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BREAKING NEWS: Maingrette Withdraws Support from Coalition, Joins with UPP & NA

SINT MAARTEN (GREAT BAY) - According to a press release, there has been a significant political shift that has many St. Maarteners celebrating, Member of Parliament (MP) Kevin Maingrette has officially withdrawn his support from the current coalition government comprising the Unified Resilient Sint Maarten Movement, Democratic Party, Party for Progress, Nation Opportunity Wealth (URS, DP, PFP, and NOW) parties.

Citing concerns over prolonged instability, lack of effective leadership, and lack of transparency, Maingrette announced his decision to align with the United People's Party (UPP) and the National Alliance (NA) on the floor of Parliament on Monday, May 20, "for a new and more stable coalition."

"After much contemplation and deep reflection, I have decided to withdraw my support from the current Coalition. This decision is not one I have taken lightly; it is rooted in my unwavering commitment to the well-being and stability of our beloved nation," stated Maingrette.

The government was formed after the January 11, 2024, election, but it took over four months to establish a Council of Ministers, with little to no information being forthcoming from the Formateur Dr Luc Mercelina of URSM.

The Formateur, in Maingrette's estimation, also failed to secure two Ministerial positions for two candidates appointed by the NOW faction and the PFP faction. Despite this extended period, the two candidate ministers from two coalition parties have yet to be formally appointed, highlighting significant leadership and communication issues within the Coalition, and further widening the level of disagreement that has been festering since the Coalition was formed.

"The absence of proper leadership, the lack of transparent dialogue, and the failure to foster effective cooperation within the coalition have all contributed to the present impasse," Maingrette explained. "As a Member of Parliament, I must prioritize the interests of the people of St. Maarten above all else."

Maingrette's decision aims to prevent another election cycle, further destabilizing the nation. By joining forces with UPP and NA, he believes a new coalition can provide the stability and effective governance St. Maarten urgently needs.

"My decision is driven by a desire to see our country thrive, to ensure that we have a stable government that can address the pressing issues we face, and to restore the faith of our citizens in their leaders," Maingrette emphasized. "I promise to do everything in my power to ensure that this new coalition will work diligently and transparently to serve the people of St. Maarten for the full duration of this term."

This move by Maingrette underscores his commitment to the long-term stability and prosperity of St. Maarten. He has issued rallying calls for the support and understanding of all citizens as this new Coalition takes shape.

By taking this bold step, MP Maingrette demonstrates his dedication to overcoming the current political challenges and paving the way for a more stable and effective government in St. Maarten.

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URSM Celebrates the admittance of Richinel Brug as MP

SINT MAARTEN (GREAT BAY) – The leadership and board of the Unified Resilient St. Maarten Movement (URSM) proudly announce the admittance of Mr. Richinel Brug as the newest incoming Member of Parliament once sworn. Mr. Brug’s appointment marks a significant milestone for URSM as a newly established political force committed to the progressive governance of St. Maarten.

Mr. Brug will join forces with URSM faction leader, MP Sjamira Roseburg, in actively representing and advocating for the interests of St. Maarten’s people. Together, they have signed the governing accord alongside current coalition members, underscoring a unified front in the pursuit of transformative governance.

The board of URSM wishes to express its profound disappointment with the tactics employed by the opposition during public meeting #16 of the Parliament of St. Maarten, which were deemed unbefitting and detrimental to the spirit of democratic discourse.

Amidst inheriting an unprecedented amount of unresolved and critical issues, the new government faces significant challenges. 

URSM calls upon all members of parliament to elevate the quality of representation and dialogue within the parliamentary proceedings, aiming to foster a more dignified and effective legislative environment for the betterment of St. Maarten and our people.

URSM also extends congratulations to incoming MP Viren Kotai and the entire Democratic Party. 

URSM remains steadfast in its commitment to address these challenges head-on, promoting policies that are reflective of the needs and aspirations of the people of St. Maarten.

The party extends its heartfelt congratulations to Mr. Brug and anticipates a period of vigorous and positive change under his and MP Roseburg’s leadership in Parliament.

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Sundial students start with Baby think it Over/teenage pregnancy prevention

SINT MAARTEN (GREAT BAY) - Since Hurricane Irma and Covid the - already high- teen pregnancy rates on Sint Maarten are on the rise. To ensure that teens can make more informed and safe choices the Sundial School started the Baby Think it Over Program.

Students get information on pregnancy, healthy choices, safe sex, financial consequences of having a baby, all provided by trained members of the SVOBE care team.

Essential element of the program is taking care of a real-life baby doll that needs to be consoled, fed and cleaned. The late arrival of the purchased the simulation dolls made it difficult to execute the full extent of the program, but the 2nd formers of one class group will receive the training.

The rest will be programmed for the new academic year. This project has been funded by the Government of the Netherlands via the Sint Maarten Trust Fund. The R4CR program is administered by the World Bank, implemented by VNGI, and overseen by the NRPB.

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Buncamper: Governor applying unconstitutional, unlawful norms in denying Emmanuel, Peterson

SINT MAARTEN (GREAT BAY) - Deputy Leader of the Nation Opportunity Wealth (NOW) party Claudius Buncamper on Sunday said that Governor Ajamu Baly must substantiate that the appointment decisions regarding Raeyhon Peterson and MP Christophe Emmanuel represent a significant and structural violation of "the soundness of governance," a matter primarily within the national jurisdiction of St. Maarten.

Buncamper was reacting to the Governor’s decision last week to send Peterson and Emmanuel’s decrees back to the Prime Minister to be retracted. The Governor, Buncamper said, should clarify which national regulation or Kingdom interest is allegedly violated by these appointment decrees, providing a formal basis for requesting the Prime Minister to revoke these decrees.

“If the Governor cannot justify his actions according to Article 33(sub 1) and Article 40 of the Statute, he risks committing an offence in office per Article 25(c) and (d) of the Governor's Regulations, potentially leading to criminal proceedings,” Buncamper said.

“The Governor's request to the Prime Minister to revoke the national appointment decrees could be interpreted as a refusal to execute those decrees, as per Article 3, paragraph 2 of the LAR. Peterson and Emmanuel may object to the Governor or appeal to the administrative court, requesting a preliminary injunction to compel the Governor to make a decision on their national appointments,” Buncamper further explained.

He pointed out that the regulations governing the role and powers of the Governor of Sint Maarten are established by Kingdom law, in accordance with Article 2, second and third paragraphs, of the Charter for the Kingdom of the Netherlands. These regulations specifically pertain to the Governor's responsibilities as an organ of the Kingdom, representing the King as the head of the government of the Kingdom.

A Kingdom Act, unlike a consensus Kingdom Act as outlined in Article 38, paragraph 2 of the Statute, exclusively regulates matters pertaining to the Kingdom. The primary matters of the Kingdom are enumerated in Article 3 of the Statute. Consequently, the powers vested in the Governor by the Statute and the corresponding regulations are strictly related to the Governor's role as a representative of the Kingdom's interests.

“The internal governance of the Kingdom countries, including the appointment of their ministers, is considered an autonomous matter as per Articles 41 and 42 of the Statute. These responsibilities must be regulated at the national level through the Constitution Law in the Netherlands and by National Ordinances or constitutions in Aruba, Curaçao, and Sint Maarten. Article 43 (sub1) of the Charter reinforces that sound administration, legal certainty, and human rights are primarily national concerns. Under the second paragraph of this article, these responsibilities can temporarily be elevated to Kingdom matters, but this should be an ultimum remedium, exercised with great restraint by the Kingdom,” Buncamper said.

The NOW Deputy Leader stressed that the Governor, must exercise caution in designating national affairs as matters for the Kingdom, especially regarding the appointment of ministers and ensuring good governance. He said invoking Article 21 of the Governor's Regulations and Article 43, paragraph 2 of the Statute without adequate justification could involve other Kingdom bodies – the Kingdom Council of Ministers and the Council of State for the Kingdom – in making final judgments on autonomous national matters, potentially leaving affected parties without recourse.

“This situation is turning into a national embarrassment for the Governor who has yet to notify the King of his refusal to sign the national decrees, but instead chose to send them back to the Prime Minister. For what exactly? The law prohibits this. The governor is acting unlawfully and an legal action against the Governor could be initiated in civil court, claiming damages for loss of income and reputational harm suffered by Peterson and Emmanuel. The Governor is not above the law. The Governor must stop this charade for the sake of St. Maarten and its governance as well as his reputation,” Buncamper said.

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Grisha Commends Organizers of Pazzazz SXM Experience

SINT MAARTEN (GREAT BAY) - Minister of Tourism, Economic Affairs, Transport & Telecommunication, Grisha Heyliger-Marten, expressed heartfelt appreciation to both organizers and attendees of the recent Pazzazz SXM Experience. This dazzling event, held over the weekend, highlighted the island's rich cultural tapestry and warm hospitality, creating unforgettable memories for all participants.

During a signature moment of the festivities, Heyliger-Marten told the jubilant crowd, "Our island is a captivating blend of cultures, offering a unique fusion of European elegance and Caribbean vibrancy. I'm confident you'll relish our delectable creole cuisine and our warm, inviting ambiance. Tonight, I simply want you to enjoy yourselves and let lose."

The Minister expressed profound gratitude to the dedicated organizers whose tireless efforts brought the Pazzazz SXM Experience to life for a second consecutive year. Their unwavering commitment to showcasing the best of St. Maarten contributed immeasurably to the event's resounding success, leaving a lasting impact on attendees.

Looking ahead, Heyliger-Marten said she anticipates welcoming visitors back to St. Maarten for future events, assuring them of continued warmth and hospitality.

The Pazzazz SXM Experience is a collaborative effort between the St. Maarten Tourism Bureau (STB), All Access Promotion Global, LLC, and The Captain’s Rib Shack. The event attracted about 150 visitors half of whom were first time visitors to the island.

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Minister of Justice Lewis meets with NABP, ABVO Unions on Monday

SINT MAARTEN (GREAT BAY) - Minister of Justice, Lyndon C. J. Lewis, convened a meeting with members of the Nationaal Algemeen Politiebond (NABP) and the Algemene Bond van Overheid & Overige Personeel Opgericht (ABVO) this Monday. The meeting, requested by the unions, served as an introductory platform for their boards and members to familiarize themselves with the Minister's cabinet and receive an update on several pressing matters including the pending National Decrees for justice personnel.

During the discussions, Minister Lewis, who has an extensive background in law enforcement and in handling human resource legal issues related to the same, clarified the specifics of the phases. In Phase I, via the national decree, officers are to be appropriately placed in their correct positions and scales, ensuring they receive fair remuneration starting in January 2023.

However, retroactive payments dating prior to that date, a point of contention, are set to be addressed in the subsequent Phase II. Minister Lewis expressed concerns about the current structure of the Nation Decree, indicating that he would have preferred a single National Decree that ensures consideration of the position, scale, and retroactive payment, noting that the current National Decree only places the individual in that function effective as of January 2023.

Nonetheless, Minister Lewis stated that while the current agreed-upon process by his predecessor would not be halted; however, he seeks to refine these processes for the betterment of all parties involved.

To that point, the Minister also announced a shift in how ceremonial acknowledgments are handled; celebrations will be reserved for the completion of the National Decrees processes and will be issued directly to the concerned personnel.

Additionally, he voiced concerns over the current pace of processing of 25 National Decrees per week and intends to review and potentially increase this by reviewing where additional resources maybe available to complete this task.

Among other topics, the Union raised concerns about the condition of the police station. Minister Lewis responded by stating that discussions were already underway with the Chief of Police, Carl John to assess the building so that the necessary funds can be acquired to fix these issues.

Rogerrel Mauricia, President of the police union NAPB, expressed optimism about the new approach, stating, "We must weather the storm and come out the other side, stronger than ever."

Minister Lewis assured that this meeting marks the beginning of a series of collaborations aimed at fostering a transparent, efficient, and fair environment for all justice workers. “Our goal is to work together, not just to address immediate concerns but to continue with the dialogue to improve the work environment for all, hereby improving the safety and security of our country,” he stated.

The Ministry of Justice plans to hold further consultations as often as necessary to ensure transparency with refining and implementing the proposed changes.

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The Minster and her Cabinet of VSA and SZV Forge Stronger Partnership for Healthcare

SINT MAARTEN (GREAT BAY) - On Monday May 13th, 2024, the Cabinet of VSA, represented by Minister Veronica Jansen- Webster, and the Social & Health Insurance SZV, led by Mr. Glen Carty, held a collaborative meeting aimed at enhancing the delivery of healthcare services to the people of our nation.

The meeting, which included cabinet staff and SZV board chairman Mr. Perry Wilson, focused on various key topics, including the day-to-day operations of SZV, the importance of utilizing the SZV portal, and the perceived challenges associated with sending patients abroad for medical treatment.

In a cordial and informative exchange, Minister Jansen- Webster and her team posed pertinent questions regarding SZV's operations, to which Mr. Carty provided insightful explanations and clarifications. The atmosphere was conducive to open dialogue, fostering a deeper understanding of SZV's role in the healthcare system.

Mr. Carty expressed his enthusiasm for fostering a strong working relationship with the Minister of VSA and cabinet staff. He emphasized the importance of collaboration and transparency in addressing the healthcare needs of our community. Additionally, Mr. Carty proposed holding workshops to further enhance mutual understanding and cooperation between the Ministry of VSA and SZV.

Minister Jansen- Webster commended SZV for its commitment to serving the people of our nation and expressed her full support for initiatives aimed at improving healthcare services. She reiterated her dedication to working closely with SZV to address challenges and explore opportunities for innovation and improvement.

Moving forward, the Ministry of VSA and SZV are poised to embark on a journey of collaboration, with the shared goal of ensuring accessible, affordable, and high-quality healthcare for all residents of our beloved nation.

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Grisha Hears Market Vendors’ Concerns Over New Marketplace

SINT MAARTEN (GREAT BAY) - Minister of Tourism, Economic Affairs, Transport and Telecommunication, Grisha Heyliger-Marten, met Friday, May 10, 2024, with market vendors to hear their concerns about the proposed new marketplace.

The market project had already been awarded to J&J Construction for a total of Nafl 1.2 million, however many of the market vendors were not satisfied with the design.

During the meeting, the vendors highlighted the lack of storage facility for their wares, as well as the need for better lighting, bathrooms, and security. They also requested security which could include cameras and guards who would patrol the grounds after hours. They also called for a groundskeeper who would ensure that the place is always kept clean.

In addition, the small businesspeople informed the minister that the design could be more aesthetically attractive to blend with the overall beautification plans for the city. The market vendors also asked the minister to ensure that the material used for the stalls should be very durable to withstand hurricane, wind, and rain damage.

Minister Heyliger-Marten, who was accompanied by top officials of her cabinet, exchanged feedback and suggestions with the vendors regarding how to enhance cooperation and improve the overall market experience for consumers.

“Based on the insights gathered from the vendors, we will conduct a comprehensive analysis of market trends and competitor activities to inform our strategic decision-making process,” the minister said.

“We will incorporate vendors’ feedback and suggestions into our operations and strategies to improve market dynamics and foster better vendor relationships,” she added.

The minister said she would explore the possibility of providing vendors with training and support to enhance their product knowledge, marketing skills, and overall business operations.

“We will implement quality assurance measures to ensure consistency and reliability in product offerings across all the vendors and establish clear and effective communication channels with them to facilitate ongoing dialogue and collaboration,” Heyliger-Marten said.

According to the minister, the meeting with market vendors provided “valuable insights and laid the groundwork for future collaboration and growth opportunities.”

“By fostering strong partnerships with the vendors and implementing the recommended actions, our aim is to enhance our market position and deliver greater value to consumers,” Heyliger-Marten said.

The minister will meet again shortly with the vendors to further discuss specific action points and timelines agreed upon during Friday’s meeting.

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STB Partners with Pazzazz SXM Experience: A Vision for 2024 and Beyond

SINT MAARTEN (GREAT BAY) - Following the resounding success of Pazzazz SXM 2023, the St. Maarten Tourism Bureau (STB) has embarked on a collaborative endeavor with All Access Promotion Global, LLC and The Captain’s Rib Shack, fully committed to elevating the Pazzazz SXM 2024 experience. This initiative also has the goal of fostering increased awareness of the island and event attendees to drive revenue for all stakeholders involved.

The main event is scheduled to kick off this Friday, May 10, 2024, along the Simpson Bay strip, featuring local entertainment. With an anticipated influx of over 150 visitors, this Mother's Day weekend promises to be an unforgettable celebration.

As part of the festivities, a day in Anguilla is slated for Mother’s Day 2024, offering attendees a distinctive experience that showcases St. Maarten's accessibility and its proximity to neighboring islands. The weekend extravaganza will also feature activities on the French side, highlighting the cultural duality of the island. With an array of unique features and attractions, St. Maarten will once again shine as the signature destination, making the Pazzazz event truly exceptional.

STB Project Leader Lisa Coffi stated, “The overarching objective is to establish St. Maarten as the perennial location for Pazzazz Mother’s Day Weekend, a vision that is being realized through this strategic partnership.”

Given the distinct characteristics and offerings of St. Maarten, an extraordinary and impactful event not only benefits Pazzazz SXM but also contributes to the island's growth and sustainability. Pazzazz SXM has the potential to stimulate the local economy by attracting visitors, creating job opportunities, and bolstering local businesses, all while delivering an unforgettable experience for attendees.

Furthermore, Pazzazz SXM values both its international patrons and the local community of St. Maarten. The events are designed to be inclusive, enriching experiences that forge stronger connections between Pazzazz SXM and the island, with promotion efforts targeting both visitors and locals alike.

Please refer to the attached Pazzazz schedule for further details.

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ROTARY CLUB OF SINT MAARTEN RECEIVES GOLD AWARD AT THE ROTARY DISTRICT CONFERENCE

SINT MAARTEN/CAYMAN ISLANDS - Today, May 2nd, the Rotary Club of Sint Maarten received the GOLD Award for its service to the community of Sint Maarten at the Rotary District 7020 Conference, "Create Hope in the World". 

The award was presented to the Club by Rotary District 7020 Governor, David Kirkaldy, at the Grand Cayman Marriott and was accepted, on behalf of the Club, by its President, Jeffrey "Dr. Soc" Sochrin. 

"The Rotary Club of Sint Maarten has been serving the local community for more than 52 years.  We look forward to continuing this service for many more years to come and by simply doing good in the world.   

“Thank you to the District Governor for recognizing our efforts and thank you to all of our members and sponsors for making this award possible", stated Sochrin.

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