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Grand arrivals create a spectacle at a successful Prom Night 2022

SINT MAARTEN (SIMPSON BAY) - After a two-year hiatus brought on by the pandemic, Teen Times Prom Night was back in full force on Sunday June 26, when just over 300 high school seniors attended the very formal and exclusive affair, now in its 26th year.

Teen Time Prom Night 2022, under the Egyptian theme “Pearls & Pyramids”, was held at Lotus Night Club. High school seniors from all secondary schools on St. Maarten attended the event which is annually held as a “last hoorah” for these students before they leave the island and move on to tertiary education. It is one of the most anticipated events to mark the end of the school year.

Prom has evolved from being strictly a formal dance to an event that students have transformed into a spectacle of fancy red-carpet arrivals to the Prom, pre-Prom events such as “Promposals” and a small economic generator for seamstresses, restaurants, male boutiques, hair-dressers, barbers, car rentals, hotels for sleep overs and luxury car services.

Most notably is the growth of the arrival part of Prom Night. Teen Times has attached a prize to the Best Arrival and this has brought out the creativity of the students and parents. Take for example the winner of the best arrival prize at Prom Night 2022. St. Dominic seniors Shaquoya Vanterpool and Xion Genaro arrived in a car-drawn float, complete with dancers dressed in ancient Egyptian garb, with an eight-foot high pyramid in the center.

Escorted by the Police department, the float came to a stop in front of the Prom venue, two doors built into the pyramid were opened and out stepped Xion first followed by his date Shaquoya. Onlookers from nearby restaurants and outside the Prom venue erupted in cheers. Other students arrived in luxury vehicles, motorcycles, groups arrived in decorated buses, and much more.

“It truly was a sight to see. The students and their parents go all out every year. This year, they set the bar even higher. We are very happy with the turnout, the participation and the spirit the students came with. After two years of not being able to host Prom we too were anxious to host the event we love so much. The entire night could not have turned out any better after two years,” Coordinator of Teen Times Roosje Rommy-Richardson said.

The night also featured several other titles that are tradition at Prom. Prom King went the Ceth Codrington, Prom Queen was awarded to Zidania Charles Gumbs who also arrived at Prom on a float with a pyramid, Prom Prince went to Jose Varela, Prom Princess went to Eldiana Arnold who did the theme of the night justice by dressing like an Egyptian queen, and best couple went to Skyler Davis and Emerson Dervan.

Entertainment for the night was provided by DJ Siw’Roo and DJ Outkast, along with the host of the evening Rumari “Rummer” Rogers. The décor was handled by the company Just Creative assisted by Bertaux Fleming of Genesis Music Group. TelEm and Fire Fit Gym provided the prizes for the night in the forms of smart phones and memberships at the gym respectively. Teen Times also extended thanks to The Daily Herald for the constant support extended to the “teen arm” of its publication.

“There is so much about Prom that we love. There were almost as much students at the Prom as there were onlookers who attend every year to cheer on the students and create this Hollywood atmosphere of camera flashes and awe. They make the students feel like celebrities. So we hope they continue coming every year,” Rommy Richardson said.

“We are very proud of all of the entertainment events we do for the youth and all of the projects we initiate that will benefit youth throughout the school year. After stressful exams and the reality of having to go out in the world to college and university, Prom Night is a last celebration with high school peers where they can create memories and reminisce on this part of their lives before the next chapter begins. Thank you to everyone who made Prom Night 2022 possible,” she concluded.  

PROM pic1 3

Winners of the Best Arrival prize Shaquoya Vanterpool and Xion Genaro.

PROM pic2 4

Prom queen Zidania Charles Gumbs arriving at Prom to a lot of flair.

 

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Ombudsman concludes Systemic Investigation into Solid Waste Collection

SINT MAARTEN (PHILIPSBURG) - Ombudsman Gwendolien Mossel recently concluded the Systemic Investigation into the tendering and awarding process of the Solid Waste Collection 2021-2026.

After providing a Preliminary Findings Report (PFR) on 11 April 2022, the Final Report (FR) was submitted on 27 June 2022 to the Minister of Public Housing, Spatial Planning, Environment, and Infrastructure (VROMI).

Shortly after the awarding process of the Solid Waste Collection 2021-2026, complaints were filed with the Ombudsman against the Minister of VROMI by multiple bidders that participated in the collection of solid waste tender, who expressed concerns regarding the credibility, reliability, and transparency of the process.

Considering the complaints/concerns received, and the importance of transparency of procurement procedures and policies of government, the Ombudsman decided to conduct a Systemic Investigation in the general interest of the public.

The main question that the Ombudsman sought to answer with this investigation is: Was the tendering and awarding process of the solid waste collection 2021-2026, as well as the pertinent procedures and policies followed by the evaluation committee, fair and transparent?

The preparations for the tender process for the solid waste collection did not start in a timely manner. This perhaps contributed to the deficient quality of the terms of reference. In this regard, the adage ‘haste makes waste’ rings true.

The department of Infrastructure Management acknowledged that they were under enormous pressure to complete the tender on time. That resulted in the approval of an insufficiently vetted terms of reference and quickly putting an evaluation committee together.

The committee was instantly met with challenges in terms of the interpretation and execution of certain critical provisions in the terms of reference, which led to arbitrary decision-making, infighting and ultimately resignations, whereby four (4) of the seven (7) committee members distanced themselves from the results of the tender.

The Ombudsman concludes based on the findings that the tendering and awarding process was neither fair nor sufficiently transparent. The application of certain provisions in the terms of reference, particularly the requirement of the original business license based on the scope of the work tendered, and the pricing component disproportionally affected some contractors, while at the same time advantaged others.

The end result is that the bidding process was mismanaged whereby some contractors were, more than six months after the start of the contracts, unable to live up to the requirements in the ToR/contract, resulting in poor execution of the works.

The minister refused to provide critical information (signed individual evaluation sheets for the completeness of tender documents and signed internal findings reports). The Ombudsman was therefore unable to make a complete assessment and determination regarding the transparency of the tendering and awarding process, as such the Ombudsman concludes that the process was not sufficiently transparent.

As contractors could not compare the final results of their respective bids with their competitors, due to the ministries refusal to provide an evaluation report when queried, the Ombudsman therefore concludes that, based on fundamental procurement principles, the procedures and policies followed by the evaluation committee were also not sufficiently transparent.

Based on the investigation, the Ombudsman has identified bottlenecks and challenges in the preparation of the Terms of Reference, evaluation, and selection as well as the post awarding phase of the procurement process.

Lack of a comprehensive Tender Procurement policy

There is no comprehensive Tender Procurement policy. The Ministry of VROMI has recently published a Tender Procurement Policy. This newly established policy can only be considered as a modest begin and does not fulfill the obligation of government pursuant to article 47, paragraph 6 of the National accountability ordinance, which requires government to establish further rules regarding the way in which a tender is organized and executed by national decree, containing general measures.

Terms of Reference poorly prepared/late start of preparations for tendering

The terms of reference had many deficiencies. Many topics were not properly defined or were open to multiple interpretations. As an important document upon which the bidders were to make and prepare extensive and clear bids, the terms of reference itself lacked details.

Some items lacked (clear) definitions. Other critical items, for example, the required documentation also lacked clear explanation leaving too much space for subjective interpretation.

Despite having been vetted with the ministry, legal, and the Council of Ministers, the Terms of reference contained much area for improvement. This was largely acknowledged within the evaluation committee and the management of the ministry.

Time constraints was also mentioned as a contributing factor to the discrepancies.

Some of the principal shortcomings in the terms of reference were:

The requirement of having a business license based on the scope of work tendered;

Although the intention and objective of the requirement was positive, the way how it was applied and consequently disproportionately affected some contractors, was arbitrary and unreasonable. For starters, the new requirement was not communicated properly.

The requirement of having a bank statement indicating the financial capacity of the company;

The investigation has revealed that what was recognized and accepted as ‘a bank statement indicating the financial capacity of the company’ was not consistent.

Although many companies submitted a bank letter describing their relationship with their bank, including the existence and extent of credit facilities, others submitted a bank statement simply listing their current account balances, which is only a snapshot of a company’s finances at a specific point in time.

The composition of the Evaluation Committee;

The integrity of the committee members is paramount. The minister established in the new policy that the committee should not all be from the same department. The fact that cabinet members were part of the evaluation committee was identified as an impediment by a majority of the department during the hearings conducted by the Ombudsman. This should be reconsidered moving forward.

The chosen method for the scoring of Pricing;

The chosen method for the scoring of pricing is inadequate and should be thoroughly reviewed. The investigation has revealed that only 20% of qualified contractors received points for pricing.

This is alarming. Considering that the determination of the government price is in itself a challenge, due to the lack of data and alleged expertise, this subject matter must be separately tackled as well.

Serious consideration should be given to limiting the number of parcels per contractor or having a real verification of the capacity of the company to execute the works. It is currently being proven that a contractor handling more than two (2) parcels is quite a challenge.

The participation of sole proprietorships in the collection of solid waste tenders, considering the risk that this poses for government, should be reconsidered as well. The present garbage contracts range in value from NAf. 4 million to 10 million for the five (5) year term. Exposing government to such considerable risk cannot be considered good governance.

Terms of Reference not being followed /enforced

Certain provisions of the terms of reference are being ignored by contractors and not being enforced by the department, partly due to understaffing, these include but are not limited to the ten (10) year maximum age of trucks, the requirement of having two (2) trucks per parcel and the prohibition of subcontracting.

A perhaps less significant requirement that is being flouted, but equally important, is the obligation of the contractor to provide satisfactory uniforms, including a hard hat, safety glasses, safety vests and safety shoes, to the personnel.

Lack of a comprehensive waste management plan

A comprehensive vision for waste management does not exist. The management of waste is primarily the responsibility of government which regulate and manage waste in accordance with their respective legislation, policies, and programs.

Much of this responsibility is presently passed on to the contractor with little to no responsibility for the community. Oftentimes (some) members of the public refuse to follow established, common sense requirements much to the chagrin of the contractors.

For example, concrete rubble, LPG (cooking gas) cylinders and hazardous chemicals are callously placed amongst household waste for collection. These frequent infractions of the public usually go unpunished; however, inspectors immediately target the haulers with warnings and penalties.

This creates an imbalance in duties and hinders realization of an effective waste management plan.

Transparency of the post awarding process

There is limited transparency in the post awarding process, particularly for the unsuccessful contractors.

Although all contractors received an official overview of the awarded points per parcel, further clarification on the awarded points was difficult to receive and requests to receive an evaluation report were denied, which is in contravention with fundamental procurement principles.  

Based on the findings in the report, the Ombudsman made the following recommendations:

  1. A comprehensive tender procurement policy should be created /enactment of national decree containing general measures;
  2. The terms of reference should be timely and accurately prepared;
  3. The staff of the department of infrastructure must be increased and provided with training;
  4. A public tender evaluation report must be introduced;
  5. A comprehensive waste management plan must be created.

The final report is available via download on the Ombudsman’s website www.ombudsmansxm.com under the ‘reports and articles’ tab. To complement the report a short animation video has been produced.

The film can be viewed on the Ombudsman’s Facebook page (Bureau Ombudsman Sint Maarten) and via the Bureau’s YouTube channel (Ombudsman Bureau Sint Maarten).

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Island Gems donates laptops to seniors learning progamme

SINT MAARTEN (PHILIPSBURG) - Computer literacy and knowledge of information technology are longer optional in today's ever-changing world. This is why Island Gems Charity Foundation has lent its support via the donation of three fully loaded laptops to the Caribbean Institute for Social Education Foundation (CIFSEF) for its senior citizens computer literacy programme. 

Social development and education are areas Island Gems, an all-women charity, supports on the Dutch and French sides of the island. 

CIFSEF, a learning institute, was incorporated on March 15, 2004, with the mandate to promote education, culture, and social events in the general interest of the population.  

Island Gems members Cherise Rambhajan, Jody Rosen, and Alita Singh recently visited on of the classes and chatted with Velma Timothy, Blondell Isaac, Jacqueline Richardson, and Christina Hodge about their journey into the world of computers. All four women shared similar stories: keeping their brains active and continuing a life of learning. Some plan to use their skills to continue or supplement their earnings or to assist their non-profit organization to better its administration. 

Ashma Berkel, CIFSEF Project Manager/Trainer, informed the Island Gems members that in addition to its programmes, every year CIFSEF since opened its door, 10 students receive a scholarship annually to further their education at the institution. 

"We took a pause since the peak of the pandemic and have now restarted with our computer skills for seniors and youths. We realize that seniors cannot afford to pay for these classes but would love to benefit from the skills and knowledge. This prompted the CIFSEF board to waiver the fee for this pilot group and offered six scholarships for seniors, Berkel said. 

Island Gems President Singh said this programme reaches many of the targets of the oldest charity in the island. "We focus on giving long term items to ensure continued progress; giving laptops to these ongoing efforts and see them put to use in an impactful way is heartwarming." 

Island Gems does not give cash to qualifying organizations. Instead, the foundation purchases equipment or services with longevity or that can serve numerous people over time.

Funding for projects and donations is raised via the charity's annual costume gala and silent auction. 

Island Gems is the only charity that supports projects on both sides of the island. 

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New agreements for improving healthcare in the Caribbean part of the Kingdom

SINT MAARTEN (PHILIPSBURG) - Aruba, Curaçao, Sint Maarten and the Netherlands have worked together intensively to cope as well as possible with the COVID-19 pandemic in the Caribbean.

These experiences in times of crisis have made it extra clear how important good cooperation is for improving health care for residents of the Caribbean part of the Kingdom.

The four countries have made agreements in Aruba this week to take new steps in the coming period.

The agreements include improving pandemic preparedness in the Caribbean region, cooperation in crisis situations such as hurricanes, prevention policy such as combating obesity and improved hospital cooperation, so that the quality of care can be improved and, for example, nursing staff can be trained jointly.

Sint Maarten will take the lead in the following topics: Crisis and disasters, prevention and Mental Health.

Representatives of the Ministries of Health of Aruba, Curaçao, Sint Maarten and the Netherlands and representatives from the healthcare field and the health insurers met in Aruba in the week of 20 June for the fourth four-country consultation.

The countries note that there are similarities and differences in the healthcare systems and that there are more opportunities for cooperation to strengthen healthcare within the Caribbean part of the Kingdom.

The following topics were discussed: implementation of the international health regulation (IHL), pandemic preparedness, cooperation in crises and disasters, legislation in mental health care, prevention, quality frameworks and accreditation of healthcare professionals and institutions, care training and education and cooperation between the hospitals in the form of the Dutch Caribbean Hospital Alliance (DCHA).

More intensive collaboration

Various actions were formulated during the four-country consultation and various working groups will be set up in the coming period to give substance to the agreements made.

The agreements that will be further elaborated include: investing in a surveillance system for monitoring infectious diseases and non-communicable diseases, cooperating on access to medicines and medical materials in preparation for pandemics and disasters in the region, exchanging knowledge about health-promoting interventions, setting up joint quality frameworks/systems and creating a trajectory for students from the Caribbean area to progress to medical specialization in the European Netherlands or CAS-BES.

In the context of the hospital cooperation DCHA, it will be possible to work more intensively in other areas with a view to promoting efficiency, quality and sustainability of care for the region.

Topics where cooperation is continued and expanded concern joint purchasing, training and education, pandemic preparedness and efficient organization of hospital care on the islands.

“The is an example of teamwork and proof that together we can accomplish a lot more. The countries were in discussions for several months to ensure that this agreement benefits the people.

The agreement extends way more than just a hospital agreement. It touches the quality of care, sickness prevention, mental health, and education improvement”. Said Ottley.

Enthusiasm and trust

Minister Oduber (Aruba), Minister Pietersz-Janga (Curaçao), Minister Ottley (Sint Maarten) and State Secretary Van Ooijen (The Netherlands) look forward to the collaboration with great enthusiasm and confidence in the importance of guaranteeing and making the care for the inhabitants of the Caribbean part of the Kingdom more sustainable.

The next four-country public health consultation is scheduled for May 2023.

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Dr. Nilda Arduin: Consider this: Doing the math (1)

SINT MAARTEN (PHILIPSBURG) - (This article is the first in a series of essays written by Dr. Nilda Arduin to commemorate 1 July 1863, the Abolition of slavery within the Dutch Kingdom) - July 2022 

Within an atmosphere of visible racism internationally and strained relations within the Dutch Kingdom, I continue to ponder on the origin of the contentions among the partners within the realm. Doing the math, I realize that on both sides of the ocean we - the descendants of the enslaved Africans and the descendants of the imperial masters/the colonists - fail to acknowledge and have open discussions about the remnants of our shared history, which after all is not as distant as we pretend it to be.

Considering that my sister’s five grandchildren all had the privilege to sit on my mother’s lap, their great-grandmother, I realize that even if I was privileged enough to be born before my great-grandparents transitioned, I most probably would not have been able to enjoy the same privilege. They were all born before 1863 when Suriname and Curaçao (and its dependencies) were still subject to slavery. Even my grandparents were born just a few years after the abolition of slavery. Have you ever done this math within your family?

Considering myself a victor, descendant of the strongest among the strong, who survived slavery, I do not ignore the trauma, stigma and deprivation many of the people that look like me in the West had and still have to endure. Refusing to embrace the victim role, I however consider it high time to widely and honestly discuss the stigma, which turned us against ourselves. Inviting the descendants of the imperial masters to join the conversation is a must. It is important to look each other in the eyes, while discussing the consequences of divide and conquer still visible and alive today.

We need to understand that defining ourselves among each other by color codes ranging from lighter shades of being ‘colored’ to the darkest shades of coffee and mahogany is an invention designed and structurally maintained by the imperial masters, to keep the diaspora African (as a race) divided. Honest and open discussions of institutionalized racism since the “Willy Lynch” letter of 1712 (hence the well-known term ‘lynching’) should provide both Afro-Caribbean and Caucasian people insight and awareness concerning the brutal and inhumane psychology behind the Transatlantic slave trade. Concepts which I am sure many fellow citizens in the European part of the Dutch Kingdom have never heard of, and are certainly not aware of their impact on today’s institutions and societies. Recognizing and addressing systemic structural flaws, which became the norm, require mindfulness. Avoiding such conversations by brushing them off as being the past, I remind the reader that the Jewish Passover is commemorated yearly for over 3000 years to celebrate the Hebrews' liberation from slavery in Egypt.

It is time that we look at ourselves and acknowledge the traumas supported and inflicted upon our own with references to our sisters and brothers with a darker complexion as ‘tar babies’, and subsequent favoring those among us with lighter skin. This too is a remnant of our collective dark history and considered the norm in our societies without further questioning. Breaking the silence and have these conversations openly is required to travel the path of rediscovery, recovery and healing. A path certainly not meant to dwell in the past and stay there, but to enable understanding and meaningful cooperation as we move forward within the realm.

Do the math and note that compared to approximately three hundred years of Transatlantic slave trade, anno 2022 barely marks half the time that all citizens in the Caribbean part of the Dutch Kingdom are free since the Abolition of slavery in 1863. Though equal citizenship with voting rights for the Afro-Dutch only exists since 1948 in the Caribbean part of the Kingdom. To consider discussions surrounding slavery and its consequences in our times a ‘Black thing’ is therefore a gross misconception, which only perpetuates racial discrimination and conflicts within the realm.

Considering that a European Dutch citizen is able to trace his or her roots far back to most probably the Middle Ages and beyond, while the Afro-Dutch citizen - the baby boomers-, can hardly identify his or her great-grandparents by name, should tell that the shared history within the Dutch Kingdom is not as far as we pretend.

Consider the following actions and discussion points:

  • Have we sufficiently heeded and acted upon the lyrics of the Redemption Song by Bob Marley, a repetition of the call issued by Marcus Garvey in the 1930’s to emancipate ourselves from mental slavery?
  • Invite some friends to watch a few documentaries about contemporary slave trade. Subsequently, identify and discuss ways to deal with the socio-economic and psychological impact of the Transatlantic slave trade on our societies today. This included not only free labor, but huge profits for the imperial home countries.

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Detectives of the S.U.R are busy investigating several armed robberies at small grocery stores

SINT MAARTEN (PHILIPSBURG) - The detectives of the Special Unit Robberies (S.U.R.) have been kept busy investigating several armed robberies. In the last few weeks, there has been a noticeable increase in armed robberies. Remarkably, the suspects are mainly targeting the small groceries stores in the different districts.

In general, the suspects who commit these acts are usually two persons. They are sometimes on scooters and wearing masks.

Seeing this uptick, the police of Sint Maarten find it imperative to educate the public as well as the business owners in an effort to minimize the risk of being targeted by these

criminals. The best way to “deal with” with armed robberies is to prevent them.

An appeal goes out to the owner of the small supermarkets to take precautionary measures to protect themselves by not storing large amounts of cash in the establishment.

Understand that robbers commit crimes because they believe that the payoff outweighs any risk. Robberies usually take place when there’s a lack of planning for emergency situations and when poor cash handling is involved. Without the right security measures, many businesses unknowingly make criminal situations convenient for robbers.

The police will continue to do our part and we will continue to ask the community to assist. Only by working as a unit can we stop the individuals who go into the community looking for an easy payout by committing a robbery. Prevention is always better than finding a cure.

To help you do that, the Sint Maarten Force Communication department has put together some tips that can help your business from becoming a victim of robbery and also how to deal with them in the event a robbery does occur.

Armed robberies usually happen during opening and closing times, as well as lunch breaks. Why? “Opening and closing periods are particularly vulnerable times due to low staffing and

large amounts of cash on hand. Lunch hours are primary times for the same reasons.”

Practice safe cash handling Robbers are after cash, so take the necessary cash handling precautions to minimize risk and loss.

Here are some of the ways to do that:

Avoid having unnecessary amounts of money in your register. Only keep the

amount you need to conduct normal business, and either put everything else in a

safe or transfer to the bank.

Improve visibility having a checkout area that’s highly visible can discourage robbers.

That why it’s best to:

  • Avoid fixtures or signs that can obstruct views of and from the register. 
  • Cover your blind spots using mirrors or cameras. 
  • Invest in good lighting both inside and outside your stores.

(KPSM)

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Public Prosecutor’s Office submits GEBE hack report to Government

SINT MAARTEN (PHILIPSBURG) - The Prosecutor’s Office OM SXM, together with the Police Force of Sint Maarten KPSM, has delivered its report on the March 2022 ransom ware attack (in Dutch: Bestuurlijk rapportage ransomwareaanval) on utilities company N.V. GEBE to the Government of Sint Maarten, the shareholder of this public-owned entity.

The report is based on findings from the “Freya” investigation, which includes the report and interviews with GEBE staff members and other relevant information from the Kingdom Cooperation Team RST.

The purpose of submitting the “Freya” investigation report to the Sint Maarten government centers on the security risks that have occurred at GEBE as a result of the March 17 incident. The report is also intended to enable the authorities (read government and its related entities) to take appropriate measures.

NV GEBE's non-cooperative attitude

During the investigation, OM SXM and KPSM were unable to establish sufficiently what the actual danger to Sint Maarten has been due to the hack. Due to NV GEBE's non-cooperative attitude, there had been no access to the hacked computer system at any time. Therefore, the “Freya” investigation could not establish what were the exact risks for the country and clients of GEBE; who was behind the attack, and the dangers for the future.

On 17 March 2022, a cyber-attack was discovered on GEBE. A message in the computer system indicated that the company had been hacked by “Black Byte”, an organization that focuses on stealing and encrypting data, mainly from companies (ransom ware). As a result of the hack, the entire customer database, financial data and other business data was encrypted.

Other Major Cyber Attacks

Sint Maarten's vital infrastructure is the foundation of society. The interconnectivity, small scale and dependence on country’s infrastructure mean that the failure of vital infrastructure, such as the only energy company, has an immediate social impact.

Recently, two major cyber-attacks have hit the vital infrastructure of Sint Maarten. In September 2021, there was a cyber-attack on the Central Bank of Curacao and Sint Maarten (CBCS) and on GEBE. In the past (2018), the Government of Sint Maarten suffered a ransom ware attack whereby the public tasks could not be performed temporarily.

Ransom ware or hostage software is the most common and lucrative form of cybercrime worldwide. Attacks occur daily and the ransoms demanded regularly run into millions of dollars. The extortion of organizations earns criminal groups hundreds of millions of dollars. It causes great damage to the victims and has a socially disruptive effect. (KPSM)

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CBCS meets with stakeholders in Sint Maarten. Start of follow-up financial stability meetings

SINT MAARTEN (PHILIPSBURG) – Following the publication of the CBCS’ Financial Stability Report (FSR) in May 2022, the Centrale Bank van Curaçao en Sint Maarten (CBCS) started the round of follow-up meetings with stakeholders in Sint Maarten.

Meetings were held with the representative organizations of the banks and insurance companies and the Algemeen Pensioenfonds Sint Maarten, as well as the Ministry of Finance, the Ministry of Tourism, Economic affairs, Transport and Telecommunication, and the representatives of the Dutch government.

The main subjects of the talks were the FSR and the intended implementation of a deposit guarantee scheme. The financial sector representatives expressed their appreciation for the insights provided in the FSR.

Sector leaders were also able to confirm most of the findings of the FSR. They provided updates on latest sector developments and gave valuable input for the next edition of the FSR. New and upcoming developments in the financial sector that could affect financial stability were discussed.

Inflation and climate risk are highlighted as risk areas for the financial sector of Sint Maarten: high inflation, which is felt across the financial sector and the community, and hurricane preparedness are at the top of the institutions’ agendas.

In addition to the FSR, the CBCS will shortly send benchmark reports to the institutions, with which the institutions will be able to assess their performance as compared to the sector’s performance and standards, for early warning.

The CBCS will be looking forward to the upcoming round of stakeholder talks in Curaçao.

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STATIA INCREASES SURVEILLANCE FOR SIGNS OF MONKEYPOX

SINT EUSTATIUS (ORANJESTAD) - The Public Health Department in Statia is increasing surveillance for signs of monkeypox in light of the global spread of the virus, including 155 cases in the United States and 167 in the Netherlands as of the end of the day on Wednesday, 22 June.

There are no reported cases of the virus in Statia or the Caribbean, according to the Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA), although the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports one case in Venezuela. As of 22 June, there were 3308 cases reported in 42 countries - mostly in Europe – where monkeypox is not normally reported, although the CDC has said it expects to see more cases in the US in the coming days. 

And with travel returning to pre-COVID-19 levels, health officials in St. Eustatius stress the need to raise awareness among both frontline health workers and the general public.

“Because of the many cases of monkeypox in the different countries, it is of great importance to bring awareness of the infectious disease to the general public of St. Eustatius,” said Shanna Mercera-Gibbs of the Public Health Prevention Clinic. 

Monkeypox is not a new virus - the first case was identified in 1970 – and is closely related to the virus that causes smallpox. It is transmitted from animals to humans, and usually does not spread easily between people.  The disease spreads through close contact and is less clinically severe and infectious than smallpox. 

Traditionally, people with monkeypox have developed a fever, swollen lymph nodes, headaches and muscle aches, followed by a rash that starts on their face or in their mouth then spreads to other parts of their body — particularly the hands and feet.

However, the World Health Organization has said that it has also identified a unique pattern of symptoms among recent cases outside of Africa, including rashes limited to certain areas of the body like the genitals or mouth, meaning the virus is behaving unusually from the way it used to in the past.

“While the risk to the public is low, the Public Health Prevention Clinic urges everyone, including people who have travelled to affected countries, to be vigilant. If you think you have been infected, please isolate yourself and contact the Public Health Department immediately,” advised Mercera-Gibbs. “We will continue to liaise with the rest of the Caribbean Netherlands, monitor its progress and update you as necessary.”

Monkeypox is a reportable infectious disease category A, which means it’s considered to be of great public health importance, and the St. Eustatius Health Care Foundation is obligated to inform the Public Health Department of any cases immediately.

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Motorworld partners for 2nd Annual Islandpreneur Awards

SINT MAARTEN (GREAT BAY) - On June 30, 2022, organizers of Islandpreneur Live will host its second annual Islandpreneur Awards at Motorworld Showroom at 7 pm. This invite only awards ceremony will highlight those around the world who are making a significant difference for islands or on islands through their business or activities.

Motorworld is the leading car dealership on the island and has had an extraordinary impact on the community and economy of the island. Dedicated to community development and excellence, Motorworld has also seen its fair share of trials and is a symbol of resilience and progress. In 2017 shortly after the state of the art showroom was finalized, Hurricane Irma devastated the showroom. It was not only rebuilt but also has become a symbol of innovation.

“As an entrepreneurial organization, we understand the challenges that all businesses go through, especially those on Sint Maarten and within the region”, shares Managing Director, Tariq Amjad. Partnering with Islandpreneur means that we are encouraging an initiative that highlights the tremendous work done by amazing individuals. This partnership only reinforces our commitment to entrepreneurs and the community at large.”

Launched in 2021, Islandpreneur Awards recognized these individuals for their extraordinary work and the impact they have on islands. Jeff Hoffman (USA), co-founder of Priceline and former Chairman of Global Entrepreneurship Network as Global Leader of the Year for his impact on islands. This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.(SXM/USA) son of the soil living in the US is an internationally acclaimed online business coach and youtuber who received the Pioneer of the Year award last year for his innovative ways of scaling businesses. This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.(USA) received the Investor of the Year Award for her commitment in investing in women of color and in island-based businesses. Known as the Queen of Podcast, Heneka Watkis-Porter (JA) received the inaugural Islandpreneur of the Year Award for her work as a bestselling author of Podcast Power and her thriving show The Entrepreneurial You, which is a top 5 of podcasts for entrepreneurs and now has a syndicated TV show in Jamaica.

This year the Islandpreneur Awards will be hosted by Samuel himself and the keynote speaker is Haddy Folivi. Haddy is a global public relations expert based in the United Kingdom, who has helped companies and entrepreneurs amplify their profile in publications such as Forbes, BBC, Marie Claire while accelerating their growth. During the ceremony, only a few (8) entrepreneurs will get the opportunity to showcase their business and be in the room with leaders in the community.

The awardees will be announced on the night of the Islandpreneur Awards which will also be streamed live on Facebook for the wider community to enjoy. This year, a new award has been added solely for St. Maarten based innovators. Lastly,

Islandpreneur is a brand of accelerator programs, events, and projects designed to scale impact on small island developing states (SIDS) through innovation, finance, and entrepreneurship. The brainchild of Dr. Ife Badejo, president of Foundation INFOBIZZ and Founder of Produce Wealth Revolution Agency, Islandpreneur is designed to assist island-based entrepreneurs to have global impact. This is done through experiential and immersive learning, providing access to quality resources, and boosting entrepreneurial activity.

Islandpreneur Live is the signature event that brings together global leaders and experts together to provide island-based entrepreneurs and creators with strategies and tools to accelerate growth.

Launched in 2020, Islandpreneur Live has attracted co-founder of Priceline.com, Jeff Hoffman, international online business coach, Leslie Samuel, and venture capitalist turned youtuber with 3 million subscribers, Evan Carmichael. Experts from Central Bank van Curaçao en Sint Maarten, Dutch Caribbean Securities Exchange, Microsoft, and Meta (formerly Facebook) have also shared their expertise. Islandpreneur Live 2022, scheduled for June 27 - July 1, comprises in-person masterclasses (June 27 -29), an awards ceremony, and virtual summit.

To learn more about Islandpreneur Live, go to https://www.islandpreneur.co, stay connected on the Facebook Page, https://fb.com/iamislandpreneur or WhatsApp +1-721-520-0033.

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