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FIRST BATCH OF NATIONAL DECREES FOR JUSTICE WORKERS DELIVERED TO THE GOVERNOR

SINT MAARTEN (GREAT BAY) - Today marks a significant milestone in the journey towards equitable governance and fair labor practices for all personnel associated with the Justice Ministry and recognized Labor Unions under the Committee of Civil Servants Union (CCSU). On Tuesday, February 20, 2024, the Ministry of Justice diligently prepared and submitted nineteen (19) National Decrees (LBs) in response to the Ministry of Finance's request.

Following rigorous scrutiny and review, this batch of LBs was returned from the Ministry of Finance today, February 22, 2024, with a positive position. The Ministry of Justice is adhering to the extra step as added by the Ministry of Finance and has now successfully delivered a batch of LBs to His Excellency Governor Ajamu Baly. Although the additional step from the Ministry of Finance has slowed down the movement, the team at the Ministry of Justice is doing its utmost to expedite the tedious process.

Upon receipt of the LBs, Minister Anna E. Richardson promptly signed the Advice package containing the LBs for the Ministry of Justice staff. Subsequently, the package was forwarded to Minister of Finance Ardwell Irion, who provided the final signature required before sending the package to His Excellency, Governor Ajamu Baly.

The Governor's cabinet has confirmed receipt of the first batch of LBs today, February 22nd, 2024. Assuming all aspects are aligned accordingly, we look forward to His Excellency signing the LBs, which will then be returned to the Minister of Justice for co-signing.

The successful completion of this initial batch of LBs signals a promising future for all personnel associated with the Justice Ministry and CCSU-recognized Labor Unions. It not only ensures the long-awaited issuance of National Decrees but also promises new and increased salaries for each member of the dedicated staff.

This achievement sets a positive momentum for the Ministry of Justice as it continues to prioritize the welfare and rights of its personnel. Minister Richardson is now trusting there will be a continuous flow with a goal to have the Finance Ministry process a minimum of 25 LBs per week.

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Cft: “Prioritize adoption of budget 2024”

SINT MAARTEN (GREAT BAY) - Since 2010, there has not been a single year in which Sint Maarten has managed to timely adopt its budget. This year, the situation is no different, which means there is no framework in place for incurring expenses and making investments. Therefore, the Cft urges the government to adopt its budget for 2024 as soon as possible. 

Since the political reform of 2010, there has not been a single year in which Sint Maarten has managed to adopt a budget before December 15 of the previous budgetary year. For some years, Cft has been expressing its concerns about the structural delay in the submission of the adopted budget, since the budget forms the basis for the authorization to incur expenses and to make the necessary investments.

It is of the utmost importance that Sint Maarten gives effect to the already drawn up plans of action for the improvement of the budgetary process. At the recommendation of the Cft, the Kingdom Council of Ministers has requested Sint Maarten to adopt the budget for 2024 at the earliest possible date, yet no later than by March 31, 2024. 

Healthcare and social funds

By late 2022, the cumulative deficit of healthcare funds amounted to ANG 274 million. It is expected that this deficit will further increase over the coming years. Sint Maarten is working on reforms to reduce deficit with the healthcare funds. In this regard, the focus should be on prevention and a shift of the current care and resources from secondary to primary care, to prevent patients needing more expensive secondary care.

Reforms are crucial in order to guarantee funding of healthcare and to secure access to quality care. The Cft has repeatedly expressed its concerns about the timely implementation of reforms. Postponing reforms will lead to an untenable situation with major consequences for the country’s budget.

Furthermore, the Cft is concerned about the social benefits, particularly the old age pension (AOV). Due to the increasingly aging population, the number of elderly entitled to an old age pension shall strongly increase over the coming years.

It is expected that by 2029, the premium revenue will no longer be sufficient to cover the AOV payments. The Cft advises the government to take measures in order for the provisions for old age to remain affordable.

Investments

In 2023, Sint Maarten budgeted ANG 90 million in investments. For part of this amount, Sint Maarten contracted a loan. A large part of these investments has not been realized in 2023 but will be executed this year.

The Cft requested Sint Maarten to bear this in mind when drawing up the budget for 2024. Furthermore, the Cft requested Sint Maarten to include a multiannual investment agenda, so that the available means and implementation capacity can be taken into account.

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SoualiganSlangs launches Border To Border 2 Game at SMART

SINT MAARTEN (GREAT BAY) - Iconic St. Maarten / St. Martin Culture company SoualiganSlangs will use the St. Martin / St. Maarten Annual Regional Tradeshow SMART of April 8-11 as launching pad for its newest product, the Border To Border 2 Game, as a sequel to its innovative cultural education card game Border To Border. This was announced today by the SoualiganSlangs Company in conjunction with the SMART Tradeshow.

Border To Border 2 is the sequel to the Border To Border card game, providing insights of the uniquely binational St. Maarten / St. Martin culture whilst playing. SoualiganSlangs is a company of young islanders trying to promote and preserve local language and heritage in modern and appealing ways. Both digitally, in fashion and in sticker form, amongst others their "Mawhnin!", "Watating" and "Ayo lawd!" designs are widespread.

Joy Carty of SoualiganSlangs: "We are elated to be present at SMART and look forward to making our designs part of a revived tourism product as presented at the tradeshow. We invite all tourism players present to pass by our booth, where we will be happy to demonstrate Border To Border 2 - possibly even challenge you with a game or two!” As a joint present, SoualiganSlangs and SMART will also provide visitors foreign and domestic with a "Culture Box", providing insights in both fun ways to learn about St. Maarten culture and the Border To Border game series.

SMART 2024 opened its Early Bird Registration last week. Tourism businesses and firms serving the industry are invited to join the principal tradeshow of the Northeastern Caribbean to connect to tourism firms foreign and domestic.

Its 16th edition will be held this April 8th to 11th at Sonesta Maho Beach Resort. The tradeshow is traditionally organized by the Sint Maarten Tourism Bureau, St. Maarten Hospitality & Trade Association (SHTA), the Office de Tourisme de St. Martin and the Club du Tourisme. The event is the largest travel platform in the Northeastern Caribbean for foreign tour operators, OTA’s and travel agents to do business with local hoteliers, DMC’s and excursions.

In addition, the presence of many large regional hotels and companies attracts further interested companies from the region and beyond, serving the region’s main industry. Lower Early Bird Prices apply until February 28th. As SMARTs previous edition was wholly sold out, organizers are encouraged to ensure a spot on the tradeshow floor within this timeframe.

Interested parties can take up contact as of today with the SMART team at 1-721-542-0108 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or find booking and lodging information at www.shta.com/smart.

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Sint Maarten Real GDP for 2022 is estimated to have increased by 13.9%

SINT MAARTEN (GREAT BAY) - The Department of Statistics (STAT) reports an increase in the real Gross Domestic Product (GDP) for the year 2022, with an estimated growth of 13.9 per cent when measured in constant 2018 prices (that is, after removing the effect of price changes).

This followed an expansion of 7.1 per cent in 2022 Between 2019 and 2020 real GDP decreased by 20.4 percent, largely as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. It then recovered between 2020 and 2021, increasing by 7.1 per cent, before the 13.9 per cent increase in 2022 noted above, leaving real GDP only slightly lower around 3.0 per cent than it was in 2019. The most recent increase reflects the country’s ongoing efforts to stabilize and recover from the impacts of the pandemic.

The largest contribution to the 13.9 per cent increase in real GDP in 2022 came from Transportation and storage (taxi’s, public busses, Car rentals, Container shipments, warehouse rental etc.) which experienced an increase of 47.3 per cent growth contributing 4.1 percentage points to the overall increase. The second major contributor was the Wholesale and Retail sector (grocery stores, clothing shops, electronic stores etc.) which experienced a 27.7 per cent growth compared to 2021 and contributed 3.2 percentage points to the overall increase of 13.9 per cent.

The next largest contribution to the recovery in 2022 was from the Accommodation and Food Services sector (hotels, guest houses, restaurants, take-ways, catering, etc.), which is highly dependent on cruise and stayover tourism arrivals, for which the estimated increase was 45.7 per cent, contributing a further 2.9 percentage points to the overall growth.

Taken together, these three dynamic performances alone contributed a total of 10.2 percentage points to the overall increase in real GDP of 13.9 per cent which underscores their substantial impact on the overall expansion of the economy. In current prices, which includes the impact of price changes, GDP witnessed a substantial 16.6 per cent year-on-year increase, reaching ANG 2.6 billion.

In the fiscal year 2023, the Department of Statistics underwent a comprehensive evaluation of its statistical processes with the assistance of the International Monetary Fund’s regional technical assistance centre (CARTAC).

This assessment led to the implementation of methodological changes and the incorporation of diagnostic checks into the compilation procedure. Furthermore, significant streamlining efforts were introduced to enhance the primary survey used for GDP compilation. These improvements led to some revision to the estimates for GDP for earlier years.

The methodology used for estimating GDP by production in constant prices is the ‘single indicator’ method. This involves either i) extrapolating the base year level of output (which is the amount of production) for each economic activity with a volume index (usually based on the physical quantity of the product produced by the activity, for example the kilowatt hours of electricity produced for the electricity generation sector) or, ii) dividing the nominal value of output in each year with a price index (a procedure referred to as ’deflation).

The constant price value of the purchases used to produce the output - technically referred to as the Intermediate Consumption (IC) – is then estimated in constant prices on the assumption that the ratio of IC/output ratio is unchanged since the base year.

The underlying assumption here is that the technology used to produce the output is reasonably stable in the periods since the last base year. Gross value added, or GVA, is then derived as balancing item, that is output minus IC.

The survey conducted in 2023 encompassed final financial data for 2021, based on financial statements, and estimates for 2022 obtained from businesses and organizations. STAT extends its appreciation for the ongoing collaboration with the business community and emphasizes the confidential handling of all received data.

It is reiterated that individual company information remains undisclosed, as all reports are presented at an aggregate level. The data serve as a valuable resource for the government, enabling the formulation of well-informed policies and decisions to foster continued economic growth.

STAT will continue to work to improve the overall quality of the estimates of GDP, including working with other government departments to make use of existing data holdings, STAT is also excited to explore the potential to incorporate additional information on trade flows using the recently announced ASYCUDA system which would be used to measure the value and volume of external trade into the GDP calculations.

SXM Picture2 table 1

SXM Picture3 table 2

SXM Picture4 table 3

 

 

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Dr. MLK Jr. school receives 1 x 40ft container from Miss IQ Foundation

SINT MAARTEN (GREAT BAY) - The Dr. Martin Luther King Jr school recently received a shipment of 1 x 40ft container of furniture donated by the Miss IQ Foundation in the Netherlands.

Last year the Director Ms. Groenewoud and office General Manager Ms. Qnioun, of the Miss IQ Foundation in the Netherlands, paid a courtesy visit to the honorable Minister of Education, Culture, Youth and Sport, drs. Rodolphe Samuel.

The Miss IQ foundation is a non-profit organization in the Netherlands that assists schools, government institutions and other non-governmental organizations in the Dutch Caribbean with furniture and educational materials donated by schools and large corporations in the Netherlands.

In the past after the hurricanes the Miss IQ Foundation were able to ship five (5) containers with materials to the schools and other NGOs on Sin Maarten.

During the visit, the foundation representatives discussed the proposal of a collaboration whereby the Ministry and the schoolboards could work together to assist schools in receiving furniture and other educational materials donated to the Miss IQ Foundation.

The Foundation would be responsible for seeking donations of the furniture and other educational materials in the Netherlands, and arranging shipment of the furniture in containers and the receiving entity would cover the transportation and shipping costs incurred to ship the container to the Dutch Caribbean.

The proposal entails that the schools would prepare a “wish list” for furniture and other educational materials required, share the list with the Miss IQ Foundation, who in turn would then approach schools, and the business sector in the Netherlands to assist by donating the requested items.

Once the foundation receives positive responses to these requests from donors, Miss IQ Foundation calculates the costs as to the costs to ship these items in a container to the countries of destination which allows the arrangements of payment for the shipping costs. In the case of the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. school, the Ministry of Education, Culture, Youth and Sport covered the transportation and shipping costs.

“As the Minister of Education, Culture, Youth and Sport, I made the decision to select the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. school as a pilot project for this initiative, as this school, presently under repairs due to damaged sustained during the hurricane in 2017. This school has lost furniture and educational materials over the years resulting from the heavy rain through the damaged roofs.

“The container was shipped in early November 2023 and was scheduled to arrive on December 26th, 2023, however, due to miscommunication on the part of the shipping company in the Netherlands, the container was shipped to Djakarta and remained there for 2 additional weeks. Then it was again reloaded to be shipped to Sint Maarten and arrived here during the 1st week of January 2024.

“I also decided for Milton Peters College and Sundial schools to receive 4 x 40ft containers with school furniture as during the courtesy visit with the Miss IQ representative last year, I arranged for them to meet with the management team of Milton Peters College.

“The management team gladly accepted the proposal from Miss IQ representatives and reacted immediately by submitting a “wish-list” to the Ministry with requested furniture, as well as other educational materials. These containers once ready will be shipped to Sint Maarten early next month to arrive here by the end of February 2024.

“This collaborative effort between the Ministry of Education, Culture, Youth and Sport with the Foundation Miss IQ in the Netherlands, is indeed a remarkable initiative, which will significantly benefit our students, teachers, and the entire educational system.

“I hereby take this opportunity to thank Foundation Miss IQ director and staff for all their effort provided in assisting the management, staff, and students of the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., the Milton Peters College, and the Sundial schools with the much-needed requested furniture and other educational materials,” Minister of Education Rodolphe Samuel said on Monday in a press statement.

MLK desks chairs and other stuff

MLK chairs

 

 

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Nathan Edward pays courtesy visit to NAGICO

SINT MAARTEN (GREAT BAY) - St. Maarten’s very own Nathan Edward, who recently emerged as Top Bowler for the West Indies Under 19 Team, paid a courtesy visit to NAGICO Insurances on Friday morning.

The young All Rounder, who performed sensationally in the recent games held in South Africa took time out of his busy schedule to visit with members of the NAGICO Team and to regale them with tales of his recent experiences and travels.

“South Africa was tough, it took some adjusting, especially where the weather is concerned. The air is thinner there so even breathing was challenging,” he explained. “Aside from that it was a really good experience.”

He further explained how hard he has worked to get to where he currently is.

“I have been playing cricket since I was 6 years old in Kiddies Cricket and then moved on to hard ball cricket with Coach Singh,” the 18-year-old said, referring to Parsram ‘Rishie’ Singh, who is the local coach for Cricket St. Maarten. “I trained hard for years and finally got my opportunity after someone unfortunately got injured, because I was not picked originally. But when I got the most wickets in that match, I got noticed and chosen after that.”

The Management of NAGICO expressed hearty congratulations to Nathan and applauded him for stopping by to say thank you. “We are very proud of you and your accomplishments, the way you represent yourself and our island is impressive,” Eric Ellis, Managing Director of NAGICO said. “You have done us all proud, and NAGICO as a company is proud to have been one of your first sponsors and to have the opportunity to watch you grow and excel.”

CEO of NAGICO, Kyria Ali also praised Nathan and encouraged him to keep up the good work.

“You have made all of us proud, keep up the good work” she said. “Don’t let anyone cast any shadow of doubt on you, just keep up the good work.”

Edward also met with Mr. McSood Amjad, the Group Chairman and Majority Shareholder of the company, and thanked him for supporting and believing in him the entire step of the way.

At the end of the meet and greet, Nathan was presented with a gift on behalf of the company, as a token of encouragement and appreciation.

This is his second ICC U19 World Cup Tournament, which he played against South Africa, Australia, England, and Sri Lanka. Nathan had an impressive performance with both the bat and the ball, playing in all 4 matches, taking a total of 11 wickets, 4.6 economy, 101 runs and 51 batting average!

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STB and Frontier Airlines Announces New Routes & Increased Connectivity

SINT MAARTEN (GREAT BAY) - The St. Maarten Tourism Bureau (STB) proudly hosted their first press conference for the year, in collaboration with Frontier Airlines on Friday, February 2nd, at the STB offices. The press conference served as a significant moment to highlight and update the media on the details surrounding Frontier Airlines' eagerly anticipated return of the seasonal flight from Orlando International Airport (MCO) in Orlando, Florida, and the introduction of two new weekly flights from Luis Muñoz Marin International Airport (SJU) in San Juan, Puerto Rico. The MCO-SXM weekly route is scheduled to take off on May 18th and run until August 10th, specifically on Saturdays, while the SJU-SXM flights will operate on Mondays and Fridays from June 3rd until August 13th.

Expressing her enthusiasm, St. Maarten Tourism Director May-Ling Chun remarked, "Frontier Airlines' seasonal flights to St. Maarten have consistently boasted impressive passenger demand. We are delighted that they are making a return this year, introducing two additional flights from San Juan. This development also increases our airlift options via sky to connect to the United States. The historical ties between St. Maarten and Puerto Rico make the latter a dependable market, particularly during the summer months. Our esteemed Public Relations and Marketing firm for the Caribbean region, IMBRACE GROUP, is diligently crafting plans for the promotion of St. Maarten in Puerto Rico in collaboration with the Puerto Rico Tourism Board, sparking considerable excitement.”

Frontier Airlines CEO Barry Biffle expressed his excitement, stating, "We are thrilled and eagerly look forward to making this venture a resounding success." This development not only facilitates direct access to San Juan, Puerto Rico, but also opens connections to 18 other destinations, aligning seamlessly with St. Maarten’s goal to expand our airlift network. Current flights from San Juan include Philadelphia, PA, Orlando, FL, Fort Lauderdale, FL, Miami, FL, Jacksonville, FL, Punta Cana, DR, Santo Domingo, DR, Atlanta, GA (HUB), Cleveland, OH, Hartford, CT, Baltimore, MD, and Raleigh Durham, NC. Other routes per June 2024 will include Boston, MA, Charlotte, NC, Norfolk, VA, West Palm Beach, FL, Fort Myers, FL, and St Croix, USVI. Additional travel services, such as baggage and advance seat assignments are available for purchase separately at an additional charge.

These new routes are poised to coincide with the establishment of a new Frontier crew base at SJU in June 2024. To facilitate the opening of the base, Frontier will conduct interviews for flight attendant roles in February. Access to this exclusive event will be by invitation only, and individuals aspiring to join the ranks of Frontier's flight attendants are encouraged to apply at www.flyfrontier.com/careers/flight-attendant.

Minister of TEATT Arthur Lambriex extended his congratulations to all parties involved, emphasizing the magnitude of this milestone in the airline's growth. He conveyed optimism for continued progress and expressed gratitude to the dedicated team at STB and Frontier Airlines for their hard work, encouraging a collective commitment to ensuring the success and expansion of this flight and the destination arrivals.

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MGDW Primary School Embraces Sustainability with The Green Dream Project

SINT MAARTEN (GREAT BAY) - Marie Genevieve de Weever (MGDW) Primary School is proud to announce its partnership with The Green Dream Project, a sustainability initiative aimed at fostering a greener future for St. Maarten.

This collaboration marks a significant stride for MGDW Primary School as it commits to integrating sustainable practices into its educational framework, nurturing a generation of environmentally conscious citizens.

Stuart Johnson, School Manager of MGDW Primary School, expressed gratitude to Mr. Claude Javois, UNESCO, and EPIC for spearheading this initiative. Johnson emphasized the importance of instilling environmental awareness in students and acknowledged the opportunity for the school to contribute to a more sustainable community. Recognizing the urgent need for sustainability education, the school has enthusiastically joined forces with The Green Dream Project to implement innovative solutions for waste management and environmental conservation.

The Green Dream Project was founded by Claude Javois in 2018 and has since been dedicated to promoting environmental stewardship and sustainable development in St. Maarten.

Mr. Javois said, “Mr. Stuart Johnson, School Manager at MGDW Primary School, along with the dedicated teachers, students, and staff, deserves commendation for embracing the Green Dream Projects ethos. Their commitment signifies the school's transition to becoming a "Green School" dedicated to sustainable practices.”

Marcellia Henry, Secretary General of UNESCO, St. Maarten, has been instrumental in driving the waste management cause forward, earning heartfelt appreciation from  Mr. Javois and the entire Green community.

"The partnership between MGDW Primary School and The Green Dream Project underscores a shared commitment to environmental education and sustainable practices, setting a precedent for positive change within the local community," Johnson concluded.

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Governor Baly appoints Mercelina as Formateur. Final Report due March 4

SINT MAARTEN (HARBOUR VIEW) - Considering the results of the January 11, 2024, elections, the information received following the informateur consultations, His Excellency Governor Ajamu G. Baly, LL.M. has requested the leader of the URSM, Mr. Luc Mercelina, to take into consideration an assignment as Formateur.

In that capacity the Governor requested Mr. Mercelina to form a new government which has the support of the parliamentary factions of the four parties that signed the intent to form a coalition on January 13, but is also able to bridge differences with the opposition in parliament to foster political stability and that consists of ministers who are committed to the development and execution of a governing program aimed at the promotion of the wellbeing of Sint Maarten and its people.

The Governor requested the formateur to form a new government and to formulate a government program that is in adherence with the analysis given in the final report of the informateurs of february 2 2024, the priorities for a new government program set by the Governor in his request to the informateurs of january 19 2024 and the political manifestos of the four parties involved.

The Governor further emphasized the importance of the strict observance of the regulatory requirements, including the screening criteria applicable to the appointment for candidate-ministers.

The formateur took the commission into consideration and will keep the Governor informed on a weekly basis during the formation process. The Governor requested Mr. Mercelina to present him the final report of the formation process by March 4, 2024.

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Winair to support SMART 2024 with Regional Travel Agent Contest

SINT MAARTEN (GREAT BAY) - Winair will increase its support for the 2024 edition of the St. Martin / St. Maarten Annual Regional Tradeshow (SMART). This was announced by St. Maarten’s national carrier and organizing party SHTA.

As is done during its previous support, the airline offers a discounted rate for registered buyers and suppliers from its destinations via link at the event site SHTA.com/SMART. Amongst other initiatives to promote the important regional tourism event, a travel agent contest will be held, allowing return tickets for regional agents taking part in the event.

Winair is embracing the platform to showcase its expanded reach and growing influence as a regional carrier, as recent fleet expansions underscore Winair's commitment to growth and development. CEO Hans van de Velde expressed optimism, stating, " With the finalization of the rebuilding of our partner, Princess Juliana International Airport, ahead and Winair continuously looking for new horizons, this is a great moment to meet and strategize cooperation for the near future and beyond with our tourism partners."

SMARTs 16th edition will be held this April 8th to 11th at Sonesta Maho Beach Resort. The tradeshow is organized by the Sint Maarten Tourism Bureau, St. Maarten Hospitality & Trade Association (SHTA), the Office de Tourisme de St. Martin and the Club du Tourisme.

SMART 2024 opened its Early Bird Registration last week. Tourism businesses and those serving the industry are invited to join the principal tradeshow of the Northeastern Caribbean to connect to tourism firms foreign and domestic.

The event is the largest travel platform in the Northeastern Caribbean for foreign tour operators, OTA’s and travel agents to do business with local hoteliers, DMC’s and excursions. In addition, the presence of many large regional hotels and companies attracts further interested companies from the region and beyond, serving the region’s main industry.

Lower Early Bird Prices apply until February 28th. As SMARTs previous edition was wholly sold out, organizers encourage to ensure a spot on the tradeshow floor within this timeframe.

Interested parties can take up contact as of today with the SMART team at 1-721-542-0108 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or find booking and lodging information at SHTA.com/SMART.

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