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USP faction concerned about Dutch State involvement in the Airport

SINT MAARTEN (PHILIPSBURG) - Member of Parliament (MP) Claudius “Toontje” Buncamper, faction leader of the United St. Maarten Party (USP) in parliament, expressed his disappointment with the dearth of answers provided by the minister of TEATT during Wednesday’s Central Committee meeting of parliament, to his questions posed during the adjourned meeting of Monday, February 15th, the USP faction said in a press statement on Thursday.

“The lack of response to the questions asked was justified by the minister and the airport’s management as “due to confidentiality”, which frustrated a number of Members of Parliament, including MP Buncamper.

“Wednesday’s meeting did not yield the long-awaited information regarding the airport’s terminal reconstruction project and the operational projections for 2021. Instead, many of the questions posed remained unanswered or were answered in a wishy-washy manner.

“The meeting was subsequently adjourned until a later date when the minister and the airport management will return to parliament to provide the answers to the questions posed by the members of parliament.

“MP Buncamper questions the role of the State of the Netherlands in regards to the management of the airport. On January 31 the Director for Kingdom Relations/Countries on behalf of the State of the Netherlands, State Secretary for the Interior and Kingdom Relations, sent a letter to the airport’s CEO, Brian Mingo, stating: “I write to you to express our intention to continue the cooperation between PJIAH, PJIAE, Schiphol and the State of the Netherlands.” The letter concluded: “I hereby call on all parties for a meeting to discuss the renewal of the cooperation agreement.”

“Copies of the letter were sent to PJIAH, Schiphol Nederland B.V. and the Council of Ministers. The letter with subject “Cooperation Agreement relating to the reconstruction of PJIA on Sint Maarten” does not mention the date, time, and place of the meeting.

“It is not known if the meeting already took place or when it will. “The managing of the airport seems to be to a great extend in the hands of the Dutch,” stated MP Buncamper, and wants to know who the State Secretary is reporting to,” the USP faction statement concludes.


Join the Experience of Digital Reading at Philipsburg Jubilee Library. Get on board the Digital Train

SINT MAARTEN (PHILIPSBURG) - Since 2013 your Public Library (PJL) has been investing in its digital library collection. With the result that more than 3,300 titles are readily available via our website: A special thank you to NAGICO Insurances, one of our sponsors since 2019. In addition to that number, several members also have since mid-2020 additional access to the Royal Library in the Hague’s collection of over 94,000 e-books, which also includes audio-books.

What makes digital reading so attractive? It is simple, you can borrow an e-book, where ever you are, and at any time. There are only three requirements: you have to be a member of the PJL with valid membership status, you have to have internet access, and you have to have one of the following devices: mobile phone, tablet, e-reader, laptop, or desktop.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, the whole world experienced the risk of crowds, the need for social distancing, and in some situations the importance of isolation. Many book readers were faced with looking for alternative and safer ways to have access to their books of choice, so with e-books library’s were able to offer a safe zone for your search for books of interest. As life continues evolving, technology has become a useful tool in one’s daily life. The Philipsburg Jubilee Library continues its trend to inform patrons and prospective members of the benefits and safe ways of reading through technology.

This year's annual “Digital Reading Program”, will be held throughout March 2021 and registration is open to the general public. The program will consist of daycare and primary school visits and three hands-on workshops every week for interested participants ages 13 and up. The main objectives are for participants to become aware of the PJL E-book services and to promote reading through technological devices such as; smartphones, tablets, and computers.

Participation is FREE; the program consists of a hands-on and interactive workshop every Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday in March from 2:30 p.m. to 4:00 p.m. The maximum number of participants per workshop is six. The first workshop group is on Monday, March 1rst, and the last workshop will be on Wednesday, March 31st, 2021. At the sessions, participants will learn how the digital library works, and answers will be given to the questions received during the workshop and online on how to select, manage, and read your e-book’. Every Thursday from 10.00 a.m. - 11.00 a.m., we will be doing storytime with the daycares.

Due to limited space, for the digital programs, the PJL requests a registration (+1 (721) 542 2970 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.). The events are free of charge. Membership is of course recommended. Don’t miss it and be on time.

Our contact information: Phone: + 1 721 542 2970, Web-site:, Facebook: stmaarten. Pjlibrary, and Twitter: twitter@sxmlibrary. 

Come visit us also at the PJL Cay Hill Satellite, at the Hillside Christian School – Asha Stevens Campus. Opening hours from Monday to Friday, from 2.30 p.m. to 5 p.m.


Committee for Constitutional Affairs and Decolonization holds inaugural meeting

SINT MAARTEN (PHILIPSBURG) - During a closed-door meeting in Parliament today, the newly established Permanent “Committee for Constitutional Affairs and Decolonization” (CCAD) elected its Chair and Vice-Chair. The two initiators of the Committee, MP’s Solange Ludmila Duncan (NA) and Grisha Heyliger-Marten (UP) were elected as Chair and Vice-Chair of the CCAD respectively.

After the election, NA faction leader William Marlin congratulated MP’s Duncan and Heyliger on their new roles.

The CCAD was established based on a motion of November 5th, 2020. Included in the motion was the declaration by the Parliament that any actions, including proposals and legislative action(s) and/or initiatives by the Government of the Netherlands which do not treat the interests of the people of St. Maarten as paramount and violate the Netherlands’ continued obligations under article 73 of the UN Charter law, and Sint Maarten’s UN-mandated right to a full measure of self-government under the Kingdom Charter as null and void, and therefore inoperative with immediate effect. (This sentence is long and should be simplified a bit for public consumption)

The main responsibilities of the CCAD are parliamentary oversight, coordination of, and reporting on all trajectories taken in regards to the Constitution and the decolonization process. The committee will inform Parliament and the general public of developments related to activities undertaken in the committee, and coordinate as necessary with international bodies, other Parliaments within the Kingdom of the Netherlands and make recommendations to all parties accordingly.

The inaugural meeting of the CCAD comes just a month after the IPKO meeting of January 6th and 7th. During the IPKO, the majority of questions directed to the delegation of the Parliament of Sint Maarten by members of the Dutch Senate and Parliament were related to the CCAD and decolonization. At the time, the delegation of Sint Maarten indicated that the CCAD did not start its deliberations as yet, and that any questions would be answered as the processes starts and progresses.

The CCAD understands the importance of informing and educating the public on the history of St. Maarten and the need for discussions on the current constitutional status within the Kingdom. A brochure will be available in March via Parliament’s website detailing the committee’s work and other pertinent information regarding decolonization and nation building. The first working meeting of the CCAD is expected to take place in March 2021.


Ministry of VROMI and NV GEBE Expands Streetlight Network

SINT MAARTEN (POND ISLAND) - Recently, the Honorable Minister of VROMI, Mr. Egbert Doran, and the former Interim Manager of NV GEBE, Dr. Sharine Daniel, signed a Streetlight Management Agreement. This agreement allows NV GEBE to maintain and expand the streetlight grid. Additionally, Dr. Daniel signed a purchase order for 600 streetlight fixtures. This was done in the presence of Minister Doran and the Distribution Manager of NV GEBE, ing. Patrick Drijvers.

The new Streetlight Management Agreement is a continuation of the initial agreement signed in 2014 for NV GEBE to manage and maintain the streetlight network. To date, NV GEBE has replaced the majority of the old High-Pressure Sodium (HPS) and orange lighting fixtures for more reliable, energy-efficient, and resilient streetlights which house the Light Emitting Diode (LED) components. In addition to the initial streetlight management agreement, the new agreement will have a remote management system in place that can control and monitor the streetlights. This includes switching the lights On & Off, reading/monitoring the consumption of the lights, and receiving alarms when a streetlight malfunctions. The system will make it easier for NV GEBE to address faulted streetlights more responsively and will also be used for lighting emergency routes. 

During the signing of this agreement, the Minister of VROMI requested that NV GEBE focuses on the most deprived areas where public street-lighting has been a challenge since the island was struck by Hurricane Irma in 2017. Special focus will be placed on the areas where crime has increased and also in areas where there is a lot of mobility. 

Minister Egbert Doran would like to thank the workers of NV GEBE for their hard and dedicated work in the recovery efforts after hurricane Irma and the upkeep of the streetlight network thereafter.  

Moving forward, the Ministry of VROMI and NV GEBE will continue to monitor the areas that are in much need of public street-lighting and intend to have all roads lit during the course of this Streetlight Management Agreement.

Minister Doran and Former Interim Manager Dr. Daniel, added that VROMI and NV GEBE remains committed to ensuring the safety of every citizen of this Country. 


Prime Minister Jacobs first public official to receive COVID-19 Vaccine

SINT MAARTEN (POND ISLAND) - Prime Minister Silveria E. Jacobs received her first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine today, Tuesday, February 23rd, 2021, at the White and Yellow Cross Care Foundation (WYCCF). Prime Minister Jacobs joins in as the first public official to take the vaccine together with health care professionals of the WYCCF, St. Maarten Medical Center (SMMC) along with other health care providers on the island as well as senior citizens.

As vaccines are scarce and we want to vaccinate as many people as possible we have to avoid any waste or spillage of vaccines. For this purpose, the WYCCF daily prepares a list of standby candidates to be invited for vaccination if doses are left over due to no shows or other reasons. Over these last few days, the WYCCF has administered the vaccine to several family members of WYCCF clients on this reserve list including the Prime Minister. Since her 60+ uncle is a resident of the WYCCF, and there were doses left which otherwise would have had to be thrown away, the Prime Minister also received her first vaccination, to avoid spillage.

“Today, I got vaccinated together with my uncle who resides at the White and Yellow Cross Care Foundation. The procedure which included an intake, receiving the vaccine and then being observed for a period of 15 minutes by a nurse went smoothly."

"I am aware, that even though more and more people are registering, there are still persons who doubt the safety and efficacy of the Vaccine. Today, I lead by example, and I took the vaccine. It is safe, and I encourage all persons to register to receive the vaccine. We can stop the spread of the virus and go back to normal again only if enough people get vaccinated," stated Prime Minister Jacobs.

All residents on St. Maarten may register online for the COVID-19 vaccine by visiting the Government of St. Maarten’s website: Paper versions of the registration form will be available later this week at Collective Prevention Services, various doctors’ offices, Government Administration Building (Labor Affairs), the Public Service Center in Simpson Bay and select pharmarcies.


Sarah: The Prime Minister’s refusal to Discuss Implementation of the Country Package is Unacceptable

SINT MAARTEN (PHILIPSBURG) - Members of Parliament (MPs) have received yet another postponement of a meeting to discuss the St. Maarten country package, the implementation agenda and the Caribbean Body for Reform and Development (COHO). From the latest response by the Prime Minister to discuss the COHO and the so-called country package, it is evident that the Government has no intention to discuss this very important program with the Parliament or the population at large, expressed United Democrats Member of Parliament, Sarah A. Wescot-Williams. 

“At least, it appears that the intention is not to have this discussion at a stage where the input of Parliament and the public could serve to strengthen and unify St. Maarten’s position. The reasons given by the Prime Minister for not appearing in Parliament at this time are neither here nor there. The meeting date of February 22nd was set to begin with based on the Prime Minister’s schedule, still the Prime Minister asked that the meeting be postponed indefinitely, giving the reasons that the draft COHO Kingdom Law has not been advised upon by the Council of State and thus a discussion on this is considered premature and secondly, that the Government is still busy “aligning the country package components with the governing program and year plans  for translation into a proper implementation plan.” 

The MP further stated that “with respect to the issue of the draft COHO Kingdom Law, the forerunner of the COHO, namely the Temporary Work Organization (BZK) is already up and running. The Netherlands is also steadily proceeding with agreements on the basis of the country package, such as the Border Control Agreement and the agreement regarding the reconstruction of the prison.” 

Wescot-Williams thinks it is naïve of the Government to believe that while they are engaging in this aligning of the country package as they call it and that because St. Maarten has until April 1, to – together with the Netherlands, establish the implementation agenda, mean that the world has stood still, waiting for St. Maarten to “align” its plans. The Government has to admit that it is the country package that will dictate the pace and priorities for the coming years. While that might be a bitter pill for the governing coalition to swallow, that’s the reality. Moreover, she says, it needs to be recognized that many of the country plans, especially those of Curacao and St. Maarten are in essence carbon copies. In many areas we are tied to Curacao, many of our laws are the same, our healthcare, education and tax systems have the same origins”.  

“Work that has already started for Curacao will not be duplicated from scratch to suit St. Maarten, unless we can make a compelling case in our defense.  Some of the areas where again we could be running behind the facts to have St. Maarten’s position taken along, are e.g. dollarization for the monetary union of Curacao and St. Maarten (D-3), and a new tax system with a proposed form of a Value Added Tax (C-1). The implications of these reforms could be far reaching”. 

Would not any Government want to discuss its priorities and the way forward with its Parliament? questioned the MP. “But then again, the Prime Minister has in the past observed that the Government is supported by a majority in Parliament. That’s no excuse though to brush aside a call from Parliament to defend Government’s position at whatever stage in the process.  The Government is presently dictating Parliament’s agenda and it will only get worse, once the implementation agenda is established.   It is clear from some of the timelines, that the Netherlands has no intention to let up on the speed with which they would like to see the country package implemented. The St. Maarten Government’s current actions are therefore nothing more that stalling tactics”, reiterated MP Wescot-Williams. 

“What is being asked of the Government at this time, is to factor in Parliament in the preparatory work towards the implementation agenda from the onset. All of these matters are too important not to have good communication towards the general public and the relevant stakeholders from the beginning.”


Emmanuel: PJIA should follow scale-back plans of major airport

SINT MAARTEN (PHILIPSBURG) - Independent Member of Parliament (MP) Christophe Emmanuel on Tuesday said Princess Juliana International Airport should follow the same route as the major international airports that service St. Maarten scale back the project to protect the airport in uncertain times then re-commit when projected revenue can be counted on. If not, he warned, PJIA could run out of money in mere months.

Emmanuel pointed out that all of the major ports that “feed” directly to St. Maarten have either cancelled their extensive projects plans or put them on hold until 2023 at the earliest when they project travel will return to pre-2019 levels. Miami International, JFK New York, Charles de Gaulle Paris, Charlotte North Carolina, Dallas Fort Worth (American Airlines) and Atlanta (Delta) have all within the past few weeks made announcements to forgo large investments in upgrades or new terminal projects.

He stressed that this does not mean that PJIA should stop its re-construction, but scale down the project which is already over budget by some US $25 million. Even more worrisome, he said, at the rate of spending at PJIA with “ridiculously high consultant fees and poor financial and overall management”, the airport could be out of money by the end of this year if not before.

The MP suggest scaling the project back to focus on the necessities of the terminal, establish the first level/phase of US pre-clearance, take care of employees, replace the CEO, CFO and Supervisory board and put all other related projects at PJIA on hold.

“The ongoing airport expansions and overhauls have all had to scale down as a result of the pandemic and a drastic drop in business. Dallas dropped its US $3 billion terminal expansion project, Miami International paused its US $5 billion improvement plan to ensure it can maintain operations and make payroll, JFK’s US $15 billion makeover has been put on hold with only the smallest project (American Airlines terminal 8) is moving ahead. And you see the same trend all over the world,” Emmanuel said.

“Here we are, with a grossly mis-managed airport, hiring expensive consultants and trying to fix a facility that isn’t even brand new but cost millions more than what it was built for, with a pandemic still affecting travel. We have to be real with what the numbers are. PJIA is losing money at an unsustainable rate. Two years from now, the airport is still projecting to have a cash shortage of approximately Naf 25 million. Current revenues are just not covering operating expenditures. And that means you simply have to scale back until you can count on dependable revenue,” the MP said.


Minister of Justice speaks at virtual Rotary meeting on the topic of peace and conflict resolution

SINT MAARTEN (POND ISLAND) - On February 22nd, the Honorable Minister of Justice Anna E. Richardson was invited to speak at the first joint (virtual) meeting held by the Rotary Club of St. Martin Sunset, Mid-isle and Sunrise, a press statement from the minister’s cabinet said.

There was a total of 89 Rotarians present during the event which comprised of Rotarians from St. Martin, Vermont USA, Anguilla, Bahamas, Cayman Islands, Jamaica, Turks and Caicos, USVI, BVI, Haiti, Australia, Trinidad, and the UK. The Minister was asked to speak on the topic of the month ‘Peace and Conflict Resolution/Prevention’ and provide insight to all Rotarians on ways the Rotary Clubs can assist the ministry in advocating peace, especially amongst to youth.

The Minister opened her presentation by extending her heartfelt condolences to the Rotarian who recently fell victim to domestic violence and succumbed to her injuries after the assault. She stressed the importance of tackling domestic violence on the island and has set the enactment of the Domestic Violence (DV) Policy to a high level of importance. A taskforce was created between the Ministry of Justice and the Ministry of Public Health, Social Development and Labor (VSA) that has been focusing on the required steps to complete the draft DV policy.

She further spoke on building safer communities and the role that we all must play in creating healthier communities. The Minister said: “Partnerships on all levels must be engaged in which law enforcement, community organizations and individual residents are needed to develop safe and secure but vibrant communities. However, the role and responsibility that the criminal justice system has in building peace in our community is indispensable”. Crime prevention and increasing the feelings of safety in our communities have been two of the main focal points of the Minister’s campaign and efforts to build safer communities have been in the pipeline since the beginning of her tenure as the Minister of Justice.

One way the Minister foresees increasing the safety in our communities is through the establishment of neighborhood watch programs in each neighborhood that devotes it’s time to crime prevention and community building. Collaboration between several actors in our community such as the district police officers, the community councils and the residents can significantly improve the overall quality of life in the neighborhoods by increasing the safety and security. Organizing structural (bike) patrols, promoting nonviolence, bringing awareness to crime prevention, and organizing community building activities will be the main tasks of the program.

Another initiative geared towards promoting nonviolence and peace amongst the youth in our community that was mentioned during the presentation is the establishment of the Military Academy. Adolescence is a difficult period, and it is not uncommon for young men and girls to lose focus and fail to realize their full potential. Military academies are known to transform young people who might have deviated from the right path into well-rounded individuals who are prepared for responsible leadership. The Military Academy would inspire positive academic, physical, and spiritual growth in every young adult providing a distraction-free setting that allows the young adults to focus on their educational and personal development. The main mission would be to transform the young adults into disciplined, morally strong individuals. The young adults would also be involved in the communities by them participating in numerous community service projects, for example, keeping the community clean, promoting community enhancement, assisting with senior citizens, and helping the hungry.

Building safer communities is a joint effort and the detention facilities also have an important role in crime prevention by preventing recidivism. Merely isolating offenders and extracting them from our society and thus providing safety to our communities is one aspect of the prison system, but it is not the only one. Rehabilitation programs during incarceration are equally, if not more important and greatly contributes to reducing re-offending than merely incarceration. The Miss Lalie Youth Care and Rehabilitation Center and the Point Blanche Prison are actively working on a new educational and rehabilitation program for the inmates that tackles the inmates’ criminogenic factors and stimulates safe reintegration into our society.

The Rotarians in attendance expressed that the presentation was very insightful, informative, and addressed some of the key social ills that affect our community as well as the role members in our community should play to ensure a safer community. After the presentation, there was an open floor session where Rotarians were provided the opportunity to ask the Minister questions. The Rotary Clubs appreciated the Minister’s attendance and expressed interest to work with the ministry on the pipeline initiatives. In closing, the Minister was presented with a certificate as a token of appreciation and the presidents thanked all members and guests for their attendance, whereafter the meeting was adjourned.


Sint Maarten National Basketball Association joins International Basketball Union

SINT MAARTEN (PHILIPSBURG) - The International Basketball Union (IBU) is excited to announce the addition of the St. Maarten National Basketball Association (SXMNBA) as its third member and first from the Caribbean region.

The SXMNBA joins Ke Aupuni (Kingdom of) Hawai’i Athletics and White Mountain Basketball of the Apache Nation (Arizona, USA) as charter members of the IBU, which was only launched in January of 2021.


About the SXMNBA: The SXMNBA is a basketball organization for ages of eight to 50 years who seek recreational, competitive and high-performance opportunities on the local, regional and international scenes. Their mission is to lead, train and develop young men and women to compete on a higher level in sports, education and social activities. SXMNBA is committed to developing youth to becoming strong leaders by supporting and assisting them at the highest level athletically, academically and socially.

SXMNBA is planning to participate in the Dutch Caribbean Games, Kingdom Games, CBC Games and upcoming IBU regional and global championships.


About the IBU: The IBU (2021 launch) is a global basketball organization for independent and non-FIBA member national basketball federations and associations focused on the promotion and development of the game of basketball, especially in underserved regions, through the organization of regional and global youth and senior representative team competitions in both 5x5 and 3x3 formats as well as player, coach and administrator development camps, clinics and education.


Fela! storybook presented to St. Martin children for Black History Month 2021

SINT MAARTEN (GREAT BAY) - Famed St. Martin dancer Nicole de Weever is a champion of books for the island’s children for Black History Month 2021, said Jacqueline Sample of House of Nehesi Publishers (HNP).

The book of the hour is Fela! Let Music Be The Weapon, “written in the form of poetry for children ages 6 years old through College,” by Iris Wilson, an American Broadway dancer.

De Weever and Wilson were dancers in the hit Broadway musical Fela! The book is “beautiful,” said de Weever, who also spoke about Iris Wilson’s excitement to visit St. Martin last week and present Fela! to schoolchildren.

The author’s son, Nangwaya Gibson, illustrated the hardcover title about Fela Kuti, the Nigerian political activist and musician.

For the last leg of the book tour on Monday, February 22, de Weever presented the Fela! storybook with song and dance to third graders at Hervé Williams primary school in Marigot, said Shujah Reiph, president of Conscious Lyrics Foundation (CLF).

CLF is the organizer of February’s Black History Celebration, in its 30th year in St. Martin, North and South.

Last week Wilson and Gibson visited from New York for the island-wide book tour, reading, and presentation to youngsters at the Chamber of Commerce building (CCISM), in Spring Concordia, Ruby LaBega Primary School in Retreat Estate, and Marie Genevieve de Weever Primary School in Hope Estate.

The Art Saves Lives Foundation (ASLF), founded by Nicole de Weever, organized the author visit, said Reiph.

CLF, HNP, and Culture Time collaborated with ASLF on the book tour, reading, and presentation. The St. Martin Book Fair, St. Martin Tourist Office, CCISM, and SOS radio also participated in the hospitality features and promotion of the cultural project.

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