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Prime Minister intends to beef up security for Election Day.

~ Called on Political Parties and candidates to stop inciting violence. ~

PHILIPSBURG: --- Prime Minister Dr. Luc Mercelina announced on Wednesday at the Council of Ministers press briefing that he intends to bring in assistance from the neighboring islands to assist the Police Force of St. Maarten on Election Day. Mercelina said he had a meeting with the police, who expressed concerns over the level of violence in the community and shared concerns about the safety and security of the people during the election.
Mercelina condemned the political parties and/or candidates who he said are busy on social media and other platforms inciting violence. He said that as Prime Minister, he would do everything he could to ensure that all persons on St. Maarten remain safe. Mercelina said the people of St. Maarten are not accustomed to any form of viciousness during election campaigns.
The Prime Minister also confirmed that he has decided to spend the limited budget on providing better safety and security by bringing in International Observers. Mercelina said that bringing International Observers to the island is very costly, and as Prime Minister, he had to choose to protect the people of Sint Maarten over International Observers.

LACK of Human Resources and Vehicles for KPSM

Asked by SMN News if KPSM discussed the lack of Human Resources and vehicles with him when they met and how he intends to fill this gap. The Prime Minister made clear that when he took office, he met all the problems he is currently dealing with. He said some people believe that he is responsible for the state of affairs in the country.
Mercelina said that since taking office, he found a country that had collapsed and has been dealing with each of the issues presented to him. “Since taking office, everything that I encounter is in the status of less, less manpower, less energy, less police cars, and the only thing I am trying to do since taking office is correct the things that had to be done for years. After years of negligence, everything is collapsing.”

FINSO to import foreign labor --- Minister of VSA.

PHILIPSBURG: --- The Minister of VSA Veronica Jansen Webster warned on Wednesday at the Council of Ministers press briefing that the contractor contracted to construct the New General Hospital would need to import foreign labor to conduct critical and specialized work.
The Minister said she heard that there is much talk about the influx of foreign labor, but she wants the community to know that the new hospital is a project of national interest. Jensen Webster said that FINSO would have to bring in at least 300 people to work on the hospital; she said this was disclosed to her in a meeting with the contractors.
The Minister of Labor further explained that FINSO also participates in local job fairs and trains locals to work on the project. Jensen Webster said the last project of such magnitude that required foreign labor was Sonesta Resorts when the resort was being rebuilt.
The Minister of Labor said that the government has been working with the contractor, but those very skilled and specific laborers would have to be brought in.

The lack of Teachers was also discussed.

The Minister also explained that she held a meeting with various school boards that expressed concerns about the global shortage of teachers. The Minister explained that the subsidized schools have always been seeking teachers overseas, but since there is a shortage of teachers globally, the government has been working with these boards to see how they can facilitate them.



Prime Minister Dr. Luc Mercelina Meets with NAPB St. Maarten to Discuss Key Matters.

mercelinanapb17072024PHILIPSBURG:--- Prime Minister Dr. Luc Mercelina met with representatives from the Nationaal Algemene Politie Bond (NAPB St. Maarten) to discuss several important issues affecting their members. The meeting, held at the Government Administration Building, marked an important step in addressing the police union's concerns.

One of the primary topics of discussion was the inclusion of NAPB St. Maarten as an official member of the Committee for Civil Servants Unions (CCSU). Prime Minister Mercelina expressed his support for this move, stating, "The official inclusion of NAPB St. Maarten in the CCSU would be a positive step towards ensuring that the voices of our police officers are heard and their concerns addressed within the broader framework of civil service unions. This will enhance dialogue and foster a collaborative approach to resolving issues."

Additionally, the legal position of NAPB members was a key point of discussion. The Prime Minister acknowledged the ongoing efforts to address this matter and reassured the union of the government's commitment to finding a resolution.

"The government is actively working to resolve these issues, and we are committed to ensuring that the rights and responsibilities of NAPB members are adequately protected."

The meeting concluded positively, with both parties expressing their commitment to continued collaboration and dialogue. "I am encouraged by our constructive discussions today," Prime Minister Mercelina added. "Our police officers and all justice workers play a vital role in maintaining the safety and security of our community, and it is our duty to support them in every way possible."

Ministry of VROMI signs agreement with Nature Foundation to expand ongoing coastal resilience project.

resembid16072024PHILIPSBURG:--- The Ministry of Public Housing, Spatial Planning, Environment and Infrastructure and the non-profit Nature Foundation Sint Maarten are thrilled to jointly announce the expansion of the Coastal Resilience Needs Assessment (CORENA) project.

With the signing, the CORENA project will be awarded an additional €82,972 through a RESEMID grant via the Ministry of VROMI to support activities through December 2024, including biodiversity research, educational initiatives, and capacity-building. RESEMBID, funded by the European Union and implemented by Expertise France, supports sustainable human development efforts in 12 Caribbean Overseas Countries and Territories (OCTs).

“This is a great program, and one I am very clear-minded and enthusiastic about supporting,” said Minister of VROMI Patrice Gumbs during the signing of the joint agreement. “For years, the Government has talked about environmental conservation and management without creating the right conditions necessary to protect our island ecosystems and human communities. We cannot afford to continue down our current path, where we mistake short-sighted development for progress. CORENA offers a foundation to make responsible coastal and marine management on Sint Maarten a reality.”

Originally set to end in April 2024, the agreement between the ministry and Nature Foundation will build upon a year’s worth of ongoing cooperation. Since July 2023, the Nature Foundation has received RESEMBID funding through the government to conduct the first comprehensive coral reef health analysis since 2016, hire contractors to carry out a terrestrial biodiversity assessment, and develop a map of Sint Maarten’s coastal and marine habitats. The funding has also been used to carry out marine spatial planning workshops and organize public presentations for students and stakeholders, with over 500 adults and nearly 700 children having benefited to date. The extension also supports a revived junior ranger program, welcoming seven local students in June.

“We are so happy that CORENA has been extended with the earnest support of Minister Gumbs and key VROMI policy advisors,” said CORENA Project Coordinator Sabrine Brismeur. “Ultimately, this project is about improving the government’s capacity to make informed policy decisions, so the cooperation between the Nature Foundation and Ministry of VROMI on the highest levels makes us feel hopeful for the future of our natural ecosystems.”

The CORENA project focuses on advancing the sustainable management of Sint Maarten’s marine and coastal environment through biodiversity research, educational initiatives, and planning recommendations. The RESEMBID-supported project is a collaboration between the Ministry of Public Housing, Spatial Planning, Environment and Infrastructure as the primary beneficiary and the non-profit Nature Foundation as the partner.


Four persons arrested on Tuesday as the Police conducts special operation. (UPDATED)

~ House search in Great Bay~

PHILIPSBURG: --- Several detectives, both from the Police Force of St. Maarten (KPSM) and the Royal Marechaussee, were seen on Great Bay Road on Tuesday afternoon as police conducted a major operation.
SMN News learned via confidential sources that police were busy arresting persons involved in an armed robbery.
Police Spokesman Inspector Felix Richards confirmed that three persons were arrested and that police were busy with a house search. Richards also confirmed that the operation was related to an armed robbery and that the Police and Swat team were busy.

The detectives and Swat team arrested a fourth male suspect around 7:30 pm Tuesday.

Police Spokesman Felix Richards said the fourth suspect was also arrested in the same ongoing robbery investigation>

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