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Border Protection/Mobile Unit returns to Immigration and Border Protection Services

SINT MAARTEN (POND ISLAND) - March 1st, 2021, marks the Border Protection and Mobile Unit's return to the management of Immigration and Border Protection Services (IBP).

The Border Protection & Mobile Unit has been under the management of the KPSM Police Force of Sint Maarten since 2016. However, the structure conflicted with the LIOL and the organizational decree. Given this fact, the Minister of Justice Anna E. Richardson announced the departments' re-joining to the IBP in December 2020.

The Minister of Justice hosted a "welcome home ceremony" for the officers and delivered a welcome speech. In her address, the Minister described the move as a historic one for the Ministry of Justice. Further, she described the last few years as challenging for the department regarding implementing authority of the Border Protection and Mobile Unit. According to the minister, the Border Protection and Mobile Control Units were the missing links within the Immigration and Border Protection Services (IBP) Department, consisting of Residence and Admittance, Border Protection and Mobile Control Unit.

"Getting the three divisions under one umbrella will ensure Sint Maarten's border security is up to standards just like other country's borders are being secured. Sint Maarten cannot be any different and therefore, must improve the immigration and border protection services to ensure for a stable and sustainable future," she stated.

The Ministry is optimistic about the department's future and is very confident that the new management will improve the department's accomplishments and successes.

Minister Richardson told the officers that their job is not an easy one. She is however confident that the reunited department will show Sint Maarten and the world that the securing of our borders and our beautiful island is a serious one and will be done with the greatest honor. She thanked the officers for their commitment and diligence during the transition while assuring them that all unresolved issues are being addressed and will be resolved.

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Saba, the Netherlands win Elsa Shipping case

SABA (WELLS BAY) - The Saba government is pleased with the verdict of the Rotterdam Court on Wednesday, February 24, 2021. A panel of three judges together formed the maritime chamber of the Rotterdam Court that reviewed the case and concluded to dismiss all claims of Elsa Shipping Limited (Elsa Shipping).

Elsa Shipping took the Public Entity Saba, the Saba Conservation Foundation (SCF) and the Netherlands to court for the stranding and total loss of the ship, the MY Elsa on March 22, 2017. According to Elsa Shipping, the Public Entity Saba, the SCF and the Netherlands were both jointly and severally responsible for the main sums of US $ 7,090,925.63, € 8,361.52, and £ 5,971.72 and legal interest.

According to Elsa Shipping, in summary, the Netherlands was liable because they are the responsible and competent authority for the waterways around the islands Bonaire, Saba and Sint Eustatius. Elsa Shipping claimed the Public Entity Saba was responsible because it was the owner of the mooring that broke, and the SCF was responsible because the park ranger that instructed the crew of Elsa Shipping to use the mooring that broke works for the SCF.

According to Elsa Shipping, the risk and responsibility for moorings that break lies with these three entities jointly because the mooring qualified as a permanent fixture that was constructed in the sea, which in Dutch is also called an ‘opstal’. The qualification of the mooring as a permanent fixture would have the legal consequence that the risk and responsibility was indeed for the defendants, should anything go wrong.

Next to that, Elsa Shipping claimed that the Netherlands was separately responsible because it did not ensure that the mooring was not faulty, nor did tit properly maintain the mooring or offer any guidance with detailed instructions upon use of the mooring. According to Elsa Shipping, the SCF was responsible because it was their park ranger that provided uninformed instructions to the Elsa crew to use that mooring.

All three defendants were jointly represented by the solicitor general of the Netherlands (in Dutch: ‘de landsadvocaat’), Mr. Edward Brans of the firm Pels Rijcken, based in The Hague, the Netherlands, who worked closely together with the local legal counsel of the Public Entity Saba Mr. Gerald Simmons – de Jong. The three defendants jointly requested the judges to dismiss the claims.

According to the defendants the cause of the stranding was not the line that broke off the mooring. They argued that the ship stranded because the captain and crew had turned down the volume of the alarm sound that was supposed to warn them in combination with the fact that there was no apparent crewmember designated with watch duty, which was disastrous, particularly when in open sea conditions over 350 meters away from the shore.

The defendants disputed that the mooring qualified as a permanent fixture, because it has the shape of a big metal anchor and can be moved freely. The Public Entity Saba argued that it could not be blamed, because the mooring had just been commissioned two months before and was only up for its first scheduled check-up later on. The SCF argued that the park ranger did nothing wrong because he just called the captain of the Elsa to ensure that he would not anchor outside of the anchor zones and only confirmed the capacity of the mooring as was confirmed by the company that commissioned it.

Regarding the question whether or not the mooring qualifies as a permanent fixture (in Dutch: ‘opstal’), which then would be accompanied by all of its legal consequences regarding risk and responsibility, the judges considered that it was not a permanent fixture. The main considerations for this were that neither the anchor, nor its chain were permanently anchored into the bottom of the sea by either drilling a hole in the sea bed or by installing a concrete foot. This meant that the mooring did not qualify as a permanent fixture as meant in article 6:174 paragraph 4 of the BES Civil Code, but a loose asset (in Dutch: ‘roerende zaak’) as meant in article 6:173 of the BES Civil Code.

The next main question was whether the mooring indeed was defective and if the defendants were aware of the dangers in using this mooring. According to the judges, Elsa Shipping did not provide substantiated proof that the defendants were aware of this. There was no inconclusive proof that the mooring was faulty and that the defendants were to blame for this. The installation report of the mooring confirmed that it could carry ships over 1,100 ton in normal weather and that it was only installed two months before the stranding. The first scheduled maintenance and inspection was scheduled for April 20 or 21, 2017.

The specialist damage report as commissioned by Cunningham Lindsey Dutch Caribbean also confirmed that the installation itself met the requirements that it should meet, but that it was not installed in the right position. The wrong position had caused it to be located too close to rock formations that in turn caused the line to chafe and eventually break. There was no reason for the Public Entity Saba to doubt the installation documents.

The main advisor of the Public Entity Saba in this case Mr. Gerald Simmons – de Jong said that this verdict was another result made possible by a great collaboration between the different departments in The Hague and the Public Entity Saba. “Both the Ministry of Home Affairs and Kingdom Relations and the Ministry of Infrastructure and Water Management showed great trust and understanding towards the local circumstances on Saba and we really worked well together to present the case as best as we could to the panel of judges,” he said.

Elsa 3

 

 

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White & Yellow Cross and SMMC ready for vaccination

SINT MAARTEN (ST. JOHN’S ESTATE/CAY HILL) - The White and Yellow Cross Care Foundation (WYCCF) and St. Maarten Medical Center (SMMC) are prepared to begin vaccinating their staff against COVID-19 on Monday, February 22nd.

These rules around the administering of the vaccines are very strict, and thus a well-planned and smooth-running organization is essential. The Pfizer vaccine has to kept at a temperature of -70 degree Celsius, and can only be kept outside this super freezer for a limited amount of time. That, in addition to the still existing coronavirus regulations, make this operation quite a logistical challenge.

Because of this, both organizations started preparing weeks ago. At the WYCCF a special vaccination team was formed, which went over every detail of the plan. Several rooms were freed up and reorganized to streamline the process, and several trainings were organized. Today, all will be in place, staff will be trained and appointment invitations will be sent out. Monday at 10 AM, Quality Nurse Claudette Rijff will be receiving the first dose, which will also be live streamed via the Government of St. Maarten Facebook Page by the Department of Communications.

Bregje Boetekees, Operations Manager at the WYCCF, says she’s proud of her team for setting up a complex and precise operation like this in such a short time span. The commitment and energy that my staff put into this in the last couple of weeks is really fantastic. Where in the beginning many of our staff were still doubtful of taking the vaccine, we notice now, that many did their research and changed their mind. The vaccine is safe, and it is very important for our clients that we make sure we do everything we can to protect them against the Covid-19 virus. I’m definitely looking forward to Monday!

WYCCF and SMMC both fall within the first priority risk group and thus will be among the first to receive COVID-19 vaccines. The first shipment contains the Pfizer BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine and is scheduled to arrive on St. Maarten today after weeks of preparations. The regulations regarding the transportation, storage and the administering of the vaccines require logistical precision for effective vaccination with no errors or wastage.

The vaccination administration at WYCC is managed by a multidisciplinary team formed specifically for creation and management of the vaccination plan. The plan entailed making space available to administer the vaccines and organizing training sessions for staff and clients. It also entailed an extensive social media campaign which saw influential members within the community being interviewed about the vaccine.

SMMC’s vaccination administration process was created and is managed by the Hygiene and Infection Control Department, supported by the Outbreak Management Team (OMT), the ER Department and AMI Expeditionary Healthcare. In addition to vaccinating all staff, SMMC is also responsible for the vaccination of two other front-line healthcare organizations; the Ambulance Department and St. Maarten Laboratory Services (SLS).

Nurse Bregje Boetekees, Operations Manager at WYCCF is looking forward to receiving her vaccine and seeing her staff and clients vaccinated and said “I’m proud of my staff for setting up a difficult and precise operation like this in such a limited time. The commitment and energy that my staff put into creating and executing this plan is remarkable. In the beginning, some staff members were doubtful of the vaccine and the safety of it but after having done research using credible sources, many have positively changed their minds and opinion on the vaccine. All in all, the vaccine is safe and it is important for our clients that we do everything possible to protect them from COVID-19.”

OMT Chairman and Medical Director Dr. Felix Holiday will be among the first to receive the vaccine on Monday and said “after weeks of intense preparation, we are ready to administer the vaccine to our staff and our colleagues at the Ambulance Department and SLS. As a hospital, we have seen the effects of this disease first hand. Too many people have been affected and too many lives have been lost so we cannot sit back and do nothing. Vaccination is necessary, not just to protect ourselves but to protect our healthcare system, our way of life and more importantly, our economy. I am proud of our staff and their efforts from the beginning of the pandemic to now. I am happy to be one of the first to receive this life-saving vaccine and encourage everyone to do their part and get vaccinated as well.

While the vaccines are not mandatory, both organizations encourage members of the public to sign up to receive the vaccine to protect themselves against the risks of contracting COVID-19 disease. Persons interested in receiving the vaccine can sign up via https://bit.ly3tOsJLa or using a form that can be collected at CPS at the Vineyard Building, the Division of Labor Affairs public service center in Simpson Bay or at the Government Administration Building.

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Unions provide their take on the meeting with the Minister of General Affairs

SINT MAARTEN (PHILIPSBURG) - The local media houses ran a press release captioned “Prime Minister Silveria E. Jacobs meets with CCSU membership,” the Unions said in a press statement on Wednesday.

The press release continues as follows: “Where the presence of the representatives of the various Unions that form part of the Committee for Civil Servant Union (CCSU) was detailed.

“Prime Minister Jacobs, who in that setting is referred to as Minister of General Affairs as in that role she attends to the affairs of the Civil Servants where it pertains to their legal status as employees of the Government.

“We the Unions find it very disheartening that after a year of explaining to the Prime Minister the difference of a meeting with the Committee for Civil Servant Union (CCSU) and the Unions is not the same. In meeting with the unions, the interest of ALL workers is represented.

“These Unions are separate entities with operating boards that represent workers from varying parts of the community. When necessary they come together as a collective body of unions under the umbrella of the Windward Islands Chamber of Labour Unions. (WICLU)

“It is constantly being reported that the Prime Minister met with the Unions when the Prime Minister met with the CCSU. The role of the CCSU which is known as a committee governed by law, is where discussions should take place when changes to the working conditions of the civil servant are to be discussed.

“When Laws that will affect the civil servant is proposed to be implemented, where it pertains to civil servants’ remuneration, changes to the renumeration or anything that would influence their working conditions. Note must be taken that this committee only represents Civil Servants and not the private sector.

“The Windward Island Chamber of Labour Unions has requested numerous meetings with the Prime Minister, to date the Unions have not been successful in having this request honoured.

“The first step, before any negotiations can take place in the CCSU or any unilateral decision is made such as the changing or implementing of any law, should be a dialogue with the Unions as these are the entities that represent all the workers that are 99% of the time affected by these changes. The membership of the CCSU are members placed there by the union to represent the civil servants on behalf of the union.

“In our opinion, the organisation previously referred to as the GOA (Georganiseerde Organisatie Ambtenaren zaken) which was changed as explained by the personnel department, to the English translation Committee of Civil Servants Union (CCSU) this is what has confused the whole situation, because the Ministers feels that the CCSU are the people representatives instead of the Unions.

“However, the Prime Minister in her many elucidations on the floor of parliament stressed the independence of the CCSU thus it is very confusing for the Unions to understand how the Prime Minister cannot distinguish between the two. The workers cannot complain to the CCSU as they are not paying any dues to the CCSU, they complain and hold the Unions who they are paying dues to accountable.

“The Unions is kindly requesting the Honourable Prime Minister to please stop the erroneous announcement in Parliament, and the various media including Social Media that she met with the various Unions or that the Unions refused to meet with her.

“We the Unions are kindly requesting the Chairperson of the CCSU to inform the Minister of General Affairs that in the setting of the CCSU she is not meeting with the unions but with a committee that looks out for the wellbeing of the Civil Servants based on the Law that is found in Chapter X of the Landsverordening Materieel Ambtenarenrecht,” the Unions press release concludes.

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USM, TelEm & PWR Celebrate Women in Politics on March 8th

SINT MAARTEN (PHILIPSBURG) - On March 8, 2021, six (6) influential women in the political arena, representing the Dutch and French side of the island will be keynote speakers in the 2021 event: ‘Oualichi Politics’.  Oualichi is one of the indigenous names given to pre-Columbian St.Martin meaning “strong women”. These women of the island have done exceptionally well in their contribution to politics but to St.Maarten/ St.Martin’s culture for years.

In what is expected to be a historical event of 2021, these dynamic women will share publicly their journeys and vision for an equitable, sustainable, and democratic society. The public is invited to learn more about them, how they overcame challenges and how they are shaping a better future for the island.

The six (6) speakers are the Honorable Silveria Jacobs (Prime Minister and former Minister of Education),  Lysanne Charles (Caribbean MP candidate for Tweede Kamer, Bij1), Melissa Gumbs (MP and co-founder of PFP), Jorien Wuite (Caribbean MP candidate for Tweede Kamer, D66), Valerie Demaseau (First Vice President of the Collectivité de Saint-Martin) and Gwendolien E. Mossel (The Bureau Ombudsman).

Speakers will engage with the general public and commentators representing the community such as Ms. Makhicia Brooks, managing director of the St. Maarten Development Fund. Commentators will kick-start the live Q&A.  Oualichi Politics will be hosted by Ife Badejo, founder of Produce Wealth Revolution (PWR) Agency.

TelEm Group’s Residential Manager Marketing & Sales, Mrs. Julie Zambrini-Judd, says the company is honored to be providing the digital platform and bandwidth required to host such an impressive and influential group of women on St. Maarten, and she is encouraging maximum attendance at the March 8th, event.

“Undoubtedly, we can expect some stimulating and thought-provoking conversation, not only about politics on our island, but also about St. Maarten culture and where it’s heading. Having worked with the PWR Agency and Ms. Ife Badejo in the past, we look forward to another successful event that we are once again proud to be a part of,” said Mrs. Zambrini.

Oualichi Politics is a collaborative effort of the University of St.Martin (USM), TelEm N.V. and the PWR Agency, in celebration of International Women’s Day. It will be aired live on March 8 on Facebook platforms of the collaborative partners. For more information or inquiries, kindly email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. 

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Chris: World Bank’s audacity a result of weak local leadership

SINT MAARTEN (PHILIPSBURG) - Independent Member of Parliament (MP) Christophe Emmanuel has said the World Bank’s audacity to interfere in corporate personnel matters at the Princess Juliana International Airport is a clear result of weak leadership by the current government and that State Secretary Raymond Knops is getting more comfortable in using language of control towards the government and people of St. Maarten.

MP Emmanuel pointed out that Knops uses every opportunity to remind the government of St. Maarten of the conditions for the release of funding. He said despite the broad language of cooperation used in the country packages and COHO legislation, the State Secretary always return to the language of control when he feels he isn’t get his way or things are not progressing how he wants. “He threatens funding or reminds you of the conditions. And this has to be laid at the feet of this government who supports these agreements,” Emmanuel said.

The MP stressed that government’s casual approach to everything, including what is happening at PJIA, has left the door wide open for entities such as the World Bank to walk through and interfere where they should not. “The World Bank and others are taking advantage of a void created by this government and its failure to respond timely and address adequately the issues facing this country. You cannot classify it any other way,” the MP said.

“The World Bank is now doing damage control after being taken to task about the fact that they have no authority or say over personnel matters at PJIA. Today the government finds it necessary to comment on the letter after it had been leaked. This is weak leadership that hopes issues will just up and disappear,” he added.

In the meantime, the MP continued, State Secretary Knops seems to be in quite a rush to impose supervision over St. Maarten though reforms and getting more and more confident in telling St. Maarten exactly what he thinks. Emmanuel pointed to Knops statements that he is “not happy with the way St. Maarten manages its airport” and stating that the Justice Ministry “lacks decisive leadership.”

“These are his words. First of all, the fact that he can say that the airport is not managed well is very ironic considering it is his CEO in place and his CEO failing dramatically. You cannot stay thousands of miles away in The Hague and try to micromanage the airport through a CEO who believes his position is guaranteed because of the Dutch, a Dutch appointed CFO and complicit Supervisory Board of PJIAE,” MP Emmanuel said.

“Our airport was once managed by us. By people we were proud of. People like Eugene Holiday, Regina Labega and Michel Hyman. Not people who look down their noses at us. Airport employees were always so proud of that institution. Today what do they have? Intolerant behavior from a CEO who obviously does not respect them, no money, no indication of when they will be getting their money, and consultants who are getting paid millions per year. The airport is being fleeced. So if Mr. Knops doesn’t like the way the airport is being managed, he and the World Bank need to step back and let us do the job.”

The MP added that the State Secretary and BZK complains about illegal persons on St. Maarten and the burden they have on the system, but received the border control duties they demanded in 2017 and to date can’t report on what they achieved with this control. “Then they announce proudly in the Dutch media that they are feeding the people of St. Maarten else we would starve come April. This was followed by an announcement by St. Maarten’s Minister of Finance that about 80% of the people in the food program are unregistered.

“The Dutch constantly downplay their failures and elevate perceived failures of St. Maarten. But again this comes back to the local government of St. Maarten who has let Knops, the World Bank, the CFT and others simply make comments without offering a rebuttal in defense of St. Maarten. Silence is acceptance,” the MP said.

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CPS addresses several questions about the Covid-19 vaccine program in its Thursday evening panel discussion

SINT MAARTEN (GREAT BAY, (DCOMM) – The Covid-19 vaccines are expected to arrive on St. Maarten soon. The objective is to create herd immunity, which requires 70% of the population to be vaccinated, before the upcoming hurricane season.

Organizing a campaign on this scale with very demanding safety, efficiency, and logistical requirements is a huge operation. The Vaccination Task Force has been working day and night for the past couple of months to make sure everything is up to par when the vaccines arrive.

On Wednesday, concrete plans were shared with the public via an SMS (Short Message Service) blast with a link to the government vaccination information page, and it was also further explained in the panel discussion on Thursday evening.

From the many incoming questions, it was clear that there was a high demand for information.

The Honorable Minister of Public Health, Social Development & Labor (Ministry VSA) Richard J.J. Panneflek, officially opened and closed the panel discussion, and the host for the evening was Roylyka Roache from the Department of Communication (DCOMM).

The guests consisted of Eva Lista-de Weever, Epidemiologist, and head of Ministry of VSA Collective Prevention Services (CPS); Bregje Boetekees, Manager of Operations of the White & Yellow Cross Care Foundation (WYCCF); Dr. Anand Raghosing, a resident general practitioner; and Dr. A.J. Duits, Medical Immunologist and Director of the Red Cross Blood Bank Foundation.

After the opening remarks by the Minister of Public Health, Social Development & Labor, the livestream started with a small presentation given by Eva Lista-de Weever and Dr. Duits. Dr. Duits explained how vaccines work, how they are developed, but also shared some of the first results of the effect of the vaccine in Israel.

He also brought forward hard scientific data about the rarity of extreme side effects and safety to address those concerns amongst the population. After this segment, Eva Lista-de Weever took over and informed about the rollout strategy regarding location, priority groups, procedure, and registration.

The public was clearly well prepared and sent in 25 questions in advance via an email address that was promoted several days earlier. Dr. Duits, being a specialist when it comes to immunology and vaccines started off and answered the first questions.

Dr. Duits went into detail explaining how the mRNA vaccine is not able to change your DNA and explained what ingredients are part of the vaccine.

Bregje Boetekees provided much-needed nuance to several media articles that are circulating. One being from Norway where was claimed that several elderly people passed away after receiving the vaccine, while in fact there was no actual link found between these deaths and the vaccine.

In an elderly home with seniors of very high age, with a very fragile health status, the passing away of persons is unfortunately not uncommon. However, in this article, these deaths were linked to the vaccine, while the number of people passing away wasn’t any higher than normal.

Boetekees then continued to mention that for the elderly people living at the White & Yellow Cross, who are very fragile, each case will be personally reviewed to see if the vaccine’s benefits outweigh the risks of getting infected with Covid-19.

Dr. Raghosing replied to many questions from the livestream audience to the specific medical situations of people and comforted many by explaining that there are actually very few absolute contra-indications.

The more practical questions were answered by Eva Lista-de Weever with respect to how to register, how many doses will we receive, how is it stored, when will it commence, etc.

There were almost 400 livestream viewers, and many were active in the comment section with a total of 343 comments. While the event was planned to end at 8.00 PM, the livestream viewers kept posting good questions, so it was decided to keep on going until well after 8:30 PM. A total of 24 questions from the live comments were answered. One of these questions was: how many in this panel would take the vaccine. All panelists including the honorable minister replied positively to this question and ensured the public that they will lead by example and take the vaccine.

Thirty-five minutes overtime, the comment section fell still, and all questions were answered. Roylyka Roache thanked the audience for their questions, and the guests for their valuable information, and said to the public that in case they forgot to answer a question, they can always send them in after to the following email address: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

If you missed the event Thursday evening, it will still be available via the Government Facebook Page, and it will be replayed on Cable TV Channel 115 on Friday at 10.30 AM and again at 6.30 PM.

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Buncamper brings up concerns to the Minister of Public Health

SINT MAARTEN (PHILIPSBURG) - Member of Parliament (MP) Claudius “Toontje” Buncamper, leader of the USP faction in parliament, fired off a letter to Minister of VSA, the honorable Richard Panneflek, congratulating the minister and his ministry for the progress being made in combatting the COVID-19 and the planned role out for the vaccine, the USP parliamentary faction office said in a press statement on Thursday.

“The MP outlined his concerns with the number of people who are uncertain about taking the vaccine after reading in the media that 15 elderly persons died after taking the vaccine in the Netherlands.

“The MP requested that special attention be given to our seniors, particularly as it pertains to providing information about their health risks and the facilities and services available to them.

“MP Buncamper strongly recommended that the ministry provide an explanation to the seniors regarding the cause of death of the 15 elderly recipients of the vaccine in the Netherlands, as there is no room for fear due to lack of credible information.”

“If we are counting on the vaccine to provide the protection it is intended to provide, then we must ensure that those in position do so by providing credible information to the public” MP Buncamper wrote in his letter to the minister. “We need to get our economy back up and running and one way to do so is to create an environment in which our community is protected. That protection can be achieved by getting everyone vaccinated.”

That MP is of the opinion that “if we protect our community and lower the risk of our residents getting infected and spreading the decease, we increase the economic opportunities for our people and, sooner rather than later, be in a position to freely welcome visitors from the US, Canada, Europe and the region back to the friendly island.”

MP Buncamper asked the minister to provide a timeline in which he intends to have the population of St. Maarten, registered and unregistered, vaccinated, and to provide insight into the source from which the Netherlands is purchasing the vaccines.

He expressed his surprise to read in the daily papers of Wednesday February 10, that a collaboration agreement was signed between the countries in the Caribbean Netherlands regarding medical care particularly with respect to medical care at hospitals in the Caribbean part of the Kingdom. 

The MP stated that while he applauds the collaboration within the Kingdom and favors a relationship in which the countries and entities support each other, he wonders if this agreement has any bearing on the country packages and the COHO which, thus far, are pending handling and approval by parliament.

“If this is the case, the impression is created that government expects parliament to rubber stamp the proposed packages and entity, which is starting to become habitual, thus creating an impression that the democratic parliamentary rule is slowly deteriorating.” MP Buncamper stated in his letter.

“It was agreed that the Prime Minister would come to the house of parliament and explain the law and the country package in detail, but the Prime Minister has not been forthcoming with this commitment, while in the media reports the impression is given that the government is proceeding “like no body business.”

MP Buncamper revealed that “The country packages still need to be properly worked out and vetted by the stakeholders” and wonders what are the consequences if these signed agreements should the parliament deviate from the proposal currently on the table? Buncamper questioned the role of SMMC in this agreement of collaboration that was recently signed and awaits the minister’s response to his questions and concerns.

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Emmanuel questions absence of SMMC director, generic medication. Also queries new hospital alliance

SINT MAARTEN (PHILIPSBURG) - Independent Member of Parliament Christophe Emmanuel on Wednesday sent a letter with several questions to Minister of VSA Richard Panneflek regarding management at the St. Maarten Medical Center (SMMC) and seeking details about the new formed Dutch Caribbean Hospital Alliance. Emmanuel also questioned the Minister about SZV allegedly instructing pharmacies to issue generic medication rather than name brand medication to patients.

Emmanuel said he has unconfirmed reports that the Director of the SMMC has been out for more than a year and a half, collecting full salary and benefits. “If it is for medical reasons we wish the gentleman a speedy recovery. This possibility notwithstanding, there are questions that must be addressed by the Minister,” Emmanuel said.

He said the contract of the same director is coming to an end in May or June and questioned if a local person has been groomed and in position to take over the function. “Who has been running the hospital for the past year? It is past time we push a local person forward to take on this role in our country. We have local medical professionals who can do the job,” MP Emmanuel said. The MP also raised questions about the operational space, the status of the testing machines for persons with diabetes and sufficient medicine availability at SMMC among other things.

MP Emmanuel also question Minister Panneflek about reports that point to SZV instructing pharmacies to change prescriptions written by house doctors from name brand medication, to generic medication. “I have had several residents complain that they receive medication they do not recognize, although their doctors explained to them to the chemical compositions are the same. They indicated that the instructions to change prescriptions come from SZV supposedly as a cost-saving measure,” the MP said.

“But there is no definitive opinion or study that can say patients will not react differently to generic medication. Companies don't have to do tests to make sure that patients respond to these drugs the same way they do the brand-name medication, they just make sure the composition is the same other than color and size. I would like to know why is SZV doing this, if true, and who will be responsible if something happens to a patient.” MP Emmanuel said.  

Regarding the Dutch Caribbean Hospital Alliance, the MP said as usual announcements are made with broad statements and apparent objectives, but fall short of any significant information about how this “alliance” will truly benefit St. Maarten. “The ‘how’ part is always missing along with details of cost ect. Splashy headlines with no content for people to understand what really just happened and what was agreed upon.

“So I have asked the Minister several questions about all of the aforementioned to be able to inform the public accordingly since nobody seems to want to do so,” Emmanuel said.

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Everything You Need to Know about the COVID-19 Vaccine to be in a Facebook Livestream on Thursday

SINT MAARTEN (GREAT BAY, (DCOMM) – The Ministry of Public Health, Social Development & Labour (Ministry VSA) Collective Prevention Services (CPS), will organize a panel discussion about the COVID-19 Vaccine rollout plan on Sint Maarten on Thursday.

Various health experts will attend to provide information about the importance, safety, and procedures of the upcoming COVID-19 vaccination rollout plan.

The event will be live streamed via the Government of Sint Maarten Facebook page, for everyone to view.

Everyone is invited to post the questions that they might have live via Facebook comments or in advance via This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

With this public event, the Ministry of VSA & CPS aims to inform people and put a stop to the spread of misinformation.

The Facebook Livestream will take place on Thursday, February 11 at 7.00 pm via Facebook.com/SXMGOV and simultaneously on Government Radio 107.9FM. It will also be replayed on Cable TV Channel 115 Friday at 10.30 AM and 6.30 PM.

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