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Police deserve more respect than that, says USP Board.

 A recent letter by an MP in your Saturday publication drew our interest.
The board of the United St. Maarten Party (USP) has a simple message it would like to share with the people of St. Maarten as it pertains to leadership and the role of Members of Parliament. It is noteworthy that a political party has included MP’s on their list who only underscore the party’s lack of leadership by clearly demonstrating that they too do not understand the expectations of their constituents.
Every MP, we are sure, understand the importance of the so-called “arms-length” approach when it comes to Ministers being given the space to execute their tasks. Every citizen, however, also expects their MP’s to ensure that assurances given to the public are honored. This means simply that MP’s, who are elected by the people to improve their quality of life, must ensure that Ministers are fulfilling the mandate given to the MP’s by the people. It’s called leadership, not political intervention as the MP recently wrote.
Leadership in our system is not defined as getting elected to Parliament, appointing Ministers, and then never ensuring that the people are truly taken care of. An MP that prefers to quote regulations and uses that as an excuse as to why the people’s business isn’t being taken care of, does not understand his or her role as an MP to always put people first. After a while, the only thing that comes from talking is sound. There will be the point when the people expect you and the Ministers that are appointed by you, to act.
Taking veiled political jabs is one thing, but implying that police officers are politically impressionable and corruptible is quite another. You are definitely not a leader if you casually imply that any of our civil servants, in particular, those in law enforcement, can’t execute their jobs effectively and in an unbiased manner if they know a particular MP and Minister with affiliation to a particular party has made sure that a promise made to them, is a promise kept. This is an insult to the men and women in blue.
Moreover, for an MP to state that “each citizen has the right to have confidence in law enforcement, knowing that it should be impartial and fair” is tantamount to telling citizens that if their party affiliation is different, they cannot trust a police officer to act on their behalf if the police officer and their colleagues receive the tools they need to fight crime from a Minister associated with a particular party. This is an extremely dangerous and irresponsible statement for an MP to make.
The MP continued by stating: “Once that stigma of politics is placed or the affiliation with a political party, then that confidence is broken and Lady Justice no longer wears that role of applying equal justice to all.” Now we are very aware that the MP has some challenges keeping her word, which is definitely not her bond, but we are very confident that our police officers do not see political colors when they put their lives on the line every day. They deserve more respect than having an MP put to question their professionalism.
Officers were denied of their rightful positions for quite some time under the party the MP now represents. The USP assumed responsibility for the Ministry of Justice in February of this year and boldly said enough was enough. Let’s take care of our people. There is more work to be done, but we have delivered. We stepped in and didn’t look at anyone’s names or party color. We looked at the fact that they are our people who risk their lives for us every day.
Instead of congratulating the officers, the MP thought it more important to grind a political ax and decorate it in concerns for "separation of powers". The MP and the party she represents clearly prioritizes vindictive practices, politics, then that order.
It is even more ironic that the MP would speak about “political influence” when the same MP is famous for vehemently defending the Minister she was responsible for in the not too distant past as if she was actually sitting in the Minister’s chair. When you lack leadership or leadership skills and folks already know your “word” is meaningless, you need to be careful not to add “hypocrite” to the laundry list of descriptions.
The Board of the USP

Asbestos Health Hazard to St Peters Residents.

The residents of St. Peters deserve the right to be directly informed of the Government’s plans to demolish the Prins Willem Alexander asbestos infected School. This demolition takes place in a residential area and if not handled professionally and correctly can affect the health of those living in the St. Peters district.
According to article 21 of the Constitution of Sint Maarten “the Government shall take steps to promote public health”. Asbestos is a serious health hazard. Contrary to earlier belief, it is known now that exposure to small quantities of asbestos fibers, as may occur during routine work such as sanding or drilling asbestos materials over a period of time, can cause serious diseases. Once people are diagnosed it is too late to do anything about it, groups at risk include the elderly, and small children because of their compromised immune systems.
Asbestos is a versatile product and is ideal for use as fire proofing and insulation. Unfortunately it can also be DEADLY, causing serious lung diseases such as mesothelioma, asbestosis and lung cancer.
How to remove Asbestos? Asbestos based insulation materials are still quite common in many businesses. The only way to dispose of asbestos is safely and correctly and the best solution for you depend upon the amounts of asbestos you have to dispose of. Asbestos must be removed in calm weather so as to avoid the spreading of the fibers through the wind, water must be applied to the asbestos in order to safely remove it. In the case of the school in St. Peters the asbestos should be disposed of through a licensed asbestos stripping company and the actual amount of asbestos removed should be registered. The Government owes it to the people of St. Peters to inform them as to when and how the asbestos will be removed and how they can protect their family and themselves.
Please be aware that asbestos should NEVER be disposed of in your general waste bin. Your rubbish is treated by manual handlers and any loose asbestos placed in your bin poses a threat to their health as well. If you need to remove asbestos from your domestic premises please request the health department for assistance. REMBER - THE MORE ASBESTOS DUST INHALED THE GREATER THE RISK TO HEALTH!!! Let us protect our St. Maarten people!
Mulrose Sponsper -Toulon SMCP Candidate serving the residents of St. Peters for a change!


Recently, I read an article in the Daily Herald where Minister Gibson intends to table a policy in the Council of Ministers to limit the salaries of top executives of government-owned companies to match that of the Prime Minister.
While I can agree with the Minister that the salaries and benefits for Top Executives in our government owned companies are out of proportion and do not seem to be based on production or results, I believe capping the salaries alone will not solve the inherent problems we see in our government owned companies as well as in government. This proposal is like putting cream on a reoccurring skin rash but never really trying to deal with the real cause of the rash.
For years, I have been speaking of a TOP-DOWN APPROACH SOLUTION in which INTEGRITY, ETHICS, HONESTY and most of all ACCOUNTABILITY need to be the modus operandi. Our Top Executives and Management of Government and Government owned companies and foundations need to be held accountable for all their decisions. After all, this is why they are well paid positions.
During my years working in the Hotel Industry in Aruba, it became very evident to me that as I moved up the ladder, not only my salary was increased but also my level of responsibilities and most of all ACCOUNTABILITY. The General Manager’s position, while being the highest paid, was also the most vulnerable position since the GM was accountable for everything.
I see this TOP-DOWN APPROACH being implemented as follows in Government. This also applies to Government owned companies and foundations:
1) THE PEOPLE OF ST. MAARTEN-The people ultimately are the ones who hold the power in any society. We have the power to elect or not persons who are supposed to become the Guardians of the Country.
As a people we must be able to STAND UP for our rights. It was very sad to read in the Transparency International Report where they concluded that the St. Maarten people seemed to have lost the ability to exact what they need from their leaders and Government (paraphrasing). SO IT ALL STARTS WITH THE PEOPLE.
2) PARLIAMENTARIANS- September 26th, 2016, election day can start this process. This is the time for the people to cast their votes based on the right criteria and vote their future. The 15 MPs elected on that day will be critical to the country’s success in the next four years. They are the ones who will be tasked with selecting and appointing Ministers. We need 15 people who can put the best interest of the People ahead of self interest.
3) PRIME MINISTER AND THE COUNCIL OF MINISTERS- If the people make the right choices in step 2, we can actually appoint proper Ministers who are not put there to make MPs rich but to actually work for the people. They need to be professionals in their fields related to the Ministries in question. They also need to be strong managers and people to create and inspire teamwork.
4) SECRETARY GENERALS (SGs)- These are permanent civil servants who have a lot of power in the success of a Ministry and in the ability for the right Minister to carry out the Governing Program and vision for the Country. Unfortunately many times they are politically affiliated. SGs will have to be held to a greater standard and they will have to set an example for their subordinates. Failure to do so should come with consequences. After all they are the Generals in this process of government. You can not win a war if the generals are sabotaging the battle plan and can not rally the troops.
5) DEPARTMENT HEADS AND SUPERVISORS- We need to make sure they are very clear on their responsibilities and are qualified to do so. We know that over the years many people were promoted based on political affiliations and nepotism practices. Those who are not up to par should be given the proper training. All should undergo management training and training in ethics, corruption, customer service, team building techniques and whistlebowing.
6) CIVIL SERVANT CORP WORKERS- These workers should be assessed regularly by the chain of command and motivated to work efficiently for the people. They must be discouraged from engaging in corruption and encouraged to denounce it when necessary. They need to be well trained in customer service, efficiency and productivity. They need to be rewarded for good work and promoted to top management whenever possible instead of recruiting from outside.
All in all everyone in this process from 1-6 should have to undergo a course in ANTI CORRUPTION AND ETHICS WITHIN GOVERNMENT and GOVERNMENT OWNED COMPANIES/FOUNDATIONS.
In the last 6 year’s we have gotten many reports such as the Transparency International Report and the Judge Bob Witt report which I believe we need to use as guides to isolate our areas of concerns, priorities our approach to implement solutions. To this date all governments since 10-10-10 have just chosen to shelve these reports Government itself commissioned and cost tax payers thousands .
I believe St. Maarten has the potential to be a great country and to provide great lives for its people. Yet, it is imperative that we all become part of the solution and not the destruction.
Claude “CHACHO” Peterson
SMCP Candidate
Cell: +1-721-520-4792
Whatsapp: +1-721-520-4792

Rolando Brison STA Director? Are We Getting Ready To Be Fleeced Some More?

On the front page of The Daily Herald of Saturday, August 13, 2016 we see a Member of Parliament with a criminal conviction (sure, his case is still in appeal) broadly smiling as the Minister of TEATT (the Ministry assigned to this “upstanding” MP when the Coalition of 8 was formed some months ago) signs a one year Employment contract with Rolando Brison, a young St. Maarten professional, who, as per his own admittance in writing, embezzled a substantial amount of money from the Government owned airline WINAIR, one of his previous employers. Some years ago when I was still involved with WINAIR, I was really impressed with young Brison. He was smart, articulate, energetic, a quick learner and a smooth talker. I saw in him leadership capabilities that could eventually propel him into the seat of the CEO of the airline. Then all of us at WINAIR got a rude awakening. Brison was caught red-handed with both his hands in the proverbial “cookie jar”. In order not to cause havoc in his path of future advancement, WINAIR’s Management agreed not to press criminal charges against Brison, if he resigned of his own free will and agreed in writing to repay the airline the total amount of funds he “misappropriated”. Four years and four months later, Brison has yet to start paying back WINAIR, but gets employed by Government to, amongst other things, manage and direct the spending of hundreds of thousands (if not millions) of guilders that will be allocated to the SXM Tourism Authority for the promotion of Tourist Destination St. Maarten. What happened to background checks and/or thorough vetting? The newspaper article claims “funds destined for the St. Maarten Tourist Bureau will not be managed by the STA”. However, in practical terms, the fact that “the STA will begin to market the island” means that Brison will have a say in how Tourism Funds will be spent (committed). I have a hunch I know why the MP is smiling so broadly: regardless of how his re-election campaign ends, he is ensuring that lucrative positions are filled by his cronies: Brison will be in the STA, and as I recently heard, his 2014 Campaign Manager (another son of the soil who once also was smart, articulate, energetic, a quick learner and smooth talker) will possibly be appointed to the Board of the PJIA, another Government owned company with LOTS of money! Talk about foxes in henhouses!! From my personal files of years of involvement with WINAIR, I have retrieved copies of documents related to the Brison case that substantiates my claim. If St. Maarten is going to have a fighting chance to “make it” as a country within, or outside of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, we are going to have to vote-out the bums, convicts, scoundrels and opportunists and keep/vote-in professionals that have TRUE passion and love for our island and who are prepared and willing to give, at a minimum, an honest 8 hours of work, 5 days a week. It’s more likely that these upstanding professionals will EARN the extremely generous salary and lucrative benefits our Parliamentarians and Ministers enjoy. One thing is sure, we need to make an effort to secure that each professional that is appointed to top level, important positions with impact on the growth of our economy, has a CLEAN record and is CAPABLE of doing their function. The fleecing of the limited financial resources of our Country must stop.
Michael J. Ferrier

Dispelling myths about New General Hospital.

It is very disconcerting when blatant untruth is published to instill fear into the community in order to get political mileage. It is one thing to make empty promises of grandeur and bling to the people during election time in order to try to get votes but fear mongering is going too far. Case in point is the article regarding the new St. Maarten General Hospital published recently by some media, coming from the Vice President of the UPP. When reading the article it is clear that whoever drafted this article did not know the facts or purposely chose to misconstrue and misinform the general public. The true and correct facts will dispel what is being claimed. I leave it up to you the reader to discern the truth from myth and come to your own conclusion.
It is true that SMMC has been losing money mainly because the tariffs the SMMC charges have not been adjusted to keep pace with the cost of providing the medical services and the unpaid services to undocumented at the health care institution. Notwithstanding this situation, the SMMC has not received the subsidy from the government for over 10 years. This has put the SMMC in a difficult financial position that was resolved partly by adjusting the budget and tariffs but also by expanding the services being provided. To be specific services that have to be provided are those for which thousands of patients are being sent abroad to receive treatment. An average of 26 -30 million guilders is spent each year on medical referrals abroad by the SZV, this does not include medical referral by private insurers. Expanding the hospital and its services will result in fewer patients being sent abroad and being treated closer to home, at least 40-50% of what is spent abroad will be redirected to the local economy. Ultimately this will result in an improved quality of health care for the citizen of St. Maarten and a better management of the health care cost in general.
In order to make this a reality, the Tripartite Committee has been established where Government, SMMC, and the SZV take part and work together to find balanced solutions to the issues of the SMMC. Based on the concerted effort by the Tripartite participants we have tackled the prevailing issues such as new tariff structure, care demand, proposed partnership with regional medical care facilities abroad, telemedicine solutions, cooperation with the French side hospital, new general hospital and the transparent bidding process for the build, finance and maintenance solution for the new hospital.
In coming up with solutions not only did we look at what has to be done from the health care perspective but also what has to be done on the income side of both the hospital as well as the SZV. Instead of going for the easy solution of increasing premiums it was chosen to work on the compliance side regarding the registration of businesses and collection of premiums. The SZV has taken steps to increase compliance by delinquent businesses and we already are seeing the fruits of the steps taken with an increase of contributions collected in comparison to the previous years of at least 20%. In this way, we prevent having to increase premiums.
Work is also being done to make and implement health reform policies in order to expand the insurance coverage to those uninsured groups and measures to manage health care expenses better by eliminating waste.
As to medical tourism solutions that others imply that they had or have to increase the client base for health care in St. Maarten, the following. Why would St. Maarten entertain groups that profess they can bring medical tourism to St. Maarten while expecting that St. Maarten has to put up all the financing to build facilities for these groups to rent for a limited time while not bringing any equity to the table. So they will reap the profits but St. Maarten has to make all investments.
In a report based on a research of a team of British researchers led by the University of York of 2013, Dr. Neil Lunt says “Our message is: be wary of being dazzled by the lure of global health markets, and of chasing markets that do not exist.”
By having a larger modern hospital locally owned and managed we can attract qualified specialist as well as other specialism that presently are not being offered, but are highly necessary, in such way making it possible that our population of St. Maarten/St. Martin as well to our neighboring islands can get improved health care service.
You are urged not be fooled by fairy tales and too good to be true stories. Solutions to solve our problems have to be pragmatic and do not have to take into consideration self-interest and nefarious agendas.
Reginald Willemsberg,
Democratic Party Candidate # 7

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