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MP Pantophlet: What is the fuss?

SINT MAARTEN (PHILIPSBURG) - Member of Parliament (MP) George Pantophlet is asking the people of St. Maarten to allow him this brief distraction from his quest for debt cancellation, to address a very serious matter, the MP said in a press statement on Friday from his faction office.

MP Pantophlet thought he misread the paragraph of an article appearing in The Daily Herald newspaper on Thursday entitled “Sarah: Civil Code does not contain amendments made by Parliament”. 

What caught the MP’s attention was the phrase: “Then there is this constant fuss in Parliament about an initiative law amendment of 2011 by the NA [National Alliance] faction to address short term labor contracts that - in view of some MP’s -is being frustrated.” 

“After reading this, MP Pantophlet looked up the meaning of the word 'fuss'. The definition that he found in the Oxford Dictionary read as follows: a display of unnecessary excitement, activity, or interest. 

“Is MP Wescot-Williams saying that fighting the abuse of the short-term labor contract is unnecessary? Is she saying that fighting for job security for the people of St. Maarten is an unnecessary activity? Is she saying that fighting for the best interest of the workers of St. Maarten is a needless act?

“It appears that MP Wescot-Williams does not know whether there are persons affected by the abuse of the short contract, the abuse that causes persons to be unemployed, the abuse that causes persons to be unable to meet their financial obligations such as loans, utility bills, food, and rent just to name a few. 

“MP Pantophlet is happy that at least the author of the article, MP Wescot-Williams, acknowledged that the National Alliance Members of Parliament are the authors of this initiative law to abolish the abuse of short-term contracts and that the National Alliance Members of Parliament are making a constant 'fuss'. 

“MP Pantophlet ended by saying "for MP Wescot-Williams' information, we will continue the fuss because the people deserve better," the MP faction press statement concludes.

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CPS: Calls on Frontline Health Workers to Participate in PAHO Campaign “Share Your Story”

SINT MAARTEN (GREAT BAY, (DCOMM) – The Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) has launched a social media campaign to raise awareness of the sustained burden the COVID-19 pandemic poses on the mental health of frontline workers, inviting them to share their stories and strategies to better manage and cope with this added challenge.

The Collective Prevention Services (CPS), a department from the Sint Maarten Ministry of Public Health, Social Development and Labour, is calling on frontline health workers to participate in the campaign and share their strategies that could help other workers in the region, the Americas and around the world.

The campaign “Mental Health Now – Tell Your Story,” will collect written and video stories from healthcare workers in the Americas through Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram (www.twitter.com/opsoms; www.facebook.com/pahowho; www.instagram.com/opsoms), which will be compiled and disseminated through PAHO’s website and social media channels until the end of the year 2021.

The story selection will be based on specific criteria, aiming to portray the breadth of the effects of the pandemic and display the diversity of the Americas.

The pandemic has affected the mental health of not only healthcare workers but also many other populations in the Americas, as they faced personal bereavement, news about illness and death, job losses, economic and social crises, domestic violence, school closures and persistent widespread misinformation.  

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APS submits 2022 budget to Minister of Finance Irion

SINT MAARTEN (CAY HILL) - On September 29, 2021, before the annual deadline of October 1st stipulated in the National Ordinance, Algemeen Pensioenfonds Sint Maarten (APS) submitted its proposed 2022 Budget to the Honorable Minister of Finance Ardwell Irion.

Despite the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic, APS’ net operational result in 2022 is expected to be positive at ANG 13.6 million, driven by strong positive results on investments. The operational cost is projected to remain stable and in line with the previous years. The investment budget in 2022 will focus on the current investment properties and the investment of available cash in local investments with a stable return.

In the 2022 Budget, the fund takes into account increased pension expenses. As mandated by the law, the fund decreased its actuarial interest rate due to the projected low market interest rates and a possible indexation. These factors are projected to have an estimated negative impact on the total net result of the fund.

“We based the 2022 budget on the premises that our coverage ratio remains healthy at approximately 105% or higher while ensuring efficient and professional service to our participants, pensioners, and employers. Our activities will continue to focus on monitoring the total net result and improving the results of our investments, developing sustainably with the interest of Sint Maarten at heart, and further increasing the efficiency of our operations”, commented APS Director Nadya Croes-van Putten.

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SCDF launches Carnival 2022 schedule, focus on safety, economy, and culture

SINT MAARTEN (PHILIPSBURG) - The St. Maarten Carnival Development Foundation (SCDF) has launched the schedule of events for Carnival 2022 with an eagerness to contribute to a recovering economy and rebuilding the country’s cultural development through all facets of Carnival. If all goes as planned, Carnival 2022 will be St. Maarten’s largest economic stimulator since the festival was last held in 2019, directly influencing the business, travel and cultural sectors.

It will be held against a COVID-19 backdrop for which the SCDF has simultaneously launched an extensive Carnival COVID-19 Safety Plan that calls for full vaccination or negative PCR tests (see related story). The plan builds on SCDF’s existing COVID safety plan, and is largely based on the successful templates of international festivals that have restarted during the pandemic.  

After a two-year hiatus, Carnival 2022 will span 19 days, starting with the opening of Carnival Village on April 16 and closing with the burning of King Momo on May 3. If the March pre-Carnival events are counted, the entire festival spans 24 days.

The schedule features 11 locally-themed events in Carnival Village, 6 international shows, and three parades. The promoters of the staple shows of Carnival have all confirmed their concerts for Carnival 2022. These are the Night of the Hit Makers, Caribbean Flag Fest, One Love Reggae Concert, Bacchanal Sunday, Noche Latina and Soulful Company.

Out of an abundance of caution and choosing to focus on events it can control in terms of its safety plan and other COVID protocols in Carnival Village, the SCDF has decided not to host any jump-ups and Jouvert for Carnival 2022. The only road events that will be held are the Children and Grand Carnival Parades, for which certain approved protocols will be attached.

“As much as we love our Jouvert, under the circumstances there is no responsible manner for us to host an event that draws 25,000 people to the road, uncontrolled. That is not a tenable situation. We can have protocols for parades in discussion with troupe leaders and we can control an enclosed open-air venue like Carnival Village where our protocols and safety plan will be strictly enforced. Besides, we have events scheduled in the Village that will, to an extent, replace that feeling of the road anyway,” President of the SCDF Alston Lourens said.

He went on to mention how excited the foundation is to host the local events once again. “We have our pageants back, two-years of Calypso material, parade revelers have energy to let out, we will see a lot of our local bands on stage, a steel-pan show, a Breakfast Fete, our Village cooking competition the Cook-UP and our local specialty drink competition the Cock-Up. We miss these events that bring our people and our culture together,” he said.

Lourens used the opportunity to stress that Carnival 2022 offers St. Maarten a wonderful and historic opportunity to lead the way as the largest Carnival in the North Eastern Caribbean that can be showcased as positive example of how a festival can be held in a safe and responsible manner. This message, he said, was also relayed to Minister of TEATT Roger Lawrence when the SCDF met with the Minister to present its plans. “To assist our tourism product and the overall economy this is the re-start we’ve been waiting for as well,” Lourens said.

“There are competing festivals around us that cannot start because of the structure of their respective events. We have one significant advantage over them and it’s called Carnival Village. For years we have been bragging about the uniqueness of having an open-air, enclosed venue where everything is held. Now, it offers us the opportunity to enforce a sound COVID safety plan that is all-encompassing. Other festivals do not have this and thus cannot contribute to their economies the way they would like. We can and we are fully prepared to put on quite a cultural event for residents and visitors alike,” Lourens said.

Lourens said the foundation has been meticulous in putting together the schedule and have been communicating with its major corporate partners about Carnival preparations. As usual, there are still several stakeholders meetings that will be held in the months leading up to Carnival. He said the foundation has been inundated with calls from around the Caribbean and the world about St. Maarten’s Carnival, with people looking to travel to St. Maarten in the absence of other competing major festivals.

“We should never underestimate the importance of Carnival to the local vendor, the taxi driver, the small and medium hotel properties, food wholesalers and retailers, song-writers, musicians, DJ’s, costume makers, makeup-artists, bartenders, sound and light engineers, printing companies, beverage companies and more. Carnival moves every sector and after two years of non-activity, all of our partners and the economy of our country are ready to move again,” Lourens concluded.

LATEST NEW Calendar 2022 green facebook

 

 

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Sint Maarten/Saint Martin Yachting Industry Unites

SINT MAARTEN (SIMPSON BAY) - For the first time ever, Sint Maarten / Saint Martin yachting industry is uniting to show the world what their island has to offer.

In an astonishing mass collaboration between the Yacht Club at Port de Plaisance, various marinas, local businesses, and the island’s tourism offices. Destination Sint Maarten / Saint Martin booth will be launched at the 62nd Fort Lauderdale International Boat Show, located in the “Yachting Capital of the World” on October 27th -31st.

FLIBS showcases more yacht debuts than any other boat show. The five-day show attracts over 100,000 attendees and 1,000 exhibitors representing 52 countries. “The yachting season is here, and it’s time to show the world what we have to offer”, said Sharrita Mills, Director of Marketing YCPDP.

This exhibit will highlight the key importance of St. Maarten / St. Martin as a global yachting destination, while showcasing everything that makes the destination unique and unforgettable. It is our hope that with this event, future customers traveling to the Caribbean will be motivated to make our island their primary destination and give them the confidence to visit at the first opportunity, said Jeff Boyd, Managing Director of YCPDP.

Yachting tourism is an emerging industry in the Caribbean, the increasing demand has resulted in a significant supply increase within the yachting service and business markets throughout. Many Caribbean islands are capitalizing on these opportunities and St. Maarten / St. Martin should be at the forefront.

The goal of this event is to reintroduce the island to the yachting community, showcasing their unbeatable location and unmatched services, through unity and collaboration. “We would like to extend a warm thank you to all the companies that is collaborating with us”, said Jesse Peterson, Director of Operations YCPDP. 

Unity collaborators: Sint Maarten Tourism Bureau – Magical Sint Maarten, Saint Martin Tourism Bureau – The Friendly Island French Caribbean, Port of St. Maarten Group of Companies, Palapa Marina, St. Maarten Marine Trade Association, IGY Marinas – Yacht Club Isle Del Sol, Skyport Marina, Simpson Bay Lagoon Authority Corporation, Marina Fort-Louis, Delta Petroleum, Soualiga Rum, Big Time Taxi Service and BPS Services.

This is truly history in the making.

Marigot Marina

Marigot Marina, Saint-Martin

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Prime Minister Silveria Jacobs recovering from a minor incident

SINT MAARTEN (POND ISLAND) - Today, the Honorable Prime Minister Silveria Jacobs, during her morning bike ride, took a fall which caused minor injuries to her face and a broken finger. After a thorough check, all scans were normal and she is expected to make a full recovery. As such, Prime Minister Jacobs will be working from home for the coming days. 

“I am not deterred by this setback (fall). I will get back on my bike. I will ride again. I will continue to eat healthy and feed my mind with healthy, positive thoughts. Health is defined by what we eat, think and do. Let’s all refocus our energies and build a healthy St. Maarten.” Prime Minister Jacobs expressed.

Prime Minister Jacobs hereby reminds the general public that this Sunday, October 10, is the 11th anniversary of 10-10-10, also known as Constitution Day. This National Holiday will be celebrated on Monday, October 11, with a virtual commemoration under the theme “Building the Nation, Investing in our Future”, at 10:00 am via SXMGOV Facebook & YouTube pages.

“Let us put our hands, hearts, and energy together to build St. Maarten into a healthier, more innovative and resilient country. Every individual, Government, Parliament, High Councils, Advisory bodies, NGOs, and Civil Society Organizations all have a role to play. Today is that day to make the difference. It is up to all of us,” Prime Minister Jacobs concluded.

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Minister Richardson concludes work visit at the National Police Academy in Apeldoorn

SINT MAARTEN/THE NETHERLANDS - On Wednesday, September 29, the Honorable Minister of Justice Anna E. Richardson visited the National Police Academy in Apeldoorn, Netherlands as her last stop before returning to Sint Maarten. Minister Richardson received a warm welcome from Team Chief and Project Leader for Education in the Dutch Caribbean Region, Mr. Rob Appelhof and Sector Head of Basic Police Education of the Police Academy, Mr. Rik de Boer. During the work visit, a presentation was given as it relates to the institution, the curriculum, and the training that the National Police Academy offers in the Netherlands and in Sint Maarten.

The Police Force of Sint Maarten (KPSM) currently benefits from a cooperation agreement whereby instructors from the National Police Academy visit Sint Maarten to administer courses. Minister Richardson sees this cooperation as an added value for KPSM however, she firmly believes that an on-campus experience is more impactful and ingraining. As such, the Ministry of Justice is exploring opportunities for officers in training to be afforded an opportunity to experience a blended education trajectory that includes either the ORV (Opleidingsinstituut Rechtshandhaving en Veiligheid) Institute in Curaçao or the National Police Academy in the Netherlands.

Minister Richardson was particularly intrigued by Mr. Appelhof’s vision to develop a unified learning curriculum for all the police forces within the Kingdom of the Netherlands. He foresees a future where the Caribbean countries of the Kingdom along with the Dutch Caribbean municipalities (Bonaire, St. Eustatius and Saba) each have their own accredited training institute in an effort to train all officers within the Kingdom in a uniformed manner. This is in total alignment with Minister Richardson’s vision and pursuit to have the Law Enforcement Institute of Sint Maarten, established.

Having a tour of the National Police Academy in the Netherlands gave Minister Richardson and her support staff a chance to see the various classrooms and training equipment needed to ensure the institute is outfitted with the necessary environments to help facilitate specialized courses and more. As the National Police Academy has seven locations in the Netherlands, Minister Richardson requested that the blueprint of the most modern institution be shared with her, so that the design for the Law Enforcement Institute of Sint Maarten can use this as a guide when the design is being made.

During the discussions, Minister Richardson stated her wish to support KPSM and its officers to be the best that they can be and queried about the areas of improvement needed. Mr. Appelhof stated that a fitness and dojo facility are needed for KPSM so that they can conduct proper fitness training for the staff. Prior to hurricanes Irma and Maria, equipment was shipped to Sint Maarten for this purpose, however, the intended space was damaged. The equipment remains secured, however, the Ministry is in need of a location to execute the training.

Minister Richardson and her delegation were also given an opportunity to experience the virtual shooting range. With the virtual shooting system, the cost of purchasing ammunition for training can be reduced significantly. Where the National Police Academy once used over two thousand rounds of ammunition, they can now use less than one thousand rounds of ammunition as officers first sharpen their skills on the virtual platform and test these skills with live ammunition thereafter. This is a direction Minister Richardson wishes to explore for Sint Maarten as a means to also reduce cost.

Mr. Appelhof and his team expressed much gratitude to Minister Richardson for visiting their institution. He expressed that it was quite an honor that the Minister saw it of importance to visit and learn about their National Police Academy. This working visit paves the way for the opportunity to make a connection and build a meaningful working relationship with the National Police Academy in the best interest of KPSM.

Mr. Appelhof is expected to visit Sint Maarten in the coming weeks in connection with an upcoming graduating class of KPSM. During that visit, Mr. Appelhof and Minister Richardson will meet again to discuss their vision and plans.

Minister Richardson expressed her commitment to strengthening all agencies within the Ministry of Justice. “That is the purpose of my work visit to the Netherlands. Mission accomplished!” stated Minister Richardson.

"I am grateful that this work visit has brought much awareness and many connections in various areas that directly or indirectly affect the services of the Justice chain in Sint Maarten. The face-to-face meetings have intrigued our colleagues and partners in the Netherlands to work more closely with us, to support us, and give guidance where and when necessary as we are all dealing with the same or similar matters," she continued.

“The real work begins as my team and I forge forward to apply what we have learned. There are a lot of changes and improvements up ahead. I assure the civil servants of the Ministry of Justice and the people of Sint Maarten that all efforts are geared towards the overall betterment of our justice system with the sole interest of protection, safety and, security.” concluded Minister Richardson.

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Prosecutor’s Office opens contact email related to ‘Vineyard Heights’

SINT MAARTEN (PHILIPSBURG) - The Prosecutor’s Office has taken note of the ongoing issues and complaints in the community surrounding the distribution of land in what is known as “Vineyard Heights” or “Over the Bank”.

This has led to the opening of a designated email address - This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. - to which anyone with a complaint/concern as well as supporting correspondence can submit these for review by the Prosecutor’s Office.

The information/documents received by the Prosecutor’s Office via this email address will be reviewed to determine if there is anything that warrants further inspection.

The opening of the designated email address also stems from several (public) calls to the Prosecutor’s Office. One such example is an open letter published in The Daily Herald on Tuesday, September 28, 2021, calling on the Prosecutor’s Office to look into this matter that is of concern for a significant number of people in the community.

There is no ongoing investigation related to Vineyard Heights.

The Prosecutor’s Office is charged with the criminal enforcement of the rule of law and with other tasks determined by law. This main task can be divided into three sub-tasks: the investigation of criminal offenses, the prosecution of criminal offenses, and supervision of the execution of criminal sentences.

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MP Heyliger-Marten plans Justice Committee tour of detention facilities

SINT MAARTEN (PHILIPSBURG) - Following up on her letter of September 1st, 2021, Member of Parliament (MP) and Chairlady of the Justice Committee of Parliament Grisha Heyliger-Marten sent another letter to Justice Minister Anna Richardson last week. In the letter, MP Heyliger-Marten again asked the Minister’s urgent attention for the situation at Sint Maarten’s detention facilities.

In a press release Monday night, Heyliger-Marten expressed her deep concerns about the state of the facilities and the treatment of inmates. “My tour of the facilities last year was a shocking experience to me. Since then, too much disturbing information has been received from prison staff and inmates about the situation at our prison facilities. This includes two letters from inmates to Parliament. All this information is reason for great concern. That is why I sent another letter to the Minister of Justice, and why I also intend to organize a tour of the prison facilities by all other members of Parliament’s Justice Committee. They need to see for themselves how serious the situation is” Heyliger-Marten stated in her release.

She further stated that inmates have human rights and should be treated accordingly. According to Heyliger-Marten, inmates should be prepared to make meaningful contributions to the community of Sint Maarten upon their release. “The Government has an obligation to ensure their physical and mental well-being and development while detained, so that we don’t end up releasing hardened and resentful individuals back into our society.”

“Long-term solutions for improved treatment and facilities that are currently being worked on will end up being too little, too late, if we don’t address the urgent issues right now”, the MP stated. She referred to the current trip of Minister Richardson to the Netherlands for meetings regarding the Pointe Blanche prison.

“From reports in the media today, I learned that the Minister is working on a plan of approach, has appointed a program manager from the Netherlands, and has made agreements with the UNOPS proposal. On the other hand, I was also informed that the inmate sewing center that was proudly announced earlier this year is not functioning as yet. And questions surrounding the recent lock-down remain unanswered as well”.

“I therefore hope that the Minister of Justice will promptly respond to my letters, so that Parliament can be informed on what her short-term plans are, and if and how it can support the Minister and the Government with executing these plans.

As Chair of the Justice Committee, I feel that it is my responsibility to take the initiative to secure the human rights of our inmates, starting with a tour of the current detention facilities ”, MP Heyliger-Marten concluded.

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Minister Lawrence: World Tourism Day Message – Tourism for Inclusive Growth

SINT MAARTEN (POND ISLAND) – Monday, September 27, marks World Tourism Day (WTD) 2021 under the theme “Tourism for Inclusive Growth.”

According to the United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO), the COVID-19 pandemic has had a massive social and economic impact. “Both developed and developing economies have been hit. And marginalized groups and the most vulnerable have been hit hardest of all. The restart of tourism will help kickstart recovery and growth. It is essential that the benefits this will bring are enjoyed widely and fairly.”

Travel can be life-changing, when asking individuals, “what makes you come back to Sint Maarten?” The response most often is, “The Friendly People”. We have one of the highest return visitor rates, people truly love coming back to Sint Maarten, year after year. As often described by visitors, “I feel welcomed, I feel at home”.

“This year’s theme, Tourism for Inclusive Growth, is near to my heart, it sides to the importance of everyone coming together and being included, which is extremely important for growth. I want to thank everyone for your continued dedication in making Sint Maarten a destination of choice. With approximately 80% of our Gross Domestic Product (GDP) being made up of tourism, it is important for us to acknowledge and celebrate this day.

“Let us celebrate our people who continue to make a positive impact on our guests, let us celebrate the individuals of our Island who continue to drive destination demand, and who tirelessly continue to make our destination desirable. People continue to return to Sint Maarten because of how they “feel” here, we are, The Friendly Island”, shared Minister Lawrence.

The past 18 months have been very difficult, but we have led in tourism, and we are an example of what can be accomplished. In the past months, we saw a positive increase in visitors, and we can look forward to a busy upcoming high season, and therefore, we have much to celebrate.

“We had to reopen our destination more than a year ago in order to ensure economic recovery and that the business community, and our citizens recover and grow after the shutdown. This safe restart was essential as we continue moving our way through the pandemic, behind every person there is story to tell on how it has transformed us as a community and how it prepared us for our reopening,” stated May-Ling Chun, Director of Tourism.

“Once again, I applaud all the women and men working in our tourism sectors, to the frontline workers, the business community, investors, entrepreneurs, and to my teams, I thank you for all you do, we are making a difference.

“I also want to thank Member of Parliament (MP) Ludmila De Weever, former minister of TEATT, for her work in tourism. Let us continue to work together for when we do, we achieve more. Let’s be optimistic, for the future is bright. Happy World Tourism Day,” Minister Lawrence said on Sunday.

WTD is celebrated each year on 27 September. It is a global observance creating awareness about tourism’s social, cultural, political, and economic value and contribution that the sector makes towards national development.

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