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COCI Focuses on Economic Resilience through Entrepreneurship Nurturing

SINT MAARTEN (PHILIPSBURG) - The St. Maarten Chamber of Commerce & Industry (COCI) has completed its first in a series of presentations to the students of the various secondary educational institutions on the island. This initiative of COCI, was primarily geared towards the equipping and nurturing of our high school students with an entrepreneurial culture and mindset for which they can gravitate to and apply in the future.

COCI considers this initiative of engaging our students and exposing them to an entrepreneurial culture, a very important component towards the achievement of a more resilient and sustainable economic future of the country St. Maarten. It is seen as an element in the foundation towards a strong, resilient, and sustaining business sector that would inevitably contribute to our future economic growth and improved living standard of our people.

Presentations were based on the topic “The Importance of Entrepreneurship” for which over 350 students from 10 schools including the National Institute for Professional Advancement (NIPA). This engagement with the Schools started in December of 2020 and concluded in May of 2021, just in time for the students to focus on their exit exams.

During the Chambers’ presentation, students learned the importance of entrepreneurship and its elements of innovation, sacrifice, and determination. Additionally, the role of the COCI and other key stakeholders within the business eco-system, the various types of legal entities, and the steps needed to start a business on St. Maarten were also presented and explained. The student’s participation and interest in the presentation and its contents exceeded expectations. The presentation to the various schools were conducted by COCI’s Business Development Officer- Ms. Sharilyn Bryson.

COCI are therefore thankful for the collaboration over the past six months with each secondary institution and are happy to announce that for the upcoming school year 2021 – 2022, further collaborations of this nature can be expected. According to the Executive Director Mr. Jude Houston “It is the plan of COCI, to incorporate and develop other youth programs within its operations, where our students can showcase their creativity and novelty ideas that can be future contributors to our country’s growth and development”. These initiatives among others, will emanate from the Business Development arm of the Chamber of Commerce.

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Suspect in January 12 shooting case at Blijden Drive arrested

SINT MAARTEN (PHILIPSBURG) - The Police Force of St. Maarten (KPSM) arrested a suspect on Wednesday morning in relation to a January 12, 2021, shooting case, KPSM announced on Wednesday in a statement. The suspect A.B. was arrested at his home on Blijden Drive.

The suspect’s residence was also searched, and several items confiscated. The suspect remains in police custody pending further investigation.

On January 12, around 9:30pm, the Police Central Dispatch directed several patrols to Blijden Drive after calls about a young man who had gunshot wounds to his upper body.

He was transported to Sint Maarten Medical Center for further treatment. The victim survived the shooting.

On that night, detectives from the Police Forensic Department conducted an examination of the location on Blijden Drive for traces of the shooting incident. They found indications that multiple shots had been fired at the location. Blood was also discovered at the scene. The investigation into this incident is still ongoing.

If you or anyone you know may have further information as to what took place on Blijdens Drive on January 12th, 2021, do not hesitate to contact the Police Detective Department at +1 721 54 22222 or the anonymous tip line on 9300 (free of charge).

You can also visit the website at www.policesxm.sx to report crime anonymous via the tip contact form, or you can leave a Private Message via our Facebook page (Police Force of Sint Maarten - Korps Politie Sint Maarten) if you know or suspect something. (KPSM)

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Legal action to be taken against person spreading false Rumors of Military Intervention to force COVID-19 Vaccinations

SAINT-MARTIN (MARIGOT) – The Prefecture of Saint Barths and Saint-Martin, issued a statement on Tuesday to address rumors that the military would be used to make sure the population got their COVID-19 vaccines.

Rumors started to circulate on various social media networks that included WhatsApp, and Facebook, that the French Ministry of Overseas France Territories had a plan to vaccinate persons who were not yet vaccinated, and that military detachments of soldiers had arrived to carry out this mass vaccination campaign.

The statement from the Prefecture says that these rumors are false and unfounded; that the author who spread this false information was identified by the security forces and has admitted that he lied. Legal proceedings against the person will be started.

The Prefecture points out that these types of comments endanger the work of Government entities who are fighting against the COVID-19 virus and its efforts to encourage the population to get vaccinated.

The Prefecture pointed out that the reality is, 12 persons are hospitalized; there has been a significant increase in positive COVID-19 cases over the past three weeks; and four persons have died on Saint-Martin (three) and the fourth person in Guadeloupe over the past week.

There is a growing concern among public health professionals about an increase in the circulation of the virus on the island, and the appearance of severe forms leading to deaths.

A detachment of Army Health Service medics did arrive on Saint-Martin to re-enforce the Red Cross teams at the vaccination center. The soldiers have also been pre-positioned on the island as the 2021 Atlantic hurricane season gets underway.

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Suspect arrested for illegal firearm possession. Gun found in car

SINT MAARTEN (SUCKER GARDEN) - A young man with initials R.A.G. was arrested by police for illegal firearm possession in Sucker Garden around 11:00am on Tuesday, June 1.

Based on information obtained, the suspect was allegedly in possession of a firearm in his car, and in addition, had previously threatened someone with bodily harm. The suspect was spotted by police patrols in Sucker Garden and stopped with the permission of the Prosecutor’s Office.

A loaded firearm was found in the car search and confiscated by police. The suspect was arrested and transported to Philipsburg Police Station for further questioning by police.

The Police Force of St. Maarten KPSM has taken a hard stance on illegal firearm possession. Tackling firearm possession is of paramount importance to KPSM for the overall safety and security of the community and for KPSM officers who are on the frontline of community protection every day.

In cases of suspected firearm possession, police officers are trained to tackle the situation rapidly to prevent any escalation and possible harm to themselves, their team, and/or bystanders. The handling of the Sucker Garden incident was such a circumstance. (KPSM)

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SMMC Observes Trend of Non-Vaccinated COVID-19 Admissions

SINT MAARTEN (CAY HILL) - St. Maarten Medical Center (SMMC) has observed an alarming trend as it pertains to COVID-19 admissions. Over the weekend of May 28th to May 30th, four (4) COVID-19 positive patients have been admitted of which none were vaccinated.

This observation is worrying for SMMC as an increase in COVID-19 admissions can result in the temporary suspension of non-urgent care such as Outpatient appointments, procedures, consultations, and elective surgeries, all of which ultimately can affect the health of non-COVID-19 patients.

Due to this, SMMC is yet again urging the public to consider being vaccinated. While the vaccine does not prevent one from contracting COVID-19, it protects against severe COVID-19 disease which can lead to long term health complications or death. As the vaccine is still available, free of charge, until July 31st, 2021, SMMC is urging persons with questions or doubts to consult their House Doctor or Medical Specialist.

Registration can be done online via the Government of St. Maarten’s website. Persons can also make use of CPS’ walk-in system on Mondays through Fridays at the Belair Community Center from 9:00am to 3:00pm and at the Vineyard Building from 8:30am to 4:00pm or attend any of the pop-up vaccination events organized by the Ministry of VSA and CPS.

SMMC advises the public to adhere to social distancing guidelines, wear masks in public and practice hand hygiene. Patients experiencing flu-like symptoms are also asked to kindly refrain from visiting the hospital for Outpatient appointments and call their House Doctor or CPS as it poses a potential threat to staff and other patients, some of whom may be at risk for contracting severe COVID-19.

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COCI Host yet another Successful Webinar for the Business Community

SINT MAARTEN (PHILIPSBURG) - The St. Maarten Chamber of Commerce & Industry (COCI), is happy to announce that it has once again hosted another successful webinar on the topic of Business Planning for Business Loans, COCI said in a press statement on Monday.

This webinar was held last week Thursday, May 27th and had as the main presenter Edsel Gumbs of Qredits. Gumbs delivered a phenomenal presentation on brainstorming your initial business idea, conducting market research, preparing your business plan, estimating your projections, selling your business idea, and application process for the NRPB grant/loan.

Over 242 individuals registered to be part of this webinar. To date since the commencement of our Webinar Series 2021, COCI have been receiving on average 132 registrants per webinar. Each webinar ends on a high note with attendees wishing for more time and calling on a repeat.

The St. Maarten Chamber of Commerce & Industry (COCI) continues to call upon the business community, entrepreneurs, business enthusiasts, and the general public to cease the opportunity of our free COCI Business Webinars Series 2021.

The Chamber has been conducting these information sessions in the form of workshops since 2019. However, given the current situation of a global pandemic and the need for business support, the Chamber has digitalized its sessions in the form of ZOOM webinars.

Our ongoing COCI Business Webinars are geared towards the growth and development of our businesses through capacity building. Since March, our webinars are usually held once a month (sometimes twice) and are from 19:00 – 20:00 PM. Recordings of the webinars can be viewed via the Chambers social media platform Facebook.

On Thursday June 3rd, 2021 COCI will be hosting an extraordinary webinar on topic “Hurricane Awareness and Disaster Planning” since we have now entered the Hurricane Season.

The Chamber wishes that business owners and citizen attend this webinar to gather as much knowledge as it pertains to the Hurricane Season and best practices as it relates to disaster planning. Topics that would be covered include the formation of tropical cyclones, naming of storms, disaster definition and types, governmental legislation pertaining to roles and responsibilities, information of the EOC and ESF groups.

This webinar will also be live stream on our Facebook platform. The presenters of this upcoming webinar would be Paul Martens- Head of Disaster Management and Joseph Isaac- Head of the Meteorological Office.

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MP Pantophlet: Equal in word but not in reality

SINT MAARTEN (PHILIPSBURG) - Member of Parliament (MP) George Pantophlet said on Sunday in a media statemen that the United Nations General Assembly met some 65 years ago in several sessions.

MP Pantophlet statement reads as follows: “The discussions related to whether the Netherlands were permitted to cease providing information under Article 73 e of the charter of the United Nations. According to the Member of Parliament, what was also highly disputed during those meetings were the Kingdom Charter and specifically its effects on the then territories of Suriname and the Netherlands Antilles.

“The countries, though having the same documents in hand still came up with different interpretations. While some countries such as Brazil and the United States to name a few saw the Kingdom Charter as a document which entails the mechanisms for full self-internal governance and were convinced then that the documentation submitted by the Netherlands Government (Dutch) made it quite clear that the two Caribbean countries enjoyed full autonomy, others saw it as too much influence of the Netherlands in the internal affairs of the countries.”

The Member of Parliament continues by saying that some countries such as the Philippines questioned the need for the charter. The anti- Kingdom charter proponents identified articles which clearly infers the dominance of the Netherlands.

“Another representative from the country of Iraq questioned the functioning of article 44 of the Kingdom Charter as some of the clauses in more particular in paragraphs 1 (b) and (c) gave the Netherlands Government the power of veto on matters falling outside the scope of Kingdom affairs. We are often reminded by some persons that the people voted to remain within the constellation of the Kingdom of the Netherlands.

“But remaining part of the Kingdom in the people’s understanding was on the premise of equality as is stated in the Kingdom Charter. The very fact that the Dutch government used the term Kingdom of the Netherlands and not Kingdom of the Netherlands Surinam and the Netherlands Antilles should have been seen as a warning sign by us. One of the concerns of the Venezuelan delegation was and he quotes “that the Assembly had to decide whether the Kingdom Charter conferred on the Netherlands Antilles and Surinam a full measure of self-government in which case and in which case only the obligations of the administering Power under chapter XI would have already lapsed end of quote.

Another country (India) dealt with the issue of the Queen. And he quotes; “Despite the use of the word “Kingdom” the Netherlands Antilles and Surinam were governed by the Queen of the Netherlands, not by the Queen of the Antilles and or Surinam.

“The difference was important. Where the head of one of the partners was, without any change of status, the head of the other, the position was not one of partnership but dependence end of quote. In his understanding the Netherlands held no discussions as to whether we the then territories of the Netherlands Antilles and Surinam wanted to have a monarch as a head of state. It was a condition si qua non.

“India also made reference to article 51 of the Kingdom Charter saying that in any really self-governing territory the right to dissolve this responsibility should be vested in the territorial parliament. It also concluded that the status conferred on Surinam and the Netherlands Antilles did not give them a full measure of self-government or make them independent sovereign states.

“Several countries also congratulated the Netherlands (Ecuador) and he quotes “The government of the Netherlands was also to be congratulated on its respect for its moral legal obligations under the Charter of the United Nations and on its loyalty to the Organization in submitting to it the case for cessation of the transmission of information under Article 73 of the Charter end of quote. The use of the term country for me is inaccurate and I concur with others and in this case a delegate from Ecuador who said and I quote;

“The use of the vague term “countries” in case of Surinam and the Netherlands Antilles was undoubtedly deliberate. They did not possess that power of self-determination, which was essential for a sovereign state” end of quote. He wants to highlight other cardinal points that were brought up during these meetings which took several days.

“The USSR (Russia) mentions and he quotes. “Although the countries internal affairs were to be conducted in accordance with the country constitutions the supreme power was not in the hands of the country parliaments but of the Governors appointed by the King” end of quote. Some of the statements made highlighted the reality of a Democratic Deficit.

“When he wrote this article, there was a meeting to be held with the First Chamber (Eerste Kamer) to discuss the 10 years old “Dispute Regulation” but that was cancelled at the last minute. And the also for St. Maarten very critical meeting on the liquidity support suffered the same fate. Equal in word but not in reality.”

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Fourth coronavirus wave is unlikely, says chief government advisor

SINT MAARTEN/THE NETHERLANDS – While a fourth coronavirus wave is now unlikely, the Netherlands is not yet out of the woods when it comes to coping with the pandemic, government advisor Jaap van Dissel told the NRC in an interview.

Van Dissel, who chairs the government’s Outbreak Management Team, told the paper that the crisis is not yet over, even though vaccination is a ‘new, important phase’. ‘But a large group of people still have not been vaccinated, and that is where the infection risk is,’ he said.

Last summer the Netherlands also relaxed the control measures but this year the situation is different, Van Dissel said. Unlike last year, when the tough measures were responsible for the end of the first wave, a measure of immunity is now depressing infection rates, he said.

This, he said, makes it unlikely that there would be another surge in hospital cases ‘unless vaccine-driven immunity is very short, and that does not appear to be the case.’

‘If a majority of the population have been vaccinated in early July, as the cabinet aims, we will have reached a milestone,’ he said. ‘That removes much of the vulnerability and makes a fourth wave unlikely.’

(DutchNews)

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Symbolic keys new airport handed over

SINT EUSTATIUS (ORANJESTAD) - The Public Entity St. Eustatius received the (symbolic) keys of the new terminal building and the AFISO tower from the contractor Van Boekel Bouw & Infra BV yesterday, Friday, May 28th, 2021.

The handover means that as of today the building will be the property of the Public Entity St. Eustatius and will no longer be under the responsibility of the contractor. Transitions to begin preparing the building for operational activity will start next week.

The existing airport terminal building will still be in operation until then. The construction of the airport was financed by the Dutch Ministry of Infrastructure and Water Management.

Delay

Due to unforeseen contractor delays, the transition timeline had to be postponed. A new airport transition timeline is being constructed which means that the previously set operational date of the airport has shifted. The target is now to open by the first week in July 2021.

Terminal

The new airport terminal building measures 1100 square meter roof and 700 square meter inner space. There are a total of four (4) check-in desks, three (3) airline offices, luggage screening and a full pax- and staff airside screening. The waiting area at the gate offers 44 seats and there is a landside bar, an arrival baggage claim roller bed, customs check area, storage rooms, a meeting room and a security & control room.

Tower

The AFISO tower consists of 3 stories and is 136 square meters. The cabin has a 360-degree view and functions as an operational room for flight and airside safety and for communication purposes.

The project was contracted to a Dutch company Van Boekel Bouw & Infra BV. The company brought many specialists from Holland such as mechanical and electrical engineers. However, the concrete and most of the other responsibilities such as painting etc. are handled by local staff. The main contactor also hired 4 local contractors to carry out specialists’ work.

The existing airport was fairly damaged due to hurricane Irma in 2017. Also due to the average lifespan of an airport, a development programme to renew the St. Eustatius Franklin Delano Roosevelt Airport facilities started in 2017. (Statia GIS)

SEU airport tower

A GUIDED TOUR OF THE NEW AIRPORT.

 

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VMT to host Pop-up Vaccination in St. Peters on Saturday at the Jose Lake Ballpark

SINT MAARTEN (GREAT BAY, (DCOMM) – The Vaccination Management Team (VMT) encourages everyone who has not received their vaccination to come to the vaccination Pop-up at the Jose Lake Ballpark on Saturday, May 29th, between 9:00 AM and 3:00 PM.

The VMT also encourages everyone, persons, groups, or local businesses, to join the movement and do whatever they can to ensure that our island becomes sufficiently protected against the COVID-19 virus and life can go back to normal again.

The VMT is pleased to see an increase in persons who have come for their COVID-19 vaccine but emphasizes that we still have a long way to go to reach herd immunity and get back to normalcy. We are currently at 35% while we need to get to 85%. Only when we reach that level can life return to normal again, which means easing COVID-19 restrictions, unrestricted travel, economic recovery (more jobs), and celebratory events like Jump-ups and Carnival.

Additionally, the mass vaccination with the Pfizer vaccine will stop on July 31st, meaning that July 9th will be the last day you can come for your first dose and to get your second dose three weeks later.

Vaccination will always be a personal choice, but every choice has consequences. When you choose not to get vaccinated, you endanger the health of others and put the future of our island at risk. However, with your choice to take the vaccine, you reduce the chance of infection and the possibility of infecting others by 95%.

1.3 billion people worldwide have taken the vaccine, which is scientifically proven to be safe. Your choice is also a social one, as the future of our island depends on it. We have to stand up as a country, unite and do this together.

The VMT encourages everyone to not only get vaccinated but also encourage others to do so. Ask if people in your social circle are vaccinated and try to spread correct information instead of fake news.

Offer to drive and accompany someone to a vaccination location. We are stronger together, and we can only reach our goal collectively.

Persons who wish to volunteer with the outreach campaign can send an email to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., and organizations who wish to organize an information session can email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Lastly, the VMT also encourages local businesses to stand up and promote vaccination, not only to their staff but the general public.

TelEm offered a free sim card with 10 USD credit at the last Pop-Up vaccination, and Carrefour is offering a 20% discount to everyone who signs up and receives the vaccine for the entire month.

Getting our country sufficiently protected against the COVID-19 virus and variants is in everyone's best interest. The VMT encourages everyone to join the movement, become creative, and do whatever they can to promote our Drive to 85! We must do it together.

Sint Maarten Protected Together.

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