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Push for More Sustainable Airports Across the Caribbean at CARIF 2023

SINT MAARTEN/MIAMI, Florida - Building, expanding, and retrofitting airports in line with sustainability objectives took center stage during day two of the Caribbean Infrastructure Forum (CARIF) on Tuesday, as government and private sector executives shared their plans and made a push for more sustainable airports throughout the Caribbean.

Best approaches to mitigate increasing climate risk in transaction design, improving impact measuring and reporting as a means to stimulate investment appetite; as well as discussion around how governments can create policy and regulatory environments that stimulate the flow of private finance to sustainability, resilience and growth initiatives were key parts of the conversations emerging from the two-day conference in Miami, Florida.

Dr. Rafael Echevarne, Airports Council International Director for Latin America and the Caribbean, said there is the opportunity for the region to lead the way in sustainable and climate resilient airports.

“There are a lot of things that airports can do to reduce their impact on the environment, in relation to the emission of co2,” Echevarne said. “One of the great opportunities, from my point of view, is that the smaller airports in the Caribbean have a huge opportunity to generate electricity with solar. There are many airports, which we know, that can be self-sustainable when it comes to power being generated from solar. It’s a question of just doing the studies and allowing these airports to not only install solar, but sell the excess power to the grid. That is actually in the works for several airports within the region already.”

He continued, “The airports in the Caribbean can be the pioneers in this aspect. If there is something we are sure of in the Caribbean, there is sun and wind. There are definitely huge opportunities. Right now, the cost of installing solar panels has come down dramatically and considering the cost of energy, I don’t think it’s a difficult decision to make.”

Leveraging private capital in blue/green bond issuances in island economies and how to incorporate technology to maximize the functionality were also topics of discussion.

CIBC AIRPORT Rafael Echevarne

Dr. Rafael Echevarne

Filipe Pereira dos Reis, Regional Director of Airport Passenger, Cargo and Security of the Americas, said there needs to be short and long-term plans for the airports and projects to adequately address sustainable infrastructure.

“The challenge with short-term and long-term is that governments typically have a mandate of four to six years, depending on their term,” he said. “But we have to realize that our business [aviation] is a long-term business. So, it’s an infrastructural investment business which typically gets depreciated in 30, 40, 50 years. So, there needs to be a balance. We understand the needs of the government in looking for funding in the short-term, but at the same time we would wish that governments would look into the longer term. Why? Because we are a firm believer that the spin-off effects, economically speaking, of the businesses that we have, pay way more than looking at the short-term.”

CIBC AIRPORT Filipe Pereira dos Reis

Filipe Pereira dos Reis

Deputy Director General in The Bahamas’ Ministry of Tourism, Investments & Aviation Dr. Kenneth Romer said the archipelagic nation has made a serious commitment over the past few years to building climate resilient and environmentally friendly airports.

“Environmental concerns top our list at the moment, as it relates to the intensity of hurricanes and natural disasters and the threat they pose,” he said. “But, I think we have an opportunity to demonstrate to the rest of the region how serious and committed we are to supporting the message of sustainability that our prime minister has really been taking around the world. So, it’s time to put our money and our plans where our mouth is.”

In 2019 Grand Bahama, often called The Bahamas’ second city, took a major economic blow after communities and its international airport sustained major damage during the passage of Hurricane Dorian. Romer called the experience an “opportunity” to change they way airports are built throughout the country, becoming a ‘green’ airport pioneer. 

“We need to look at solar power for our airports,” Dr. Romer said. “We need to look at green energy, we need to look at green airfields, we need to look at reducing the size of our physical infrastructure, while taking advantage of the kinds of assistance the international community can give us when we model what sustainable airports look like in the region.”

CIBC FirstCaribbean International Bank and KPMG served as the title sponsors for New Energy’s CARIF 2023.  

CIBC AIRPORT Dr Kenneth Romer

Dr. Kenneth Romer





Proselyte Reef/Man of War Shoals Marine Park Marker Buoy Reinstalled at Reef

PORT ST. MAARTEN – Port St. Maarten Group (PSG) would like to inform mariners and other stakeholders that the Proselyte Reef/Man of War Shoals Marine Park marker buoy located south of Port St. Maarten has been reinstalled at the reef.

The marker buoy was removed on August 23 and returned to its original location at 17 degrees 59.35 minutes North and 063 degrees and 03.68 West.

The repositioning of the buoy was delayed due to wave action caused by the recent passing of Hurricane Lee to the north of the Leeward Islands.

The yellow and black buoy is known as a west cardinal marker with a white flashing light which flashes nine times every 10 seconds at night.

The buoy is located at a key transit route in and out of Port St. Maarten and marks the important protected location of the reef and marine park which is a habitat for different types of fish and coral species.

Ships are not allowed to anchor or transit and must go around the protected area which is marked by the buoy.


Dutch Navy intercepts almost 1.000 kilograms of cocaine in Dutch Caribbean Region

SINT MAARTEN/CURACAO - During two drug seizures in the Dutch Caribbean Region Zr.Ms. Groningen has intercepted almost 1.000 kilograms of cocaine.  This already happened on September 11 and 12 but was only announced today Thursday by the Dutch Ministry of Defense. During the first capture, the suspects only surrendered after warning shots. 

In both cases the Zr. Ms. Groningen was informed about suspicions go-fast boats by a USA patrol plane. The fast interceptor boat FRISC then came into action. On board was not only the crew of the Groningen, but also a delegation from the US Coast Guard. 

During the second interception operation, no warning shots were necessary and the persons operating the go-fast surrendered. All suspects and a total of approximately 985 kilos of contraband have been handed over to the Americans. They will proceed with the investigation and persecution process. 

Patrol vessel

Since May 2023 Zr.Ms. Groningen is active as patrol ship in the Caribbean Region. The Dutch Navy ship, amongst other assets, is deployed during counter drug operations. This I done together with the Coast Guard Dutch Caribbean Region and the US Coast Guard.

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Confiscated drugs. 



Increasing Demand for Financing of Sustainable Infrastructure Projects

SINT MAARTEN/MIAMI, FLORIDA - Governments, organizations and companies within the region have increased their pursuit of financing for sustainable and climate resilient infrastructure, according to Adam Carter, Managing Director and Head of Investment Banking, Foreign Exchange and Derivatives, CIBC FirstCaribbean, who explained the increased demand is within the hundreds of millions.

Speaking as a panelist at the 7th Annual Caribbean Infrastructure Forum (CARIF), Carter said the increase is driven by Caribbean countries need to become better prepared to mitigate climate disasters. 

“We’re seeing an increase in governments, particularly, looking to access Blue financing, and we’ve seen a massive increase in renewable energy applications, resilient project applications, utilities looking to be more resilient, hospitals looking to do upgrades, roads, cruise ports, just across the board we’re seeing the increase,” Carter said.

“It’s certainly in the hundreds of millions over the last few years where sustainable was not the theme. Resilience was always a theme in the Caribbean. But now we’re seeing resiliency fit under sustainability, which I think is more fitting. So, under that umbrella or title, we’re seeing a markable increase in appetite for projects that fit those criteria. We’re in a hurricane impacted region so this includes designing for category three, four or five is now the thing where you kind of have no other choice but to.”

Carter explained that funding for such projects, at a time where the world’s focus is now on supporting measures that protect the environment and address climate change, is available.

“The funding is generally there,” he said. “Financing is absolutely available. It’s prudent to get the right projects in place with the right parameters and frameworks. Once those are established and you’ve got the political and community buy-in, lenders and financial institutions are ready to go.”

Therese Turner-Jones, Caribbean Development Bank’s (CDB) Director of Projects said though the demand for funding exceeds the supply of capital for all of the countries with those needs, there are partners that include the World Bank and Inter-American Development Bank (IDB).

However, she added there is a need for more countries to get a better grasp of their exact needs.

“First of all, I think there’s a bit of a deficit in countries recognizing what they need,” Turner-Jones explained. “Because of how fast the external environment is changing, not just in terms of availability of finance, but also climate change and how the world is changing we can’t expect that our member countries are always up to date. But this is why we’re here. To provide those advisory services to help them do the technical work. This is not to say that the capacity doesn’t exist in-country, but to say that multi-lateral banks are in a better position to offer that advice. So, what I say to clients is to come to the MDBs first.”

Turner-Jones continued, “Explore the options with CDB, the IDC, the World Bank first. Because firstly, that money is cheaper and it always comes with technical assistance. They just need to ask. I would say that because we’re at such a critical juncture in terms of the needs of the region, we need to now think about what resilience means. You heard about renewable energy projects being important, roads and whether they’d be able to sustain a significant amount of rainfall, hurricanes, etc. So, there’s a lot of new information out in the infrastructure domain that the Multilateral development Banks (MDB) have at their fingertips, that the countries may not have. It’s best to work with us [MDBs].”

This year’s CARIF conference gathered some of the region’s leaders in policy, finance, infrastructural development for two days of solution-building and networking. Government ministers and industry leaders from both the public and private sectors were panelists covering a wide range of topics, centered around infrastructural development to meet the region’s needs.

CARIF 2023 is taking place at the Ritz-Carlton in Miami, Florida, September 18 -19, 2023 and is sponsored by CIBC FirstCaribbean and KPMG.

FCIBC Adam Carter

CIBC FirstCaribbean’s Managing Director, Investment Banking, Forex and Derivatives Sales, Adam Carter speaking during CARIF 2023




Alarming amounts of single-use plastics collected during ICC 2023

SINT MAARTEN (GREAT BAY) - On Saturday September 16th, more than 100 volunteers attended this year’s International Coastal Cleanup (ICC) at Little Bay Beach & Pond, near Belair, hosted by Environmental Protection in the Caribbean Sint Maarten (EPIC) and the St. Maarten Pride Foundation, in collaboration with the St. Maarten Development Fund (SMDF).

A little over 2000 pounds of trash was collected, of which 763.4lbs were glass and plastic bottles (~40%). This was excluding heavy construction material also found during the cleanup, which were sadly found in large amounts littered throughout the mangroves and trees.

Many community groups, businesses, and students from various schools supported by volunteering for the cleanup such as: Hillside Belair Foundation, St. Dominic School, Learning Unlimited, Interact Club, St. Maarten Academy, Milton Peters College, KI Britannia, St. Maarten Down Syndrome Foundation, Kiwanis Builders Club, South Reward Community Collective, staff members of the Ministry of VROMI as well as many other individuals.

Many families also joined, getting a lot of their kids involved in the clean up initiative. The participants partook in groups which were eligible for prizes, the winning team under age 16 will receive tickets to Caribbean Cinemas, and the winning team aged 16 and above will receive vouchers to the Dutch Blonde Bar's Escape Room.

The grand prize, a meal from La Chingona, will go to the volunteer whose guess came the closest to the total pounds of trash collected during the cleanup. This added an element of friendly competition and anticipation to the event, highlighting the community's commitment to both environmental conservation and camaraderie. The winners will be made known soon via our social media channels.

By utilizing the Clean Swell App (through the Ocean Conservancy), volunteers meticulously documented their findings, providing crucial insights into the nature of pollution. The data revealed a stark reality: the most prevalent items collected during the cleanup were plastic bottles, glass bottles, and Styrofoam pieces/containers.

These figures emphasize the pressing need to address the issue of single-use plastics and Styrofoam on the island. Massive amounts of plastic bottles were found hidden amongst the mangroves surrounding Little Bay Pond. “I cleaned up here last year and it’s disheartening to still see so many littered bottles” various volunteers commented, who ventured knee-deep into the pond to pull out litter and debris.

Riddhi Samtani, who organized the cleanup on behalf of PRIDE & EPIC, stated her concerns. “This is the third consecutive year that we’ve organized the ICC at this location. While we are encouraged by the community's enthusiasm and the significant amount of trash collected, it is disheartening to witness no reduction in littering.”

The International Coastal Cleanup event highlights the commitment of the community but also underscores the immediate need for collective action to combat plastic and Styrofoam pollution on the island, and littering as a whole. It serves as a strong call to action for individuals, businesses, and policymakers to work together to implement sustainable solutions, reduce the use of single-use plastics, and protect St. Maarten's coastal beauty and well-being. This made the partnership for this year’s ICC with SMDF impactful as they are currently executing “Plastic Free SXM", on behalf of the Department of Interior and Kingdom Relations (BAK). Plastic Free SXM is an initiative supported by RESEMBID and financed through Expertise France with the goal of facilitating the transition away from single-use plastics and polystyrene foam products on Sint Maarten, to reduce the negative environmental and health impacts and promote sustainable practices to the general public.

"Community cleanups offer a serious reality check on the types of trash that end up in our natural spaces and should serve as a wake up call for every resident to take personal responsibility in combating pollution, littering and reducing plastic waste," says Program and Development Manager of SMDF Melanie Choisy.

The International Coastal Cleanup, an initiative by the Ocean Conservancy happens annually on a global scale. Going back to 1986, the Ocean Conservancy estimates that 350 million pounds of trash has been removed from global beaches and waterways since the event began. Sint Maarten has been participating in the International Coastal Cleanup annually for over 20 years.

The cleanup builds on EPIC’s “Why do we litter? – Sint Maarten” project funded by R4CR. During the cleanup volunteers collected valuable data to identify littering challenges in various neighborhoods on Sint Maarten. With this data EPIC formulated a data report with recommendations that is publicly available online.

For more information about EPIC’s work visit:, and EPIC’s Facebook page:

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More purchasing power in the Caribbean Netherlands. One in three lives in Poverty

SABA/SINT EUSTATIUS - One in three residents in the Caribbean Netherlands lives in poverty. That is why this cabinet is allocating €30 million in 2024 to improve the purchasing power of residents of Bonaire, Saba, and St. Eustatius. From 2025, this amount will be increased to €32 million annually.

Among other things, the money will go towards increasing benefits in the Caribbean Netherlands in 2024, the exact increase of which is still to be determined. With this, the cabinet is taking important steps to achieve a social minimum on Bonaire, Saba, and St. Eustatius.

Child benefit is also going up by $90 per child per month. This is in line with the ambition to halve child poverty by 2025. Furthermore, the government is maintaining the energy allowance of $1,300 per year.

Also, the subsidy of the fixed cost of electricity and the fixed rate of drinking water and the connection fee for internet will go down further. In addition, extra money goes to better public transport and lower transport costs every year.

Dutch State Secretary Alexandra Van Huffelen: "For many people on Bonaire, Saba and St. Eustatius, a roof over your head, food on the table or extra necessities for children is not a given. This cabinet wants to do something about that.

“That is why I am happy that, together with colleague Carola Schouten, we have succeeded in setting aside a considerable amount of money, not only for this year but also for the coming years, to improve the lives of residents on the three islands.

“To start with, by further increasing benefits, but also by still contributing to basic services like water and electricity. We are not there yet, but it is an important next step to tackle poverty on the islands.

“I am therefore also very much looking forward to the findings of the Social Minimum Committee. Knowing that central government, employers, public entities, and residents desperately need each other to create an equal level of services and reduce the cost of living.”


Tax plan BES islands proposal to lead to a new law

SABA/SINT EUSTATIUS - Here is an overview of the most notable measures - for civilians and companies located in the Caribbean Netherlands - within the Tax Plan 2024 proposal for a new law. This proposal was sent to the House of Representatives on Prinsjesdag. If the proposal is approved by the House of Representatives and the Senate, the measures will come into effect on the 1st of January 2024.


In 2010, Bonaire, St. Eustatius and Saba became part of the Netherlands as special municipalities. Since then, part of the tax system on the islands has primarily remained the same. The government would now like to update and improve this system over the coming years. This proposal for a new law represents the first step in this process. The measures in this proposal are mainly relevant to entrepreneurs and have less impact on civilians.


To update the existing system, whereby execution in practice is improved and, wherever possible, simplified. In addition, the government aims to use several provisions to improve the financial capacity of people with a low income.


The proposal for a new law contains a variety of measures relating to a number of topics. The most important of these relate to a minimum rate of taxation for entrepreneurs, the integratieheffing (integration levy), opbrengstbelasting (revenue tax), the customary wage agreement and the Small Businesses Scheme (KOR).

Furthermore, in relation to vastgoedbelasting, a notification requirement will be introduced when buying a home.

What do these measures mean for you?

A general overview of the main changes for civilians and companies can be found below. For a complete overview, please refer to the Prinsjesdag documents Prinsjesdag: Miljoenennota en Rijksbegroting |

Passenger cars:

Pick-ups (with a single cab) and vans will no longer be subject to the regular ABB rate, but to a higher rate. The regular ABB rate on Bonaire is 8% and the higher rate is 25%. The regular ABB rate on the Windward Islands is 6% and the higher (progressive) rate is determined by the value of the car. The progressive rate comprises of the following percentages: 10, 18, 22 and 30.

This will not apply to vans with a specific function, such as hearses, ambulances, police vans and vans used by the fire department.

Notification requirement vastgoedbelasting:

If you are the new owner of a home (which is not your main place of residence) or business premises, and you do not automatically receive a tax assessment for vastgoedbelasting, you are now required to report this yourself. You will run the risk of a fine if you fail to do so.

Abolition dividend exemption:
The dividend exemption in the income tax, whereby dividends up to maximum 5000 dollars per year were exempt, will lapse . As of 2024, when determining the taxable income in a year, income tax must be paid on all received dividends that are higher than the tax-free sum (and seniority support).

Opbrengstbelasting (Revenue tax):

Conditions to obtain an establishment order (vestigingsplaatsbeschikking) relating to Opbrengstbelasting are, on the one hand, becoming easier but, on the other hand, are also being tightened in order to prevent abuse. This relates to holding companies that possess a qualified percentage in an operating company (in the Caribbean Netherlands) which has an establishment order (vestigingsplaatsbeschikking).

Customary wage agreement:

The customary wage agreement will apply to substantial interest holders that work for the company. According to the customary wage agreement, substantial interest holders are deemed to receive a wage that is normal for the level and duration of their labour. This agreement is now being modified and expanded in several areas:

  • Instead of a wage from a similar employment, a wage from the most comparable employment will now be used as the benchmark.
  • The customary wage agreement also applies to the partner of the employee that possesses a substantial interest in the company.
  • For so-called sole traders, the turnover of the company will be used as a benchmark.
  • In addition, the standard amount will be replaced by an amount that is twice as high as the tax-free sum.

Integratieheffing (Integration levy):

This levy is equivalent to VAT and was abolished in the Netherlands in 2014. This levy is now also being abolished in the Caribbean Netherlands because it causes bottlenecks in the housing market. Abolition of this levy will help to alleviate these bottlenecks. For example, it will become easier for entrepreneurs to let self-constructed homes.

Small Businesses Scheme (KOR):

The annual turnover threshold is being increased from 20,000 dollars to 30,000 dollars, which means more small business will not have to pay ABB.

Minimum tax rate:

The current system in the Caribbean Netherlands does not feature profit tax for companies. This is in exceptional situations undesirable because it fosters a climate for abuse and evasion in international situations. Due to this measure, a minimum tax rate is introduced and the system will comply with the model in the Netherlands as well as the European guideline concerning a minimum rate of taxation for internationally operating companies. Moreover, this measure will make the tax system simpler and more future proof. The measure only relates to multi-national groups with a worldwide turnover of 750 million euros or more, and with an office in the Caribbean Netherlands.

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Saba’s youth center, The Spot, opens

SABA (THE BOTTOM) —Young adolescents, many accompanied by their parents, turned up in large numbers for the official opening of The Spot youth center on Friday, September 15, all eager to see Saba’s new teen drop in and after-school clubs center in The Bottom.

“We have envisioned The Spot as a safe haven, a sanctuary where teenagers can find refuge from life’s challenges, and where they can connect, learn and grow together,” said Community Outreach Coordinator Kemaul Lee of the Community Development Department of the Public Entity Saba.

“Our mission is simple, yet profound: to provide a space where teenagers can drop in and find support, inspiration and opportunities. Where they can unwind, engage in meaningful activities and find guidance from mentors. Our after-school clubs will be the heartbeat of The Spot. Learning should be fun and engaging, and here, our youth will have the chance to explore their interests, discover new talents and develop life skills that will serve them well beyond their teenage years,” said Lee.

The Spot is an initiative of the Community Development Department of the Public Entity Saba, but came about in collaboration with the youth themselves. Actually, the name The Spot was an idea that came up in a meeting with the Student Body of the Saba Comprehensive School (SCS), explained Lee.

Ripple effect

The Spot should not only strengthen the youths, but also the community as a whole, creating a “ripple effect.” “We aim to nurture responsible, compassionate and confident young leaders who will contribute positively to society. The bonds formed here will extend beyond these walls, strengthening the fabric of our community,” said Lee.

The Spot is housed at the compound behind the Anglican Rectory in The Bottom. It consists of two main buildings and a smaller building. One main building is dedicated to the youth clubs, where, among other things, the youth will engage in arts, music and culture. The second main building houses the teen lounge and gaming room. The smaller, third building is for the administration, but can also serve as a meeting room or quiet space.  

Youth Recognition Awards

After Lee’s welcome word, it was time to announce the winners of the Youth Recognition Awards. The candidates for the awards were brought forward and voted on by the community. Kadesha Daniel won the Youth Stewardship for helping to care for her mother from the age of nine and for caring into giving back to the community.

The Youth Business, Employment and Social Enterprise went to Cheyenne Hassell who has been doing women's hair and has started creating beaded bracelets as a small business, showing her creativity, initiative and bravery in stepping out and trying different branches of businesses. She is the youngest artist to have joined the Handmade on Saba collective.

Vernisha Robinson won the Youth Leadership Award. She has been a member of the Saba Youth Council and the Leo’s Club, sings Calypso, participated in several cultural events, is very vocal, takes lead in activities with the youth and is someone who young people look up to.

The Youth Community Service went to Bernardo Baker, an enthusiastic volunteer in various outreach settings who organizes activities to involve his peers in voluntary work alongside himself and who is always willing to offer a lending hand.

Youth mentorship

Neveah Peterson won the Youth Mentorship Award for always being a positive influence, especially in working with children, willing to help out by promoting activities that teach the youth life morals. She was described as a talkative, outgoing person who knows how to draw in her audience.

Special mention was made during the award ceremony of the Youth Mentorship Program. Coordinated by Carol Skinner and Rayann Ramdin, this mentorship program was the first of its kind for Saba through a collaboration between the Saba Comprehensive School and EC2, together with the Public Entity Saba, with as the main purpose the support of at-risk youth.

Sportsmanship, art and culture

In the categories Youth Sportsmanship and Youth Art and Culture, there were a male and female winner Alina Smith, the female winner of the Youth Sportsmanship Award, was honored for her support, positive attitude in sports and towards her teammates and always being respectful towards her coaches.

Sergio Hughes, the winner of the Youth Sportsmanship, overall is very passionate about sports, especially basketball and volleyball, while making time to do his school work.

The Youth Art and Culture Awards went to Ysora Smith and Tyler Johnson. Ysora is known for her creativity and unique work whereby she expresses her feelings through art, displaying her experiences with tough times in life and her kind character.

Tyler is especially known for his craft of carnival costume making. He has designed and organized costumes for various editions of the Saba Summer Festival and showcased his designs in carnival parades in Anguilla and St. Maarten.

After the award ceremony, the youths and parents present at the official opening of The Spot eagerly went inside the buildings to see for themselves what the new youth center is about. Many compliments could be overheard. Lee in particular highlighted the good work of Jalen Robinson, the activity coordinator who played an instrumental role in creating The Spot, as well as Bae Durand who did the mural in the gaming room, and the many teens who volunteered in getting the new youth center ready.

SAB The Spot opening outsideThe opening ceremony last Friday was well attended.

SAB The Spot inside 01The teen lounge.



ODM Reminder: Don’t Become Complacent. Remain Vigilant and Prepared!

SINT MAARTEN (GREAT BAY, (DCOMM) – The Colorado State University (CSU) Department of Atmospheric Science in its latest updated recently released forecast says that the next two weeks should continue to see above-normal levels of storm/hurricane activity.

The 14th named storm Nigel formed over the week but poses no threat to Sint Maarten. Nigel on Sunday was located over 1000 miles east-southeast of Bermuda. The tropical storm is forecast to become a hurricane and to approach major hurricane intensity.

The Office of Disaster Management (ODM) which falls under the Fire Department (Ministry of General Affairs) and Fire Chief/Disaster Coordinator Clive Richardson, is reminding all residents and businesses to remain vigilant as the country moves through the peak weeks of the 2023 Atlantic hurricane season.

ODM calls on residents to review the content of their Disaster Kit to make sure it is stocked with the essentials that are necessary.

Every household’s Disaster Kit should be able to support members of the household for a minimum of seven days after the hurricane has passed.

The Disaster Kit should contain non-perishable food, water and medicine (fill prescriptions before the storm); non-electric can opener; first-aid kit; extra cash (ATM machines and credit cards won’t work if there is no electricity); a battery powered radio and flashlights as well as extra batteries; make sure cell phones are all charged prior to the arrival of the hurricane; fill up your car/truck with gas; check if your home and automobile insurance are up to date; put ID cards, passports and driver’s license, insurance papers in a waterproof bag along with other important documents.

If you are a parent with an infant or young child (ren), you also need to have essential items as part of your disaster supply kit: baby formula; diapers; bottles; powdered milk; medications; moist towels; and diaper rash ointment.

Your Disaster Kit must also include hand sanitizer, a soap bar or liquid soap; two cloth face coverings for each person; disinfecting wipes, or general household cleaning supplies to disinfect surfaces.

Now is the time to trim back tree branches from your home; cut all dead or weak branches on any trees on your property; clean-up your yard and put away items that could blow away during the passing of a hurricane; check your roof and storm shutters to make sure they are secure, and the latter are working.

For those whose homes are not yet storm/hurricane ready, you should make alternative housing arrangements to stay with family or friends.

The Sint Maarten community is urged to learn more about hurricane hazards and resources you need on how to prepare your family, home, or business for a storm/hurricane strike by visiting the Government website: where you will be able to download your “Hurricane Season Readiness Guide’ and “Hurricane Tracking Chart.” The information here is also valuable for new residents.

Listen to the Government Radio station SXMGOV – 107.9FM - for official information and news before, during and after a hurricane. You can also follow weather related news and information as well as national addresses by the Prime Minister, chairlady of the Emergency Operations Center (EOC) by going to @SXMGOV Facebook Page.

For official weather-related information, check out the website of the Meteorological Department of St. Maarten (MDS): or visit their social media page


Increase in social relief for single persons and widows’ and orphans’ pension from the 1st of October 2023

SABA/SINT EUSTATIUS - From the 1st of October, the Ministry of Social Affairs and Employment will increase the social relief for single persons who live independently and the widows’ and orphans’ pension (AWW) in Bonaire, Saba, and St. Eustatius.

This will increase all minimum social benefit levels for the old age pension (AOV), social relief and the widows’ and orphans’ pension to the social minimum reference point. 

The social relief allowance for single persons who live independently will increase by 32% in Bonaire, by 25.1% in Saba and by 9.4% in St. Eustatius. Following this increase, single recipients with (full) entitlement to social relief who live independently, will receive social benefit payments equal to the social minimum reference point.

Because social relief is paid once every two weeks, this means single persons who live independently in Bonaire will receive 63 dollars more every two weeks. The fortnightly social benefit payment for single persons who live independently will increase by 58 dollars in Saba and by 22 dollars in St. Eustatius.

The AWW will also increase to the level of the social minimum reference point from the 1st of October. This means that, for example, the AWW level for widows from 58 years will increase by 111 dollars in Bonaire, by 98 dollars in Saba and by around 19 dollars in St. Eustatius, to a total of 1.030 dollars per month in Bonaire, 1.171 dollars per month in Saba and 1.101 dollars per month in St. Eustatius.

Please visit for all benefit amounts in 2023.

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