shigemoto. Laviest said a few of the MP's pleaded with the former Minister of Finance to grant relief to the people of St. Maarten and it was all denied, yet he signed an agreement with TAX-AN for over ten million dollars without following proper procedures. Laviest said he is of the opinion that the former government did everything possible to put the incoming government in an awkward position. MP Laviest said that he is not asking for anyone's head, but he would like for the current Minister to put their fears to rest and if that is not possible then "a man would have to do what he has got to do, even if it means asking for a Parliamentary inquiry and eventual prosecution."
    Member of Parliament Patrick Illidge asked if the monies that were in the government reserves were tampered with and if that is so he wants to know if proper procedures were followed prior to interfering with the reserves. MP Illidge said when the 2012 budget was debated on the floor of Parliament he was lenient with the former Minister of Finance because he believes that everyone must be given a fair chance. MP Illidge said that when the budget was debated on the floor he requested that monies be placed in the budget for the Middle Region Community Council and the elderly all of which were denied because he was informed that no one can interfere with government reserves. MP Illidge asked the current Minister of Finance to provide him with the TAX-AN agreement and all information pertaining to government monies and its spending after the former government fell.
    Other Members of Parliament that expressed grave concerns about the 2012 budget and the TAX-AN agreement signed without following proper procedures include George Pantophlet, Dr. Lloyd Richardson, and Romaine La Ville. La Ville said he would like the current Minister of Finance to conduct an audit for the month of March and April 2012. La Ville also raised concerns about the amount of agreements the former government signed off during their last weeks in office.
    Minister of Finance Roland Tuitt told Parliament that two letters were sent by CFT to government regarding the 2012 budget. The concerns of the CFT were regarding the condominiums and real estate fees that government projected in the budget and the income tax visitors have pay on St. Maarten.
    Tuitt said that due to the lengthy procedures regarding these taxes, the CFT voiced their concerns about the 21 million guilders that was projected to be collected from the condominium taxes. He said another concern is the COLA payments. He said one of the factors that played a role is the COLA payments that were not budgeted while the government of St. Maarten had an agreement with the unions regarding the payment of the 2010 COLA. Tuitt said he wants to make clear that it is not because someone has a ministerial decree they could circumvent the law.
    Minister Tuitt said one good news for St. Maarten is that they collected extra monies on the wage tax and the TOT but the profit tax was way under what was projected. The Minister said the 2010 financial statements have been prepared and are being audited by the SOAB while the department is working on the 2011 financial statements. He said when these statements are completed and issued it will be sent to Parliament and the council of advice for handling. Tuitt said the budget amendments had to be done by May 15th but the new government took office on May 21. Minister Tuitt already indicated that he might have to seek authorization from the Ministeraat to borrow monies for the investments that are listed in the 2012 budget that was approved by Parliament. Minister Tuitt also informed Parliament that the procedures were not followed with the TAX-AN agreement. He said no terms of reference were in place for the 11 to 14 million dollars project excluding the out of pocket expenses. TAX-AN he said would have cost St. Maarten $290,000.00 bi-weekly and a tender had to be done for such projects. Minister Tuitt said the TAX-AN project was not even budgeted in the 2012 budget. Besides that, the Minister of Finance did not even sign a contract as required when there was no bidding done. Tuitt said the former Minister made an agreement with TAX-AN where he would give them 15% of the extra monies that were generated by their new program. He further explained that there was no landsbesluit signed by the governor to issue payments for 4.7 million and 5.7 million guilders. The Minister said he already indicated to the legal councils of government to look into what the legal ramifications would be since there was no contract in place. He said he also submitted a request for the SOAB to conduct an audit for the TAX-AN project and make a TOR and to see if the judicial proceedings were followed. SOAB has to also check to see if TAX-AN submitted sufficient work for the monies they already collected. The continuation of this Parliamentary meeting will take place on Monday June 11th at 10am.
  • Secretariat of the Council of Ministers briefs Ministers on its role.

    comsecretariatpresentation05062012GREAT BAY (DCOMM):--- The Council of Ministers recently started with a series of presentations as part of their introduction program.

    The first presentation was provided by the Secretariat of the Council of Ministers. The Secretary General of the Council of Ministers Cassandra Janssen provided an overview of the main responsibilities and tasks of the Secretariat as a support unit to the Council.

    A brief overview was given on future projects and in closing the ministers were presented with two information booklets: one with basic information on the constitutional structure explaining the different entities that form part of this and the other a practical guide, containing various practical topics placed in alphabetical order for easy finding.

    Part of this extra-ordinary meeting was also the establishment of the templates for the stationary of the ministers. The Secretary Generals of the different Ministries are to also make presentations.

  • Education Minister Brings More Clarity on Low Success Rate of Students Studying in the Netherlands.

    sjacobs06062012Philipsburg:--- The Minister of Education, Youth, Sports, and Culture Silveria Jacobs told reporters at Wednesday's Council of Ministers press briefing that her Ministry is busy studying the causes of the low success rate of students studying in the Netherlands. The Minister announced last week that St. Maarten students in the Netherlands have success rate of merely 10%. Minister Jacobs said her Ministry is busy setting up a career choice center which will be geared at assisting students in the Netherlands with career guidance counseling. This new entity would also give guidance to students in their career choices. Minister Jacobs said that students who apply for study financing would also have to submit their portfolio so that government would have an indication of their strengths, interests, and their weaknesses.
    The Ministry is also working on putting in place an intake assessment and psychology center in order to see if the students are mentally and socially prepared for their new environment and educational challenges. The Minister said while she believes government has to do more to support students studying abroad she also believes that the student, their parents and the schools have to do much more to prepare students that are interested in furthering their studies overseas.
    The Education Minister said that students studying overseas are currently going through severe bouts of depression. She made clear that this is not an issue affecting St. Maarten students alone. "Recently, one or two students that are studying in the Netherlands ended up throwing themselves in front of trains." The Minister said her government is seriously considering following the students that are issued study financing much closer in order to increase the success rates.
    The Minister also touched on what she described as the "brain drain" affecting students in the Netherlands and how hesitant students are to return to St. Maarten after completing their studies. Another aspect government will incorporate in the study financing applications is the "priority list". Minister Jacobs said students that are interested in careers that are available on St. Maarten will be the ones to get study financing.
    When asked by SMN News if the Education Ministry intends to amend the study financing ordinance to ensure that students who acquire study financing must return to St. Maarten to serve their country for period of time. The Minister said that the study financing ordinance already gives students a 20% discount on their loans if they return to St. Maarten. The Minister said right now the government of St. Maarten cannot force students to return to St. Maarten after they complete their studies even though they are offering them incentives. She said currently the government is working on a new education law and in that new law she will add something to that effect. Minister Jacobs said some 20 years ago when she received her scholarship she had to sign an agreement to return to St. Maarten and serve the island for at least 5 years but she could not say if that was removed from the current study financing policy.
    The Minister also mentioned that the government will be reverting to the old examination regulations. She said an urgent advice was sent out to annul the new regulation which is negatively impacting the HAVO/VVO examination students that are attending the Milton Peters College.
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  • Central Committee of Parliament Continues on Monday about CFT Letter, National Ordinances and Initiative Law Labour Contracts.

    PHILIPSBURG:--- The Central Committee of Parliament will continue its meeting in a public session on June 11 with respect to changes to national ordinances, a letter from the Committee of Financial Supervision (CFT) and the Civil Code.

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

    The first agenda point concerns a letter to the Council of Ministers dated May 09, 2012 from the CFT. The Minister of Finance Hon. Roland Tuitt is expected to be present for this agenda point and will address the House.

    The second agenda point is related to the National Ordinance, with respect to changes to the Stamp Ordinance 1994 as well as other ordinances regarding the introduction of a new identification card and driver's license.

    The third agenda point is an initiative draft ordinance which requires changes to the Civil Code Book Seven A, regarding the elimination of misuse of labour contracts. The Minister of Justice Hon. Roland Duncan is expected to address the House on the aforementioned.

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

  • Boo Boo Jam Workers Protest Against Stringent Rules by New Management and Firing of Colleague.

    booboojamworkersonstrike08062012Marigot:--- Workers of well known Boo Boo Jam restaurant in Orient Bay were on strike all day Friday as they protest against a particular manager and the termination of one of their colleagues. The strike and protest at the entrance of the restaurant is expected to continue said Rudy Hyman of CGTG union of Guadeloupe.
    The CGTG representative said the workers are demanding their bonuses and want to have one of their colleagues who was fired re-instated. Hyman said management of Boo Boo Jam fired their beach boy Patrick Cocks since April 23rd and to date he has not been paid. The workers and their union are also demanding that the manager of Boo Boo Jam Stephane Guihard be removed forthwith.
    The workers alleged that the manager who is from Corsica told the workers that "in Corsica black man has no place and he is only fit to be tied up with chains and dragged behind a car." Hyman said the new manager told the workers that his job is to fire the local staff. "Today's manifestation is to show that the manager is wrong and his behaviour will not be accepted on St. Martin and we will do whatever is legally possible to make sure he goes." Hyman said there are number of workers who worked at Boo Boo Jam for years that are affected, some of them have 20 years service and what is happening now has never happened before. Hyman further alleges that the most severe issues surround racism and that will not be accepted. The CGTG is demanding that management sit around the table with them to resolve the issues. He said unless that happens, the strike will continue.
    Hyman and another worker said that the workers are being pushed, provoked, and fined if they don't cooperate with management. They claim the new manager was brought in to fire the local St. Martin workers. Their strategy is to get rid of the workers that have worked here for more than 20 years and because of this we are calling on the population to come out and support us.
    Meanwhile, the general manager of Boo Boo Jam was giving his side of the story to Captain Sylvain Jouault of the Gendarmerie, pending a report being sent to Préfet Philippe Chopin.
    The general manager later told reporters that management was not the one making racism an issue and defended Guihard who he admitted had a "strong" management style.
    "That's the only argument they (workers) can come up with," he said. "But when we give orders to them we are told that management is getting at them because they are black."
    He also disclosed that Patrick Cocks had received warnings before in July 2011 about his behaviour and defiance of authority. After two years of trying to ameliorate the situation it was decided to fire Cocks.
    The general manager added his intention when he arrived was always to fully maintain the good reputation of the restaurant and keep the staff. Now future events at the restaurant are on hold until the strike is settled.
  • First Sea Turtle Nest for 2012 season recorded --- Some of the eggs eaten by dogs.

    brokeneggsatturtlenestingsite08062012The Nature Foundation recorded the first sea turtle nest on St. Maarten for the 2012 Sea Turtle Nesting season. Nature Foundation staff received a call concerning what was apparently a sea turtle nest on Guana Bay beach. Upon arrival on the beach staff confirmed that a nest was successfully laid by a leatherback sea turtle (Dermochelys coriacea) at a good location on the beach. Measurements were taken and the nest was marked. The Nature Foundation will continuously monitor the nest for how it is developing.

    The successful nest could be laid with the assistance of volunteers from the RBC Bank who were able to clean the beach of sea grass and plastic debris during a beach clean-up some weeks ago. Nesting sea turtle females probably attempted to nest on the beach but aborted laying due to the high amount of sargassum sea grass on the beach. Now the beach environment is much more suitable for nesting.

    The Foundation did notice that a part of the nest was dug up by what appeared to be dogs. Leatherback eggs and egg yolks were noticed broken open and dog prints were noticed in the nest. The Nature Foundation would like to encourage pet owners to keep their dogs on the leash when they walk with them during sea turtle nesting season to avoid nest being dug up or disturbed.

    The Foundation also noticed evidence again of beach bonfires. The Fire department has issued numerous warnings against the practice of beach bonfires during turtle nesting season and will not be issuing permits for beach bonfires until October. If violators are caught there may be legal consequences for them.

    St. Maarten is one of the few countries or territories in the Caribbean where the leatherback sea turtle lays its eggs. Turtles are officially protected by law and their disturbance may result in fines and incarceration.

  • Gendarmes seize Illegal Drugs During Routine Control --- Three Gendarmes Injured.

    MARIGOT:--- The Gendarmerie noted that 35 grams of cannabis, 40 rocks of crack, and 5 grams of cocaine were confiscated during a control in St. James on Thursday evening at 6:40pm. One individual was immediately taken into custody for possession, and two others were held, one for possession of a lesser amount of drugs, and the other for carrying a 6th category weapon.

    In an unrelated incident, on Saturday at 1:00pm, three Gendarmes were slightly injured in French Quarter while trying to control a group of a dozen youths who threw stones at them. The incident sparked when the Gendarmes controlled a motorcycle rider. The group escaped as Gendarmes attempted to arrest one of the leaders.

    A subsequent control in the district at 1:30pm with detectives, drug control agents, and the Police Territorial led to the seizure of crack cocaine and several scooters. Several summons were issued for aggravated violence with weapons.

    The Gendarmerie noted that these controls will be intensifying in the coming weeks.

  • PJIAE & Dept. of Civil Aviation host ICAO/FAA Aerodrome Certification Inspectors Workshop for the Caribbean Region.

    SIMPSON BAY:--- Princess Juliana Int'l Airport operating company N.V. (PJIAE) and St. Maarten Department of Civil Aviation, Shipping & Maritime have partnered to host the ICAO/FAA Aerodrome Certification Inspectors Workshop for Caribbean Region.

    The workshop, geared toward teaching aviation professionals how to conduct and prepare for aerodrome inspections, begins on Monday, June 11 and will continue through Friday, June 15.

    Louis Halley, Department Head of Civil Aviation, Shipping & Maritime, noted that this is the first workshop of this nature to be held in St. Maarten.

    Some 13 employees of PJIAE will participate in the intense five-day workshop geared toward aerodrome inspectors and operators.

    There will be facilitators from Mexico and the USA conducting the workshop, which will be held at the Sonesta Great Bay Beach Resort.

    The workshop will be attended by professionals from Caribbean countries and territories such as Barbados, Grenada, and Turks and Caicos, and also by persons from North America and the United Kingdom.

    Participants are expected to follow a myriad of modules including hands-on training in Airport Inspection, Aircraft Rescue and Firefighting Inspection and Post Inspection.

    Topics such as Wildlife Hazard Management and post-Inspection Administrative Procedures will be addressed during the workshop.

    "Although most attendees are aviation inspectors and operators, this training will give all participants the skills and knowledge base to execute their jobs more effectively especially when time comes around again for airport certification," said Halley.

    PJIAE will be the site for the external training, and key areas of the airport will be used during the weeklong course.

    "We are delighted to partner with the Department of Civil Aviation to host such an important workshop for the first time ever in St. Maarten," said PJIAE Marketing and Communications Manager, Kalifa Hickinson.

  • Finance Minister Gives Parliament Answers on TAXAND Contract and COLA Payments --- Procedures were not Followed --- Tuitt.

    financeministeranswersquestionsposedbyparliament11062012Philipsburg:--- Minister of Finance Roland Tuitt presented Parliament with the answers to the questions they posed to him last week during a Central Committee meeting on Monday.
    Minister Tuitt insisted that basic procedures were not followed when his predecessor Minister Hiro Shigemoto negotiated with the TAXAND group. Tuitt said because procedures were not followed he is currently reviewing the entire process and an audit is being conducted on it.
    Tuitt said the former Finance Minister did not even have a signed contract that was approved by the Governor of St. Maarten. He also confirmed to Parliament that the TAXAND group belongs to Mrs. Judith Brewster, who was contracted by the former Minister of Finance in late 2010 to provide fiscal advisory services to the former Finance Minister. Mrs. Judith Brewster is the sister of Mrs. Ruth Boyrard-Brewster, a policy advisor in the staff Bureau of the Ministry of Finance.
    The Finance Minister also confirmed to Parliament on Monday that some invoices that were submitted by TAXAND were paid. He said TAXAND was paid a total of $ 2,655,678.02 (NAF. 4,727,106.89). While the invoices that were submitted in March were put on hold by him and Government now owes TAXAND $ 3,058,031.27 (NAF. 5,504,456.30).
    Minister Tuitt also provided the Chair of Parliament with copies of the TAXAND contract and advices that were approved by his predecessor and the Council of Ministers on March 22, 2012 which are to be distributed to the Parliamentarians.
    Minister Tuitt said the former Minister of Finance placed TAXAND services on hold when the Governor did not sign the decree. The draft decree he said was sent back to his office by the Governor for handling.
    Minister Tuitt further explained to Parliament that he sent an email to the TAXAND group requesting that all remaining activities related to the tax compliance project be placed on hold until further notice. The Finance Minister said when he is finished studying the legal advice he received with regards to the TAXAND contract then he will decide how to proceed with the handling of TAXAND.
    Tuitt said based on the contract Shigemoto has with TAXAND there is no fixed amount on the cost. The project he said will cost 11 million dollars excluding the out of pocket expenses and the 15% capped success fee which could be as much as 20 million United States Dollars while the services of TAXAND will be indefinite unless termination by the SOW.
    Minister Tuitt also explained that there is a potential risk that a deficit could be caused by the shortfall of the income tax and the payment of the COLA which he said can be mitigated.
    Tuitt said based on the unaudited reports during the first four months of 2012, revenues were about NAF. 19 million higher than projected compared to the trend of 2011. These realized figures, combined with the liquidity prognosis create room to increase the budget for 2012 at about 7 million.
    The first three months of 2012 showed an overall under-spending of about NAF. 13 million, while a substantial part of the COLA, namely the back service (NAF. 11 million), is an administrative amount which was already reserved and booked in the 2010 annual account. Because of this, Tuitt said there will be no real burden on the operational accounts of 2012. He also explained that the 2012 budget has one million guilders for vacancies that are not yet filled and these monies could mitigate the COLA and other expenses. The Ministry of Finance said the budget amendments for the COLA payments would keep the budget balanced as required by the Kingdom Legislations. Tuitt said the intention of his predecessor was to pay the COLA from the reserves, but this is not needed based on the liquidity projections of government. In accounting, it is not good practice to use reserves to finance structural costs. Furthermore, this principle decision was not approved by Parliament, as it was not reflected in the budget for 2012. The budget amendment which will be presented to Parliament will include provisions for payment of the COLA without using the reserves. Tuitt also confirmed that the COLA payment has to be made because of an agreement that was made between government and the unions.
    Regarding the condominium tax which the former Minister estimated to be NAF. 22 million, the Minister said is a plan of approach which was made up by the CFT and execution started however during the execution of the collection process it became clear that the target of NAF. 22 million would not be met.
    Minister Tuitt said the CFT already indicated that the NAF. 22 million was not collectable therefore in its letter of April 20, 2012 the CFT expressed doubts about Government's ability to collect that amount based on the collection efforts to date.
    He said his predecessor did not take any measures neither did he leave anything behind to plug the gap of the NAF. 22 million he envisioned in condominium tax. Tuitt said that the first quarter report shows that there will be additional revenues in certain areas of tax collection, combined with the under spending. This he said should be sufficient to keep the budget balanced. He also insisted that his Ministry is still processing data in order to determine if additional action is required.
    The previous Minister of Finance indicated that the reserves could be used to pay for the COLA expenses. The CFT has indicated that this could not be done as long as the annual accounts had not been approved. The annual account 2010 has recently been handled by the SOAB, Tuitt said. He further explained that the period during which Sint Maarten was an island territory, this annual account covers the period up until 09-10-2012. It will be presented to the Parliament as soon as possible. The period from 10-10-2010 through 31-12-2011 will be included in an annual account with an extended book year, which should be finalized soon.
    The Finance Minister also told Parliament that the St. Maarten Senior Citizens Home and the Middle Region Community Council should receive Naf. 15,000.00 each.
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  • Seven Seas Water Makes Donation To Dance Theatre.

    sevenseaswaterdonatestodancetheatresxm12062012SIMPSON BAY:--- Dance Theatre of St. Maarten is the latest recipient of a donation made by Seven Seas Water (St. Maarten).

    The donation of 1500 U.S. dollars was recently made to the group by Seven Seas Water Managing Director, Franklyn Richards.

    Accepting the donation were Susha Hien and Indira Marlin, directors of Dance Theatre of St. Maarten, who were joined by many of her dance students, for the occasion.

    Richards has expressed great satisfaction at being able to support yet another group in the community. He noted that Seven Seas Water continues to believe in its role as good corporate citizen and that as such it always welcomes opportunities to assist, particularly, youth development in St. Maarten.

    "Assisting our youth in education, sports, arts and culture is an important element in nation-building and Seven Seas Water embraces its role towards realizing this goal", noted Richards.

    "Many of the students of Dance Theatre of St. Maarten have already demonstrated their skills in singing and acting – underlining their commitment to arts. With this donation, Seven Seas recognizes their talent, dedication, and hard work" stated the Seven Seas Water director.

  • Flag Day Celebration Successful.

    sxmflagdayceremony13062012Philipsburg:--- Officials of the Government of St. Maarten including Governor Eugene Holiday gathered in front of the Government Administration Building to celebrate Flag Day. The official speeches were delivered by Minister of Education Youth, Culture, and Sports Silveria Jacobs and Prime Minister Sarah Wescot Williams. Students of various primary schools participated by waving their flags during the short ceremony while the Imbali dancers danced in their traditional St. Maarten outfits for the gathering.

    Click here to view more photos of the 2012 Flag Day Celebrations.

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  • Scooter rider seriously injured in Accident.

    Marigot:--- A scooter rider was transferred to a Guadeloupe hospital to be treated for head injuries following an accident involving two other vehicles in French Quarter near the Gess gas station on Monday evening at 9:15pm.

    The scooter rider who was not wearing a helmet at the time was joining the RN7 when he collided with an oncoming vehicle. The impact threw the rider clear of his machine but he was then struck by a vehicle coming in the opposite direction.

    The 19-year old scooter rider was first transported to the Louis Constant Fleming Hospital. A passenger in the car that collided with the scooter was also slightly injured. The drivers of both cars were unharmed.

    An inquiry into the accident has been opened. The Gendarmerie reminded that the victims injuries could have been less if he had been wearing a helmet.

  • President Richardson Addressed Nation on Several Issues --- Asked Population for their patience as he tries to solve the financial crisis of the Collectivity --- 2012 Budget has 22 Million Euros Deficit.

    alainrichardson14062012Marigot:--- Below is the address delivered by President Alain Richardson at the Collectivity of St. Martin on Thursday.

    Fellow citizens, dear friends, my people

    Today marks a little less than two and a half months since my team and I took office with your massive support.  You give us a mandate of 5 years in order:

    • to govern the affairs of this Collectivité
    • to work diligently to restore its financial situation
    • to restore confidence in our institutions and in our administration
    • to rekindle hope, while building a brighter future for this land, for you the people and for our youth in particular.

    Let me say to you today, that from day one, from minute one, that mission has been my sole preoccupation, my deepest concern and my steadfast engagement. I wish to let you know that beyond the difficulties, the hurdles and even the stumbling blocks that could be put in my way or the way of my government we will press on in order to meet your hopes and expectations.

    I wish to thank the many thousands of you, who understand that this task is neither an easy one nor an overnight magical operation. I wish to thank the praying community, the various Pastors and congregations who daily lift up this land, its people and its government, in prayer. I thank you for constantly inquiring and praying for me and my family. I beg you not to cease doing so, because I realize that the task before us demands more than our human knowledge and wisdom. I know, for I have experienced over and over in this short time spent at the helm of this country that God is in the midst.

    Yes, I would have liked to see things move faster, I would have liked to have a more robust and positive impact on your lives.  It is important that you understand, however, that my government and I, have inherited of a broke and bankrupt Collectivité. It is important that you know that it is with much difficulty that we have been able to meet some of our mandatory financial obligations. We have made a commitment to do my utmost to secure the pay of the workers of the Collectivité and of the various entities that depend on it.  We have also managed to secure the financial assistance that is a necessity to our senior citizens and disabled in order for them to make ends meet.  But in the months to come we are unsure as to whether we will manage if we do not obtain the financial support of the State government and its financial institutions.

    I know and I hear the impatience growing.  There are those who feel that things are not going fast enough and that the change is not visible enough. I beg your indulgence. I say to you, be patient, while considering the mess we have inherited.  Rest assured, I have not forsaken you.  I have not strayed from my engagement.  I have never been as committed as I am now even in the face of these profound difficulties.

    Someone once said that the seat of the Presidency is a very lonely one. I have to admit that at times this can be true. But I stay strong knowing that in fact you the people in your good wisdom, are and remain supportive. The work needed to set things in place as well as to assess the reality of the situation, and the many hurdles encountered have kept me and my majority terribly busy. Yet I am pleased to report to you, that in this very short period of time I have received hundreds of you, from the rich and famous to the humble and small. I have made myself available to receive you the people (the young and the old) and so have the various Vice Presidents and members of my government.

    I am pleased to report to you, that in this very short period of time:

    • I have lobbied the State and its services by meeting several times with the Prefet Délégué and the Préfet in order to bring forth the urgencies and difficulties of the Collectivité while firmly defending its interests.
    • Through our methods of working and the proof of our clear vision for this country, our responsible approach and the firmness on our positions, we have been able to restore the credibility of the local government in the eyes of the French government.
    • I have put in question the contract between the State Tax Services and our Collectivité as it pertains to the mission given to them for the assessment and collection of taxes. We are now renegotiating a more favorable and balanced convention.
    • I have met many investors who are contemplating investing in our territory; some have started the administrative work and now have their building permit. During all of my encounters with investors my main concern and my demands have always been in relation to the creation of jobs for my people especially the youth. Just last week end I returned from a trip to CTO’s Conference of Ministers where I represented St-Martin. Our chamber of commerce sponsored a session and presented our territory as being “open for business”. I am pleased to announce to you that tomorrow Friday I will be receiving the first group of potential investors who are interested in investing in St-Martin. Through the great contacts made through our Tourist Office and especially by its Director this delegation will be also be comprised of the NABHOOD Organization.  We have managed to convince them film on the  French side the TV series “THE WEDDING”.  This series will be viewed by almost 300 million households.

    I am pleased to report that In this very short period of time :

    • My majority in the territorial council has approved a tax reform that will generate more than 5 M euros per year in new revenues for the Collectivité’s budget. These measures, my fellow St-Martiners, are needed and they have been chosen with you in mind. The slight increase of the consumer tax on telecommunication and electricity services still maintains the costs of these services far cheaper than in Guadeloupe and on the Dutch side. There is also an increase of the transfer tax on the sale of property.  Because the price of land has escalated so much over the years you the average person have been excluded from that business.  This measure will not touch and concern the average person (more than 95% of the people will not be concerned). The reform of the capital gains tax as indicated in our program is to bring more fiscal justice in our tax system. How could one accept that a minimum wage worker, if single and with no kids, has to pay income tax, but a property owner when selling makes millions in capital gains but is totally exempted from any tax contribution to the Collectivité. We have delivered that reform and brought more fiscal justice.
    • The entire territorial council has followed my request and has unanimously adopted the first truthful Budget. Yet because of the critical situation of our finances, the poor performances of the tax services and the lack of a fair compensation on the transfer of competences our 2012 budget is in deficit by more than 22 M Euros. You heard me right more than 22 M Euros in the red.
    • My majority in the council in adopting the tax reform, the entire council by adopting the 2012 BUDGET, as presented, and by unanimously adopting the motion demanding that the State of France assume its obligations towards St-Martin has proven that we are delivering and are doing the ground work that will yield visible results (the visible results that you need to see) shortly.

    In this very short period of time :

    I am pleased to inform you that we have signed an agreement with General des Eaux that will result in the reduction of average 17% off the cost of your water bill. My fellow Citizens, between the slight increase of the consumer tax on utility services and the substantial reduction of the cost of your water consumption you are winning and that is very good news.

    During the short period that we have been in government, we have worked and continue to push to make sure that France steps up to the plate. I must commend both the Prefet delegué Philippe CHOPIN and the Prefet Amory DE ST-QUENTIN for their understanding and clear commitment to change the relationship and work settings with St-Martin under this new local government. I will be meeting with both gentlemen shortly, now that my government and the entire territorial council have proven its level of responsibility, in order to prepare for my visit to Paris to meet our Minister Victorin LUREL.  We will be soliciting him to validate a series of financial measures that will permit us to benefit from substantial financial assistance.

    Don’t lose faith, the fight has just now started and the first round has not yet been completed. We have to do what we committed to do. Not only do we have to, but we actually CAN . We MUST and we WILL do what needs to be done for you and for this territory.

    You asked for change. You asked for better governance, one that would ensure the well-being of every citizen in this country.  Governance, that would bring back hope to the youth; rekindle the economic development processes and make our territory more attractive and competitive. You asked us to find solutions to dire needs within our community… The change my team and I are committed to bring is a complete turnaround. I am informing you that our task in the next few days is to take some decisions on reducing costs at the level of the Collectivité and I have identified the following sector for such cost reductions:

    • The fleet of cars, their usage and their cost
    • The fleet of cell phones and telecommunication costs
    • The audit and cost of electricity consumption,
    • The properties rented by the Collectivité.

    The general cleanup campaign is in its first phase.  Collectivité workers from (public works service) are doing an inventory of cars wrecks and in the preparation of the process that will involve you the general population. This will be launched very shortly.

    My next priorities, in line with our commitment to you, will be the reorganizing of the administration so as to increase its efficiency and effectiveness, the battle for economic development and job creation, the vast amount of neighborhood public works to improve the quality of life in the districts (road and infrastructure repairs, sidewalks and pavements, cleanliness of the streets and public lights, beautification by planting of trees and flowers, repairing and bringing up to norms all public sports and leisure facilities, repair and beautification of the public market places, etc…).

    All of these will demand financial means and that is why my government had to take potentially unpopular measures such as tax reforms.  I wish to state very clearly that I have not been elected to be popular, but to do what is needed to get this country back on its feet and have the standard of living of you the people improved.

    Do not judge my government on two months in power, judge this government at midterm and then at the end of our 5 year mandate.

    My fellow citizens, There are numerous other issues that we have committed ourselves to accomplish.  Let it be known that we are now making sure that these are evaluated, weighed, considered, analyzed scrupulously to ensure that once tackled and implemented we can expect quicker results and a positive outcome or solution to issues which have been left to themselves for the longest of while now.  These include the driver’s licenses, the exchange of Dutch licenses, the number plates, etc…

    I wish to thank the vice presidents and all other councilors who have embraced their tasks and are working in order to make a difference in their fields of responsibility. I know that we have not yet reached cruising speed or altitude and the trip is somewhat rough, but I promise you, we are working at it and are getting there.

    My fellow Citizens, I know that those who are never satisfied will always remain that way.  The critics and those who only wish to see this team fail (not realizing that our failure is the failure of St-Martin) will always be complaining and destroying.  You the very concerned people of this land you know that even with a magic wand much more could not have been achieved in such a short period of time.

    I need to be able to make sure that St-Martin and this voting district does not remain with only Parliamentarians in the opposition in Paris. We need to make sure that we have our Deputy is part of the President’s Majority.  President François HOLLANDE was elected with more that 51.50% of your votes in May.  Our deputy has to contribute in helping to adopt and improve the various measures that the President wants to implement and is in favor of, such as:

    • new jobs and jobs opportunities for our youth (jobs financed by State funds),
    • Youth policies
    • Educational policies to guarantee greater success

    On Saturday, this legislative election is not about Daniel GIBBS nor about Guillaume ARNELL as such, it is about St-Martin not making the mistake in electing a deputy who will sit in the opposition on the benches of the National Assembly (as our senator is now doing in the Senate).  It is about giving me the president of this Collectivité and my majority an extra support and a voice in Paris.  It is about giving to both President François HOLLANDE and our friend and Minister of Overseas territories Victorin LUREL an irrefutable and undisputable sign that they need to count St-Martin in and that our choice in May to elect the new president was not a mistake. I am appealing to the 70% of voters who did not go out to vote on Saturday last, make use of your vote for St-Martin elect the only candidate who is part of both the local and the Presidential majority. Elect Guillaume ARNELL.

    My fellow citizens thank you again for your renewed support and for your love for this country,

    May God continue to Bless you, your family and this land of St-Martin.


    Alain RICHARDSON

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  • Arrindell calls on the nation to take a stand against elder abuse.

    PHILIPSBURG:--- Friday June 15 marks the first United Nations (UN) World Elder Abuse Awareness Day (WEAAD).

    Elder abuse is a global social issue which affects the Health and Human Rights of millions of older persons around the world, and an issue which deserves the attention of the international community.

    It was officially recognized by the UN General Assembly in December 2011, following a request by the International Network for the Prevention of Elder Abuse, who first established the commemoration in June 2006.

    The day represents one day in the year when the whole world voices its opposition to the abuse and suffering inflicted to some of our older generations.

    Elder abuse, like domestic violence and child abuse, comes in many forms. It has been recognized by experts as a public health crisis for which there are no socio-economic borders.

    "On this day, World Elder Abuse Awareness Day, let us as a nation reflect on our elders and also raise awareness amongst members of our community of the various types of abuse to which older individuals are subjected.

    "Let us take a stand against elder abuse and take a stand for dignity and respect of our elders," President of Parliament Hon. drs. Gracita Arrindell said on Friday.

  • Prime Minister says all Taxi Drivers are Ambassadors of St. Maarten.

    At unveiling of Genesis Taxi Building in Sucker Garden.

    The Prime Minister of St. Maarten attended the unveiling of the new Genesis Taxi Building in Sucker Garden on Thursday. The prime Minister commented that it was her pleasure to wish Genesis Taxi Association all the best in the opening of their new building; "congratulations to the board and members of the Genesis Taxi Association and indeed to the neighborhood of Sucker Garden on the addition of this service to the people of and visitors to St. Maarten. There is a great responsibility of having a headquarters and an office. Now you are able to strategize and plan and deliberate because now you have established an office and you have the space to make use of it and discuss your plans of the association and the role you play in Country St Maarten," the Prime Minister stated.

    The Prime Minister continued by stating that she looks forward to seeing the new Genesis Taxi building utilized to the fullest in offering their service to the community. "All taxi drivers have the responsibility of being ambassadors of the island and so I encourage you to continue to carry out that duty to the fullest and to ensure that you hold the name of St Maarten high, be it to your local clients or to the visitors you interact with. All taxi drivers have a great responsibility in representing this island; your words and what you tell people and the contribution that you make can be taken a long way," ended the Prime Minister.

  • Arrindell Receives 2011 Annual Report from General Audit Chamber.

    gacpresentsannual2011reporttogarrindell21062012PHILIPSBURG:--- Acting Chairman of the General Audit Chamber Ronald Halman along with Secretary General Joane Dovale-Meit, on Wednesday, presented their 40-page 2011 Annual Report to President of Parliament drs. Gracita Arrindell.

    The presentation was done in accordance with article 38 of the National Ordinance for the General Audit Chamber which says the former should present its annual report no later than July 1 to Parliament.

    The annual report is written in both official languages of English and Dutch. Some of the topics covered in the report are: position of the institution; tasks and authorities; staff; institutional development; governmental relationships; cooperation; operations; audits; regulatory audit on personnel expenditures; financial audit annual accounts 2010; service level agreement; framework for core business; among several other areas.

    Arrindell was very pleased to receive the General Audit Chamber annual report which is a complete full year report that the audit chamber has produced. Last year the chamber presented its first country annual report 2010 which covered the first two and a half-month period of country status.

    "I highly commend the board for a job well done once again. We need to continue to strengthen our high councils of state internally and continue to forge and strengthen their relationship with similar organizations within and outside of the Kingdom of the Netherlands.

    "I have noticed that the General Audit Chamber and Ombudsman have been very active in this area. It is very important for our young institutions to build relations with others," President of Parliament Arrindell said on Wednesday.

    President Arrindell informed Halman that an invitation will be extended to the General Audit Chamber and to the Ombudsman to come to parliament and discuss the content of their annual reports. This meeting is expected to be scheduled after the parliamentary recess of July.

    Arrindell received personalized copies of the report for each Member of Parliament, and the President promised to distribute these through the secretariat of parliament.

    The other members of the board of the General Audit Chamber are: Alphons Gumbs, and replacement members Mark Kortenoever and Daniel Hassell. The Chairman was Roland Tuitt who now serves as Minister of Finance.

  • Prime Minister conducts interview with ATV Aruba.

    swescotwilliamsduringinterviewwithatvaruba21062012The Prime Minister of St. Maarten the Honorable Sarah Wescot-Williams held a television interview with ATV Aruba outlining the importance of the her representation of St. Maarten at the Rio+20 Summit on Sustainable Development in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. During her interview the Prime Minister mentioned that the summit is or particular importance to St. Maarten in light of the fact that the island is very vulnerable to environmental changes both locally and globally due to Climate Change. "We are a tourism based economy and thus we are very vulnerable to various factors concerning both our local and global environment. That is why it is so essential that we address issues of sustainable development and environmental awareness on our island Nation," commented the Prime Minister.

    Press Release from Prime Minister's Office
  • Family Dream Supermarket Robbed --- Suspect Caught, Weapon and Money Confiscated.

    crimescenetape13022011Cole Bay:--- A Simpson Bay police patrol managed to nab a young robber who robbed Family Dream Supermarket on Thursday morning at gun point. Family Dream is located on Well Road, Cole Bay.
    According to reports reaching SMN News, the culprit was arrested on the spot and the weapon that was used to rob the supermarket was confiscated.
    SMN News has been reliably informed that the culprit was shot by one of the officers when he attempted to escape. It should also be noted that Fresh Pond Supermarket in Sucker Garden was also robbed on Monday night. However to date, no information on that robbery has been made available by the police department.

    A press release issued by the Police Spokesman Ricardo Henson states that on Thursday at approximately 10:00am, a Simpson Bay Police patrol, while driving on the Well Road in Cole Bay was stopped by some bystanders who informed the patrol that an armed robbery was ongoing in the Family Dream Supermarket located on the same road. As the officers stepped out of the vehicle they saw an unknown person, with a black cloth partially covering his face and a handgun in his right hand leaving the supermarket. This person started walking rapidly in the direction of Narrow Drive. The officers ordered the suspect to stop on several occasions, however, he refused to do so and started running away. One officer then fired a shot at the suspect hitting him in his right leg and the suspect fell to the ground. The suspect was apprehended on the scene and his weapon and along with the stolen cash were confiscated for further investigation. The suspect with initials D.L. from Jamaica, is 17 years old and lives in the Cole Bay area. He was treated on the scene by paramedics and then transported to the Sint Maarten Medical Center for further treatment. The Special Robbery Unit and Forensic Department are investigating this matter.
  • TelEm Group says latest restructuring measures painful but necessary.

    Pond Island:--- On Wednesday, June 20, 2012, TelEm Group officially informed personnel about the placement of staff in the restructured Sint Maarten Telecommunication Operation Company N.V. (SMTOC).

    On the above-mentioned date management, supported by independent consultants from PriceWaterhouseCoopers and Global Resourcing, and with full disclosure to the union representing TelEm Group workers, made known which members of staff would be retained and transferred to the new Operating Company.

    With immediate effect, all staff placed in the Sint Maarten Telecommunication Operating Company N.V. (SMTOC) are officially transferred from TelEm, Smitcoms N.V., and TelCell N.V.

    Personnel not placed in the Sint Maarten Telecommunication Operating Company N.V. (SMOTC) have been asked to remain home on full pay while the company will re-consider them for the remaining vacancies in the company .

    Management has assured all personnel that TelEm Group will meet all its obligations to personnel transferring to the new company and most importantly to personnel who will cease to be employed by TelEm Group. These obligations will be in accordance with the present Collective Labour Agreement (CLA), a Transfer Agreement and a Social Plan, all signed with the union representing TelEm Group personnel.

    Also, management will put in place support services to assist non-placed staff with interviews, recommendations and training for positions with other companies where their services may be required.

    Management is very sensitive to any pain that may be experienced by staff as a result of this phase of the restructuring process, however the actions taken are in the long-term interest of the company and the sustaining of the remaining jobs that may otherwise be lost unless these necessary steps are taken.

    The company's staffing levels stood at around 200 two years ago.

    By strictly controlling new hires, by not renewing definite contracts and by not replacing staff who have gone on pension or who have resigned from the company, management has succeeding in bringing staffing levels down naturally to approximately 175 members of staff at the start of this year.

    Excluding some vacancies management will maintain a staffing level of 134 members of staff after the restructuring process of which 13 were recently informed they are not placed in the SMTOC in addition to 28 other members of staff who resigned, accepted voluntary leave and early pension packages mostly during the month of May and were also not placed.

    The 13 members of staff not yet placed will be considered in a second round of placement, if suitable positions are available.

    Management has stated that on the whole the level of downsizing consists of approximately 25 members of staff in the past two (two) years from non-replacement of staff etc., and approximately 41 members of staff in recent days mainly from the restructuring process.

    Approximately 20 vacant positions might be left to be filled by persons mostly of HBO level qualifications.

    Management says it has seriously tried to retain many personnel, some of whom in actual fact did not meet the stricter criteria and requirements that are now being demanded for placement in the new company.

    Management also says that in discussion with the union and taking into consideration the part TelEm Group plays in the local community and economy, a serious degree of leniency has been exercised and more staff have been retained than expected.

    The company says the placement and non-placement of staff must be seen in the context of decisions taken many years ago to make the company processes more efficient, reduce the manpower levels, make the company lean and mean and also to place correct persons in correct "best fit" positions within the company.
    TelEm Group says persons offered positions in the new company will be addressed by their own department managers and later by the Executives of the company who will indicate how the company will be moving forward in the coming weeks and months.

    TelEm Group continues to assure personnel that these steps are being taken for no other reason than the continued sustainability and long-term viability of TelEm Group and its personnel.

    Management is particularly sensitive at this time to the concerns and disappointments of persons who have not yet been placed noting the additional support offered by management to place these workers in other positions within the company or for employment elsewhere.

    The next phase of the process is the lodging of objections and appeals to an independent appeal committee for staff who are not pleased with the offers made to them.

    In light of the sensitivity of this restructuring process , management must continue to be sensitive to the information it gives to the media and to the public."

    TelEm Group is no different to any telecommunication company around the world that has been forced to make drastic changes, especially in personnel, due to changes and developments in the telecommunication industry.

    Traditionally high revenue earners such as international calling has been replaced by services such as Skype through which callers can speak for hours for free, making use of TelEm's own telecommunication infrastructure. Voice services are also reduced drastically due to the use of popular data ping and whatsapp services.

    Telecommunication companies can offset some of the losses of voice calls by increasing their data services and broadband services, however, competition dictates lowest prices and minimal profit margins

    The only way TelEm Group can continue to compete successfully and remain a viable company is to become lean and mean, become more efficient and step up its services and the quality and professionalism of its personnel – that in essence is what a good part of the restructuring process has been.

    There is no truth to reports in the media that TelEm Group has sent home workers as a precursor to signing a partnership agreement with DIGICEL or UTS.
    The present partnering talks are apart and distinct from the restructuring process that is taking place and there is no connection between the two at this stage."

  • G.I.F.T.E.D. Foundation to host Praise Party.

    omaliedurand27062012Philipsburg:--- The G.I.F.T.E.D. Foundation will be hosting their first praise party called "Last Saturdays – Summer Praise" on June 30 at the John Larmonie Centre starting at 7pm. Recording gospel artiste, Omalie Durand of Dominica and Anguilla will be performing live at this first session in the series.
    President of G.I.F.T.E.D., Lenworth Wilson, Jr said, "Under our "Shameless Promotions" banner we've started this series of events called "Last Saturdays Praise".
    Last Saturdays is a gospel party setting for teens and young adults. It provides a forum where the young and the young at heart can 'let their hair down', and fellowship in a wholesome, positive environment."

    G.I.F.T.E.D. will be hosting this event on the last Saturday of every month. There is a growing need among young people for a wholesome alternative on the entertainment scene where fun does not include drugs, alcohol, sex and disparaging music. As with their Funday Monday, G.I.F.T.E.D. will make another fun-filled, enjoyable experience for the St. Maarten community.

  • Prosecutor Accused of Sleeping with Prisoner’s Girlfriend --- Girlfriend works at Law Firm.

    justicescaleandweight27062012Pointe Blanche:--- A prisoner at the Pointe Blanche Prison filed a complaint against one of the Public Prosecutor's on St. Maarten for having an affair with his girlfriend while he is incarcerated. According to reliable information reaching SMN News, the prisoner even accused the Public Prosecutor of impregnating his girlfriend. SMN News learnt that the prisoner's girlfriend is working at a well known law firm on St. Maarten.
    Sources said the Attorney General (Openbaar Ministerie) is doing their best to cover up the allegations and complaint filed against the Public Prosecutor since his term on St. Maarten is almost over and he is already in the Netherlands. Efforts made to reach Chief Prosecutor Hans Mos for a comment on the allegations proved futile since he could not be reached by telephone. SMN News learnt that Mos is on vacation for at least one month. SMN News also contacted the Attorney General of St. Maarten Taco Stein for a comment. Stein said the incident happened before he arrived on the island and that the only person that has information on the investigation is the Chief Prosecutor of St. Maarten Hans Mos who is currently off island. Mos is expected to be back on St. Maarten on July 16th 2012.
    In an invited comment, Minister of Justice Roland Duncan confirmed that a complaint was filed by a convict against one of the Public Prosecutors. Minister Duncan said that he heard of the complaint and the same allegations that were being made. "I heard the same things that you heard but I cannot say if the woman is pregnant and if she is pregnant for the prosecutor because I am not a doctor and for this to be determined DNA tests would have to be conducted."
    The Minister of Justice also said he is dealing with the matter but he did not say how he intends to do so. Based on Stein's comment, it appears as though the allegations and complaint were filed almost three months ago and somehow it was swept under the proverbial carpet. It should be noted that SMN News tried to obtain the name of the accused prosecutor, the convict, and the girlfriend but we were not able to obtain that information.
  • July 1 Emancipation poster series to St. Martin libraries, available to public.

    emancipationdayposterpresentedtophilipsburgjubileelibrary28062012GREAT BAY/MARIGOT:--- House of Nehesi Publishers (HNP) and Conscious Lyrics Foundation (CLF) presented the HNP Emancipation Day poster series 2012 to the Philipsburg Jubilee Library on Wednesday and to the Public Library in Marigot on Thursday.

    Dr. Rhoda Arrindell made the joint presentation of the commemorative posters on behalf of both cultural foundations ahead of the actual Emancipation Day on July 1.

    The July 1 series consists of three limited print posters, said the educator. The main illustration of the first poster shows two St. Martin men planning an escape from slavery in 1848.

    The second image depicts St. Martiners protesting against slavery along the roadsides in the South of the island after Emancipation was declared in the North of St. Martin in 1848.

    "The third poster bears the bold and beautiful image of legendary maroon heroine One-Tété Lohkay," said Dr. Arrindell.

    The three illustrations are originally from National Symbols of St. Martin, a book that Arrindell worked on in 1996. Sundiata Lake designed the Emancipation 2012 series.

    The pen and ink drawings that dominate the posters include an outcropping of the cover of National Symbols, tucked conspicuously in the design. Each poster bears dabs of colors from the unity flag, the headline: 164 Years Ago ... , and a thematic footer: "Hail the Brave Ancestors! Surrender not one day of Freedom won."

    emancipationdayposterpresentedtomarigotlibrary28062012This is the second year that HNP has issued an Emancipation Day poster series for July 1. Last year's four digital art pieces were by award-winning graphics designer Angelo Rombley.

    The Emancipation Day series are designed for Internet and social network posting, said HNP president Jacqueline Sample, "but Shujah thought that the images should also be printed this year for people who are not online regularly."

    Shujah Reiph, president of CLF and host of Conscious Lyrics radio magazine, said, "Historical events like making Emancipation Day an official holiday for the first time on July 1, 2012, should not go unnoticed. Any people with pride in what they believe will recognize their ancestors."

    "We could only afford to print a limited number of the posters, but this is a limited print of gratitude, a way of saying 'Thank you!' to our ancestors," said Reiph.

    "We hope that persons who see and buy the posters will recognize the value that also comes with limited edition art work and will therefore cherish the Emancipation Day posters even more," said Sample.

    The posters are available from Shujah Reiph and at Van Dorp bookstores. "HNP is happy to work with Conscious Lyrics and Dr. Arrindell in making the presentation to the island's main libraries that are used by the general public, students, and researchers. In this way the posters could be considered part of the libraries' collection of St. Martin heritage information and images for research and viewing by present and future generations," said Sample.

    "The House of Nehesi-Conscious Lyrics presentation is an Emancipation Day celebration activity. Hopefully it adds to the Emancipation exhibit at the Jubilee Library, the VOICES celebration at Emilio Wilson Park on July 1, and to especially the wreath-laying and cultural parade linking the historical statues organized by the Ministry of Education and Culture headed by Minister Jacobs," said Reiph.

  • PUBLIC NOTICE: The Rent Board Relocates.

    The Rent Board (a.k.a. The Rent Committee) hereby announces that the office has moved to Camille Richardson Street # 22, Philipsburg, (next to the Police Station).

    The office can be reached on telephone nr. 5420154/5420145 and fax nr. 5421367.

    The opening hours to the general public for all rental issues are as follows:

    08:30am - 13:00pm

    15:00pm - 17:00pm

  • PJIAE supports St. Dominic students in “Our Heart for Haiti” project.

    pjiaedonatestosdhstudents29062012SIMPSON BAY:--- Princess Juliana International Airport (PJIAE) made a contribution of US$650 to students of the St. Dominic High School for the "Our Heart for Haiti" project.

    The high school and its Parents Teachers Association (PTA) had requested the donation to assist with travel-related expenses for its students to the Caribbean country.

    In response to the devastating earthquake that struck Haiti in January 2010, St. Dominic High School had committed itself to a five-year program through which to help victims of the quake, said principal J. Verschueren-Sommers.

    During the mid-year school vacation in 2011, four students from the school's IB program and a teacher went to Haiti to volunteer at an orphanage. The initiative was such a success that other students wanted to follow suit by going to Haiti this year, said Verschueren-Sommers.

    Students have invested themselves in the program and raised money to aid with the trip. Previous group members also mentored new group members with necessary information to assist them in their duties related to the volunteer work, said PTA president Ursula Dijkhoffz.

    Four students were scheduled to depart St. Maarten for Haiti on June 27 to contribute their part to the "Our Heart for Haiti" project.

  • Elisia Lake is President of the Rotaract Club St. Maarten Sunrise 2012-2013.

    rotaract2012-2013board20062012Philipsburg:--- Rotaract Club of St. Maarten Sunrise in collaboration with Rotary Club of St. Maarten Sunrise held their annual Change of Board Ceremony at the Sonesta Great Bay Resort on Saturday June 16, 2012. Elisia Lake will be taking over the Rotaract Club from Past President of 2011-2012, Janice Wever-Choisy.
    Among Rotarians, Interactors, friends and family, present at the change of board ceremony was also the Honorable Deputy Prime Minister William Marlin who was the keynote speaker. The theme that Mr. William addressed to the audience was "Peace through Service". He highlighted how the government and individuals in the community should carry out service in their everyday lives to create a peaceful island.

    Before handing over the honorable position, outgoing Rotaract Club of St.Maarten Sunrise President Janice Wever-Choisy mentioned in her farewell speech that her club did wonders in the 2011-2012 year, but the job is not yet finished. She stressed of Elisia's strong willed personality and her confidence that Elisia will do a superb job of heading this amazing club. Elisia Lake was pinned the President of Rotaract Club Sunrise St. Maarten 2012-2013 by Assistant District Governor 2011-2012, James C Ferris.
    In a press release issued by the club, they high-lighted the incoming President's speech where she quoted Mother Teresa by saying, "I alone cannot change the world, but I can cast a stone to create many ripples". Lake stressed that she will need the help of every Rotaractor and persons in the community who share in the same dream of a better St. Maarten. Ms. Lake emphasized her desires in maintaining the services that Rotaract Club provides to the community which is to "bring water to the thirsty, food to the hungry, medical attention to the sick, educating the illiterate and clothing the needy. Two of the club's main goals for this year are to seek recognition of the Rotaract Club Sunrise and increase membership. She concluded by saying that the Rotaract Club will continue to put Service above Self in everything we think say or do and urged her members to cast stones together so we can create waves of change.

    The Rotaract Club inducted two new members, Aswayan Cooks and Charles Rollan and the new board members of 2012-2013 are: ELISIA LAKE – PRESIDENT, NORISSA ANATOL – VICE PRESIDENT,
    JANICE WEVER – IMMEDIATE PAST PRESIDENT, JUDITH BAIN – SECRETARY, TYRONE YATES – TREASURER & SERGEANT OF ARMS, JANALE NISBETT – COMMUNITY SERVICE DIRECTOR & PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT DIRECTOR, MICHALINE WARNER – CLUB SERVICE DIRECTOR
    and JEAN PHILIPE SYLVESTER – INTERNATIONAL SERVICE DIRECTOR.

  • Coastal residents advised to have plans in place for storm surge flooding.

    GREAT BAY (DCOMM):--- Coastal residents are advised to have plans in place for possible storm surge in the event of a passing hurricane along the south coast of the country.

    According to the Office of Disaster Management, these plans should be in place since before the hurricane season which started on June 1.

    The season so far has seen four storms form with the last one being Debby that caused severe flooding and discomfort in parts of the U.S. state of Florida a few days ago.

    Property damages that can be expected from hurricanes and coastal flooding have been increasing year by year, and in many places the threat to life is increasing as well, according to the National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).

    Most coastal communities are vulnerable to one or more different kinds of flooding and related hazards: frequent flooding from storm surge and winds; and storm-caused erosion of bluffs and beaches.

    Coastal areas of Sint Maarten are: Beacon Hill, Cupecoy, vicinity of the Princess Juliana International Airport, Simpson Bay, Pelican, Cay Bay, Belair & Little Bay, Philipsburg, Pointe Blanche, Red Pond, Oyster Pond and Guana Bay.

    In the event of a passing hurricane, homeowners should secure their possessions to upper levels of the structure. If you decide not to stay in your home, you should make the necessary arrangements before the passing of a hurricane on where you would stay to ride out the passing of the storm system. One should not wait until the last moment to evacuate their home. Rising storm waters can also flood coastal roads.

    The most important link in the chain of preparation and response for coastal flooding is you. Take the necessary measures to prepare your family and home, according to the Office of Disaster Management.

    Here is a check list if you have to leave your home before a hurricane strike due to high storm surge that is expected: turn off water and gas; have a radio and spare batteries; a first aid kit; flashlight; spare bedding; bottled water and tinned food; house keys; prescription medicine; cash and credit cards; mobile phone and spare clothing.

  • Minister Jacobs attends musical showcase by students.

    sjacobsattendsmusicalshowcase03062012Philipsburg (DCOMM):--- On Thursday, May 31, Minister of Education, Culture, Youth and Sports, Silveria Jacobs attended the Musical Showcase, organized by the music teachers, Rosemary Marsham-Hodge, Bobby Vlaun and Marva Richardson. The event took place at the Philipsburg Community and Cultural Center.

    Ten cycle 2 students from each of the following schools: Oranje, M. Genevieve de Weever and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. were chosen to form the United Choir and Ensemble which were the featured acts.

    The United Choir under the directorship of Rosemary Marsham-Hodge sang an array of medleys highlighting their melodious voices and culminating in the jazz number "Jitterbug."

    Bobby Vlaun's Music Ensemble of recorder players featured solos and marvelously timed Caribbean classics.

    There were several guest acts from the other public schools such as dancers, soloists, drummers and "Lil Paben" who did a dramatic dance a la Paben.

    Marva Richardson led the guest choirs from Ruby Labega and Charles L. Bell School.

    Another top notch and well receive group was one comprised of 5 drummers.

    Three One-hour sessions were held to accommodate the schools to be able to enjoy the showcase.

    Head of Director PES Mrs. G. Davis thanked the teachers for their collaborative efforts in decorating the Cultural Center.

    Minister Jacobs was in awe of the professional presentations of the students taking part in the Musical Showcase and pledged to work hard to be able to have more students' talents explored and developed in schools and to showcase their talent in the community.

  • Neighborhood Police officers sit exams.

    communitypoliceofficerssitexams03062012The five appointed neighborhood police officers, namely majors H. Romeo-Christina, Felix Richards, E. Josepha and Sergeants J. Statie and M. Sirvania who on May 29th 2012 officially started their training in "Community Policing", sat their exams on Saturday June 2nd 2012 for the first part of their training. All trainings and exams were given by Dr. Hector Garcia and Regina Siedentopf of the Miami Dade School of Justice. The entire class successfully passed the exams with grade point averages from 94 to 100. The students will continue doing their tasks in carrying out certain projects within the community of Sint Maarten. While doing these projects they will be mentored by Community Police Officers from the different police agencies from Miami. This is in preparation for their internship at the Miami Dade County School of Justice beginning in the Month of July 2012.
    Congratulations to all students on behalf of the Police Management Team and keep up the good work. Dr. Garcia and Mrs. R. Siedentopf left for Miami on Sunday June 3rd 2012.
  • Parliament Declares July 1 an Official Holiday --- Emancipation Day will be Celebrated.

    Philipsburg:--- The Parliament of St. Maarten unanimously approved the legislation to make July 1 an official holiday in commemoration of Emancipation Day. Minister of Education, Culture, Youth, and Sports Silveria Jacobs continued the presentation that was taken to Parliament by former Minister of Education, Youth, Sports, and Culture Rhoda Arrindell.
    The current Minister of Education took up the mantle left by former Minister of Education, Culture, Youth, and Sports Dr. Rhoda Arindell. Minister Jacobs credited the former Minister of Education and her staff for the hard work they did in preparing the legislation.
    The Members of Parliament present during Monday's Parliamentary meeting said they are all in favor of making July 1 a national holiday since the former Members of Parliament of the Netherlands Antilles from St. Maarten fought vigorously to have July 1 declared a national holiday but they did not get cooperation from the Members of Parliament from Curacao. The Members of Parliament stressed that while St. Maarten is the first Parliament within the Kingdom to declare July 1 a national holiday to celebrate Emancipation Day, they do not want this day to be just another holiday but a day where the people of St. Maarten will participate in the ceremonies and celebration of their freedom.
    However, Member of Parliament Johan Janchi Leonard took his speakers time to vent his feelings about the fact that Members of Parliament were not invited to the swearing in ceremony of the new government that took office last week. Leonard said he is one of the people's representatives and he took great offense at the fact that he was not invited to the ceremony. Member of Parliament Jules James also took jabs at several parliamentarians whom he blamed for the fall of his government.
  • Prime Minister Attends Little League Hometown Heroes Event.

    "We should make our children aware that is not always about winning, it is about representing St. Maarten and representing her proudly."

    swescotwilliamsattendslittleleaguehometownheroesevent05062012The Prime Minister of St. Maarten the Honorable Sarah Wescot-Williams attended the Little League Hometown Heroes event on Saturday. During the event, where members of the community have been recognized for their steadfast and positive contribution, the Prime Minister stressed the importance of realizing that when St. Maarten youth come home from representing the country abroad "we should show them the appreciation for having represented St. Maarten proudly abroad regardless of how well they did or how they placed. We should show them appreciation for representing St. Maarten because they go out there and represent this country proudly and that is where the strength of St. marten lies. The Prime Minister also stressed the importance in showing appreciation to the people who have motivated those students to go out there and be the best they can be. "We should make our children aware that it is not always about winning, it is about representing St. Maarten and representing her proudly. It is about showing people who you are and what you are made of".

    "As the little leagues celebrates 35 years I would like to thank those people who have supported our youth throughout all those years. May the Little League survive another 35 years and let our young people steer the organization in the direction it should go. If we support our children and give them they love they need they will have the confidence and pride to represent St. Maarten in any field," concluded the Prime Minister.

  • Justice Minister Will Not Negotiate with Prison Inmates Association.

    Philipsburg:--- Minister of Justice Roland Duncan made clear on Wednesday that he has no intention to discuss or negotiate with the Prison Inmates Association who was on strike last week. He said the Prison Director was in talks with the Prison Inmates Association but in his view the prisoners working at the Pointe Blanche Prison that were on strike were striking illegally because they are not a union. Duncan also blamed the media for "romanticizing" the events at the prison. He said the actions of the inmates were all illegal especially lighting a fire within the confines of the prison and taking away keys from a prison guard.
    Minister Duncan further explained that the Inmates Association filed a court case which will be heard on Friday and his Ministry intends to file a counter claim. The Justice Minister said he instructed the Prison Director to hire more staff because if the inmates do not want to work and make money while incarcerated then he would have to find people to work. "When more staff is hired the prisoners will not have any work. I have a department within the prison that sews the uniforms for the Justice Ministry and if they too don't want to work then I would have to stop the program and outsource the work."
  • Application Procedure for Managerial Positions at Public Schools Re-Opened.

    Philipsburg:--- Persons that are interested in occupying managerial positions in public schools can apply for the positions that are available. One such position is at the Oranje School confirmed Minister of Education, Culture, Youth, and Sports Silveria Jacobs. The Minister said she re-opened the application process because proper procedures were not followed the first time it was done and several persons that were interested in the positions did not know that the application process was open. "When I was a school manager I did not know of the opening so many persons heard of it through rumors." Minister Jacobs said while the application process has been re-opened the three candidates that already applied will be part of the process when the evaluation is done.
    Minister Jacobs said that the government of St. Maarten is currently financing a course for school management and if one is going to talk about return on investments then she is of the opinion that the candidates that are completing these courses should have been given the opportunity to apply for the managerial positions that are available. The Minister said she could not open the process for only two or three persons so she decided to re-open the entire procedure in order to give all persons who are interested and qualified the opportunity to submit their applications to the Department of Education.
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  • PJIAE MD discusses cooperation with President of Collectivité of St. Martin.

    pjiameetswithpresidentarichardson07062012SIMPSON BAY:--- Managing Director of Princess Juliana Int'l Airport operating company N.V. (PJIAE), Regina LaBega, met last week with the President of the Collectivité of St. Martin, Hon. Alain Richardson at the president's office in what she described as "very important and positive discussions related to cooperation" between both halves of the island.

    Former Commissioner of Tourism in the North, Romeo Fleming, facilitated the meeting, convened at the initiative of the managing director. The "delegate" in charge of Economic Affairs in the new administration in Marigot, Jeanne Rogers-Vanterpool, also attended the meeting.

    "SXM is a hub airport and we would like you to feel that it's your airport also," LaBega told the President of the Collectivité.

    LaBega said that both parties agreed to cooperate in a number of areas, including the sharing of statistical data, and the setting up of a joint information booth at the airport between the tourist offices of both halves of the island.

    LaBega further stated that it was agreed that Princess Juliana Int'l Airport would extend similar protocol courtesies to relevant officials of the Collectivité as is done with representatives of the government in Philipsburg.

    Another point of mutual cooperation was in the area of General Aviation aircraft. "We agreed that if there is no space at our airport to accommodate these aircrafts, they would be sent to the Grand Case airport rather than to other airports on neighboring islands," LaBega revealed.

    For his part, President Richardson stated that there should be a synergy between Grand Case airport and Princess Juliana Int'l Airport, and he looks forward to seeing both entities working together in the near future.

  • Water Plant Bidding placed on Hold --- De Weever Responsible for Drinking Water.

    Philipsburg:--- The Minister responsible for potable (drinking) water Cornelius de Weever has placed a stop on the bidding process for a new water plant that was published some weeks ago by the Ministry of VROMI.
    SMN News learnt that Minister of Health, Labour, and Social Affairs placed a stop on the bidding process when he realized that he was the one responsible for potable water and not the former Deputy Prime Minister Theodore Heyliger who was leading the bidding process.
    Sources close to the Ministry said that the Minister of Health, Labour, and Social Affairs took a tour of the AIRFIN Water plan on Thursday in order to gather more information on the company.
    It is further understood that four companies were interested in bidding for the project which was to construct a second water plant in the Pointe Blanche area. SMN News has been reliably informed that the four companies already paid for their terms of reference which is required by law to submit their bid but the actual bids were not yet submitted thus making it easier for the Minister to place a stop on the water plant bidding.
    The companies that were interested in the bidding process are General Electric, National Investment Bank (NIB), Small Water Services, and AIRFIN Holding NV doing business as Seven Seas Water St. Maarten.
    It should be noted that while AIRFIN Holding has a contract with the government of St. Maarten that was signed sometime in 2007 and is valid until 2018. However, the former Minister of VROMI who was heading the project did not hold any discussions with AIRFIN to see if they are able to construct a second water plant to better supply the entire island. The source said that the former Minister worked on the project under the guise that a second water plant would reduce the cost of potable water while he made a deal with Small Water Services to grant them the bid. "Small Water Services is owned by a Dutch man and they already have a contract with government to install the storm pipes on the Pondfill."
    Minister of Health, Labour, and Social Affairs Cornelius de Weever confirmed to SMN News that he did place a stop on the bidding process in order to review the law more carefully. The Minister also confirmed that he visited AIRFIN on Thursday and he intends to release more information on his visit to the water plant on Friday.
  • Prime Minister Encourages Public to Attend Flag Day Celebration --- Population requested to hang the St. Maarten Flag as a sign of Respect.

    sxmflag08062012The Prime Minister of St. Maarten the Honorable Sarah Wescot-Williams would like to invite the general public to the Flag Day celebration. The Prime Minister also encouraged the general population to hang the St. Maarten flag from their homes, offices and other buildings during that day.

    The law that regulates the use of the flag of St. Maarten was established on the 13th of July 1985 by Island Decree and became effective on November 11th of that same year.

    Based on the Island Decree there is a right and wrong way to display the flag. Some of these regulations include the flying of the flag should be from sunrise to sunset and the flag should be risen briskly in the morning and slowly in the evening; the flag should not be flown at night while unlit; the flag should not be flown in the rain or in inclement weather; the flag should never touch the ground and when a flag is old or worn out or damaged it should be retired and old flags should be burned or buried but never thrown in the trash.

    The Prime Minister commented that our National Flag is one of our most important symbols and should be given all the necessary respect it deserves, "The St. Maarten flag should be held in the highest esteem as it represents the St. Maarten Nation and those who gave their lives for St. Maarten," commented the Prime Minister.

    The details on the event will be released on a later date.

  • PUBLIC NOTICE: St. Maarten Little League Association holds Fundraising Dance.

    sxmlittleleagueassociationfundraisingdanceposter10062012The St. Maarten Little League Association will be celebrating its 35th anniversary this year and in order to raise funds to assist the little league teams to travel to participate in the Caribbean Latin-American little league tournament that will be held on Puerto Rico, a fundraising dance will be held.

    The band : Control Band and DJ EZ Rick
    Place : Celebration Palace
    Date : June 15th 2012
    Time : 9pm to 3am
    Entrance fee: $10.00 in advance and $15.00 at the gate

    Tickets can be purchased at Van Dorp on A.T. Illidge Rd, at the little league ball park, and by any member or coach from the little league association.

    Come one come all to support this event to make it a success.

     

  • MP’s Square off in Parliament Building --- Jules James Files Official Complaint Against Romaine La Ville.

    Philipsburg:--- The former faction leader of the United Peoples Party and now Independent Member of Parliament Romain La Ville found himself in trouble on Monday afternoon when he and UP Member of Parliament Jules James had an argument. Eyewitnesses to the fracas said that James and La Ville were arguing about topics discussed during Parliamentary sessions when they were on the same faction and he La Ville was questioning government about what provisions were made for some youths that happen to be his friends.
    One eyewitness told SMN News that La Ville got very upset because the statements made by Jules James did not sit well with him. It is further understood that La Ville was so angry that he made some harsh verbal threats to James. Late Monday afternoon, Member of Parliament Jules James went to the Philipsburg Police Station to file an official complaint against La Ville and Member of Parliament Sylvia Meyers was a witness for MP James. Sources at the Philipsburg Police Station said that Member of Parliament Jules James and MP Meyers were escorted by the Lands recherché to their office where the complaint was filed. Efforts made to obtain a comment from the head of the Lands recherché Ademar Doran proved futile Monday night.

    In an invited comment, MP Romain La Ville said that he tried to obtain two taxi licenses for two people that were fired from the Simpson Bay Resorts by MP Jules James who was the General Manager of the company at the time. "One of the persons I was trying to get a taxi license for was my friend whose wife was laid off from Pelican and MP James undermined my efforts to assist his former employees. When I confronted MP James in front of the Minister, he said I did not consult him before approaching the Minister. These are people MP James fired and I was trying to help them get employment so they could feed their families. I even told MP James that those people don't work for him anymore and asked him why is he obstructing them from feeding their families. I wanted to know why he was so determined to see that they don't get to eat while he claims to be a man of God. Three weeks later my friend died of a heart attack due to the stress that he could not feed his family." La Ville said MP James raised the topic again on Monday after the Central Committee meeting and he basically flipped.

  • HE Governor Holiday hosts Tripartite meeting with Governors of Aruba and Curacao.

    eholidaywithfrefunjolandfgoedgedrag12062012Harbour View:--- On Monday June 11, 2012, His Excellency Eugene Holiday hosted his colleagues His Excellency Fredis Refunjol of Aruba and His Excellency Frits Goedgedrag of Curacao for the regular Governor tripartite meetings.
    The Governors meet on a regular basis to discuss and exchange experiences on topics of common interest. The topics they discussed at this tripartite meeting included, the current political situation in Aruba, Curacao, and Sint Maarten, financial and economic developments, regional developments and topics relevant at the Kingdom level. The planning for the celebration of "200 years Kingdom", which is scheduled for 2013 was also discussed.
    Following the official meeting, Governor Holiday invited his colleagues on a site visit to explore the Simpson Bay lagoon as one of Sint Maarten's wetlands. During the tour Nature foundation's manager, Mr. Tadzio Beervoets, provided information to the Governors about the various developments in the Lagoon and about environmental protection initiatives of the Nature Foundation and others
  • Senator Louis-Constant FLEMING Endorses Guillaume Arnell --- Says St. Martin needs to have its majority in the Deputy, Senatorial, and Presidential Level.

    louisconstantfleming11112010Marigot:--- Senator Louis Constant Fleming made an appeal to his supporters who supported the UP Candidate last Saturday during the legislative elections to come out this Saturday and vote for Guillaume Arnell. Jacques Hamlet postulated for the legislative elections as a UP candidate but he did not get sufficient votes to be part of the run off election this Saturday. Constant Fleming said the people voted for a change in all levels and St. Martin must have a majority in all levels of the French Government. Below is the press release issued by Senator Fleming.

     

    My dear People,

    Following the first round of our Legislative elections, and taking into account the results locally and on the national level, it is my duty as a Parliamentarian and especially as your Senator to give you my opinion and my vision as to what our future representation in the National Assembly should be.
    The results of our recent territorial elections clearly showed that the population had withdrawn their confidence from the incumbent team that managed our Collectivity from 2007 to 2012 and called for a change.
    As a Leader who has always put Country above Self, I do not oppose Change, and I profoundly respect the expression of Democracy.
    This change is today carried out locally by President Alain RICHARDSON and his Majority.
    This will of change has been carried out also on the national level in the recent Presidential elections and will with no doubt be concluded next Sunday by the change of majority in the National Assembly for the upcoming five years.
    The choice that we have in front of us, outside of the fact that this election is historic, is important for the future of Saint Martin and has to take into account our specificities and our realities.
    Contrary to what some may think, my concern here is not about human or political factors, it is about the general interest and what is good for Saint-Martin.
    In first instance, Saint-Martin needs to be able to enjoy a collaborative functioning of its parliamentarians for the legislative performance to continue.
    Our Organic Law that created our status as an Overseas Collectivity of France was originally drafted by the State services and still needs to be improved.
    As your Senator, I have already had voted 2 organic laws to improve our competencies. New organic laws will be necessary and will be initiated by the present territorial council : our deputy must be part of the new majority in the National Assembly.
    Besides the legislative work that has to be done, other issues will require joint work and strong actions, by our two parliamentarians. The renegotiation of the compensation of charges, the global "dotation" per inhabitant and the role of the State services are some of the major issues that will have to be dealt with.
    In view of this upcoming situation, it is very important that our future Deputy be part of the Territorial Majority and fully implicated in the running of the Collectivity and also in phase with the decisions of the Majority of the Territorial Council.

    I have already had the opportunity to work with Guillaume ARNELL when we were General Councilors representing Saint Martin in the General Council of Guadeloupe.
    I am sure, that like me, he will continue to fight for Saint Martin to have its own Deputy, because the differences between the two islands are so great, and if we did not realize this before, this legislative electoral campaign, with all its confusion, has clearly confirmed this.
    I am appealing to your sense of reality, the reality that guides us in times of crisis.
    This is not about a person, this is about SAINT MARTIN!
    Saint Martin needs to have a Deputy who is part of the Local, Presidential, Senatorial majority, and who will be part of the new majority in the National Assembly.
    This Deputy is Guillaume ARNELL.
    I am hereby asking all of my people to come out and make the choice of Saint-Martin by voting for Guillaume ARNELL on Saturday, June 16th.

    St. Martin, June 11, 2012

    Louis-Constant FLEMING
    Senator of Saint-Martin

  • Curacao Government in Limbo, Weils pulls Support from Schotte’s Cabinet --- Talks to take place on Friday.

    Willemstad, Curacao:--- The government of Curacao is currently in limbo. Prime Minister Gerrit Schotte was on the radio on Wednesday speaking about the current situation of his government after Herman Wiels pulled his support from Schotte's cabinet. According to information reaching SMN News, it appears as though Minister Spies placed certain conditions on Curacao's government after they realized that Curacao now has a deficit even though the country had a surplus of 52 million when they took office some 20 months ago. SMN News further learnt that Curacao's Finance Minister George Jamalodeen has refused to attend the parliamentary meetings to give account on government's spending. According to information coming out of Curacao, Schotte's cabinet blew the tax payers monies on traveling expenses, however, this could not be confirmed Wednesday night.
    SMN News also learnt that the Deputy Prime Minister of Curacao Charles Cooper is off island and he should be back on Curacao on Friday where talks between his government and its coalition partners will take place.
    Former Minister of Justice Magali Jacoba and David Dick said the Government has not yet fallen and that the situation remains the same.
  • “Sint Maarten faces challenges in improving the sustainability of its public finances” --- CFT.

    cftboardmembersatpressconference13062012Philipsburg:--- The Board of Financial supervision (College financieel toezicht - CFT) told reporters on Wednesday that they held meetings during the past two days with the Council of Ministers, Minister of Finance, and Parliament. The CFT concluded after their meetings that Sint Maarten faces challenges in improving the long term sustainability of its public finances and the quality of its financial management.

     

    Financial management

    Improvement of financial management must be the main priority of the government of Sint Maarten. The CFT applauds the effort of the government to develop a five-year plan to improve financial management. This plan will be presented to the Council of Ministers and Parliament by the end of July 2012. It is important that Government and Parliament embrace the five-year improvement plan and devote all resources to timely execution. This is the first time St. Maarten has developed a financial plan which will soon be presented to the Parliament of St. Maarten, CFT President Age Bakker told reporters.
    An important element in improving financial management is to strengthen the functioning of the tax administration. The CFT urged the Government of Sint Maarten to finalize an action plan soon to achieve this. A broader tax base and an increase of tax compliance will enable the Government to provide an adequate level of public services.

    Sustainable Public Finances

    Sustainable public finances in the long term will require structural reforms in the areas of health care, social security, and old age pensions. The government of Sint Maarten agreed with the CFT to intensify its efforts to identify the financial impact of projected developments in social security funds and health care costs, with the purpose of including these effects in the next multi-annual budget. This was one of the conditions of the CFT for approving the budget 2012. The CFT urges government to initiate reforms in the pension system with the aim to put this on a sustainable footing. Although this problem does not seem to be acute yet, measures have to be taken now to prevent major deficits in the near future.

    Budget Execution

    The CFT requested that the Government of Sint Maarten present a budget amendment to address two shortfalls. The projected revenues from taxes on rental income from real estate owned by non-residents, which were incorporated in the budget 2012 for the amount of NAF 21 million, will not materialize. Secondly, the decision made by government to pay the remaining part of the COLA (Cost of Living Allowance; NAF 17 million) will have to be incorporated in the budget amendment. The Government of Sint Maarten will present this amendment shortly and the CFT will verify whether this will balance the budget of 2012.
    The CFT also advised government to get rid of the COLA system and to replace it with another system or project that would reach the poorer people. Bakker said the current system in place for the indexation of the salaries is government's biggest burden and since the payments relates to 2010 then it has to be taken up in the balance sheets of 2011. Bakker said that the COLA payments were not even in the 2012 budget and therefore government must make an amendment for it in its 2012 budget. He stressed that the COLA structure is not suitable for the poor and therefore government must revisit the structure and come up with something else.

    Annual Accounts

    Sint Maarten recently communicated to the CFT that the draft annual accounts for 2009 and 2010 each show a deficit of over NAF 30 million. The Government of Sint Maarten is requested to take measures to compensate for the deficits in accordance with the Kingdom Law on Financial Supervision. The annual accounts have to be sent to parliament as soon as possible.

     

    The CFT concluded that sound public financial management is a prerequisite for sound financial policy and for economic growth. Improvement of financial management will help to include all expenditures and revenues in the budget and to correct if needed during the execution of the budget. The CFT will not hesitate to use all instruments within the framework of the Kingdom Law on Financial Supervision to achieve sound financial management and a balanced budget in a sustainable way.

    It should be noted that the CFT has its mandate until 2015 after which their services and advices will be reviewed and a decision will be taken then to see whether or not they should continue to provide guidance to St. Maarten and Curacao.
    When asked by SMN News if the Government of St. Maarten informed them about TAXAND since they advised government to restructure their tax system, Bakker said that the Finance Minister did tell them of the TAXAND project and some of its findings but details of the project were not given to them because the Finance Minister is still gathering information about TAXAND. The team from the CFT also confirmed that Wednesday was the deadline of the extension they gave the Minister of Finance but up to the time of the press conference they did not get the letter they expected from the Minister of Finance. Minister of Finance Roland Tuitt said in an invited comment said that due to electricity failure in Philipsburg he was not able to deliver the letter on its deadline. Minister Tuitt said the letter will be turned in on Thursday.
    Bakker said that the Minister of Finance promised him to deliver the 2013 budget by December and if that happens then it will be a good record for St. Maarten.
    As for Max Pandt he is now back attending the meeting with the Government of St. Maarten and the CFT, when asked about that Pandt said he is relieved because with the former government that was not possible but on Tuesday when he attended the meeting several of the senators said "Max" is back.
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  • Shelter Managers Training Workshop Concludes on Friday.

    sheltermanagementworkshopparticipants14062012GREAT BAY (DCOMM):--- Sint Maarten is hosting a three-day Shelter Managers Training Workshop that started on Wednesday and concludes on Friday.

    The training is being supported by the Overseas Countries and Territories (OCTs) Regional Risk Reduction Initiative (R3I) which covers seven English and Dutch overseas countries and territories in the Caribbean Basin (Anguilla, Aruba, BES Islands (Bonaire, Saba, St. Eustatius), British Virgin Islands, Cayman Islands, Curacao, Montserrat, Sint Maarten, Turks and Caicos).

    Disaster Coordinator/Fire Chief Winston Salomon says the training will further enhance the skills of current personnel from the various agencies that are participating in the aforementioned.

    The Sint Maarten participants in the workshop are from the Ministry of Public Housing, Spatial Development, Environment and Infrastructure, Red Cross, Voluntary Korps of Sint Maarten (VKS), Fire Department, Inspectorate of Public Health, Social Services, Labour Department and the Department of Community Development, Family & Humanitarian Affairs (CDFHA).

    Shelter management falls under Emergency Support Function (ESF-7), one of 10 ESFs that are part of the Governments disaster management system.

    The two trainers facilitating the workshop are Sheniah Armstrong and Robbie Lettsome from the British Virgin Islands Department of Disaster Management.

    The workshop was organized to provide attendees who have responsibility for the selection, preparation and maintenance, and operational management of emergency shelters, with the necessary knowledge and skills to perform the required duties.

    The performance objective given an emergency situation in which individuals and families are required to leave their homes and occupy a temporary shelter, individuals who have been given the responsibility for selecting, preparing, maintaining, operating and managing temporary shelters, will be able to determine resource needs, mobilize and secure them.

    Maintain the shelter structure and equipment; prepare the shelter for use; operate the shelter with available resources; establish and maintain effective channels of communication with relevant agencies and support groups; and complete all tasks at closure.

    The R3I project seeks to address the risk and exposure of small islands by providing a network of regional infrastructure, programmes, policies and protocols to strengthen their capacity to predict and prepare for natural hazards, therefore improving resilience and reduce risk and subsequent loss.

    R3I is funded by the European Commission for the amount of close to five million Euros covering a period of four years and concludes December 2012.

    The training is taking place at the Fire & Ambulance Building in Cay Hill.

  • Prime Minister Sarah Wescot-Williams meets with Board of Charlotte Brookson Academy.

    swescotwilliamsmeetswithcbaboardmembers14062012The Prime Minister of St. Maarten the Honorable Sarah Wescot Williams recently met with the Board of the Charlotte Brookson Academy to discuss matters related to the performing arts academy. The principal purpose of the Charlotte Brookson Academy of the Performance Arts is to offer students a "global experience of learning." and will target each child's intellectual, cognitive, creative, physical and emotional development while preparing their students to reach their highest potential as scholars, artists, leaders, and global citizens.
  • Prime Minister attends Launching of Voice of Our Children Inspirational CD.

    swescotwilliamsatvooccdlaunch17062012There will be that longing for St. Maarten and we all hope that they do that with the intention to come back to the island well equipped.

    The Prime Minister on Saturday attended the Launch of the Voice of Our Children CD at the Philipsburg Jubilee Library on Saturday. The CD is specifically made for students who have travelled abroad and may be faced with challenges and homesickness while studying in foreign countries. The Prime Minister congratulated all of those involved in the production of the cd which comes at a very opportune moment when in a few weeks quite a number of St. Maarten students will be leaving the shores of the island to go to different countries to pursue their studies. "It is always a big step in the lives of the students and indeed of their parents and family when they have to leave the shores of St Maarten to go away and study. Some of the students that go away to study leave quite young so it is with a sense of some trepidation that parents see them go and the only thing that we can do is to talk to them and wish them best and support them as much as we can while they are abroad. It is a fact that once they are there they are called to make choices of their own in their studies and in their social life and I am sure that they will be thinking back on St. Maarten where things seemed so much easier surrounded by people who care for them and who they can turn to for advice," commented the Prime Minister.

    "There will be that longing for St. Maarten but these students have taken that decision to go abroad and study and we all hope that they do that with the intention to come back to the island well equipped to add to the young people who have gone away and come back after achieving their study goals. So congratulations to the Voice of Our Children Foundation with this project and may they continue to do so many positive things with and for the youth of St. Maarten. You have made a difference in so many young lives on this island," concluded the Prime Minister.

  • Minister Jacobs Congratulates CIA Students on Education Journey.

    GREAT BAY (DCOMM):--- Minister of Education Hon. Silveria Jacobs addressed the faculty and staff, family and friends of the graduates and especially the graduates of the Class of 2012 of the Caribbean International Academy (CIA).

    Minister Jacobs congratulated faculty and staff for all they had done to bring each individual student thus far, and were encouraged to continue to do so.

    Parents were also congratulated for going the extra mile for their children to get them to this point in their lives, and were reminded that the connections parents have with their graduates would only get stronger as their children ventured out to achieve new goals. No matter how our children grow up or away from us, they still need our guidance and support, the Minister said.

    Minister Jacobs congratulated the graduates, expressing pride in their accomplishments, and asking them to now focus on the next big step which they now face. Graduates were encouraged to go out boldly into the world with the solid background they had received here on St. Maarten, academically, as well as socially to be examples of honest, hardworking, dedicated and determined persons, who would hopefully return to St. Maarten to contribute to its continued development.

    On Monday June 11, 2012 Minister of Education Culture Youth and Sports attended the Graduation Ceremony of the CIA upon the invitation of the school's founder Y. Erato-Halley.

  • USONA prevents under spending by shifting into the highest gear.

    In 2011 the execution of the cooperation programs that are financed with development funds made available by the Netherlands, has been continued in a higher gear. The willingness and the political -administrative commitment have been high in the past year. The Countries/Islands, SONA and USONA are committing themselves to achieve that the funds intended for the cooperation programs are being optimally employed. It has been agreed upon that the Netherlands will continue to deposit the funds for the cooperation programs until December 31, 2012. The execution of the cooperation programs may be extended until the end of 2014. Given the relatively short time that remains for the execution of the projects, SONA has encouraged the entities to continue to give extra priority to the projects.
    All this can be read in the Annual Report of 2011 of the SONA Foundation. SONA maintains the supervision on the legitimate and effective administration of the monies that are made available by donors for the development projects on Curaҁao, Sint Maarten, Bonaire, Sint Eustatius and Saba. The implementing organization USONA does the execution of the activities on behalf of SONA. The largest donor is the Ministry of Internal Relations and Kingdom Affairs (BZK). In addition to that SONA has been charged with the execution of the projects that are financed out of the 9th EDF (European Development Fund) from the EU and at the moment USONA is in the process of preparing the construction of a new hospital for Curaҁao, commissioned by the Curaҁao Government.
    The Annual Report provides an insight in the execution of the projects of the past year that have been financed with BZK means. This execution is considered within the broader context of the cooperation programs. The shift from assessment to the execution of projects has become clearly visible in 2011. This trend will continue in 2012.
    By the end of 2011 a total number of 305 Financing Agreements have been signed with the various entities which altogether represent almost 94% of the current development funds; that is an amount of 429, 5 million guilders. From the total of projects 84 % has been financially committed with Orders for Execution and of these commitments 62 % has resulted in payments. Seen in this light it appears that USONA is succeeding in preventing underspending.
    BZK, SONA and USONA have in the beginning of this year conducted a work conference which has led to reaching an agreement on the new Management Agreement between BZK and SONA. The new Management Agreement will be signed in June 2012 and its duration will be until December 31, 2015.
    In order to reinforce the monitoring of the project results the SONA procedure rules will be made more stringent in 2012. Strict adherence to these sharpened procedure rules will further contribute to an improved monitoring and efficient execution of the projects.
    The Board of SONA is looking forward to the continuation of the productive cooperation with all entities involved.
  • Aruba’s Jeannette Richardson-Baars Received TIP Hero Honors.

    jeannetterichardsonbaarsreceivestipherohonors21062012The Annual Trafficking in Persons (TIP) Report is the U.S. Government's principal diplomatic tool to engage foreign governments on human trafficking. It is also the world's most comprehensive resource on governmental anti-human trafficking efforts and reflects the U.S. Government's commitment to global leadership on this key human rights and law enforcement issue.
    Each year, the Department of State honors individuals around the world who have devoted their lives to the fight against human trafficking. These heroic individuals are NGO workers, lawmakers, police officers, and concerned citizens who are committed to ending modern slavery. They are recognized for their tireless efforts – despite resistance, opposition, and threats to their lives – to protect victims, punish offenders, and raise awareness of ongoing criminal practices in their countries and abroad.
    Aruba's Head of the Division for Police Education & Development and National Coordinator Anti Human Trafficking & Smuggling, Jeannette Richardson-Baars was honored by U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton for her extraordinary commitment to uncovering human trafficking cases, her innovative strategy to raise public awareness in spite of limited resources, and a proactive approach to providing protection services to victims in Aruba. "I was stunned and happily surprised when I heard from the U.S. Consul General in Curacao about this great honor. It really is an Aruba TIP Task Force team effort. I could not be regarded a hero without a great team," Mrs. Richardson-Baars said. Much credit also goes to the leadership of Prime Minster Eman, and Justice Minister Dowers for making it a priority to combat trafficking in persons.
    Despite a full-time job as deputy police commissioner of Aruba, Jeannette Richardson-Baars devotes countless extra hours to ensure Aruba achieves results in combating human trafficking. Under Mrs. Richardson-Baars's leadership, Aruba's interagency committee has uncovered both labor and sex trafficking cases, and shown serious commitment and political will through effective governmental policies to rescue victims and prosecute traffickers.
    Although she had no specific budget assigned to her, Mrs. Richardson-Baars did not allow limited financial or human resources to become obstacles to anti-trafficking efforts. Using her own computer, she launched a multi-faceted public awareness campaign that was translated into various languages and displayed posters prominently all over the island. The campaign resulted in reports by the public of several possible trafficking situations.
    Mrs. Richardson-Baars sought creative solutions to help victims on the small island of Aruba, where anonymity is a challenge, by utilizing a Kingdom of the Netherlands-wide Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) to shelter victims of trafficking elsewhere. She takes a collaborative and transparent approach to her work, sharing best practices at international forums and speaking openly about challenges, including complicity of public servants. Her courage to address human trafficking in a frank and constructive way stands out among other tourism-based islands, where fear of reporting bad news may hamper a proactive approach to the issue.
    The TIP report is available at http://www.state.gov/j/tip/rls/tiprpt/2012/index.htm.
  • PUBLIC NOTICE: VKS KARAOKE & DANCE EVENT.

    Organized by the Voluntary Corps of Sint Maarten (VKS) on the occasion of their 15th anniversary.

    Date: Friday, June 29th, 2012

    Location: La Terrasse, Port-de-Plaisance

    Price: US$ 10,- or Nafl. 18,-

    Time: 8:00PM - 2:00AM.

    Music: Control Band

    Trophies will be given to the winners of the karaoke contest.

    Tickets are available from VKS members and at the door.

  • Minister Jacobs Attends Ruby Labega Primary School Graduation.

    sjacobsatrubylabegaprimaryschoolgraduation24062012GREAT BAY (DCOMM):--- Fifth from left, Minister of Education Hon. Silveria Jacobs proudly standing with the 6th grade graduates and teachers of the Ruby Labega Primary School. The ceremony was held at the Sonesta Great Bay Beach Hotel & Casino last week. (DCOMM Photo)
  • Central Committee of Parliament to meet on Six-month contract, Prison and Parliamentary Crest.

    PHILIPSBURG:--- The Central Committee of Parliament will meet in public session on June 28.

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

    The first agenda point is related to a National Alliance faction initiative law to change Book 7A of the Civil Code of a national ordinance eliminating the misuse of labour contracts.

    The second agenda point is a request sent in by the United Peoples party faction requesting the presence of the Minister of Justice Hon. Roland Duncan to provide information to parliament about the situation and current developments at the national prison.

    The third agenda point concerns the crest of the House of Parliament.

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

  • Tourist Office and Environmental Groups to Install Environmental Awareness Signs at Beaches.

    environmentalawarenesssignstobeinstalled25062012PHILIPSBURG:--- Director of the Tourist Office May-Ling Chun says that Government in collaboration with the country's environmental organizations such as Love the Lagoon and EPIC, would be setting up environmental awareness signs at Great Bay beach by the end of June 2012.

    This initiative according to Chun is part of the environmental awareness program of the Tourist Office. The program has the full support of the government, since its first partnership with EPIC in 2008 with respect to working towards enhancing and increasing the local community's and visitors' awareness on environmental protection methods and keeping our beaches and lagoon clean.

    The signage will provide practical environmental guidelines to beach users. More beaches are expected to follow suit i.e. Mullet bay, Simpson bay, Kim Sha beach.

    In October 2011, Divi Little Bay beach and Isle de Sol Marina were awarded the Blue Flag, making Sint Maarten the first country in the Dutch Caribbean to have Blue Flag locations.

    The Blue Flag is awarded to beaches or marinas that meet a specific set of criteria concerning environmental information and education, water quality, safety, services and environmental management.

    The program is designed to raise environmental awareness and increase sound environmental practices among residents, tourists, marina-, beach- or resort management and staff.

    The eco-label has become an international symbol of quality recognized by Governments, Non- Governmental Organizations and tour operators, and is used for the promotion of the awarded beach, marina or destination.

  • Prime Minister’s Comments Regarding the Signing of the Single Programming Document or the 10th EDF.

    swescotwilliamssigns10thedf25062012In forging ahead with this program, we take a brief look back to when the Central Government of the Netherlands Antilles and the Commission agreed to direct the financial assistance under the Single Programming Document for the 9th European Development Fund, to social development and poverty reduction.

    Fully in line with this, the program supported urban infrastructure for socially deprived areas on all five islands of the Netherlands Antilles, advancing the focal sector identified in the Single Programming Document, which comprised of:

    • Improvement of social infrastructure in existing communities (water, sanitation electricity, roads, street lighting, drainage, etc.);
    • Basic social infrastructure in new, low-rent, housing sites and improved housing techniques (to stimulate private-sector housing development);
    • Capacity building and institutional strengthening of urban infrastructure providers and other stakeholders, including community groups.

    In line with Government's own commitment to alleviating poverty and promoting healthy living conditions, the government of St. Maarten elected to pursue the same course for the 10th EDF. The process of approval of the 10th EDF Single Program Document transcended the status change in October 2010. However, the process was not completed by that date and so country St. Maarten took up the task to complete the approval process. It was just over a year ago that as the Territorial Authorizing Officer, I officially submitted St. Maarten's approval of its part of the SPD. After the final approvals were given, the Delegation could have submitted the document for EU approval. But that was not before we had some last minute hurdles to overcome.

    District Improvement and Social Welfare are 2 areas outlined by this Government in its governing accord as focal areas for our governing term. We did this, fully understanding that if we wished to engage our citizens in nation building, it starts with a sense of pride in the individual communities. Pride that comes from the realization that government is "working for the people".

    Data collected as part of the Integrated Neighborhood Development program reveal that while overall there is a general feeling of satisfaction in most neighborhoods, there is much that can be done and should be done to elevate that feeling to one of belonging and pride.

    This project will go a long way in alleviating much of the irritants St. Maarten communities face and specifically so, this district of Dutch Quarter.

    The general objective is improvement of the living conditions and assist with poverty alleviation in St. Maarten.
    The specific objective or purpose of the project is the improvement of infrastructure and sanitation conditions in this district that will include:

    The result
    The installation of a sewerage network by provision of branch sewers in Dutch Quarter to be connected to the existing main sewer line to the WWTP facility at A.T. Illidge Road. In addition infrastructural upgrading will take place plus the installation of a drink water storage tank for the Dutch Quarter district.

    The 10th EDF project will coincide well with the actual upgrading of the treatment plant at A.T. Illidge Road.

    The project will also have a strong environmental benefit leading to improved drinking water quality and the elimination of wastewater on the streets. This will also reduce the pollution of surface water bodies. The latter, will also contribute to improved sanitation and consequently reduced risks to public health. The number of beneficiaries will be up to 3,000 depending on the coverage.

    These interconnected areas are what government envisions with its commitment to sustainable development. The concept of sustainable development, now a global term and a topic for high level United Nations' actions, embraces the notion that economic growth, social equality, and environmental sustainability are joint prerequisites for the long term sustainability of countries, big and small alike.

    No small order, surely, but one I believe St. Maarten can make a name for itself by leaving no area lagging behind as we seek the means for further development of our island and its people.
    Coincidentally this was precisely the topic that close to 200 nations gathered in Rio last week addressed. Our challenges are by no means insignificant, but put in a global perspective, I think we can develop a collective vision for (to borrow a phrase from the same conference) "the future WE want".
    It behooves our island nation, like we have for the MDG's, to also chart our benchmarks for the SDG's we envisaged.

    Summarizing shat this particular project will mean for the district of DQ:

    • Reduced pollution to neighboring ponds
    • Home connections to the existing main sewer
    • Branch sewers and corresponding home connections
    • Hard surfacing of roads throughout the district
    • Improved overall drainage system
    • Reduced flooding
    • Improved street, lighting and, pedestrian paths
    • Improved safety (community)

    I sum these up (as several persons have done before me) for the following reasons:

    I want to express the gratitude of my government to the Delegation for their relentless drive in seeing this project through to this point;

    I express thanks to our own technocrats of VROMI and BAK;

    And importantly, I call on the residents of DQ to work with us in realizing this important upgrading of DQ. As with any project of this magnitude, it will bring with it some inconvenience, but I am convinced it will be worth it. As this project goes on, I invite all of you and in particular the council of the district to work with government in other areas, that can contribute as well to the overall uplifting of DQ.

    And finally, I appeal to the DQ residents to show pride in the district you call home. Show a sense of community by taking active part in activities that promote this community and its residents.
    "The greater the challenges, the more gratifying the sense of accomplishment at the end of the road".

  • Governor Holiday Receives 2011 Annual Report from General Audit Chamber.

    eholidayreceives2011annualreport26062012Philipsburg:--- The annual report of the General Audit Chamber for the year 2011 was presented to the Governor on Friday, June 22nd 2012. Each year the General Audit Chamber is required by law (National Ordinance on the General Audit Chamber – Landsverordening Algemene Rekenkamer) to present a report of its activities of the preceding year to the Governor and the Parliament. On October 10th 2010, the General Audit Chamber was established along with the Country Status for Sint Maarten. The year 2011 represents the first full operational year for the General Audit Chamber.
    The Acting Chairman of the General Audit Chamber, Mr. Ronald Halman, was accompanied by board member Mr. Alphons Gumbs and staff member Melisah Gomes for the official presentation of the annual report 2011. The presentation took place on Friday afternoon at the Cabinet of the Governor.
    The Annual Report of the General Audit Chamber is required to be presented to the Parliament as well as the Governor prior to July 1st of each year. Presentation to the president of Parliament took place earlier in the week, on Wednesday June 20th.
    The report is available on the website of the General Audit Chamber ( www.arsxm.org). Development of the annual report was completed in-house with production financed via USONA.
  • Nature Foundation Completes 2012 Marine Mammal Monitoring Project --- 60 whales and dolphins and 1 seal recorded in local waters.

    whaleinsxmwaters26062012The St. Maarten Nature Foundation concluded its Marine Mammal Census project which lasted from February until June 2012. The goal of this project was to conduct a wide scale census of all Marine Mammals found in St. Maarten territorial waters, including within the Man of War Shoal Marine Park. Several questions were answered as a result of this study, including most numerous species, migration routes and dates and the feasibility of regulated wild whale and dolphin watching trips. The study relied heavily on sighting forms developed by the Nature Foundation and distributed to Dive Centers, Yacht Charter Companies, Marinas and Private Individuals. The Nature Foundation expressed their sincerest thanks to all those who provided valuable data; it is through their efforts that the Foundation was able to compile such a comprehensive list of sightings.

    The most abundant Maine Mammal species was the Humpback Whale, with the total number recorded at 41 individuals, including calves. The second most abundant species was the Bottle Nose Dolphin, with total of 21 individuals; the third most abundant species was the Long Snouted Spinner Dolphin with 15 individuals recorded within the territorial waters of St. Maarten. During research conducted in conjunction with the French Marine Reserve and the AGOA Marine Mammal Sanctuary, The Nature Foundation also observed numerous Sperm Whales including mothers with young. Using acoustic research and visual observations researchers are now trying to determine if there is a Sperm Whale travelling route in the deep waters between St. Maarten and Saba.
    Another interesting result of the study is that a seal was also recorded along the eastern shore of St. Maarten. Seals have been extinct in the Caribbean since 1952 so a sighting of a seal around St. Maarten is rare. The Foundation is now trying to determine if this was a lost individual or if this sighting is related to a seal which was observed in the Simpson Bay Lagoon in 2010.

    This year the Nature Foundation also piloted whale and dolphin watching trips. Although sightings during the trips were minimal, next season watching trips will be started earlier to increase the chance of whale and dolphins being spotted.

    The Man of War Shoal Marine Park had a considerable number of recordings of both whale and dolphin species which adds considerably to the biological value of the Park. Acoustic recordings of Male Humpback Whales singing were also taken at various points in the waters surrounding St. Maarten, and the public is urged to listen to the local whale songs and look at video and photo of marine mammals in our local waters by looking at the Nature Foundation YouTube clip Nature Foundation Marine Mammal Research 2012.

  • Airport Concessionaires Association (ACA) Plans to take Drastic Actions --- PJIAE Management Planning to bring in Mexican Company to build High-end Mall --- Labega Issues Termination Letters to Concessionaires.

    pjia21112011Airport:--- Tension is raising at the Princess Juliana International Airport (PJIAE) with the Airport Concessionaires who just recently formed an association (ACA) and the airlines that are operating at PJIAE. SMN News has been reliably informed that several concessionaires owe PJIAE thousands of dollars due to the high operational cost and double taxation. According to one government official, the concessionaires owe PJIAE over $14 million dollars. Sources within the airport said a closed door meeting was held with the Management of the Airport and all airlines operating at PJIAE early last week who gave PJIAE an ultimatum to either reduce their operational cost or they will pull out of St. Maarten.
    As for the concessionaires, SMN News learned that at least three companies received termination letters from the airport because they are protesting against the high operational cost and double taxation. Some of the concessionaires, they said, owe PJIAE anywhere from two to five hundred thousand dollars each over the six year period they have been operating there. One of these concessionaires that owns a salon is contemplating mortgaging a parcel of land she owns to pay off her debts in order to get her contract renewed, yet this person has no guarantee that her contract will be renewed next year because there are certain clauses in the contract that are against the concessionaires. According to the information provided to SMN News, at least two retailers closed their shops last week, they are Diamond International and Last Mango in Paradise, while one of the outside units selling phones and other gadgets closed on Tuesday June 26, 2012. SMN News further learned that two other businesses received termination letters recently from PJIAE management. It should be noted that all the companies that have since closed shops at PJIAE owes the airport large sums of monies.
    They said Windward Islands Bank closed their doors at PJIAE while RBTT now RBC has refused to sign a contract with PJIAE even though they are the ones that financed the reconstruction of PJIAE because of the high operational cost. The source said that the former government who placed Labega in the Director's seat were planning to bring in a particular Mexican company to build a high-end mall and discussions with the company are still ongoing. "What we are seeing in this one year contract shows that PJIAE management is making room for the Mexican company to take over by next year June since they are holding the concessionaires as hostages." They said that even though these concessionaires had their contracts since PJIAE inaugurated, the new Managing Director has in the new contract that PJIAE can put the units up for bidding within six months of the renewal of the one year contract.
    When asked by SMN News if any of the concessionaires or the ACA approached government with their concerns, they said that there is a clause in their contract that forbids them from speaking to anyone about their contracts and dealings with PJIAE. However, the source said that the ACA might go as far as shutting down PJIAE on one its busiest days if all the concessionaires agree to stand together and fight back. SMN News learnt that the ACA's lawyer has sent PJIAE a letter recently to inform them of their intentions. The concessionaires are demanding that the contract be revised and the operational costs be reduced as of July 1, 2012.
    They said that while there are 30 units at PJIAE, there just over 20 of them that are operational and the majority owes the airport thousands of dollars. "We are not given the opportunity to pay our bills and the loans that we took to open up shop at PJIAE." One source said that excuse of the PJIAE Management is that they are bringing in an outside company to conduct an assessment of the operational cost that the businesses are complaining about.
    The source said that PJIAE's new Managing Director Regina Labega now wants to give the remaining concessionaires a one year contract beginning July 1, 2012 even though they were not properly notified and no consideration is given to the loans they all took out to open shop at PJIAE. What is scary for the concessionaires who received these one year contracts is that they have to give PJIAE six months notice that they are interested in renegotiating the renewal of their contract, while the previous contract states that PJIAE must give the concessionaire a 30 day notice of their intention whether or not they will renew the contract and to date none of them have received any such notice even though their contract will end June 30, 2012. SMN News understands that the concessionaires that are in this precarious position are the retailers while the liquor stores have some special agreements with PJIAE.
    According to reliable information provided to SMN News, the concessionaires have been complaining for years, they said they met with the former Director of PJIAE drs. Eugene Holiday on several occasions and complained about their struggle and he never did anything but attend the meetings. One of the concessionaires said that the matter worsened since Regina Labega took over because she has refused to attend any of the meetings they invited her to. "We invited Labega to six meetings and she only attended one." The concessionaires who spoke to SMN News on the condition of anonymity said that they are subjected to pay rent even though they are the ones that built their units by installing tiles, electricity, telephones, and other utilities to the units. Furthermore, each concessionaire is hooked up to PJIAE micro-system and they are forced to pay a percentage to PJIAE depending on their gross sales. Even more disturbing, these vendors also pay the government Turn Over Tax (TOT) to PJIAE and now they also have to pay the same 5% TOT to government via scheduled D report.
    SMN News made several efforts to reach Director of PJIAE Regina Labega on Tuesday but she could not be reached by phone. SMN News further learnt that the Deputy Prime Minister William Marlin will be meeting with Labega to discuss the concerns of the concessionaires and to make sure Labega does what is in the best interest of St. Maarten. Marlin also could not be reached for a comment Tuesday night.
  • Cft changes its media policy.

    cftsxmandcuracao27062012Philipsburg:--- One of the core values of the Board of Financial supervision Curaçao and Sint Maarten (College financieel toezicht - Cft) is transparency. One essential aspect of good governance is that information should be available to the public, which enhances the possibility to carry out control on government. Based on this core value and within the procedural framework of the Kingdom Act financial supervision on Curaçao and Sint Maarten, Cft carries out its media policy. In the Act it is established that the advices are made public the moment the budgets and reports are sent to Parliament, and herewith start forming part of the public debate of the people's representatives of the countries and public entities.

    Recently Cft has evaluated its media policy and noted that regularly the public debate is opened before the respective documents have been made public. Sometimes the documents are not made public at all. This can cause confusion and is not transparent. Cft therefore has decided to change its publicity procedure in the sense that as of now, all its advices and reports will be made public on its website three weeks after they are issued.

  • McDonald’s taking PJIAE to Court.

    Airport:--- The Management of McDonald's fast food chain has filed a court case against the Princess Juliana International Airport and is suing the Government owned company for damages.
    SMN News learnt that the Managing Director of PJIAE Regina Labega issued a letter to McDonald's some months ago and she even allocated one of the units in the Food Court to McDonald's. The letter issued by Labega guarantees the businessman that he will be allowed to operate at PJIAE. SMN News further learnt that the businessman went ahead and invested sums of monies for the new outlet.
    However, when the UP/DP Government lost their majority in Government, the source said Labega sent out a letter to McDonald's retracting the unit that was awarded to them. According to information provided to SMN News, a letter was sent to the PJIAE Managing Director to reconsider her position on the retraction and she was given a specific amount of time in which she should react but she did not which left the businessman with no choice but to file a court case.

    Home Owners on Airport Road told to move their homes.

    SMN News further understands that all the home owners of the Airport road were given harsh letters informing them to move their homes to other locations since PJIAE bought the land on which their homes are located to construct the a parallel taxiway. It is not yet clear if the homeowners have agreed to sell their properties to PJIAE.
    According to sources within the Management of PJAIE, the homeowners knew for years that they had to relocate or sell their homes to the Airport for its expansion but the approach the Airport took recently on the appraisals of the homes was rude and ruthless.
    Sources within the management of PJIAE also said that appraisals were conducted on two significant homes in the Simpson Bay area. The source said that appraisals were conducted on the home of the Prime Minister's mother and that of Clarence Derby.

    ACA Continues to Meet as they intend to take drastic Actions.

    In the meantime, the Airport Concessionaires Association (ACA) that was recently formed continued meeting with various stakeholders to finalize their plans of actions by June 30th 2012.
    SMN News has been reliably informed that the ACA had its lawyers send a letter to Prime Minister Sarah Wescot Williams and Deputy Prime Minister William Marlin inviting them to an urgent meeting to discuss the operational and other costs at the Princess Juliana International Airport.
    According one of the concessionaires, another concessionaire received a letter on Wednesday informing them of the conditions to renew the one year contract that is offered to them by PJIAE. The source said that not only does the contract have several clauses that are detrimental to their businesses but the operational and other costs have been increased instead of being decreased.
  • Top Level Cruise Line Executives to Participate in the FCCA Cruise Conference & Trade Show.

    Pembroke Pines, FL:--- The Florida-Caribbean Cruise Association's FCCA Cruise Conference and Trade Show will take place in Curacao, October 1-5, 2012, where cruise executives from the FCCA Member Lines will gather to share ideas and discuss industry trends. Executives from the FCCA Member Lines will participate in a series of round table discussions along with the CEO's who will offer an overview of their lines' present and future.

    The FCCA will pre-set meetings with select cruise executives on a one-on-one basis for pre-registered delegates registered and paid before August 31, offering a unique opportunity to meet with and promote your destination, tour, venue, product, etc. to the decision makers in the cruise industry.

    Highlighted attention on the trade show floor will provide a steady flow of attendees to gain the attention of the cruise executives and industry partners. With expanded number of booths and special destination pavilion options, this will be the perfect way to showcase destinations as a team - from vendors who want to sell their products to the lines to tour and port operators, it gives a chance to showcase a destination that wants to display its entire product and make the greatest impact at the FCCA Cruise Conference & Trade Show.

    The annual golf tournament has become an important resource for meeting top executives in an exclusive casual atmosphere, allowing attendees to play in a foursome hosted by a Cruise Executive and contribute to a worthy cause, the FCCA Foundation.

    For more information on the FCCA Conference & Trade Show, please contact Terri Cannici at (954) 441-8881 or tcannici (at) f-cca.com.

  • Speech given by Governor Holiday during the opening of Sister Basilia Day Care Center.

    INVESTING IN HEALTH CARE, AN IMPERATIVE

    Remarks delivered
    by
    drs. Eugene B. Holiday
    Governor of Sint Maarten

     at the opening of the
    New Day Care Building of the Sister Basilia Center
    of the White and Yellow Cross
    June 28, 2012

     

    Ladies and Gentlemen,

    Good Evening,

    I am pleased to join you this evening to mark the formal opening of the new Day Care Building of the Sister Basilia Center. Established forty years ago in 1972 the White and Yellow Cross Foundation in keeping with its mission has grown and matured into a major and critical health care provider, providing care for the elderly, the disabled, the sick and the very young.
    I am very pleased to be here this evening for the inauguration of this new building and to testify to its great significance in the continued development of health care services in our society. Namely, we cannot emphasize enough how important it is to have well-equipped facilities for the development and functioning of the health care delivery system. That is because investment initiatives to expand and enhance the physical and human capacity in the interdependent health care sector, by health care providers, such as, the White and Yellow Cross, the Sint Maarten Medical Center and the Mental Health Foundation, to further improve the quality of care, are vital to the quality of life on our Island. Such investments in collective goods are thus essential. I therefore – in light of this evening's ceremony – hereby emphasize that broad community and governmental support for the realization of such critical care infrastructure is an imperative.
    The initiative of the management of the White and Yellow Cross to expand its facilities, with this new Day Care Building, to accommodate the number of clients coming to the Sister Basilia Center, is an important step forward in the development of our health care delivery system for two reasons.
    First, and foremost, is that the Sister Basilia Center through this new daycare facility has, in addition to what it is already offering, equipped itself to expand and professionalize its services to the mentally and physically challenged even more. This will as a result further increase the level of exposure for our mentally and physically challenged brothers and sisters and improve their quality of life.
    The second reason, Ladies and gentlemen, is that this new facility draws our attention, once more, to the potential of our society. It does so because this new modern facility has raised the bar again. It functions as an example for other service providers. In that respect the White and Yellow Cross as a mature organization at the age of 40 is living up to its mission "to provide the best of services for its clients, .....driven by a commitment to excellence in health care ...."
    Ladies and Gentlemen, In closing-off my remarks I encourage the management, staff and our challenged brothers and sisters to continue striving to achieve the full potential of this and other important initiatives. The completion of this building today following its groundbreaking in February 2011 is a wonderful achievement and I hereby congratulate all who have contributed to its realization and in particular applaud the management and staff on this achievement. And as you move to open this new day care building today I wish the clients, the personnel and management much success in its use and operations.

    Thank you and God bless you.

  • FINANCE MINISTER BRIEFED ON PROGRESS OF GENERAL PENSION FUND --- Presentation on organization, investments, short term and long term actions.

    rtuittbriefedongeneralpensionfund29062012Philipsburg:--- The Honorable Minister of Finance, Mr. Roland Tuitt and representatives of St. Maarten's new pension fund organization, APS, are expressing satisfaction at the outcome of a detailed presentation on the progress of the organization made to the honorable Minister of Finance, Roland Tuitt, on Tuesday, June 26th.
    Minister Tuitt, who was accompanied by his advisor, Xavier Blackman, was briefed regarding the organizational set-up as well as the organization's policy on investments. Ongoing and future action plans were also discussed with the Minister of Finance.

    Among the organization's ongoing initiatives is that of updating the APS participant base. This project is being executed in collaboration with the former APNA (now APC) and the personnel departments of the various employers. The exercise is geared towards providing APS with a clear and complete overview of all individuals that are entitled to be part of the fund and ensuring their registration in the fund is complete.

    During the presentation, APS representatives also briefed Minister Tuitt on the progress of the division of APNA assets.

    With regards to the appointing of new board members to replace some of the sitting board members whose tenure end per October 10, 2012, the Minister of Finance enquired about whether profiles exist for the position on the board. APS representatives explained that the organization has, indeed, defined profiles which specify criteria regarding knowledge, experience, education, competencies etc. that potential board members should meet.

    APS disclosed to the minister that it is making progress in meeting the financial year end reporting obligations to the Minister of Finance, the Central Bank of Curacao and St. Maarten as well as the General Audit Chamber. Minister Tuitt was pleased to hear that during the past months, the organization had complied with the requirements stipulated in their national ordinance (LvO APS) regarding such matters as annual budgets and the board's rules of order.

    With regards to the fund's investment portfolio, APS provided insight into the portfolio's positive performance through the end of the first quarter of 2012.
    Both the minister and APS agreed that realistic approaches need to be taken when it comes to selecting how and where to invest funds.
    More...

    A follow up to the meeting would be the making available of an information package on APS to the Minister of Finance detailing where the organization stands at the moment.

    APS chairman Franklyn Richards has expressed the hope of providing a similar presentation to the council of ministers, particularly for the recently appointed cabinet ministers.

    APS director Kendra Arnell says that the organization is very happy with the Minister's pragmatic views and approach on issues regarding the pension fund.

  • Minister Jacobs visits several primary schools.

    sjacobsvisitsschools03062012Philipsburg (DCOMM):--- On Thursday, May 31, Minister of Education, Culture, Youth and Sports Silveria Jacobs visited several primary schools to have introductory meetings, which included a meet and greet with the principal, the staff, teachers, and students and to share her vision for education on St. Maarten.

    "I was overwhelmed by the enthusiastic welcome of the students and teachers," Minister Jacobs said.
    "In addition, teachers welcomed the idea of a Summit and the opportunity to be involved in the process."

    After the welcoming, the Minister spoke to the principals and other school officials about the current situation at the school and the future plans, including the challenges. Next, the minister toured the properties and got a first-hand look at the grounds of each school.

    Referring to her school visits, Minister Jacobs said that, as a new member of Government, I wanted to get familiar with each school and to find out what the issues are, but also we have to see what is working well.

    The Minister commended everyone. Being in the education field is hard work, and you need a lot of patience, but it is also rewarding to see your students get good grades, do their homework, and later become productive citizens in society, Minster Jacobs said.

    As much as we can, the government along with other ministries and departments, Minister Jacobs said, we will make sure, within our limitations, that each school is up to par, that the immediate problems are attended to, and that we continue educating the children as best as we can.

    "These students are our future; they deserve and will get the best that we can provide."

    The Minister visited the following schools: Sister Regina Primary, Leonald Conner, Oranje, St. Joseph Primary Christian Hillside, and Seventh Day Adventists. Visits to other primary schools are scheduled for next week.

  • COLA Payments will be Made --- Tuitt.

    rtuitt06062012Philipsburg:--- Minister of Finance Roland Tuitt announced on Wednesday during the Council of Ministers press briefing that the Cost of Living Adjustment (COLA) payments will be made.
    The Minister of Finance said that the COLA payments are for the year 2010 and the government of St. Maarten has an agreement with the unions about these payments. Minister Tuitt said right now the government is reviewing the legal basis (paperwork) so that they can make the payments. Minister Tuitt said to speed up the process they will be making a pre-payment then they will proceed to do the legal paperwork for it to be booked in the government administrative work. Tuitt said government will also be looking at the tax structure to ensure that the civil servants are not over taxed.
    The Finance Minister said he will be convening a meeting with the unions shortly so that he could update them on government's plans and their way forward regarding the 2010 COLA payments.
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  • Parents and motorists reminded to observe rules related to safe school bussing; Heavy equipment owners urged to stick to the traffic ordinance.

    GREAT BAY (DCOMM):--- Thousands of students go to school five days a week, and the School Bus Inspection Section is reminding all motorists to observe the traffic rules especially in the vicinity of schools and school busses.

    Heavy equipment owners are urged to follow without any deviation the Traffic Ordinance Article 60A which prohibits heavy equipment from operating during 6:30am to 8:30am and 12:00pm to 2:00pm.

    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.

    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.

  • SMMC has only One Surgeon on Duty --- Hospital Personnel Questioning Death of Jamaican Stabbing Victim.

    Philipsburg:--- Patients that are awaiting surgical operations at the Sint Maarten Medical Center and are patients of Doctor Roy Rajaran would have to wait much longer to solve their medical problems because Dr. Rajaran walked off of the job two weeks ago. The only surgeon that is currenty working at the SMMC is Dr. Holiday.
    SMN News has been reliably informed that Dr. Rajaran walked out of a meeting when medical professionals at the St. Maarten Medical Center questioned some of the procedures he used on one of the most recent stabbing victims who subsequently died at the St. Maarten Medical Center. Sources at the St. Maarten Medical Center said medical personnel and doctors met two weeks ago to discuss the death of a Jamaican national who died at the institution with severe stab wounds. According to one source, Dr. Holiday posed some questions to Dr. Rajaran regarding procedures used on the victim and Dr. Rajaran took the questions as though there were accusations and walked out of the meeting despite his colleagues pleading with him not to leave until the matter is resolved. The source said Dr. Rajaran and Dr. Holiday had a heated argument about the death of the victim who was stabbed in Sucker Garden.
    It is further understood that the surgeon on duty Dr. Rajaran cut open the victim in the emergency room rather than taking him to the operating room where more medical tools and life saving equipments are located.
    SMN News further learnt that dr. Rajaran did not return to work since the incident and his patients that were scheduled for surgery had to be rescheduled until further notice.
    It should also be noted that while Dr. Rajaran is a Surinamese he was trained in one of the best trauma centers in the Netherlands. However, it is clear that Dr. Rajaran is not able to take criticism even though he knew he might have made a medical mistake when dealing with the 52 year old Jamaican who passed away two weeks ago. SMN News further learnt that Dr. Rajaran has been in contact with the SMMC Director Dr. George Scott who granted him medical leave since the incident.
    Health professionals at the St. Maarten Medical Center said that government and the Inspectorate of Health need to take a serious look at the management of the St. Maarten Medical Center. They said that almost every time the St. Maarten Medical Center makes the news it is in a negative light. One medical professional said that Dr. Scot is the Sheriff and Deputy of the Hospital because of the number of caps he is wearing while no one can discuss with the Chairman of the Board Clarence Richardson. Efforts made to reach the medical director Dr. George Scot and Dr. Holiday by phone proved futile. SMN News also tried reaching the medical inspector Dr. Earl Best Monday evening but he too could not be reached.
  • Diesel and LPG Prices Decrease as of Wednesday 13 May, 2012.

    dieselandlpgpricesdecrease12062012
  • Minister De Weever tours Seven Seas water desalination and production plant.

    cdeweevertourssevenseaswaterplant12062012Great Bay:--- Minister of Public Health Social Development & Labor, Cornelius De Weever recently took a tour of the Seven Seas desalination and production operations in Cupe Coy and Cay Bay, where he received an extensive explanation on the operations of both plants. Seven Seas are responsible for the production of water, which is supplied to GEBE for use by its consumers.
    Minister De Weever was accompanied by staff of the Inspectorate of Public Health Social Development & Labor, GEBE, and Seven Seas St. Maarten. The tour started at Cupecoy where Minister De Weever was given a first-hand look of the wells in the area that takes in the sea water and further pumps it to the plant at Cupecoy. The tour continued to the Cay Bay plant, where Seven Seas officials explained the intake of water from the ocean and its further processing.
    "As minister with the responsibility for potable/drinking water according to the legislation it is extremely important that I am completely aware of the process from the production to the distribution and the independent sampling by the environmental inspectors of the inspectorate to independent testing by SLS all to ensure enough and safe water to the people of St. Maarten," said Minister De Weever.
    Seven Seas focuses on seawater/brackish water reverse osmosis and other membrane based water treatment technologies. The company has a large team of support staff for the reverse osmosis desalination plants here on the island. The Cupecoy Plant increased its capacity from contracted amount of 3,000m³/d to actual amount of 3,730m³/d. The Cay Bay Plant, of which the existing plant was expanded from 10,500 to 13,500m³/d.
  • MP La Ville Apologizes to Parliament and Colleague for his Behavior.

    membersofparliament12062012Philipsburg:--- Member of Parliament Romaine La Ville apologized to Parliament on Tuesday morning as well as to his colleague MP Jules James and the people of St. Maarten for making verbal threats against MP Jules James. La Ville said he disappointed Parliament with his behavior also the youths and their parents when he expressed his anger against his colleague Member of Parliament Jules James. La Ville further said that "things were said by him" and he holds full responsibility for what he said to MP James. He said sometimes when one is angry "heated" they say things that they often regret. La Ville said after sitting and thinking about what he said to his colleague he felt he passed a bad shadow over parliament. La Ville said he intended to speak to MP James after the public meeting in order for them to move forward. He said that in the heat of the discussion, words were said that did not have any meaning and he hopes that the Members of Parliament would accept his apology.
    In reaction to the statements made by La Ville, Member of Parliament Jules James said he accepts La Ville's apology but on Monday night he felt threatened when La Ville told him multiple times that he was going to shoot him and kill him. MP James said that he has a life and he also does things outside of Parliament and should something happen to him there is a record showing that he was threatened by La Ville. MP James also confirmed that he went to the Police Station and he filed an official complaint against La Ville and even though he accepts La Ville's apology "the clock has turned and whoever has to be called in as the investigation takes place will be called in." MP James said he does not think that anyone should be walking around with a gun, especially an un-licensed one, and making threats to a fellow colleague for statements he made on the floor of parliament.
    Member of Parliament George Pantophlet in response to MP James statements said that while MP La Ville apologized to Parliament and his colleague MP James. MP James got up and said he accepted the apology but also went into details on what transpired during the argument on Monday. MP Pantophlet said that statements made by MP James were not called for because if he accepts the apology and then turns around and makes those statements then in his opinion MP James was trying to make things worse. MP Pantophlet also indicated that he is disappointed because MP James is not only a Member of Parliament but he is also considered to be a brother in church. MP Pantophlet said if one wants to talk about forgiveness and they want to use the bible they have to accept it as is. However, he felt that the additional statements made by MP James will instigate more problems. "The good colleague of mine also knows that he has issues with the workers at Pelican and we do not know what could happen with one of the workers of Pelican. Therefore, I think it was very wrong for MP James to make the statements he made on the floor of Parliament."
    Member of Parliament Dr. Ruth Douglas also expressed her views on the incident. MP Douglas said that people need to measure their words when they speak. She said since the installation of Parliament there has been a lot of childish behavior and people are using a lot of bad words. MP Douglas said whatever someone cultivates over the years becomes their character and it will come out one day when there is a heated moment. MP Douglas told her colleague Jules James that when someone accepts an apology they also must forgive. However, when you feel that your life is in danger then you have to let others know about it. MP Douglas said she knows the feeling when one's life is being threatened because when she got divorced and her ex-husband threatened her she could not go anywhere. MP Douglas admonished her colleagues in Parliament by informing them that they are the examples of what the future will be and how they behave in private is what comes out in public.
    Member of Parliament Louis Laveist said he concurred with the statements made by his colleague MP George Pantophlet and he also accepted the apology of MP La Ville. Laviest said he felt that it was time for Parliament to move forward with the people's business. Laveist said that whatever happened on Monday should now be placed behind everyone and considered it as "water under the bridge."
    However, Member of Parliament Sylvia Meyers said some of the Members of Parliament have forgotten who they are, she said she accepts the apology given by La Ville to Parliament. However, she is of the opinion that Parliament is not set up for everyone. "Some of us need to grow up and set an example and we need to look at others who were in Parliament years before us and stop our childish behavior." MP Meyers said she did not have any intention to stand on the floor of Parliament and bash anyone, but because of what transpired on Monday she suffered slightly. When she read the comments on SMN News, she became a "female dog" from someone who does not even know her because she went as a witness with MP James to the Police Station Monday night. MP Meyers said that people don't know the real Sylvia Meyers and they are talking things without having the facts about Sylvia Meyers and her family. MP Meyers said the same person who called her a female dog went on to say things about her son. MP Meyers made clear she has one biological son who is a hardworking individual and he never fought with MP La Ville. "There was never an issue between my son and La Ville and I am saying to the people out there who are reading and writing these blogs to be very careful and stop listening to others who don't know anything about her background. If these people want to say anything about Sylvia Meyers they should say the truth and not any hogwash. These comments I read it with my own eyes and even though my colleagues may not like what I said, this is just the beginning and we are all learning by example."
    The Chairlady of Parliament Gracita Arrindell said she also accepted La Ville's apology and as they continue to build history of St. Maarten's Parliament what transpired on Monday and Tuesday will also be part of it. Arrindell said everyone has the right to act how they want to act outside of Parliament but based on article 65 of the Country's constitution, Members of Parliament and Ministers who participate or deliberate in meetings may not be prosecuted for the statement or statements they make on the floor of Parliament.
    It should be noted that the argument began in the House of Parliament and ended up outside.
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  • Prime Minister Sarah Wescot-Williams met with St. Maarten's members on the Supervisory Board of Directors of the Central Bank of Curacao and St. Maarten (CBCS).

    swescotwilliamsmeetswithsxmboardmembersofthecbcsm14062012The Prime Minister of St. Maarten the Honorable Sarah Wescot-Williams met with St. Maarten's members on the Supervisory Board of Directors of the Central Bank of Curacao and St. Maarten (CBCS) Mr. Robbie Ferron and Mrs. Marcia Illidge. The meeting was also attended by Finance Minister Mr. Roland Tuitt and Legal Advisor the Cabinet of the Prime Minister Mr. Hensley Plantijn. The meeting, held in the Prime Minister's Office, discussed various items pertaining to the Central Bank of Curacao and St. Maarten.

    Press Release from Prime Minister's Office

  • Prime Minister Addresses eighteenth Commencement Ceremony at the University of St. Martin.

    swescotwilliamsatusmgraduation17062012We can realize the goal of having a high level of educated individuals within the communities without them having to leave our shores.

    The Prime Minister of St. Maarten the Honourable Sarah Wescot-Williams gave the address at the Eighteenth commencements ceremony at the University of St Martin on Saturday. While addressing the forty-three graduating students the Prime Minister emphasised that having served as commissioner of education for many years and now as Prime Minister, she can look back with pride on how far the University of St. Maarten has come notwithstanding so many odds. "We are able to celebrate the achievement of forty three men and women at the University of St Maarten it is important for each and everyone of the individuals graduating tonight to reflect on what it means to be here", commented the Prime Minister.

    The Prime Minister emphasized that education is the key in not only the traditional sense of the word in the context of the formal classroom, but overall education in ones life and in ones community is an achievement for which all St. Maarten citizens must strive. "In St. Maarten we are awaiting the outcome of the 2011 population census, however a study conducted on St. Maarten in terms of the various needs within our communities has revealed that the percentage of college graduates on the island is low. And so tonight as we celebrate the achievement of these men and women I want the students, the University of St. Maarten, the community and the Government of St. marten to commit to increasing the amount of people on St. Maarten who have a college degree. If forty-three can do it how many more can. If one can make the sacrifice to make it happen then one should encourage ones peers to do the same. For each diploma or certificate that is received there is an elevating of the level of society of St. Maarten and we need to elevate the level of education on St. marten in all districts and that is my challenge to us all here tonight. Recognize the challenge that is out there and recognize how far St. Martinets can go if given the opportunity. Together with government, the communities and private individuals and businesses I believe we can make that a reality. We can realize the goal of having a high level of educated individuals within the communities without them having to leave our shores," concluded the Prime Minister.

  • UP Leader and Live-in Companion tying the Knot on July 22nd in Miami.

    theyliger16052012Philipsburg:--- The leader of the United Peoples Party and former deputy Prime Minister Theodore Heyliger and his live in companion who is the mother of two of his children Grisha Martin are planning to tie the knot on Sunday July 22nd, 2012 in Miami. Sources close to the former deputy Prime Minister said that while Heyliger and his live in companion have been living together for 19 years and have been planning their special day for a long time they will be having a private wedding ceremony in the Miami and only close members of their families will be invited to the wedding ceremony. SMN News has been reliably informed that Heyliger and his future wife will be leaving the island on July 17th to prepare for their wedding.
    In an invited comment, Heyliger said he will not answer any questions regarding his private life but if there are questions regarding anything that he did while holding public office, he will provide answers when asked. The former Deputy Prime Minister did not confirm neither did he deny that he was planning his wedding ceremony abroad. However, close family to the Wathey families confirmed to SMN News that they will be leaving on a Jet Blue flight to Miami for the wedding.
  • TAXAND Sends Letter to Government Demanding Payments for Work they claim to have Completed on St. Maarten.

    Philipsburg:--- The principles of TAXAND UK sent an official letter to the government of St. Maarten last week demanding the last two payments that were put on hold by Minister if Finance Roland Tuitt. According to the figures provided to Parliament last week by the Finance Minister, the Government of St. Maarten has to pay TAXAND 5.5 million guilders. Minister Tuitt told the Members of Parliament that he already received legal advice on how to handle the matter and that he was waiting on SOAB for some financial information regarding the cost of a judicial inquiry into the TAXAND contract and payments. The Minister also said that he instructed TAXAND to put on hold all other works they agreed to do for St. Maarten pending the outcome of the investigation.
    It should be noted that while six of the seven members of the former Council of Ministers under the UP/DP Government voted in favor of awarding the contract to TAXAND without any form of bidding, there was no official, signed agreement between TAXAND and the Government of St. Maarten. However, the previous Minister of Finance Hiro Shigemoto, the brainchild of TAXAND contract made at least two payments to TAXAND without a signed decree from the Governor of St. Maarten.
    In an invited comment about the letter from TAXAND regarding the payments, Minister Tuitt confirmed receipt of the letter. He further explained that the lawyers for Government are busy working on a response for the company while he intends to release more information on the TAXAND scandal on Wednesday during the Council of Ministers' press briefing.
  • Leonald Conner School Wins Public Education Interscholastic Sports Day; Minister of Sports Jacobs Opened the Event.

    sjacobsatinterscholasticsportsday19062012GREAT BAY (DCOMM):--- Minister of Sports Hon. Silveria Jacobs last Friday officially opened the 2012 Public Education Interscholastic Cycle 2 Sports Day held at the Raoul Illidge Sports Complex.

    After tabulating the results of the Cycle 1 and 2 Interscholastic Sports Day, the Leonald Conner School was determined to be the overall winner of the Interscholastic Sports Day 2011-2012.

    The organizers - Public Education Physical Education Instructors - annually bring the top student athletes of Cycle 1 and Cycle 2 of all Public Schools together to compete against each other for a much coveted trophy and title. The 2010-2011 winners were Marie Genevieve de Weever Primary School.

    The opening ceremony included a march around the track by the student athletes of the Oranje School Primary School, Leonald Conner, Ruby Labega, Charles Leopold Bell, M. Genevieve de Weever and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Schools.

    The march was led by Minister of Education Hon. Silveria Jacobs and Head of Division Public Education Services Glenderlin Davis-Holiday. The procession was accompanied by drummers of the Oranje School.

    After the invocation and singing of the St. Maarten Song, Minister Jacobs addressed the organizers, students and staff of the various schools.

    "I wish you all much success as you represent your schools, but I implore you to display TRUE SPORTSMANSHIP by WINNING WITH PRIDE AND LOSING WITH DIGNITY! At the end of the competition there can only be one school declared as the winner, however as representatives of your various schools, you are all winners! Take pride in doing the best you can and never give up. May the best school win!," the Minister told the young athletes at the opening last Friday.

    The Minister of Education, Culture, Youth and Sports wishes to congratulate all organizers and participants of the annual event for a successful sports day, and pledges to upgrade and improve all sport facilities in order for the country's children to be able to train and compete year round in proper facilities.

  • Governor Holiday visits St. Kitts.

    His Excellency Governor Eugene B. Holiday will pay an official visit to St. Kitts from June 20 and 21, 2012. This visit is the Governor's first official visit to a neighboring country in the Eastern Caribbean. The Governor will hold talks with Governor General of St. Kitts and Nevis, Sir Cuthbert Sebastian, the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Relations, the Honorable Sam Condor and the Governor of the Eastern Caribbean Central Bank, Sir K. Dwight Venner. Governor Holiday will also meet with officials from the Ministry of Education and the Ministry of Culture in keeping with Governor Holiday's interest in developments in education and heritage preservation.
  • USFOL Volunteers Work Together With Parera Animal Shelter Volunteers.

    usfolvolunteersdonatetopareraanimalshelter21062012On Saturday, 16 June 2012, 14 volunteers from the U.S. Forward Operations Location (USFOL) visited the Dieren Asiel Parera Animal Shelter. They provided assistance to this important Curacao community charity by cleaning kennels, feeding and watering the animals, and providing much-needed interaction. Scott Coomer of the USFOL, working with the chaplain's office, coordinated the donation of 55 kilograms of food for the animals.
    Mrs. Gwendolyn Weber was very grateful for both the volunteer work and the food. "You have been absolutely incredible! Thank you so much for everything. Because we do not receive subsidies from other agencies, everything you provide is appreciated. Your generosity is a help to my staff and to the animals. We cannot thank you enough!"
  • Top Promotion Foundation presents T-Shirts to Minister of Public Health, Cornelius De Weever.

    toppromotionfoundationpresentst-shirtstocdeweever21062012Top Promotion Foundation, who is responsible for organizing the Awareness Week for the Disabled and Wheelchair Tennis Competition from November 23-December 2, 2012 made a presentation of t-shirts to Deputy Prime Minister William Marlin and Minister of Public Health, Social Development, & Labor, Cornelius De Weever in the A.C. Wathey Legislative Hall on Monday.
  • President of VOICES pays courtesy visit to Minister of Culture.

    nkosazanaillisvisitssjacobs21062012"You are Greatness, you came from Greatness."

    Philipsburg:--- President of VOICES , Ms Nkosazana Illis, made a courtesy visit to the Minister of Culture , Ms. Silveria Jacobs on Tuesday June 19th, 2012 inviting her, family and Ministry to the July 1 Emancipation Day celebration. The Minister was also given a brief description and objectives of VOICES Foundation. The Minister was much honored and pledged her support to the event.
    VOICES will be hosting a celebration in honor of Emancipation Day on Sunday July 1 at the Emilio Wilson Park. The celebration themed" You are Greatness, You came from Greatness", will be highlighted by history, poetry, music, dance and storytelling. Entrepreneurs will also be giving a recount of their successful business evolution and activities are planned for children throughout the day.
    The organizers of this event hope to make it a fun-filled day with family at its centerfold and where parents can bring their children to the park and relax while enjoying the festivities.
    The official program will be hosted by 'Thomas' from "Under the Sandbox Tree" along with St. Martin's award winning musical icon, Shadow man, followed by cultural entertainment by St.Martin's finest young and vibrant entertainers .
    Food and drinks will be on sale. However the organizers highly recommend visitors to bring along a blanket because the event is picnic style. The park will be open from 2.00Pm until 8.00 Pm- Entrance is free of charge.
    The theme of the day is "You are Greatness, you came from Greatness", with the purpose of educating the youth about their ancestral past and enlightening them about their value to society." By teaching them these values, VOICES is determined to eliminate the negativity and violence today amongst the youth" stated President of VOICES, Ms. Nkosazana Illis.
    VOICES is a "Grassroots" Foundation which bears the name Victory-Over-Injustice-Consciously-Eliminating-Silence.
    The objective of the Foundation is to combat all forms of abuse and violence through awareness, empowerment and prevention.
    For further information, please contact President of VOICES, Ms. Nkosazana Illis at 721-524-2103 or visit us on Facebook under VOICES.
  • An early perspective on the call to make July 1 a “national” holiday.

    josephhlakejr24062012Friday, July 1st marks exactly 120 years since slaves on Dutch St. Maarten were officially proclaimed free. Officially, because unoffi­cially, 3 days after slavery was abolished on the French side, 26 freedom fighters from Diamond Estate crossed the border to freedom on French St. Martin. The period immediately after April 28, 1848 when slavery was abolished on the French side was one of constant unrest and revolutionary acts on the Dutch side. Our forefathers fought for their freedom. They were not complacent slaves looking up to their oppressors to unshackle them, despite the insulting tone of J.D. Crol's Abolition Proclamation.

    This Proclamation, curiously written in English, offered the slaves "freedom", at the same time demanding that they prove them­selves "worthy of this benefit". This is an example of how our history has been distorted by our oppressors. Freedom was in 1863 a direct result of struggle not "the blessing bestowed on you (us) by the paternal care of the King" as the derogatory document proclaims. The Proclama­tion is in fact the same in French for the French Carib­bean islands (R.G. Guadeloupe). It is, therefore, obvious that the slave­-owners and the respective European Kingdoms they represented just got together to write a document which they would apply to their ter­ritories under their control whenever forced to do so by the revolu­tionary acts of the slaves. The document is, therefore, an agreed general CAPITULATION to the freedom fighters, not an "amnesty" decreed by the magnanimous grace of the "gracious" King.

    We should keep this in mind at all times. We should do so because nothing substantial has changed in our slave conditions since then. We should remember this because we are in a similar situation today where Her Gracious Majesty the Queen wants to "bestow on us, the blessing of independence" but instead of fighting for it as our forefathers did, our leaders without consulting us, are pleading to remain slaves under all conditions.

    In order for the significance of this day to remain with us forever, W.I. NEWSDAY is calling on the relevant local authorities to declare July 1st of every year a holiday. After all, we celebrate Kingdom day, and the Queen's birthday. We should be able to commemorate ABOLITION DAY. NEWSDAY dedicates this issue to our heroes who fought to achieve freedom. May their descendants see the light and be worthy of their heroic deeds.

    *Windward Islands Newsday 30 June 1983: 2.

  • Public Plenary Session of Parliament to Appoint a New President of Parliament.

    PHILIPSBURG:--- The House of Parliament will meet in a public plenary session June 29 to discuss a three point agenda, which includes the appointment of a new President of Parliament.

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

    The first and second agenda points are related to incoming documents and establishment of the decision list.

    The third agenda point is the request by Members of Parliament R.J. Laville, R.R. Marlin, G.C. Pantophlet, P.G. Illidge, L.J. Richardson, F.G. Richardson, H.L. Richardson, L.E. Laveist and R.E. Samuel for the plenary session regarding the appointment.

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

  • Angels visit President of Parliament.

    icwiangelsmeetwithgarrindell25062012PHILIPSBURG:--- President of Parliament Hon. Gracita Arrindell last Thursday received a visit from two angels.

    They brought an invitation from Insurance Company of the West Indies (ICWI) which will introduce a new insurance product for women, a ladies only vehicle policy.

    The launch of the new product is set for June 29. President of Parliament says the concept was very original and entertaining with class. (Parliament Photo)

  • Minister Jacobs: First Ministry of Education Teachers Summit Lays Foundation for Turning Challenges into Stepping Stones; 350 Teachers attend.

    sjacobsatteacherssummit26062012GREAT BAY (DCOMM):--- The highly anticipated Teachers Summit for primary school teachers and care unit personnel took place on Monday at the Westin Dawn Beach Resort and Spa. Approximately 350 teachers took part in the summit designed to give the teachers the opportunity to voice their concerns and propose solutions.

    The summit entitled 'Turning Challenges into Stepping Stones' is the first in a series of conferences that will be hosted by the Cabinet of the Minister of Education, Culture, Youth and Sports. The teacher's summit is part of Phase I.

    The day started out with an invocation by one of the participating teachers, Marva Sam from the Hillside Christian School. The St. Maarten song was sung by the 6th grade pupil of the Genevieve De Weever School, Geniquah Thewett. In addition to the St. Maarten Song, Thewett sang an accapella motivational song to the large gathering of teachers.
    Minister of Education, Hon. Silveria Jacobs, delivered a riveting and motivational speech to the teachers prior to commencement of the brainstorming sessions on solutions.

    The Minister's words were met with enthusiasm and elation. Minister Jacobs concluded her speech with a motivational video encouraging teachers to 'Never give up' and to believe that they 'Can make a difference'. An impromptu accapella rendition of Mary Mary's song I just can't give up now' sung by several talented teachers from various schools commenced the beginning of the brainstorming session.

    The Teachers, who sat in 35 assorted groups of 10 persons, participated in a lively hour long brainstorming session. Each group was presented with one of the challenges they had drafted during the pre-registration earlier in the week. Guidelines for the brainstorm session included techniques such as the '7 W's '(who, what, where etc.) and the S.M.A.R.T (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, Time based). Immediately following the brainstorming session the teachers presented their solutions to their peers.

    Hot topics such as 'Teacher absenteeism', 'Special needs school', 'Professionalism', and 'Parental involvement' were some of the many presented during the two hour long presentations. The presentations were documented by several members of the various education departments.

    The documented presentations will be bundled and mailed to all teachers. In addition the bundled information will be presented to the coordinator, school managers and school boards during Phase II of the 'Turning Challenges into Stepping Stones' summit series.
    Closing remarks were rendered by Minister Jacobs, who thanked the teachers for their honesty, dedication and hard work during the year and in particular during the conference. In addition some of the challenges presented were immediately addressed by the Minister with updates about their status and progress.

    The Minister thanked the organizing staff of the various Ministry departments for their hard work and team spirit 'When we work as a team we can achieve anything. This is the prevailing thought at the Ministry of Education, Culture, Youth and Sports – TEAM WORK!'

    The closing remarks were followed by a lunch where the teachers had the opportunity to meet and greet with the Minister. The general consensus of teachers was that the summit was a great opportunity for their voices to be heard, well organized and inspired new hope in the Education system on St. Maarten.

  • Sang Brothers and Sister Arrested for Stealing Electricity.

    Philipsburg:--- The owners of Sang's Supermarket located at the head of town were arrested on Tuesday after an intense investigation. SMN News learnt that GEBE filed several complaints against certain companies they caught stealing electricity. Prosecutor Manon Ridderbecks confirmed Tuesday night that the investigation was ongoing and that four persons were arrested Tuesday. Ridderbecks said the suspects were arrested for the theft of electricity.
    According to well placed sources within the Police Department, the three Sang brothers Johnny, Roberto, and Jimmy along with their only sister Melissa Sang were all arrested and taken to the Philipsburg Police Station where they are being interrogated.
    So far, police spokesman Ricardo Henson has not released any information on the arrests of the suspects and the complaints filed by GEBE.
  • The July Tree – A royal flowering fit for Emancipation Day 2012.

    flamboyanttrees27062012GREAT BAY:--- From Great Bay to Grand Case, from Lowlands to Lamajo, the Royal Poinciana or Flamboyant appears strikingly lush for its 2012 Caribbean season (May-September).

    Probably due to favorable rainfall earlier this year, the mostly orange-red flowers and bright green foliage appear like jubilant fat bells weighing down the Flamboyant branches, a fitting homage from nature for the first modern official observation of July 1 as Emancipation Day in St. Martin (South).

    The Flamboyant is popularly considered as the "National Tree" on both parts of the island of St. Martin. It is historically and culturally linked to folktales, toys, the Ponum dance, Emancipation—when St. Martiners picked and joyfully waved the flowering leaves in the air—and other aspects of the festive culture.

    On the "Friendly Island" the Poinciana is also known as the "July Tree," for the month when its flowers bloom at their colorful peak.

    "The July Tree is one of the symbols, like the Brown Pelican, The Great Salt Pond, Simpson Bay Lagoon, Marigot Market gatherings, the Frontier Monument, St. Martin Day, guavaberry, and our multilingual aptitude and resourcefulness among others, that historically and culturally stands for the unity and identity of the St. Martin people, the people of the whole island—whether officially acknowledged as such or not," said author Lasana M. Sekou.

    In the book National Symbols of St. Martin (pages 40-47), "the notion of the Flamboyant as the National Tree, or more accurately at this stage of the territorial status as the nation's tree, is linked directly to the actions of St. Martiners that claimed their Emancipation island-wide in 1848, from French and Dutch enslavement," said Sekou.

    "We know that the Ponum was danced under and around the Flamboyant tree to celebrate freedom as our people sang the 'Brim' song. In fact, July 1, 2012, marks the symbolic 164th anniversary of Emancipation for the entire island," said Sekou.

    As one of the most beautiful trees in the world, the Flamboyant has its own history of course. Among the great Caribbean artists influenced by the Flamboyant or that have immortalized it in their paintings are Wilfredo Lam, Simeon Michel, Roland Richardson, and Luis Cajiga.

    The Poinciana is cultivated widely as an ornamental and full shade tree in tropical and subtropical regions. It has a rare yellow flower variety in addition to the highly prized orange, vivid red, and vermilion color varieties. It is also a tough tree that is drought and salt tolerant.

    Elsewhere in the Caribbean and Central America the tree is known as the "Flame of the Forest" or "Llama del Bosque." In parts of India it is called Gulmohar and "crown of the Lord Krishna."

    In China and Vietnam the Flamboyant or "Phoenix's Tail" competes as the official "city tree" for more than one city. But in its native Madagascar, the Poinciana is not the national tree at all (that distinction goes to another myth-laden African wonder from the plant kingdom, the baobob tree).

    To find out how the "flame tree" got the name Poinciana, let's head back to the Caribbean. "This species was previously placed in the genus Poinciana, named for Phillippe de Longvilliers de Poincy, the 17th century governor of Saint Christophe (Saint Kitts), who is credited with introducing the plant to the Americas." (Wikipedia.com)

    In the Federation of St. Kitts-Nevis, parts of which can be seen on a clear day from the Cole Bay hill road in St. Martin, the Poinciana is at times called the "Shack Shack Tree" and its flower is, officially, the National Flower. The tree now belongs to the genus Delonix.

    Back in St. Martin, where building developments are causing unmitigated stress on land, wetlands, and vegetation, and on animal and marine life, there has been a visible and admirable growth in the appearance of Royal Flamboyant trees over the last 15 years, in private yards and along public roads. Here's another reason to have a flamboyant on one's property: As a legume tree, it packs a wallop of "nitrogen-fixating and soil-improving properties." (wikipedia.com).

    Happy July 1, St. Martin.

  • General Audit Chamber to carry out Audit of Personnel files.

    gacmeetswithparliamentonaudit27062012PHILIPSBURG:--- Acting Chairman of the General Audit Chamber Ronald Halman along with several staff members, earlier this week met with President of Parliament drs. Gracita Arrindell to explain the process of auditing of personnel files of Government and Parliament.

    The audit is to verify the status of the personnel dossiers. A similar presentation was recently provided to the Parliament Committee of Country Expenditures.

    Once the report is complete, an official report of the audit will be submitted to Parliament for its review after the July recess. This meeting is tentatively to be scheduled for the second week of August.

  • USM’s Fall Application Deadline: July 6, 2012.

    The University of St. Martin Admissions Office is urging all current applicants and those interested in applying to the University degree programs to take note of the upcoming July 6th, 2012 deadline. Students wishing to enroll in classes for August are required to complete applications by July 6. All students reminded to request transcripts from their high schools before they close for the summer. Late applications submitted after the July 6 deadline will be held for the start of the Spring 2013 semester. The July 6 deadline applies to candidates for the Associate of Arts degrees in Business and General Liberal Arts, Associate of Applied Science degrees in Hospitality & Tourism Management and Business Information Management and Bachelor of Arts in Elementary Education. Additional information available at the USM Student Service Center at tel: 542-5171 ext. 1000.
  • International Business and Management Program at USM --- In collaboration with Hanze University.

    PHILIPSBURG:--- There is good news for students on St. Maarten and the region who would like to pursue a bachelor 's degree in International Business and Management.
    As of August 2012, the University of St. Martin (USM) will be offering an International Business and Management Studies (IBMS) in conjunction with the Hanze University of Applied Sciences in Groningen (Netherlands). This is a four year, full-time undergraduate, international program where graduates, upon completion of the program, receive a Bachelor of Business Administration degree, accredited by the Nederlands Vlaamse Acreditatie Organizatie (NVAO).
    In relation to this program, USM will be hosting an information session on Tuesday, July 3, 2012 and all persons who are interested are urged to attend this event. The information session will be from 6 p.m.to 7 p.m. at the USM Lecture Hall (Room 202).
    USM and the Hanze University signed a memorandum of understanding in December 2011 and this program is now the result.
    "Both universities worked diligently towards the result which is being now presented: The start of the IBMS program on St. Maarten," says USM Business Division Head Erwin Wolthuis.
    He further explained that the IBMS is a four-year program and each year consists of two study semesters.
    "The first two years of the curriculum are offered at USM, year 3 and 4 are offered at the Hanze University of Applied Sciences (HG), Groningen, the Netherlands. After having completed the first two years successfully at USM, students are eligible to enroll at the Hanze University in the third year. This will be a seamless transition since the curriculum offered at both universities is exactly the same," Wolthuis notes.
    Irma Koornstra, Project Leader of the USM- Hanze University Collaboration, adds, "Throughout their studies, students will work together in small groups to find answers to challenging yet practical, business-related problems. These small, preferably multi-cultural groups of four to six students prepare them for successful communication and co-operation in international business. Modern facilities such as up-to-date computer access and the availability of a well-equipped project room supports the students in their project work."
    That training is also provided in specific skills essential to successful future careers, such as giving and receiving feedback, working in groups, intercultural sensitivity, customer orientation and presentation skills, says Koornstra. These are a unique part of the IBMS program.
    There is still space available for students who are interested in joining this program. In order to be eligible for admission students need to be in the possession of a HAVO/CXC or VWO/IB diploma. The deadline date for applying to this program is July 6, 2012. To enroll in the program students will also need to bring their diplomas, transcripts (cijferlijst), passport and two passport pictures to USM.
    Persons who are interested in more information on the International Business and Management Studies (IBMS) can contact the University of St. Martin Student Service Center at tel. 542-5171 Ext. 1000.
  • Ombudsman Delivers Report on Cadastre’s Office to Minister of VROMI --- Minister Given one month to take action.

    narduinlynch28062012Philipsburg:--- The Ombudsman of St. Maarten Nilda Arduin-Lynch delivered the first systemic report she conducted on the operations of the Cadastre's office on Thursday to the Minister of VROMI William Marlin. Based on the report and its recommendations, the Minister has four weeks to take appropriate measures to rectify the malfunctions at the country's public registry. If the Minister of VROMI fails to take action within the period of time suggested in the report then the Ombudsman will move to Parliament with her findings. A copy of the official report was also delivered to the director of the Cadastre's office.
    Arduin-Lynch told reporters at a press conference held Thursday afternoon that the investigation began since December 2010 but it took a long time to compile because the director of the Cadastre's office was not cooperating with her. Lynch said she initiated the investigation when she saw two transcripts that were issued on December 14th and 15th 2010 with discrepancies and also based on statements the director of the Cadastre's office made to the media. During the indepth investigation, meetings were held with notaries and the Ombudsman discovered that there were discrepancies in the fees charged by the Cadastre's office.
    Arduin-Lynch said the report is available for everyone to peruse but persons that would like to have a personal copy can request it at her office and a small fee will be charged for the document.
    Arduin- Lynch said during her investigation she did a lot of research on the laws and also worked with the Cadastre's office in the Netherlands who was assisting St. Maarten's Cadastre's office with the implementation of a new system.
    When asked by reporters which of the two transcripts that were issued on December 14th and 15th 2010 were correct, Arduin-Lynch said she is not the competent person to say that but based on her comparison with the deed and the transcripts it appears as though the one issued on December 15th 2010 was the correct one.
    The Ombudsman was also trying to determine if everyone on St. Maarten can access the public registry on a public holiday to obtain documents. December 15th was a public holiday and Director of the Cadastre's office made certain changes to the transcript issued on December 14th and gave it to an editor of a newspaper. These transcripts are for the long lease land issued to former Minister of Heath Maria Buncamper Molanus.
    Furthermore, she said that her office received several complaints from members of the public regarding their information and the treatment they receive at the Cadastre's office and so far it appears as though people's information is being compromised. The Ombudsman said people as well as banks and other entities must be able to rely on the documents issued by the Cadastre's office because the documents are used to obtain loans while investments are made based on the information they get on their properties. Ombudsman Nilda Arduin-Lynch was the former chairman of the board of the Cadastre's office and she made clear that the investigation conducted was not to get at anyone but instead it is to make corrections to what is done wrong while protecting people's information.
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  • Prime Minister attends opening of New Sister Basilia Day Care Center.

    swescotwilliamsattendsopeningofsisterbasiliadaycarecenter29062012We have all fought very hard to overcome the taboo that was on St. Maarten regarding the disabled.

    The Prime Minister of St. Maarten the Honorable Sarah Wescot-Williams attended the opening ceremony of the Sister Basilia Center on Thursday Evening. The new Day Care facility has been tailor made to fit the specific needs of the clients of the Sister Basilia Center. The Prime Minister attended the opening with the Governor of St. Maarten His Excellency Governor Eugene Holiday and the Minister of Health and Social Welfare Dr. Cornelius de Weever.

    The Prime Minister commented that over a year ago she had expressed her wishes for a speedy completion of the Daycare Center of the Sister Basilia Center, and today all gathered to celebrate its completion.

    "It is fitting considering that the motto of the Sister Basilia center is "always moving forward" and indeed the opening of this professional center goes to show that the Center is indeed moving always forward with this new and important facility. It is extremely good to be here now at this opening and on behalf of the government of St. Maarten I would like to say thank you for offering the possibility of a rich life for the disabled people on St. Maarten. And to the clients of the Center you should be extremely proud to have this new building as part of your facilities," stated the Prime Minister.

    The Prime Minister continued by mentioning that studies which were conducted on St. Maarten several years ago have shown that for many persons there was no facility which allowed for the disabled to be cared for in a professional way. "We have fought very hard to overcome the taboo which was on St. Maarten regarding the disabled and the acknowledgement that professional care is extremely necessary. It is through the efforts of countless volunteers and particularly through the White and Yellow cross that we have crossed that threshold as a people. Now the clients of the Sr. Basilia Center and their families are proud to see what our disabled family members can do and that there is now a possibility for them to do it. This Center is a feather in the cap of all who were involved in the process of developing it. This is not only a milestone for the Sister. Basilia Center, but also for St. Maarten and St. Maarten people," stated the Prime Minister.

    "The Government of St. Maarten, under the motto of Working for the People, and I would like to add to that "Working for all of the People", is extremely glad with this other step in terms of working for all of the people of St. Maarten. Working for all the people means that all conditions are there which allow for all people, including those who are disabled, to prosper. The White and Yellow Cross Board and Staff and the staff of the Sister Basilia Center are at the forefront of ensuring that the most vulnerable in our community are cared for.

    From the Cabinet of the Prime Minister

  • The Speedy Plus Club – International Track & Field Meet.

    Philipsburg:--- The St. Maarten Tourist Office announces a special "TEMPO Presents" documentary featuring Local, Regional and International Track and Field Athletes competing on the island. The meet organized by the Speedy Plus Club of the French side of the island in collaboration with the department of Sports and youth Affairs and the tourist departments of both sides of the island is scheduled to air on Tuesday July 3rd, 2012 at 7:00 p.m.

    "The St. Maarten Tourist Bureau's Product Development team were pleased to support the first annual Track and Field Meet in St. Martin with Tempo. This sporting event presented an opportunity to showcase the destination and its young promising talents to the region as part of our Sport Tourism objectives. We look forward to next year's event and we hope to see more future events like this," said May-Ling Chun, Interim Director of Tourism for the St. Maarten Tourist Bureau.

    The premiere will feature in-depth interviews and footage of the athletes, various government officials from both sides of the island, and the cross section of supporters who turned out to the event. The meet included international athletes from the USA, Canada, France and much more including the likes of Shawn Crawford, Olympic gold medalist 200 meter and LaShawn Merritt, 400 Meter Olympic Gold Medalist.

    Working closely with Tempo on this event was Mrs. Leona Marlin executive board member of the speedy plus club. "I thought it was a good experience working with Tempo to bring a Hip and Modern feel to the sport of track and Field, especially as this was our first International meet. I look forward to working with all parties involved to showcase this event on a larger scale next year" said Marlin.

    TEMPO Networks has been working on a number of other projects that will be including St. Maarten throughout the course of the year, including coverage of St. Maarten Carnival which took place earlier this year and is slated to be aired on Tempo in the near future. After the premiere on July 3rd 2012 TEMPO Presents "The St. Maarten/St. Martin Track and Field Meet 2012" is scheduled to repeat through (INSERT DATES) TEMPO is available on channel 191 on St. Maarten Cable TV on the Dutch side and channel 8 on St. Martin Cable on the French side of the island.

  • Ministry of Public Health begins testing drinking water.

    Great Bay:--- The Inspectorate of Public Health Social Development & Labor will be testing the quality of drinking water on the southern part of the island. The Environmental Hygiene department of the Inspectorate of Public Health in collaboration with SLS is now in a position to independently verify the quality of drinking water produced and distributed on St. Maarten.
    In compliance with the Drink Water Ordinance the government of St. Maarten via SLS is able to audit the quality of drinking water produced on St. Maarten. These audits will be conducted four times a year based on the volume of water produced. Inspectors of the Environmental Hygiene department of IVSA will take samples and said samples will be analyzed for microbial contamination, the physical and chemical properties of the drinking water. The Drinking water Ordinance also provides the norms to which the quality must adhere.
    "It is important that the water we drink is tested not only by GEBE, but also by an independent lab. The law stipulates this and we should make sure that the checks and balances are in place to ensure our drinking water is safe and stays that way," said Minister Cornelius De Weever.
    By means of the Drinking Water ordinance the internal quality control program of Drinking water distributor GEBE has to be reported to the IVSA this is in effect since January of 2012 whereby the Inspectorate will report the quarterly report to the Minister.
  • Sint Maarten Senior Citizen Recreation Foundation receives last part of their US 32,000.00 grant from Cooperating Foundations.

    sxmseniorcitizenrecreationfoundationreceivespartofgrantfromcooperatingfoundations05062012Board members Dennis Rombly, Violet Lake, and Marva Hanson received a cheque of Naf 14,470.25 to purchase a new fridge, doors, and board games for their senior's activity center in Hope Estate. The St. Maarten Senior Citizen Recreation Foundation has been offering activities and lunch to the elderly for the last 23 years. Their center however was in bad shape and although the Cooperating Foundations of the Dutch Caribbean normally does not fund renovation projects, they willingly stepped in to help the foundation change some windows and electrical system. Because all expenditures of the first 75% of the grant had been accounted for fully, the board members received the last amount to finish the project from president of the Advisory Council of Cooperating Foundations, Angela Dekker, and project adviser Saskia Kliphuis.
  • New CLA benefits for PJIAE employees --- Men now to get seven days paternity leave.

    pjiasignsnewclawithunions07062012SIMPSON BAY:--- Princess Juliana Int'l Airport operating company N.V. (PJIAE), along with the Windward Island Civil Servants Union (WICSU), and ABVO, concluded more than one year of negotiations last week when the new Collective Labor Agreement (CLA) was signed.

    WICSU represents the Air Traffic Controllers, while the ABVO union represents the other unionized airport employees.

    The signing took place on May 28 in the boardroom at the airport, marking the first time that the company has concluded one CLA with two unions.

    According to PJIAE Human Resources Manager Norma Brill, the old CLA was expanded to include more benefits for the some 245 workers represented by the two unions.

    With the new agreement, workers will receive increments on their salaries over the next three years, of between 2.5% and 2.6%.

    Radar Controller Duncan van Heyningen, who is also vice president of the Air Traffic Controllers Association and PJIAE Shop Steward for WICSU, said under the new agreement, the male employees will be entitled to seven days paternity leave, instead of two.

    According to Van Heyningen, "both parties understood each other and came to a consensus." He said the new salary structure, based on a recently-concluded study, will take into account the cost of living and "weight of an employee's function."

    The new salary structure should be in place by the end of June. Terms negotiated under the new CLA will apply to the new salary scale, said Van Heyningen.

    "This CLA is not only beneficial to the employees, but the employer as well because when you maintain a happy atmosphere where employees feel appreciated, you end up with a better product," said Van Heyningen.

  • THE NEW TESTAMENT BAPTIST CHURCH PRESENTS LECTURE ON WOMEN'S HEALTH.

    In keeping with the various activities organized in commemoration of its 55th anniversary, the New Testament Baptist Church is continuing its outreach program activities which include the organization of a number of lectures on Health and on Finances.
    Last month, the New Testament Baptist Church kicked off the lecture series with two very successful and informative lectures on Taxes. Drs. Maria Bass of the Tax Inspectorate, who was the presenter, brought along several staff members of the Tax Inspectorate to assist persons with the filing out of the 2011 Tax return forms which had to be submitted before May 31st.
    This month, the lecture series continues with a lecture on health. The first lecture on health will be delivered by Dr. Randolph Friday, son of the soil, a young St. Maarten gynecologist who after completion of his medical studies, returned to St. Maarten some five years ago.
    Dr. Friday is a former student of the St. Maarten Academy who went to the USA to pursue his medical studies in obstetrics and gynecology at Howard University Medical School in Washington, D. C. Dr. Randall Friday completed his medical training at Henry Ford hospital in Detroit, Michigan.
    In a recent interview, Dr. Friday, who opened the first Women's Health Center on St. Maarten three and a half years ago, expressed his concern about several aspects of women's health disorders and diseases, such as the increasing incidents of fibroids and cancer among the female population on St. Maarten.
    The presentation by Dr. Friday is expected to be very informative and is meant to empower especially women on the island to take control of their health.
    The New Testament Baptist Church is inviting its members and the general public at large to come out and get informed.
    The lecture by Dr. Friday will take place on Tuesday, June 12th, 2012 at 7:30 pm at the New Testament Baptist Church in Philipsburg, next to Kentucky Fried Chicken and is free of charge.
  • Nature Foundation completes baseline survey on the ecology and economy of Mullet Pond --- Area represents high biological and economic value.

    mulletpond12062012The Nature Foundation, over the course of five months, conducted a research project and compiled a report on the Biological Status of the Mullet Pond section of the Simpson Bay Lagoon.  The purpose of this report was to create a more in-depth study of both the ecology of the Mullet Pond and to also conduct a valuation study on the contribution the area has, in a dollar amount and in its intact form, to the economy of St. Maarten. The report also outlines the possible uses which can be made of the lagoon, keeping  it intact while at the same time ensuring that its economic contribution will grow. The study further has as its aim to convince policy makers that official zoning of the Mullet Pond area as a conservation zone is of essential importance to the stability of the remaining environmental habitat in the Simpson Bay Lagoon.

    70% of all mangroves located in the Simpson Bay Lagoon currently survive in Mullet Pond, which forms the largest, continuous area of unbroken mangrove forest on St. Maarten. Mullet Pond is located in the south-eastern most area of the lagoon in the area of Mullet Bay. Baseline surveys included in this report have shown that the area forms one of the most pristine habitat within wetland and aquatic habitats supporting numerous species including juvenile snapper, seahorses, crabs, reptiles and a number of bird species.

    Based on the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP) World Conservation Monitoring Center 2006 document In the front lines: shoreline protection and other ecosystem services from mangroves, the Value of the 880 square meters of Mangrove Habitat which represents the Mullet Pond ecosystem is equal to USD $792,000 per year towards the economy of St. Maarten in its intact form, not counting or taking into consideration the high biological value that the area represents.

    The Marketing of the Mullet Pond area as a high Value Eco-Tourism experience is significantly untapped. With increased trends moving towards the marketing of Caribbean islands as eco-tourism destinations Mullet Pond can contribute significantly to eco-tours in the form of snorkelling, diving, limited fishing excursions, kayaking and ample bird and reptile watching opportunities, thus further reinforcing the economic contribution of the ecosystem.

    Mullet Pond is increasingly under threat due to development. As it is, the cause for protecting that ecosystem and the value with which it brings far outweighs the perceived benefit development of the area may have. Any type of development would require the destruction of large areas of mangrove trees and the dredging and siltation of extensive sea grass beds, effectively killing both the economic and ecological benefit of the area.

    It is therefore essential that the Mullet Pond, located between Point Pirouette and Mullet Beach, be zoned as a protected area in which it is prohibited to remove and/or cut existing vegetation, including mangroves and sea grass, within 15 meters of the lagoon shoreline including the waters contained therein. It is only through official protection that the protection of the Mullet Pond and the ecosystem it supports will remain an essential part of the St. Maarten landscape.

    Once legislation is enacted proper management of that ecosystem would need to occur in order to reduce the risk of the area being a so-called ‘paper park’. This management of should involve natural space bio-mapping, integrated use of GIS mapping, mangrove strand management, the possibility of housing injured and sick sea turtles in housing pens close to the island, doing bird monitoring, invasive species checks, and baseline environmental monitoring.
  • Guyanese Convicted in the BTA 2 Scandal --- Obtained work permits for two persons with false documentation.

    Philipsburg:--- Guyanese national Wyesha Gergian Alfred got off lightly in the Court of First Instance on Wednesday when she was convicted to six months suspended sentence, three years probation, and 240 hours of community service.
    Alfred was found guilty of falsifying and submitting documents for five persons so that they could have obtained a Brooks Tower Permit. Judge Keppels said in her ruling that Alfred submitted falsified documents to the Island Labour Department where she presented herself as the employer of the persons. Documents were falsified for P.G Sewlall, R.D Morales Pena, M.C. Marin Cartagena, S. Hazel, and D.A Mc Fadden. Alfred also managed to obtain work permits for P.G Sewlall and S. Hazel. The judge noted in her ruling that Alfred falsified the documents for monies. The ruling states that Alfred submitted false declarations and labour contracts for the above named persons under the companies Cassam Construction N.V. and Unico Management Services. She was charged on two counts of falsifying documents for financial gains as well as using the stamps of Cassam Construction and Unico Management Services because P.G. Sewlall and S. Hazel paid Alfred $1,500 for her services while they paid an additional $900 to the Island Labour Department for their working permits.
    Wyesha Alfred was working for Unico Management Services owned by one Josanne. The court also noted that Josanne was also one of the suspects in the BTA investigation. Alfred was represented by Brenda Brooks.
  • Guillaume Arnell won at Ten Polling Stations on St. Martin --- St. Barths voters chose Daniel Gibbs as Deputy for the two Islands.

    danielgibbs10062012Marigot:--- Based on the official results released from the Prefecture of St. Martin, Guillaume Arnell, 3rd Vice President of the Collectivity of St. Martin won at ten of the polling stations on St. Martin for the second round of the legislative elections held last Saturday. Of the 17,857 registered voters on St. Martin only 6,646 (37.22%) cast their ballots on Saturday. Daniel Gibbs received 2997 (46.70%) of the votes cast on St. Martin while Guillaume Arnell received 3,420 (53.30%) of the votes cast on St. Martin.
    However, the decision to choose the deputy for St. Martin and St. Barths was taken by the voters on St. Barths. While there are 4,881 registered voters on that island, 1,508 (77.21%) voters cast their ballot on Saturday, of that amount, 1111 (77.21%) voted for Daniel Gibbs and his replacement Karine Miot Richards while 328 (22.79%) voted in favor of Guillaume Arnell and his replacement Ines Bouchaut Choisy.
    After the overall votes were tallied it clearly showed that Daniel Gibbs emerged winner of the election based on the voters on St. Barths and not those on St. Martin. Gibbs received 4108 (52.29%) votes while Guillaume Arnell received 3748 (47.71%).

    Click here to view the official results issued by the Prefecture of St. Martin and St. Barths.
  • SER inducted into AICESIS.

    serinductedintoaicesis20062012The development of the Social Economic Council (SER) crossed another threshold by the induction of the organization into the AICESIS last week in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. The International Association of Economic and Social Councils and Similar Institutions or AICESIS is a worldwide organization uniting 70 member states from 4 continents.
    The SER was inducted into this international forum at its annual General Assembly that took place in Rio de Janeiro on June 14 and 15. A delegation comprised of 4 members of the Sint Maarten SER traveled to Brazil as acceptance of the membership required the live attendance of SER representatives at the conference. The Sint Maarten delegation included chairman René Richardson and members Dwight Williams, Joseph Lake jr. and Edwin Smith.
    In a presentation to an audience of more than 200 delegates from different member states, SER chairman Richardson made use of the opportunity to relay some basic information about our country and its Social Economic Council. The membership seemed very impressed by the combination of the flowing informative speech by the Chairman and display via PowerPoint. A panoramic picture of Great Bay caught the attention from those members in attendance for the several minutes it was displayed. The general secretary of AICESIS then made gesture for the membership, which provided loud applause confirming both appreciation for the presentation and Sint Maarten's acceptance in the association.
    Concurrent with Sint Maarten, Aruba and El Salvador were accepted as new AICESIS members as well. In the corridors of the conference, the Sint Maarten delegation took the opportunity to strengthen its ties with the Kingdom sister organizations from Aruba, Curaçao and the Netherlands.
    Additional information of the AICESIS including the membership list that now mentions Sint Maarten is to be found at www.aicesis.org.
    The cost involved in the SER trip to the AICESIS General Assembly was covered by Dutch cooperation funds managed by USONA.
  • EMS Staff visit two primary schools on Tuesday.

    emsstaffatstdominicprimaryschool20062012GREAT BAY (DCOMM):--- The Emergency Medical Services (EMS) as part of its annual EMS Week 2012 of activities, visited two primary schools on Tuesday to demonstrate emergency and urgent care.

    The two schools visited were: Sister Marie Laurence Primary School and the St. Dominic's Primary School. (DCOMM Photo)

  • St. Maarten EMS presents adjusted posters.

    cdeweeverreceivesadjusted912emsposters21062012Great Bay:--- St. Maarten Emergency Medical Services is celebrating EMS Week from June 17, 2012-June 22, 2012 with various activities to commemorate the event, such as radio interviews, lectures at two primary schools, CPR demonstrations and more.
    On Tuesday morning, staff of St. Maarten EMS presented Minister of Public Health Social Development & Labor, Cornelius De Weever with the adjusted Call 912 posters and brochures. Cylred Richardson, Head of the Ambulance Department mentioned that it is very important for the community of St. Maarten to call 912 instead of 911 in a medical emergency.
    "If you call 911 you will get the Police Department, and they are not collecting the same information we need at the Ambulance Department with medical emergencies," said Richardson.
    The poster has some handy information available, such as when to call 912 for an ambulance; information needed from you when calling 912, and what you can do until the ambulance team arrives.
    "When every second counts to save someone's life it is extremely important to know to call 912. I am looking forward for this campaign to continue year round to ensure that the entire population of St. Maarten knows to call 912 in case of emergencies," said Minister of Public Health Social Development & Labor, Cornelius de Weever.
  • TAXAND Saga and Investigation Continues --- Why did former Minister of Finance Abandon the Naf. 5 million project to strengthen St. Maarten’s Tax System.

    hiroshigemoto16052012Philipsburg:--- As the investigation into the TAXAND scandal continues and the government of St. Maarten is being pressured for the payments they withheld from the TAXAND, there are more questions arising about the decisions taken by the former Council of Ministers UP/DP regarding this project.
    SMN News learnt that the former Minister of Finance Hiro Shigemoto was spear-heading a project under the supervision of former Commissioner of Finance Roy Marlin which was to fully strengthen and modernize the tax office on St. Maarten. The "Strengthening Project" cost some five million guilders which was paid by USONA and was conducted by two consultants from Curacao. SMN News learnt the two consultants that worked on the project for about two years they are Josepa and Gibbs. Former Commissioner of Finance Xavier Blackman continued the project when he took office as an appointed commissioner under the National Alliance government.
    While there have been a lot of talks about the new initiative of the former Minister of Finance who brought in the TAXAND UK group, there is no talk about the strengthening project that Shigemoto spearheaded when he was working for the former commissioners of finance. It should be noted that Shigemoto was the head of the finance department for about ten years. He worked under the Democratic Party and the National Alliance. Reliable information reaching SMN News states that one of the consultants Josepa was hired to implement the new tax system they constructed for the island. But somehow he was replaced when Shigemoto was appointed Minister of Finance by the United Peoples Party. Josepa was replaced by Judith Brewster who was hired in 2010 as an adviser to the Minister of Finance. Brewster (B&B Consultants) is also part of the TAXAND UK group that has an office in Curacao.
    In an invited comment, Minister of Finance Roland Tuitt confirmed that USONA did make five million guilders available to strengthen the tax system while Roy Marlin and Blackman were the commissioners of finance. Minister Tuitt also confirmed that Shigemoto was spear-heading the project. When asked by SMN News why the former Minister of Finance under UP/DP regime abandoned the project, Tuitt said the explanations he got was that the Minister kept citing the conflict of interest that may arise with local companies and he preferred to use an international company.
    The Finance Minister said that he already contacted USONA to see if the full amount that was allotted for the "Strengthening Project" was used up. SMN News learnt that the two consultants were paid over a million guilders for the work they put into the restructuring of the tax system on St. Maarten. The source said that Josepa and Gibbs were hired by USONA since they were the ones financing the project.
    It is clear that taxpayers' monies and Dutch funding were blown into thin air in the name of upgrading and restructuring of the tax system. In addition, SMN News researched the internet to see who are some of the people behind the TAXAND UK group of companies. With a few clicks here and there we found someone that raises eyebrows. Under TAXAND and People this person's information is listed on this link http://www.vmwtaxand.nl/5/5/5/43/43/en/angelo-spadaro.html&cv=75
    SMN News decided to copy the information here just in case the owners of TAXAND decided to change their information. SMN News is still busy conducting more research to see if the individual below has any ties to St. Maarten.

    Angelo Spadaro
    Tax Lawyer

    angelosparado23062012E angelo.spadaro@vmwtaxand.nl
    Angelo Spadaro completed his degree in fiscal economics at the University of Amsterdam. His dissertation covered the innovation box tax regime. He joined VMW Taxand in September 2010 after having worked as senior tax compliance manager at Baker & McKenzie, Amsterdam for more than 8 years where he was involved in the implementation of different tax incentive projects, such as the innovation box.
    Angelo specialises in personal and corporate income tax focussing on the distinction between the computation of profit in the corporate statutory accounts and the computation of fiscal profit. Furthermore, he has extensive knowledge of group taxation, dividend tax and participation exemption.
    He assists private individuals, shareholders, SME's and large multinational corporations in the broadest possible way. His economic and business administration background makes him a good discussion partner for finance managers and CFO's.
    Angelo is a member of the Netherlands Association of Tax Advisers (Nederlandse Orde van Belastingadviseurs (NOB)) and is affiliated with Tax Study and Documentation Centre (Fiscaal Studie en Documentatie Centrum (FSDC))
    Languages: Dutch, English, German, French and Italian.

  • One Arrested for Attempted Murder --- Gypsy Taxi Driver charged.

    Marigot:--- A 27-year-old man was arrested and transferred to Guadeloupe on June 24th. The man is a suspect of the attempted murder of a 14 year old boy from Sandy Ground. A press release from the Gendarmerie states that on Friday June 22, 2012 the minor victim was seriously injured with a machete and transported to hospital. The attacker escaped on a scooter but was caught by Gendarmes later that evening.
    In an unrelated case, a 41-year old man was arrested by the Gendarmes on Tuesday during a routine traffic control. The suspect was plying the illegal gypsy taxi trade when he was caught. A press release from the Gendarmerie states that the suspect will be charged with various traffic offenses and he will be summoned to appear in court at a later date.
    The suspect was caught in the vicinity of Hope Estate around 6am on Tuesday morning. He was stopped when the Gendarmes noticed that the driver was overtaking two vehicles dangerously. The driver even attempted to make a U-turn to escape the gendarmes by driving around some containers. However, he was apprehended. Upon inspection, the gendarmes discovered that the passenger inside the vehicle was paying for the ride while the driver of the vehicle had no driver's license. The vehicle has been confiscated. The driver was slapped with several charges ranging from refusing to cooperate with law enforcement, driving without a driver's license, while engaging in an illegal activity, exercising in an artisanal activity without being registered to any official trade organization or company, transporting persons illegally without authorization, and driving dangerously.
  • PJIAE moves to bring non-aeronautical revenues up to par with regional standards.

    pjiae28062012SIMPSON BAY:--- A recent study commissioned by the Princess Juliana International Airport operating company, PJIAE, concluded that the airport and the companies operating at the airport perform considerably less in terms of revenue generated from non-aeronautical sources than is the average norm regionally and internationally for an airport of its size.
    Non-aeronautical sources of income include rentals, concessionaires, and food and beverage, and related areas.
    The study by the firm NACO/InterVISTAS, with the approval of the Supervisory Board of Directors, pointed out that compared to airports of similar size in the region, the airport duty free shopping sales per departing passenger is low. This, according to the study, seems to be because the airport is impacted by the duty-free sales island-wide.
    "In terms of airport revenue, SXM is performing average compared to larger airports in the region and substantially lower than global airports in different categories," the report stated, indicating that the "most obvious reason for the difference is the agreement on effective concession rates, which seems to be at the low end of the scale."
    The study further stressed that in general, the average effective concession rates as percentage of gross revenue paid to the airport is low and not in consonance with the industry standard.
    "Naturally, PJIAE wants to bring its non-aeronautical revenue in line with the industry standard, while partnering with the concessionaires so that they too could improve their performance," said Regina LaBega, managing director of PJIAE.
    "In other words, if the concessionaires make money, PJIAE also will make money. That is what the partnership we are seeking is all about with the new strategy," said LaBega.
    "One of the ideas we are working on is to make the airport a tax-free zone, which will give departing passengers an added incentive to shop at the airport," LaBega added.
    She continued: "Following the recommendations of the study, and taking advantage of the fact that several of the contracts of the concessionaires would expire at the end of June, we had embarked on a series of discussions with the concessionaires, a number of whom are delinquent for a long period of time with their rent payments and other fees to PJIAE."
    The managing director said the main thrust of the discussions was to ensure that the concessionaires were brought on board with regards to PJIAE's plans to implement a new strategy that would increase the bottom line for the companies operating at PJIA, while improving revenues for the airport as well.
    "The current situation whereby several tenants owe PJIAE a total of over 20 million dollars is quite unsustainable for any company," LaBega stated.
    "After six years of operating at the airport, it is evident that PJIAE has been more than lenient and understanding enough. In fact, the joke out there is that if you want to do business without paying rent, go to PJIA. No company worth its salt would condone such a huge accounts receivable for such a long time. It is a situation which management, and the Supervisory Board of Directors agree cannot continue any longer."
    "What PJIAE is doing now is embarking on an improvement of the entire shopping area, with better layout, décor and lighting, which will make passengers more disposed to spend. For this to happen, we need a transition period, which has been discussed with the concessionaires," LaBega explained.
    She said during the one-year transition period, the concessionaires that want to continue operating at the airport would be given an opportunity to remain there and even expand their product line.
    "The Majority of our concessionaires and tenants have been exemplary in the way they have conducted their business with PJIAE. They are not in default with their rent and other payments and have maintained a high standard both in their products and services," said LaBega.
    "Some of our concessionaires and tenants have already expressed their excitement at the potential and possibilities the new approach will offer them. We appreciate and thank them for their contribution to the success of PJIAE and look forward to continuing doing business with them for a long time," LaBega added.
  • Ministers Break Ground for the Construction of parking area and drainage for Martin Luther King School.

    mlkschoolgroundbreakingceremony28062012Dutch Quarter:--- At least three Members from the Council of Ministers, namely Prime Minister Sarah Wescot Williams, Deputy Prime Minister William Marlin, and Minister of Education, Youth, Sports, and Culture Silveria Jacobs participated in the ground breaking ceremony for the parking area of the Martin Luther King School in Dutch Quarter. The ground breaking ceremony took place on Thursday morning.
    Minister of Education Silveria Jacobs was extremely excited and happy to be part of the project since she was the school manager of the Martin Luther King school for over a year. Jacobs said that the teachers, pupils, and residents of the immediate area suffered tremendously when there was heavy rainfall. She said while parking area will be built and completed before the beginning of the new school year, the department of VROMI is still working with the residents and landowners to work out a permanent solution for the excessive water during heavy rainfall.
    Minister William Marlin said the paving of the parking area of the school is the first step of several projects that have to be conducted in the area. Marlin said government is working on building a school for children from 0 to 4 years old in the immediate area because many working parents cannot afford to send their children to play schools. He said a ball park (sports facility) was built next to the parking area but it was not completed. Marlin said government wants to make sure the entire top of the sports facility is covered so that the students of the Martin Luther King School can use the facility during school hours. "As it is right now, the students here cannot use it because it is not covered and it's too hot for young children to do their sporting activities there. Another vision is to expand the ball park so that youths from other areas can compete there.
    Head of new projects Kurt Ruan, Minister of Education Silveria Jacobs, and Deputy Prime Minister William Marlin all called on the residents of Dutch Quarter especially those living next to Martin Luther King School to join hands and work with government as they try to find permanent solutions for the flooding that affects the entire area during heavy rainfall.

    Click here to view more photos of the ground breaking ceremony for the Martin Luther King School parking lot.
  • Chairlady of Parliament given two weeks to Vacate Chair --- Provisions made for Chairlady to Attend Paris Meeting --- Majority voted in favor of removing Arrindell from Presidential Position on July 15th.

    garrindell29062012Philipsburg:--- Eight Members of Parliament representing the current NA/DP/IND coalition voted in favor of a motion that was presented by Member of Parliament Roy Marlin to remove the current chairlady of Parliament Gracita Arrindell from her position on July 15th while the five Members of Parliament representing the United Peoples Party protested and voted against the wishes of the majority. The UP faction said Arrindell should be allowed to remain in her seat until September 1 2012, since she (Arrindell) already indicated to them by letter that she would vacate the seat on September 1, 2012.
    SMN News learnt that most of the coalition partners wanted Arrindell out of the presidential chair immediately but at least one Independent Member of Parliament that is supporting the coalition requested that they leave her in the position until July 15th since Arrindell already made arrangements to accompany Minister of Justice Roland Duncan to Paris to attend an Interpol meeting. According to well placed sources in Parliament, Arrindell received an invitation from Interpol to attend their meeting in Paris as the Chair of Parliament and a decision was taken on the trip on Thursday. Sources in Parliament said that Arrindell is scheduled to leave on July 13th 2012 and she should be returning to the island by July 15th 2012, the day she is expected to pass on the mantle to the new chairman elect Rudolph Samuel.
    The motion presented by Member of Parliament Roy Marlin states that considering that the coalition majority which was formed by the UP/DP and Independent Member of Parliament Illidge, no longer enjoys the majority support of Parliament and a new governing agreement was formed consisting of the NA/DP/and the Independent Members of Parliament Frans Richardson, Romain Laville, and Patrick Illidge, the former governing agreement is null and void. The new governing agreement regulated the portfolios and Ministries for the political parties and Independent Members of Parliament; the motion further states that the chair of parliament was allotted to the National Alliance and while most of those positions were filled with new people, the chair of Parliament remained the same. Marlin said all the terms of the new political agreement have been executed thus far with the exception of the chair.
    He said in order for a government to carry out its policies and considerations for the governing period, the government under normal democratic circumstances, should at all time be supported by a majority of parliament and this also includes the person that holds the function of Chairperson of Parliament.

    Marlin indicated that the coalition members sent a letter on June 18th requesting a meething of Parliament with one agenda point which was to appoint a new chairperson of parliament. Furthermore, the chairlady requested more information which was provided on June 20th 2012.

    Marlin said on June 27th the chairperson of Parliament made her position available to parliament as per September 1, 2012. However, that is not in keeping with the governing agreement, as all other respective functions that have been agreed upon have been filled with the exception of the chair of parliament.

    MP Roy Marlin further stated in his motion that article 57 of the Constitution states that Parliament shall appoint from its membership the Chairperson and Deputy Chairperson of Parliament at any time.

    The motion ended with its resolution to declare that the Chairperson of Parliament no longer enjoys the support of the majority of Parliament and that the parliament in accordance with article 57 of the Constitution of St. Maarten will appoint per July 15, 2012 a new member to occupy the position of Chairperson of Parliament.
    The motion was sent to the Governor of St. Maarten, The Council of Ministers of St. Maarten, The Kingdom Council of Ministers, The Chairperson of the Second Chamber in the Netherlands, and The Chairperson of Parliament of Curacao.

    Shortly after the motion was passed and accepted the eight MPs representing the majority in parliament voted in favor for drs. Rudolph Samuel be appointed as the chair of parliament. The members of the UP faction voted blank.

    Member of Parliament Jules James attacked his colleagues for disregarding the Rules of Order and instructed them to read those orders not realizing that he himself did not read the Rules of Order and the Constitution of St. Maarten.Shorty after making his statements, MP Roy Marlin corrected MP James and told him he should be the one to read the laws of country St. Maarten, the chairlady of parliament who sided with James when he was making his statements ended up apologizing to Parliament for her error.

    James also attacked the online media for criticizing parliament for not having its records in order since to date there are no minutes of the meetings held over the two year period. He said Arrindell worked hard as the chairperson and she also insisted to the griffier of Parliament Josef Semeleer that he make the minutes available to Parliament.
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    Click here to view more photos of parliamentarians inside parliament building before the motion was presented.

  • Prison Disturbance Continues --- Board Members of Inmates Association Transferred to Philipsburg Police Station. (UPDATED)

    pointeblancheprison02062012Pointe Blanche:--- Eleven convicted prisoners most of whom are members of the Inmates Association were transferred to the Philipsburg Police Station on Saturday confirmed Attorney at Law Shaira Bommel. SMN News learnt that since last week Sunday the prisoners of Pointe Blanche Prison have been kept 24 hours a day in their cells and are not being allowed to have visitors because the Inmates Association informed management of the Pointe Blanche Prison that they were going on strike as of Sunday last week. The Inmates Association also outlined their grievances to the prison management and their main reason for going into industrial action. SMN News further learnt that some of the concerns of the prisoners relate to human rights violations and the forceful transfer of prisoners from the Pointe Blanche Prison to the Simpson Bay Police Outpost on a daily basis. Attorney at Law Shaira Bommel said in an invited comment said that since the prisoners went on strike the management of the prison reacted with revenge by locking down all the prisoners and denying them their visitation rights. Bommel said since last week the prisoners are having serious problems because the prison guards are refusing to distribute their meals saying that is not part of their job description. She said on Friday afternoon the prison guards decided that they will not distribute the meals to the prisoners and they wanted the Inmates Association to appoint a few prisoners to distribute the meals but that was not possible because all of the working prisoners are on strike. Bommel said when the association refused to appoint inmates to distribute the meals the management of the prison decided to open one section of the prison so that the prisoners could come out and serve themselves. Bommel said when that section was open some of the prisoners refused to go back into their cells because they wanted to take a shower. "Can you imagine some of the prisoners did not bathe all week because there is no shower in their cells. All the prisoners wanted to do is to take a shower. There are two brothers who decided to make some noise and they are the ones who took away the keys from a guard and opened the other section of the prison because those prisoners were not fed the night before. When the inmates refused to go back into their cells, the prison management reacted by refusing to feed the other prisoners who were still locked in their cells. The prison management is punishing all the prisoners collectively and that is illegal. The prisoners that are working are the ones on strike but those that are not working are also being punished by the prison management." Bommel said that the prison director Rudsel Ricardo told her that he had proof that the board members of the Inmates Association are the ones threatening the other prisoners that are willing to work. She said she asked Ricardo to provide her with that proof because if that is the case she will step down as their lawyer, but up to now the prison management cannot show the proof they said they have. Bommel said that eleven prisoners all of whom were convicted for very serious crimes were taken to the Philipsburg Police Station on Saturday. "I don't know how long they intend to keep the inmates in Philipsburg but if Ricardo cannot show the proof he has then I will file a case against him on Monday morning. The inmates at the Pointe Blanche Prison are being abused and their basic human rights are being violated.
    SMN News made several attempts to reach the prison management by phone, our reporter even visited the prison on Saturday but Ricardo refused to comment on the ongoing unrest at the house of detention. SMN News also made several attempts to reach the Minister of Justice Roland Duncan by phone and he too could not be reached.
    In the meantime, Chief Prosecutor Hans Mos said he will not comment on what is taking place at the Pointe Blanche Prison. Mos even refused to confirm or deny the transfer of the convicted prisoners to the Philipsburg Police station even though he is the one that informed Attorney at Law Shaira Bommel of the measures taken by the police on Saturday when they were called to the prison to render assistance.

    Police Report on Inmates Transfer.

    prisonerstransferred03062012On Saturday June 2, 2012 at approximately 9:00am, a phone call came into the Central Police Dispatch from the House of Detention in Point Blanche requesting police assistance. The call was regarding inmates who had started a protest led by the "Inmates Association." The protest that started peacefully on Friday June 1st had become extremely serious on Saturday June 2nd and was seemingly getting out of control. The personnel of the prison that were on duty during the protest would not have been able to handle the situation if it became worse. At one point during the protest, a set of keys were taken away by the inmates from a female prison guard. The Police Management immediately called in personnel that were off duty to report to the Philipsburg Police Station. The VKS were also informed of the situation and they in turn mobilized several of their members, who immediately came in to assist the police. After being informed by the Director of the prison Mr. Rudsel Ricardo of the developments within the prison, a police extraction team lead by the Police K-9 were sent in and removed several inmates from their cells. These inmates who were the main cause for this disturbance were relocated. In doing so, order and tranquility was immediately restored within the prison system. Some inmates resisted during this operation however their resistance was quickly broken. The Chief Public Prosecutor Hans Mos and the Attorney General Taco Stein have been informed of the situation.

  • USONA and Justice Ministry Signs Agreement to Furnish Two Substations.

    usonasignsagreementtofurnish2policesubstations06062012Philipsburg:--- Minister of Justice Roland Duncan and USONA representative Angela Dekker signed an agreement on Wednesday. USONA provided the Ministry of Justice with Naf. 540,000.00 to furnish two substations which are yet to be built.
    Minister of Justice Roland Duncan told reporters at the signing ceremony that he is currently working on acquiring the properties to build the substations. He said one of the substations will be built on the Labega property on L.B. Scot Road and the other will be built in Belvedere. Minister Duncan said he is currently in discussions with the owners of the St. Peters property while he is also discussing with the St. Maarten Housing Development Foundation for the Belvedere police substation. He further explained that the buildings will be built by the property owners but USONA will be providing the funding to adjust the buildings to meet the needs of the police substations.
    rduncanwithusonareps06062012In an unrelated item, the Minister of Justice said he has to present the project and plans he has for the BOX in Cay Hill to the new Council of Ministers. The Minister said that while he presented the project to the former council of Ministers he now has to present it to the current Council of Ministers for their approval.
    Minister Duncan said that the plans for the BOX have been ready since last year but he would need to acquire funding to complete the inner and outer sides of the building. He said he would need to build cells and offices while installing the necessary utilities and security systems for the building. Minister Duncan said he is also working on establishing a call center "report center" which would be located separately from the Police Stations.
    It should be noted that several Members of Parliament including the leader of the National Alliance and current Deputy Prime Minister who is also the Minister of Housing and Spatial Planning has openly condemned the Minister of Justice for wanting to lease or purchase the BOX while the building was built in violation of the building code. The owner of the BOX Sameer Andrwos did not obtain a building permit to construct the third floor of the building and he was ordered to demolish the floor. It will be interesting to see how the new coalition government deals with the plans the Justice Minister has for the BOX.
  • Prime Minister Attends Signing of the Establishment of the St. Maarten Development Fund.

    swescotwilliamsattendssigningofestablishmentofsdf07062012"The survivability of this sector is sustained through the vision and passion of community minded citizens."

    The Prime Minister of St. Maarten the Hon. Sarah Wescot-Williams oversaw the signing of the establishment of the St. Maarten Development Fund (SDF) at SPS Notary Office in Philipsburg on Wednesday. In 2011, financing of the NGO sector via the two main Antillean based funding agencies partially ceased to take place or was started to be phased out. The constitutional changes to the constellation of the Netherlands Antilles has also led to changes in the approach of the Dutch Government in financing these funding agencies which at that time were known as the Fund for Social Development and Economic Activities (Reda Sosial) and Antillean Co-Financing Agency (AMFO). In November of 2011, in anticipation of an undesirable void in the financing options for the NGO field, the Government found it fitting to facilitate and coordinate the establishment of a St. Maarten NGO Financing Agency: "The St. Maarten Development Fund (SDF)". A board was put in place and funds have been allocated for the operational costs of the new organization in the Governments budget for 2012. The Prime Minister commented that Community Development and Social issues have been put high on National and International agenda's in the acknowledgement that these topics are crucial for the development of a nation. So too the leadership of St. Maarten acknowledges that successful Community Development and Nation Building calls for joint forces between Government, NGO's and the Business sector. ""Much emphasis must be put on joint, integrated and inter-sectoral approach of social development on St. Maarten. The role of the NGO field is crucial in the development of the Country. This is why continuous support must be given to this sector to strengthen the organizations and to finance their endeavors," commented the Prime Minister.

  • Consul of Guyana in Antigua Robert Reis paid courtesy visit to Prime Minister Sarah Wescot-Williams.

    guyanaconsulrreisvisitsswescotwilliams11062012The Honorary Consul of Guyana in Antigua the Honourable Robert Reis paid a courtesy visit to Prime Minister Sarah Wescot-Williams on Thursday afternoon. Various items were discussed during the meeting including strengthening relations between the countries and their respective roles in the region. Photo courtesy of DCOMM/ Rodney Richardson.
  • Council Ministers to Take Decision on TELEM --- UTS or Digicel.

    Philipsburg:--- The Council of Ministers will soon be taking a decision on how they intend to move forward with TELEM Group of Companies. According to reliable information reaching SMN News, the Council of Ministers will soon decide if they will accept the proposal offered by United Telecommunication Services (UTS) which is to become a major partner and own 51% of the shares of TELEM. Should the Council of Ministers accept UTS's proposal St. Maarten would become a minority shareholder in the company.
    Digicel, on the other hand, has offered to purchase the company. Some years ago TELEM was looking into the possibility of selling the company, when the information became public at least twelve companies showed interest. SMN News further learnt that the Council of Ministers has already eliminated LIME, Cable and Wireless, and some other American Companies whose proposal was to purchase TELEM Group of Companies.
    It is speculated by members of the public that TELEM was sold to Digicel because recently TELEM has been using the same color as Digicel in its promotional materials. They said that TELEM even painted the building in red to show that they are in favor of DIGICEL. However, SMN News managed to confirm that the company has not been sold and that the Council of Ministers will soon decide the way forward for TELEM, while the company is busy restructuring.
  • Community Police Officers inducted as Toastmasters.

    communitypoliceofficersinductedastoastmasters19062012As the end of the 2011-2012 Toastmasters Calendar draws near, the Soualiga Corporate Toastmasters Club conducted an exciting meeting which included the induction of the 5 Community Police Officers; Felix Richacrds, Michelangelo Sirvania, Ethelwoldus Josepha, Helen Cristina-Romeo and Juan Statie. During the meeting Toastmaster Emilia Thomas achieved the award Competent Leader for the second time, Toastmaster Denise Vijber accomplished her Competent Communication award, Toastmaster Julisa Frans accomplished her Advance Leader Bronze and Toastmaster Leona Romeo-Marlin accomplished the award of Competent Communicator for the second time.
    The Soualiga Corporate Toastmasters Club has earned the title of President Distinguish Club as 3 extra goals were added to their Distinguished Club Program for 2012. The speeches given at the meeting were enriched with educational, motivational,and inspirational material that captivated both guest and members. The last meeting for the Soualiga Corporate Toastmasters Club will be on 27th June 2012, all Civil Servants are welcomed to enjoy the Toastmasters experience.
  • President of Parliament Wants Reasons for Urgent Meeting --- MP Samuel to be Appointed Chairman of Parliament.

    Philipsburg:--- The President of Parliament Gracita Arrindell has sent a letter to the Members of Parliament of the NA, DP, and IND coalition requesting that they provide the reasons for calling an urgent meeting. The letter sent to the various MP's was dated June 20, 2012. Arrindell stated in her letter that as soon as she gets the reasons for the meeting she will schedule the meeting as requested.
    On Monday June 17th, the coalition partners sent a letter to Arrindell requesting that she call an urgent meeting before the close of this Parliamentary year. SMN News was provided with a copy of the letter Arrindell sent to MP's R. Laville, R. Marlin, G. Pantophlet, P. Illidge, L. Richardson, F. Richardson, H. Richardson, L. Laveist, and R. Samuel. Currently several members of Parliament are off island attending Parlatino meetings and the only two days that this meeting could be held is either on Thursday or Friday next week. Parliamentary recess is scheduled to begin on July 3rd.
    According to well placed sources, the new coalition that has 10 seats in Parliament wants to replace the Chairperson of Parliament since Arrindell is the only person in the presidium that has not resigned from her position since the government fell in April. It is expected that Arrindell will be replaced by Rudolph Samuel who was sworn in as a Member of Parliament last week Friday by the Governor of St. Maarten dr. Eugene Holiday. It should also be noted that since the leader of the National Alliance William Marlin resigned from Parliament, Member of Parliament George Pantophlet has become the leader of the National Alliance faction.
    SMN News has been reliably informed that Member of Parliament Roy Marlin responded to Arrindell's request on Wednesday where he clearly indicated to her that the meeting is to remove her as the chairperson of Parliament.
  • Emancipation Day Program Released --- Celebration to Take Place on Monday July 2nd.

    Philipsburg:--- The Minister of Education, Youth, Sports, and Culture Silveria Jacobs announced on Tuesday that Emancipation Day will be celebrated on Monday July 2nd. Monday has been declared an official holiday and it will be the celebration of 149th anniversary of the emancipation of slavery.
    The program kicks off with a church service at the Philipsburg Catholic Church from 9am to 10am. Invited guests to the church service are mostly dignitaries, however, the service and all other activities will be taped and aired on cable television. After the service, the dignitaries will be transported to the Link One round-a-bout at the "One Tete Lokay" statue to honor her as a run-away slave. The honoring will take place with a moment of silence and the laying of wreaths, thence to the Freedom Fighters Statue at the round-a-bout in Sucker Garden and Nisbeth Road where another honoring and wreath laying ceremony will take place. The dignitaries will then leave for lunch on the Board Walk.
    Drivers should take note that the streets will be closed on Pondfill. Minister Jacobs said that Pondfill Road will be closed from SZV office to the Salt Pickers round-a-bout to allow vendors to sell their goodies.
    A movement of cultural troupes will be heading to the Court House at 2pm where Governor drs. Eugene Holiday will deliver his official address.
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  • Regina LaBega: One year at the helm of affairs at PJIAE.

    rlabega28062012SIMPSON BAY:--- July 1, Emancipation Day, has a double significance for Regina LaBega, managing director of the Princess Juliana International Airport operating company (PJIAE). Not only would it be this year that the day would be observed for the first time as a public holiday in St. Maarten, it would also be the first anniversary of the appointment of LaBega as the first female to head a major government-owned company in St. Maarten. In this interview with Offshore Editing Services (OES), the former director of the St. Maarten Tourist Bureau (STB) reflects on her first year at the helm of affairs at PJIAE.

    OES: How was the transition from STB to PJIAE?

    RL: Excellent. The reception of the staff was incredible. As a former member of the Supervisory Board of Directors for some seven years prior to my appointment, I knew the workings of the airport and knew many of the staff. Also, I count myself fortunate to share the same vision for the airport as the Supervisory Board of Directors, several of the members of which I had worked very closely with during my tenure on the board.

    The transition to PJIAE could also be seen as a natural progression in my career because there is synergy between tourism and the airport. But I must stress that I was overwhelmed by how the employees at all levels welcomed and supported me. They made the transition seamless and made it possible for me to literally hit the ground running. I am eternally grateful to them for that.

    OES: What goals did you set yourself for the first year and have these been accomplished?

    RL: Well, when I came in, the first thing I did was to have a quick scan of the operations of the airport done. This was to give me a clear view of where I was actually starting from. One of the results of that quick scan was the need for the rehabilitation of the runway. Also, the need to relocate the fuel farm and increase the storage capacity for aviation fuel were highlighted. The rehab of the runway is scheduled to start in October of this year. We are currently still in the planning stage for the relocation of the fuel farm.

    Another important point was to enhance the FBO business, that is, the need to focus on the General Aviation sector. We have just received the first draft of a Master Plan for the airport, which looks at the physical design as well as a traffic forecast that includes General Aviation and cargo. The development of the FBO business is part of the Master Plan. We’re still ‘number two’ in General Aviation in the region and one of our major objectives is to maintain this position and even grow it. This has synergy with tourism as it attracts upscale visitors that would also impact the yachting industry and other sectors of the economy.

    In addition, the quick scan indicated the need to improve the hub function of PJIA, especially for the islands for which we serve as a hub, such as Anguilla, St. Barths, Saba and Statia as well as St. Martin (North), of course. You will recall that just recently I met with the newly-elected President of the Collectivité of St. Martin, Mr. Alain Richardson at the Hotel de la Collectivité precisely to discuss this issue. We agreed to cooperate in a number of areas, including the sharing of statistical data, and the setting up of a joint information booth at PJIA between the tourist offices of both halves of the island. Similarly, we agreed to cooperate in the area of General Aviation aircraft so that if there is no space at PJIA to accommodate these aircraft, they would be sent to the Grand Case airport rather than to other airports in neighboring islands. These are some of the concrete steps we are taking to solidify our position as a hub airport.

    OES: What would you say are the highlights of your first year in office?

    RL: The highlights of my first year in office? These include:

    • Increasing the visibility of PJIAE as a good corporate citizen. For example, we not too long ago adopted the Prince Willem Alexander School. We have also been quite involved in environmental protection issues as well as the Red Campaign.
    • Making WiFi available to users of the airport.
    • Increasing passenger movement at the airport in the first quarter of 2012 compared to the same period in 2011.
    • Enhancing visitor experience through cultural activities like dressing up the airport for Carnival, complete with live revelers welcoming visitors and participating in a similar vein in Valentine’s Day.
    • Finally, I would mention improving relations with the workers with the signing of a new Collective Labor Agreement, the CLA, and partnership with the unions.

    OES: Are you satisfied with the CLA you signed with the unions? What role do the employees play in the development of PJIAE?

    RL: Yes, I am. The negotiations had begun even before I came on board. I must applaud the negotiating team led by Mrs. Shirley Pantophlet. They did a very good job. I must also thank the shop stewards, and the WICSU; they really care about the employees and PJIAE and this is reflected in the results of the negotiations. I am looking forward to improving on this CLA in the next three years.

    The role of the employees in the development of PJIAE? It’s because of the employees that we have PJIAE. PJIAE is the employees. We have a highly professional cadre who often go beyond the call of duty to ensure that PJIAE continues to develop as one of the leaders in aviation in the region. I am very proud of them.

    OES: What is your ultimate vision for PJIAE and how do you intend to accomplish it?

    RL: I want to ensure that PJIA remains the leading international hub airport in the region. I intend to accomplish that by keeping up with the technological trends, being customer friendly by offering what all consumers expect from an international airport. I want to make sure that the hub islands realize that we are their airport too and do not need to invest in another airport.

    We are working on immigration and customs pre-clearance for passengers, a concept that has been embraced by the airlines, and which would enhance the passenger experience, especially for our hub destinations.

    Seeing that the airlines are at the core business of the airport, I also intend to aggressively work on attracting new airlines, adding new routes, thus turning the island into a year-round destination. We will focus on the South American market, a rapidly growing market. We will also continue to speak to the airlines to increase their routes and frequency of flights, especially seeing that the cost of fuel has decreased.

    OES: How do you see PJIAE within the context of the economic development of St. Maarten?

    RL: Without PJIAE, one can safely say there is no tourism and tourism is our economic mainstay. Over 1,300 people make up the airport community, making the economic impact of PJIAE, from the point of view of employment, really significant. Not only do we provide transportation, we have a major impact on the economic sustainability not only of St. Maarten but of St. Martin, Anguilla and other islands as well. Passenger movement at PJIA in 2010 stood at over 1.6 million people. The average over the last three years is in this ballpark. In future, PJIA sees itself expanding into an airport city that would offer several other services, including a possible airport hotel. The airport is the major gateway to the island, as well as to other neighboring destinations. It therefore has a pivotal role in the development of our economies.

    OES: What challenges do you think could obstruct the achievement of your goals?

    RL: That is an interesting question. The aviation industry is very susceptible to the effects of natural disasters such as hurricanes, volcanic ash, etc. It is also easily affected by financial crises (oil prices) and other man-made disasters like 9-11 terrorist attacks on the US. All of these pose serious challenges as our recent history has shown. But then again, St. Maarten has always shown remarkable resilience in dealing with such challenges.

  • Gendarmes Open Tear Gas on Rowdy Crowd in French Quarter --- One Arrested in Grand Case for Damaging Gendarmes Vehicle.

    Marigot:--- A group of youngsters stoned some Gendarmes in French Quarter early Sunday morning when they arrested two teenagers. Residents in French Quarter said that the Gendarmes are targeting a 15- year old boy who was accused of raping a student of the College in French Quarter. The residents said that the matter was taken to court and the boy was found to be innocent of the crime he was accused of but they alleged that the young man is still being targeted by certain gendarmes. "On Sunday morning, the Gendarmes saw the young man and they began abusing him before they finally arrested him along with another person and took them to La Savanne. An angry crowd of youngsters in French Quarter stoned the Gendarmes while they were trying to arrest the two youths." According to one resident, the Gendarmes reacted by spraying tear gas on the crowd before driving away with the two suspects.
    The Gendarmes did not release any information on the arrest of the two young men on Sunday.
    In an unrelated incident, a 17-year-old individual was arrested as one of a group of persons causing a disturbance last Saturday night which led to a Gendarmerie vehicle being damaged.
    A patrol was called out to Grand Case to respond to complaints of noise from motorbikes revving their engines and racing through Rue des Ecoles. On arrival, the patrol was confronted by a group of youths who proceeded to pelt their vehicle with stones causing damage to the bodywork. However, the Gendarmes identified one of the ringleaders and were able to arrest the suspect as he was trying to escape through the alleys.
    The suspect will be summoned to the juvenile court to answer charges.
  • BTA 2 Coordinator Evelyn Hodge Convicted for Fraud --- Six Months Suspended Sentence, three years probation.

    ehodgediscussesverdictwithcmerx13062012Philipsburg:--- Former secretary to several Lt. Governors of St. Maarten and long time civil servant Ines Evelyn Hodge was convicted on Wednesday by the Court of First Instance for committing fraud during the BTA 2 procedure. Judge Keppels convicted Hodge to six months suspended sentence with three years probation. She was found guilty on one charge which is the falsification of documents. The judge found that Evelyn Hodge backdated documents for two persons namely Tamara Odetta Carr and James Walcott Jones. According to the judge's decision, the two persons saw Hodge in the month of January and she backdated their application forms to December 29th and 30th. The judge also rejected all three of the defense's arguments which was presented by Attorney at Law Cor Merx. Merx asked the court to dismiss the charges because in his opinion the prosecution tried to entrap Hodge, while her rights to equal treatment were violated because the Minister of Justice Roland Duncan was not charged. Merx also said the case should have been thrown out because he did not get the documents belonging to Tamara Odetta Carr. However, the judge said she adjourned the case and gave the defense time to study the documents and at no time did the defense ask for a postponement to further study the documents so in the court's opinion the defense had enough time to study Carr's documents.
    The judge also made clear that the defense did not provide the court with any proof to show that the Minister of Justice knew or approved the backdating of the documents. The court also stated that the prosecution refuted the statements sufficiently and Evelyn Hodge did falsify the documents.
    The court of First Instance also cited the report made up by former Lt. Governor Denis Richardson and Joan Dovale Meit as a contributing factor because it clearly states that because of the lack of written instructions, guidelines, and supervision there was chaos at the BTA office located on A.T. Illidge Road. However, the court finally decided to go along with the prosecution's request which was to impose a six months suspended sentence on Hodge and three years of probation.
    Hodge who was accompanied to court by her ageable mother dressed in a black skirt and blouse when she reported to the court for the judge's decision. Her attorney, Cor Merx told SMN News that he and his client were considering the possibility of filing an appeal against the verdict delivered on Wednesday.
    Hodge left the court room in tears when she heard what the presiding judge said about the reasons she gave for the conviction. However, she was later seen at the Government Administration Building in lighter mood. When asked by SMN News if she will appeal the sentence, Hodge said she will not because the suspended sentence runs until December 2012.
    On May 23rd, Evelyn Hodge admitted to the court that she committed fraud based on verbal instructions of Minister of Justice Roland Duncan. The judge in her ruling said that Hodge could not provide any proof to the court that she acted based on orders of the Minister of Justice because there was nothing in writing by the Minister as per his instructions on how to handle the BTA2 project.
  • Third BTA Suspect to Appear in Court on June 27th --- Other Suspects will be prosecuted after the Summer Vacation.

    Philipsburg:--- The third suspect in the Brooks Tower Accord 2 scandal Josianne Emanuel will have to appear in the Court of First Instance on June 27, 2012 confirmed Prosecutor Manon Ridderbecks. Emanuel is the owner of Unico Management Services that was located in Cole Bay. Prosecutor Ridderbecks said Emanuel will be charged with fabricating false labour contracts for a number of people using at least two companies namely Unico Management Services and Cassam Construction.

    The Court of First Instance already convicted a Guyanese national Wyesha Gergian Alfred who was an employee of Emanuel. Alfred was convicted on June 13th to six months suspended sentence, three years probation, and 240 hours of community services.

    When asked by SMN News when the other suspects, especially those that worked at the Brooks Tower Office on AT Illidge road during the processing of the BTA2 applications will be prosecuted, Ridderbecks said the court's schedule is filled up and they have to wait until after the court recess to prosecute the other suspects that were also arrested. "I can tell you that they will be prosecuted but it will happen after the six week court recess," Ridderbecks said.

  • Teachers Summit to take place at WESTIN on June 25th.

    sjacobs20062012Philipsburg:--- Minister of Education, Youth, Sports, and Culture Silveria Jacobs announced on Wednesday that the teacher's summit that is being organized by her Ministry will take place on June 25, 2012 at the Westin Resort. She said teachers were asked to send her the issues (challenges) they are facing in a timely manner so that her department would be able to provide proper information to them during the summit and also to ensure the time is used adequately. Minister Jacobs said a committee has been set up to organize the summit, while various schools on the island have been informed that the summit is solely for teachers and care team members.
    The Education Minister said she also intends to meet with the school managers and school boards on separate date. The summit on June 25th is for teachers and care givers of the elementary schools while the summit for secondary schools teachers will take place during the first week in August prior to the re-opening of school. The date for that summit will be announced at a later date, Minister Jacobs said.

    Study Financing --- Some Students denied with options given.


    On the issue of study financing, the Minister said 174 students were granted study financing while 50 students were denied with an opportunity to adjust their applications. The Minister said 37 of the students that were denied study financing still have an opportunity to obtain a government grant if they make adjustments to their study financing applications. Minister Jacobs said that 26 of the students that were denied were referred to the University of Saint Martin since the courses they want to follow are available at USM, two were told they could get financial assistance for their studies if they chose SBO St. Maarten while nine of the students that were denied were referred to Curacao. The decision she said is in keeping with the ordinance on promoting students to study locally or within the region.
    Minister Jacobs said the Study Financing committee still has 13 cases pending, these students she said has an opportunity to obtain study financing but that would depend on the results they obtain at the end of this school year. The Minister said all of the students were notified by telephone and they were asked to pick up the official letters that has the guidelines on how they should move forward. All students that requested study financing and were denied or given an option on where to study have the opportunity to appeal the decision that was made.
    Minister Jacobs said as it stands now, the granted amount of study financing is within the budget allocated for study financing. The VOBAS course is scheduled to take place on June 25 and June 26th at the PMIA hall. The VOBAS course is for the students traveling to the Netherlands to further their studies.

    School Security and Repairs.

    The Education Minister said that her Ministry is also working on security for various schools during the summer vacation. She said it is customary that schools are broken into during the summer vacation. Therefore, her Ministry is doing their best to ensure that all schools are secured during the vacation period.
    Minister Jacobs also announced on Wednesday that repairs will take place at the Prins Willem Alexander School, Dr. Martin Luther King School, and the M. Genevieve de Weever School. Repairs will also include the paving of the entry and parking area of some of these schools. These repairs, the Minister said are slated to be complete in time for the re-opening of school in August 2012.

    Financing to USM.

    The Minister of Education said that the government has assured financing for the island's university since they are currently in serious financial trouble. She said talks with USM and government are continuing. Minister Jacobs said that since talks are ongoing she is unable to divulge more information on the financial situation at USM. However, she said government has pledged to continue supporting USM financially.
    When asked by SMN News if government is looking at the structure of the USM board and if she as Minister will stress that the institution gets its accreditation, Minister Jacobs said that she already asked USM to provide government with information regarding their finances before a solid commitment is made on government's financial contribution. Minister Jacob said that USM assured them that their figures are up to date, but Government she said needs to have it in order for them to take a decision.
    The Minister said that based on the advice she received from various departments, accountability has to be given by persons who receive monies from government. The Minister also commended the faculty of USM for sticking with the institution even though they are being paid late. As for accreditation, the Minister said the accreditation process already began because USM is offering courses from accredited universities from Holland and other parts of the region including the United States. She said she attended the USM graduation last week and she was amazed at the amount of students that graduated from the institution while some of them will be leaving the island to further their studies.

    Labour and Education Ministry working on Solutions for teachers' work permits.

    Minister Jacob also announced that her Ministry is working closely with the Ministry of Labour to grant several teachers their work permits. The Minister said St. Maarten is already facing a shortage of teachers and the island cannot afford to lose more teachers, especially those that have been teaching on the island for years now.
    Minister Jacob said that it is a fact that teachers must be qualified. However, there are teachers who have been teaching on the island for a long period of time and have been participating in the upgrading courses, those teachers she said will be given an extension on their work permits. Minister Jacobs said that while the files of each teacher that finds themselves in this predicament is evaluated individually. Teachers who did not complete or have their bachelor's degree will be given the opportunity to upgrade themselves and this will be included in their working agreement with various school boards.
    The procedure she said will be finalized when the Minister of Labour returns to St. Maarten. She said she already spoke to the school boards so that they could inform their teachers that they will not be fired as was indicated in the past.
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  • TAXAND Investigation Continues --- Legal Team Evaluating TAXAND Contract.

    Philipsburg:--- The former Government of St. Maarten did issue a Ministerial decree to grant TAXAND a project to revamp St. Maarten's tax system, confirmed Minister of Finance Roland Tuitt. The Minister also confirmed on Tuesday that the government of St. Maarten received a letter from TAXAND regarding the payments that were held back. Tuitt said the legal councils of government are busy working on a response for the company.
    Tuitt explained that even though there is a Ministerial decree signed by the Council of Ministers, that does not give the former Minister of Finance the go-ahead to make payments without following the letter of the law. He said the TAXAND project was not in the 2012 budget and neither was there a budget amendment done by his predecessor. Tuitt further explained that the former Minister had the obligation to ensure the payments are made legally and make sure that the services done by the contractor are done efficiently. Tuitt said a budget amendment had to be made and sent to the CFT for approval then has to go to Parliament for their approval. Tuitt said another document that was needed was a Landsbesluit that had to be signed off by the governor since the amounts were more than Naf. 50,000.00. When asked by SMN News if the Landsbesluit that was requested for an exemption since there was no tendering was signed, Tuitt said the Minister had that included in the Landsbesluit sent to the Governor, however, the former Minister of Finance was required to motivate his reasons for the exemption. Minister Tuitt said one of the reasons given by the former Minister of Finance is that there would have been a conflict of interest if local companies were used. He said that the reasoning was partly true but not completely. Tuitt said the local companies could have used the information they get while restructuring the tax system to prepare their clients to pay less taxes, but at the same time, one has to use the resources and manpower available to them in a small society to develop a new tax system. The Minister said certain documentations have to be in place for them to see if they will continue with the TAXAND project. When asked by SMN News about the conflict of interest that arises now that it is known that at least two persons that are working for Government are involved in TAXAND, the Minister said that is the reason there is a review and when it's done all of the information will be documented.
    The Minister also confirmed that he expects to receive the figures from SOAB for the judicial inquiry on the TAXAND contract and payments on Thursday. He said when he receives that information it will be discussed with the Council of Ministers and a decision will then be taken on the judicial inquiry. It should be noted that after this inquiry is conducted if it is proven that the Minister of Finance jeopardized government and its finances then the prosecutor on St. Maarten could decide to prosecute the former Minister of Finance Hiro Shigemoto and the former Minister of Education Rhoda Arrindell, under "Suzie's Law" which clearly states that Ministers that jeopardize government with overspending can be prosecuted.
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  • Gendarmes Begin Recruiting for Reserves.

    Marigot:--- Officers from the Delinquency Prevention Brigade (BPDJ), a specialised unit of the Gendarmerie, is expected to be present at the Unemployment Agency in Concordia from June 25th to June 29th, 2012 to showcase a number of career possibilities within the Gendarmerie. Persons that are interested in the various vacancies are asked to participate in the recruitment drive.

    The Gendarmerie is currently looking for Reserve Gendarmes, Voluntary Assistant Gendarmes, junior officers, and volunteers for the civil service.
    Special attention will be paid to the interested candidates' background since employment is based on the following conditions: Applicants must be French nationals, aged between 17 and 35 years, completed the Day of Defence and Citizenship course, be in good physical condition, and have no prior criminal record.
    The presentations for the public will take place between 8:00am and 12:00pm each day.

  • Sint Maarten represented at Danish Road Show.

    sxmrepresentedduringdanishroadshow20062012PHILIPSBURG:--- Upon invitation of SPIES, one of the largest Danish Tour Operators in Denmark, the St. Maarten Tourist Bureau participated in a Road Show from June 11 to 13, throughout Denmark to present the island to the Sales Staff of SPIES.

    As SPIES recently started selling the destination, this was the ideal opportunity to present the island and train the sales agents about what Sint Maarten as a premier tourist destination has to offer visitors.

    Bart Schüller from the St. Maarten Tourist Bureau in the Netherlands was joined by Heleen Bruggeman from the Sonesta Sint Maarten and Sander Langeveld from Westin Dawn Beach Resort & Spa. Together they gave a comprehensive introduction on Sint Maarten.
    The presentation was given in small groups with sufficient time to go into detail allowing for a good interaction between sales staff and representatives from Sint Maarten. The interests was great and the sales agents asked many questions, demonstrating the eagerness of the sales staff to really get a complete picture about the 'Friendly Island' destination, so they can advise SPIES clients accordingly.

    The Road Show took the St. Maarten delegation to Copenhagen, Aarhus and Esbjerg, and all participants were awarded with a 'St. Maarten Specialist' certificate to put on their desk. SPIES is part of the Thomas Cook Nordic Group.

  • NAGICO Sponsors documentary on St. Maarten “Back in the Day.”

    nagicodonatestolaurabijnsdorp05062012NAGICO Insurances made a donation to local film student Laura Bijnsdorp who has undertaken a project to make a documentary which depicts St. Maarten as it was in the 1960's. Also part of the film project is a series of free workshops on film-making for interested participants form 14-19 years old on the island.

    According to Bijnsdorp, she came up with the concept after realizing how little many young people know about the island's history. "The film will feature re-enactments, old photographs and stories by senior citizens to bring that time-period to life," she explained. "Walking though our small capital, Philipsburg, many don't realize they are passing various historical monuments, houses and stores that are over 60 years old. I started wondering, what St.Maarten was like before tourism, before the large hotels, casinos, cruise ship harbor, malls and over a million visitors a year. By making this documentary we hope that people learn more about their history and in return appreciate it more."

    When NAGICO was approached by the young scholar with her idea, NAGICO quickly agreed to assist with funding this project as preserving one's past is something that NAGICO believes in. "We believe that one needs to know where they are coming from, in order to move forward, and this is something we at NAGICO have been doing lately in light of our 30th anniversary achievement this year", NAGICO's Executive Marketing Manager Paul Dijkhoffz stated.

    NAGICO celebrated 30 years of service and excellence in February this year and since then has been commemorating this occasion in several of our 19 territories by making several donations and sponsorships to non-profit organizations, schools and senior citizen homes.

    Bijnsdorp lauded NAGICO for the generous contribution and the company's commitment to commemorating the island's heritage. She along with a group of 4th year students have made many productions in the past, and have taught various work-shops in film in the past. Bijnsdorp also mentioned that to ensure community involvement she will also be offering a series of workshops on film-making for interested participants form 14-19 years old.

  • Tuitt Deflates Rumor on Increase of TOT --- Former Government did not capitalize on its treasury capabilities.

    rtuitt20062012Philipsburg:--- At the Council of Ministers' press briefing on Wednesday, Finance Minister Roland Tuitt said that he has been hearing rumors which state that the current coalition government NA/DP/IND will increase Turn over Tax (TOT). The Finance Minister said he is addressing the issue because there is no truth to the rumors regarding the increase of TOT. "There is absolutely no truth to that so I want to put an end to that rumor regarding the increase of TOT." Tuitt said that the current coalition has a coalition agreement called "Working for the People" and instead of increasing taxes they are looking at ways to make certain changes which will allow people to go home with more monies in their pockets. He said he is currently working with the tax department to make certain adjustments which would benefit workers.

    Treasury Investments.

    In an unrelated item, the Minister of Finance said he is also looking at the government's treasury. Tuitt said he is of the opinion that government did not pay much attention to its treasury neither they did they realize the importance of the treasury. He said government has 65 million guilders that are invested in CDs with the banks. As an example, Tuitt said that if government had invested its monies in other projects that would give at least one percent in returns, then government would have had more than half of a million guilders annually in profit (Naf. 650,000.00) on the 65 million guilders they have on CDs. He said because the former government did not look at ways of increasing their revenues they were losing monies. Minister Tuitt further explained that his Ministry is now collecting its taxes and they will find ways of investing it so they can achieve the maximum out of its investments.

    Central Bank Impasse.

    The Minister of Finance also told reporters on Wednesday that he will be seeking a meeting with Curacao's Minister of Finance to work on the impasse of the Central Bank.
    The Finance Minister said to date, the 2012 budget of the Central Bank has not yet been approved and the board of the Central Bank sent a request to the governments of St. Maarten and Curacao so that they could get together, hammer out the problems facing the Central Bank, and get it back on course.
    In the meantime, the board of directors of the Central Bank requested that the President of the Central Bank Emsley Tromp be suspended some weeks ago but St. Maarten has not yet taken a decision on the request of the board of the Central Bank. When questioned about that on Wednesday, Tuitt said that the government of St. Maarten is busy gathering information on the matter but since the matter is somewhat "ticklish" he will not divulge how government intends to gather the information they need.

    CFT Requests Back up Information --- Finance Ministry working on Amendments.

    The Minister of Finance also updated reporters on the events surrounding the CFT and the 2012 budget that the Parliament of St. Maarten (UP/DP) approved some months ago. Minister Tuitt said that he sent a letter to the CFT on June 14th in which he provided the answers to the questions they posed on the budget. However, four days later the CFT sent another letter asking government to provide documents to back up the answers he submitted to the questions they asked earlier. Tuitt said he knew that the CFT would have asked for those documents and that is why they are working feverishly on finalizing the amendments to the budget.
    Tuitt said that the CFT even placed two persons at their disposal to assist them in making the budget amendments for the COLA payments and the shortfall of taxes which created a deficit in the budget.
    The COLA payments he said will be paid out in July 2012 instead of June. Minister Tuitt said the vacation allowances were paid this month and if government had paid the COLA this month then the civil servants would have had to pay much more taxes than usual.
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  • Prime Minister meets with Kingdom Ambassador to Panama.

    swescotwilliamsmeetswithjwiebedeboer20062012The Prime Minister of St. Maarten the Honorable Sarah Wescot-Williams held a short meeting with the Vice President of COPA Airlines Joe Mohan (left) and the Kingdom Ambassador to Panama J. Wiebe de Boer (right), during a stopover in Panama on her way to Brazil to attend the Rio+ 20 Summit on Sustainable Development in Rio de Janeiro. Various items were discussed during the brief meeting including COPA Airline's commitment to St. Maarten and the Dutch Embassy in Panama's activities. The Prime Minister is in South America representing St. Maarten at the Rio+20 Summit in Brazil, which will last until the 22nd of June.
  • St. Maarten’s Economy on Downturn --- Efforts are being made to boost economy --- Tuitt.

    rolandtuitt20062012Philipsburg:--- Minister of Finance Roland Tuitt announced on Wednesday at the Council of Ministers' press briefing that St. Maarten's economy is lagging and there is need to boost the economy on St. Maarten. The Finance Minister said that the current trend is not a good sign and as such he has been meeting with various banks on the island to further discuss the economy. "We are on a downturn and not a recession as yet therefore we need to boost the economy because a lot of stores on St. Maarten are closing down." Minister Tuitt said that government is currently looking into structural ways to boost businesses as well as possible economic activities that will revive the economy.
    Tuitt said for years St. Maarten relied on construction businesses which are one aspect of the economy but government has to also add other arms to further boost and revive the economy on St. Maarten.
    The Finance Minister said that one of the programs government is working on is to have the necessary facilities in place for new investors, especially for young people. The Minister explained that while government is dealing with the financing institutions to provide the financing for the new entrepreneurs, government is also looking into having a coaching program for these new business people. "It is government's intention to have retired business people coach the new businesses so they can become successful." Tuitt said that each person that is granted financing to open a new business will have a coach alongside them to provide guidance. Tuitt explained that one of the main reasons the new businesses are failing is because in most cases they do not have the experience and discipline that is required to survive the first years as a new business. Tuitt said government is of the opinion that if the coaching program is in place then young entrepreneurs will be more successful.
  • Council of Ministers and Civil Servants complete successful Integrity Dilemma Training.

    integritydilemmatrainingcompleted20062012The Integrity Dilemma Training, came to a successful conclusion on Friday afternoon, June 15th 2012. The Training was a very interactive one where civil servants and invited guests got the opportunity to learn about Integrity and how to deal with Integrity related dilemmas. They were also made aware of the importance of trust, credibility, paradigms and principles that will help when making Integrity based decisions.
    On Thursday June 14th the staff of the Ministers cabinet had the opportunity in the morning to attend the training and later that day the Ministers themselves were able to attend a session with Mr. Ralston Eric Bennett of Life Transforming Institute, (LTI), the facilitator of the training.
    The government of Sint Maarten defines Integrity as a conscious choice of an individual or an organization to consistently act according to applicable rules and regulations, norms, culture, values and ethical standards regulated by law and society's values. To be more specific, an individual civil servant can act according to the principles of integrity prescribed in the LMA, Code of Conduct and applicable rules and regulations. The government organization can operate according to the principles of integrity which are regulated in integrity legislation in keeping with the principles of good governance.
    Mrs. Tammy Richardson the Integrity Program Manager at the Department of the Interior and Kingdom is very satisfied with the content, the trainer and most of all the attendance and participation of the over 900 participants who attended the workshops. Some of the goals covered in the workshop were increasing one's personal credibility, having courage to stand for principles and getting results in a way that inspires trust and Integrity. The participants included civil servants from all levels, like Secretaries General, Department heads, policy workers, clerks, cleaners and guards. Invited guests from USONA, Ombudsman's Bureau and General Audit Chamber, also had the opportunity to attend this training.
    As part of the Integrity program for The Government of Sint Maarten and the Integrity project funded by means of Dutch Development Funds via USONA, there are plans to continue with more trainings and workshops, the intensification of the current Integrity awareness campaign and the establishment of an Integrity Bureau, by the end of this year.
  • FAQs about St. Maarten handbook published by Tourist Bureau.

    stmaartenfaqscover18062012GREAT BAY:--- The St. Maarten Tourist Bureau (STB) has just published FAQs about St. Maarten – The Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) Handbook.

    According to STB, the handbook is intended for a planned certification course for tour guides and other hospitality professionals that come in daily contact with the over 1 million tourists that visit the island annually.

    The 86-page handbook answers over 80 questions, and identifies numerous other information or reference points of interests that visitors to the island tend to ask and that the people of St. Martin, especially in the hospitality industry, could now have readily and accurately at hand.

    House of Nehesi Publishers (HNP) coordinated the handbook’s research and publication as part of a larger guidebook being worked on, said HNP president Jacqueline Sample during the just concluded St. Martin Book Fair.

    Scheduling challenges prevented STB head May-Ling Chun from making a presentation of the publication to tourism stakeholders during the book fair.

    The 27 chapters or categories of FAQs about St. Maarten are: History; Language; Geography; Infrastructure; Economy; Currency; Government; Education; Sports; Hotels; Transportation; Health; Religion; National Symbols; Nature, Environment, and Parks; Culture; Media in St. Maarten/St. Martin; Telecoms; Day Trips; Photography Do’s and Taboos; Good Manners/Bad Manners; Dress Code; How Safe Is the Island?; Emergency Numbers; The St. Maarten Tourist Bureau; The Saint Martin Tourist Office; and, Maps of St. Maarten/St. Martin.

    The teaser question on the cover asks, How well do you know St. Maarten? but FAQs Q&As are hardly exhaustive and the handbook is designed to be upgraded as STB sees fit or as demand for new information increases, said Sample.

    FAQs about St. Maarten is designed as a quick-and-easy read and study-helper for a certification course, but it will probably be very hard to keep the book out of the hands of a general population that is ever more hungry for quality information about the whole island,” said Sample.

    While the cover design may give the impression that the handbook is expressly for tourists, it is really for professionals within the service industry, tour operators, airport, port, tourist office, and culture department information officers, taxi and bus drivers, tour guides, travel and entertainment media, travel agents and writers, immigration, hotel activities directors and personnel, front desk, bartenders, waitresses, and store clerks, especially in businesses that are in constant contact with visitors from the region, the Americas and around the world, said Sample. STB requested and approved the cover design last year by the Tambourine firm.

    FAQs about St. Maarten is the abridged version of the guidebook project initiated by Regina LaBega over three years ago when she headed STB. “Ms. May-Ling Chun, Mr. Gus Priest and the whole STB have been gracious and helpful with working on the completion and receiving the FAQs handbook as part of the Tourist Bureau publication,” said Sample.