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Apr 24th
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Prime Minister Wescot-Williams Receives Courtesy Visit From Departing Dutch Representative for BES Islands Stolte.

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Prime Minister Wescot-Williams Receives Courtesy Visit From Departing Dutch Representative for BES Islands Stolte.

PHILIPSBURG:--- The Prime Minister of St. Maarten the Honorable Sarah Wescot-Williams received a courtesy visit from outgoing Dutch Government Representative to the BES Islands Wilbert Stolte, who will be officially leaving office on the 1st of May. The Representative of the National Government forms an administrative link between the National Government and the Public Entities of Saba, Statia and Bonaire. He promotes cooperation between the National Government and the governments of the Bonaire, St. Eustatius and Saba and has various legal tasks with regards to higher supervision. He is tasked with reviewing decisions of the Public Entities in view of good governance. Also some island ordinances must be approved by the Representative of the National Government before these can go into effect.

From the Cabinet of the Prime Minister

Last Updated ( Wednesday, 23 April 2014 21:51 )

 

THE KINGDOM’S YOUNG PEOPLE DEBATE ON ST. MAARTEN.

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PHILIPSBURG:--- The Kingdom Youth Parliament will be held on St. Maarten from 20 to 22 May. Five teams of ten 16 to 23 year-olds will debate issues including education, culture, sustainable development and the rights of children – and give their views on the Kingdom today and in the future. The teams will come from the Netherlands, Curaçao, Aruba and St. Maarten, plus a combined team from Bonaire, St. Eustatius and Saba (Caribbean Netherlands). The Kingdom Youth Parliament is the National Committee 200 Years Kingdom's third national event and is jointly organized with the Kingdom Relations Committee.

The Kingdom Youth Parliament will be opened by Her Royal Highness Princess Beatrix on 20 May. Her Royal Highness will attend several sessions and receptions as part of the Youth Parliament and will meet with a number of team members.

Around 150 potential team candidates applied – by video – in 2013. Selection criteria included enthusiasm, persuasiveness and consistency. The broadest possible coverage of aspects relevant to the Kingdom was also a priority. The 50 successful finalists formed five teams.

Every team was allocated a coach with a long track record in politics and administration: for the Netherlands Marijke Linthorst, member of the Upper House of Parliament; Curaçao - former Antilles premier Suzy Römer; Aruba - minister Michelle Winklaar; St. Maarten - former Lt. Governor Franklyn Richards; and for the CN team, former state secretary of the Antilles Nora Sneek. The debates will be chaired by Roderik van Grieken and Else van Nieuwkerk of the Netherlands Debating Institute.

History booklet
The National Committee has published a historical timeline booklet to mark the celebrations around 200 Years Kingdom. "Unity and Diversity - 200 years Kingdom, key historical dates for the Netherlands and the six Caribbean islands" will be distributed to junior/senior high school students on the six islands. For teachers the booklet offers interesting links and openings around their island's history. On 21 May, in the presence of Princess Beatrix, National Committee chair Ank Bijleveld-Schouten will present the first copy to students of the St. Maarten Academy.

Web magazine
Starting today the web magazine on www.200jaarkoninkrijk.nl will focus on the Kingdom in the Caribbean. Coverage includes interviews with young people involved in the Kingdom Youth Parliament – and with Cuco Martina (FC Twente), Olympian swimmer Enith Brigitha, and National Committee member Izaline Calister makes a musical appeal.

National Committee 200 Years Kingdom
The Kingdom Youth Parliament is the committee's third national event since the start of celebrations on 30 November 2013 and the Constitution Festival on 29 March 2014. The programme will highlight our shared past, present and future – and democracy – plus universal rights and obligations. Three more events are scheduled after St. Maarten: 30 August 2014 in Maastricht, 18 April 2015 in Zwolle and 26 September 2015 in Amsterdam.

The main programme of the Kingdom Youth Parliament includes:

Monday 19 May – Teams meet together and make the acquaintance of National Committee members
Tuesday 20 May – Official opening/debates start
Wednesday 21 May – Workshops and dinner
Thursday 22 May – Drafting of closing statement and farewell party
Friday 23 May – Farewell and departure

Press Release by the National Committee 200 Years Kingdom

Last Updated ( Wednesday, 23 April 2014 21:46 )

Presentation made to Health Minister in Commeration of Vaccination Week of Americas.

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Presentation made to Health Minister in Commeration of Vaccination Week of Americas.

PHILIPSBURG:--- The committee that put together the program for the celebration of Vaccination Week of the Americas presented their program to the Minister of Health, Labor and Social Affairs Cornelius de Weever on Wednesday. St. Maarten has been celebrating this occasion for the past 12 years. The theme for this year the committee told members of the media on Wednesday is "Your Best Shot".

The campaign focuses on encouraging all citizens of the region to protect themselves against vaccine preventable diseases while utilizing the images of soccer and football as the international travel surrounding the 2014 World Cup that will be held in Brazil. Activities for this year celebration which starts on April 26th thru May 3rd includes a bike-a-ton for all primary schools especially for students between the ages of 10 to 12. Students attending secondary schools between the ages of 15 to 16 could participate in a slogan competition. The last event will be an open house where the winner of the slogan competition will be made known.

Minister De Weever encouraged the team for their commitment in promoting vaccination week.

Last Updated ( Wednesday, 23 April 2014 21:34 )

Minister of VROMI Can Peruse Dossier on Purchase of Emilio Wilson Estate by General Secretary --- Government will Appeal part of the verdict even though they will purchase Emilio Wilson Estate.

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Minister of VROMI Can Peruse Dossier on Purchase of Emilio Wilson Estate by General Secretary --- Government will Appeal part of the verdict even though they will purchase Emilio Wilson Estate.

PHILIPSBURG:--- Prime Minister of St. Maarten Sarah Wescot Williams gave members of the media a complete run down on the discussions surrounding the purchase of Emilio Wilson Estate dating back to 2009 at the Council of Ministers' weekly press briefing on Wednesday.

Wescot Williams brought forward the information on Wednesday because the Minister of VROMI made it publicly known via a press release that he sent a letter to the Prime Minister requesting information on the purchase of the Emilio Wilson Estate which is now being discussed in the house of Parliament. Wescot Williams said Minister Lake sent a letter to the Department of Information Management on March 24th, 2014 and he was given a copy of the complete dossier. Further, Minister Lake sent a letter to the Prime Minister on April 14th, 2014 asking for information and assistance. Wescot Williams said her Secretary General dealt with the Minister's request and he was even advised to check with the Secretary General of Government who also has a complete dossier of all the transactions on the purchase of Emilio Wilson Estate which he could peruse.

When asked by SMN News if the Minister made the request after the first meeting of Parliament when he told Parliament that the letter of intent that was signed by former Minister of VROMI William Marlin was not booked in at DIV, Wescot Williams said in the Minister's letter to her he did mention the meeting of Parliament which has been adjourned. That meeting is scheduled to take place on Thursday.

Wescot Williams said in the beginning former commissioner and now Member of Parliament Theodore Heyliger had involved Carnival Cruise and Rainforest Adventure whose plan was to develop part of the estate to accommodate cruise passengers.
Wescot Williams said that the first draft letter of intent was prepared by former Minister Franklin Meyers and it was rejected by the owners of the Estate. She further explained that in 2012 the Government of St. Maarten decided to go ahead and took a decision to purchase a large part of the estate (some 370 square meters of the property) even though they were awaiting an advice as to how they would get the financing for the purchase. Wescot Williams further explained that when this was made known, Carnival Cruise objected to the decision the Government of St. Maarten took claiming they were not informed.

Wescot Williams said that government will develop a part of the property when it is purchased, but further stated that no decision has been taken on how much of the people's patrimony will be developed or not developed. Wescot Williams further explained that while government has taken a decision to purchase the property and they have decided to comply with the decision of the court, the Government of St. Maarten still has to take several decisions regarding the property which includes developing parts of the estate. She also made clear that government did not decide if the harbor will be investing in the development. When asked by SMN News if the Government of St. Maarten has ruled out Rainforest Adventure or Carnival Cruise in the investment plan of the Emilio Wilson Estate, Wescot Williams said that such decisions have not been taken and no one has been ruled out. On the issue of appealing the decision that was rendered by the Court of Instance, Wescot Williams said that government has decided to appeal the verdict even though they have agreed to purchase the property. When asked to further explain why would government appeal the decision or which parts would be appealed, Wescot Williams said that some parts of the decision are technical and furthermore they felt some of the concerns of the government were not considered.

MP Laville's MOU Presented to Council of Ministers.

Prime Minister confirmed that the Minister of TEATT Ted Richardson presented the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) that was discussed by Member of Parliament Romain Laville with the Prime Minister of Dominica. Wescot Williams said that even though the Minister presented the MOU to the Council of Ministers they cannot take a decision on it immediately. Wescot Williams said the MOU was given to the various Ministers whose Ministry will be affected by the MOU in order for them to study it and to return to the Council of Ministers with an advice as to how they should proceed with the draft MOU.

Unions Objecting to TELEM Merging with UTS.

The St. Maarten Telecommunication and Post Union presented a letter to the Prime Minister asking for information on the merging of TELEM with UTS. Wescot Williams said she did receive a letter from the union and in their letter they indicated that they are not in agreement with the merging with UTS. Furthermore, the union also indicated that they do not have any confidence in the negotiating team. Wescot Williams said that the union also indicated that they wanted to be involved in the negotiation process. She said that the committee that has been negotiating was appointed prior to 2010 when St. Maarten obtained its separate status. She said even though she is the shareholder representative she made it a point to stay out of the partnering process because she did not want any type of semblance of political influence. Wescot Williams further explained that some seven companies showed interest in partnering with TELEM.

She said she is informed periodically but the details she does not have. The Prime Minister said that she heard that a letter of intent has been signed between UTS and TELEM but she does not have that letter as yet. She said she was informed by TELEM that they were close to signing an agreement. She called on everyone not confuse the two issues with UTS since the Government of St. Maarten is a minority shareholder of UTS. She said it was proposed that St. Maarten be paid out it shares but that too came with another option that St. Maarten becomes the owner of the operations of UTS St. Maarten. That she said was not accepted by UTS but St. Maarten did table that option.
She said due to the restructuring process TELEM incurred a huge debt because of the social package.

Last Updated ( Wednesday, 23 April 2014 21:06 )

Minister Lake announces approval of capital budget.

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"Road paving projects a priority"

PHILIPSBURG:--- Minister of Public Housing, Environment, Spatial Planning and Infrastructure (Ministry VROMI) Hon. Maurice Lake announced on Wednesday that has capital expenditures budget has been approved.

The Minister's priority after the Carnival holidays will be road paving in several districts.

"At the end of the road paving projects I will be known as the Minister of Roads. More people in the districts will get work during the execution of these works. A lot of dirt roads will also be paved with the remaining milled asphalt from the airport.

"In my back to basics approach, we have to create as much opportunity for those in our districts despite the limited resources that we have.

"Other infrastructural improvements will be street lighting and sidewalks. It's the little things that count and make a big difference in the quality of life of our people.

"I will remain focused in what I am doing for the people of the country. I work in an open and transparent manner, and will be going back to the various community councils to review district improvements," Minister Hon. Maurice Lake said on Wednesday.

Last Updated ( Wednesday, 23 April 2014 20:33 )

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