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Guess & WIN

SINT MAARTEN (PHILIPSBURG) - Spot the cars and the Fun Team at the roadshow this Wednesday November 30th at Windward Islands Bank (WIB) Philipsburg (8:30 am to 3:30 pm) and get a chance to win a Fun Miles ball and extra Fun Quartet Cards. Guess how many balls are inside the vehicles.  Win Win Win  

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Dutch apology for slavery already mired in controversy

SINT MAARTEN/THE NETHERLANDS – The cabinet’s lack of communication about what exactly will happen on December 19, when the government is expected to formally apologise for the Netherlands’ role in slavery, has angered Surinamese organisations.

News of the apology, to be delivered by members of the cabinet in Suriname and the six Caribbean islands, was leaked on Friday and later confirmed by legal protection minister Franc Weerwind.

However, instead of formally confirming the news, the cabinet said that it would be announcing a reaction to the recommendations made by the advisory body on slavery Dialooggroep Slavernijverleden on that date.

The lack of clarity and communication about the substance of the apology has caused a storm of criticism in Suriname. Armand Zunder, of the Nationale Reparatie Commissie Suriname (NRCS) told the NRC the way the cabinet is handling the excuses is ‘totally unacceptable’ and ‘detrimental to the cause’.

Zunder said the apology should come on July 1 when slavery was abolished in the former colony, and should be given by king Willem-Alexander.

That is unlikely to happen, prime minister Mark Rutte told broadcaster NOS, citing the ‘constitutionally vulnerable’ position of the king and his role as ‘a national symbol of unity who should not be dragged into a political discussion.’

The Surinamese ambassador to the Netherlands, Rajendre Khargi, said the government had not been formally informed about the apology on December 19. The Surinamese government has said it will not comment until it has.

The anger about the timing and content of the apology in Suriname is ‘a signal that must be taken seriously,’ Joyce Sylvester of the Staatscommissie tegen Discriminatie en Racisme said in political programme Buitenhof on Sunday.

‘It has taken 150 years for an attempt at reconciliation. We cannot allow it to end in disaster,’ she said.

(DutchNews)

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Minimum wage and social benefit changes in CN as of the 1st of January 2023

SABA/SINT EUSTATIUS - As of the 1st of January 2023, the minimum wage and all benefits in the Caribbean Netherlands (CN) will increase. The Minister for Poverty Policy, Participation and Pensions announced the concrete amounts today.

The minimum wage will be increased by 18.2 per cent on Bonaire, 14.3 per cent on St. Eustatius and 15.0 per cent on Saba. For a working person aged 21 or older, at a 40-hour workweek, this amounts to a minimum income of $1,236 per month on Bonaire, $1,446 on St Eustatius and $1,434 on Saba. This means workers earning the minimum wage will gain about $180 to $190 per month. 

Child benefit

All parents and caregivers will receive around $30 per child per month more child benefit in 2023. This will make the child benefit per child on Bonaire $131, on St Eustatius $128 and on Saba $129 per month. 

Old age pension (AOV)

Senior citizens will receive a higher old age pension (AOV) in 2023. This will increase by about 39 per cent on Bonaire, 23 per cent on St. Eustatius and 31 per cent on Saba.

This means that a pensioner with full AOV accrual on Bonaire will receive $1,047 per month. On St. Eustatius and Saba, it is $1,113 and $1,175, respectively. This includes the so-called 'duration allowance' received by AOV recipients in the Windward Islands.

This increase accelerates the AOV to the level of the benchmark social minimum. AOV beneficiaries on Bonaire, St. Eustatius and Saba will gain $295, $151 and $204 per month respectively in 2023. For couples, this is double the amount.

Social relief

The concrete increase in the social relief level depends on the household situation. As of the 1st of January 2023, the social relief for single persons living independently will be $413 per two weeks on Bonaire, $487 on Sint Eustatius and $483 on Saba.

That is an increase of about 35 per cent, which will make singles gain about $110 to $120 per two weeks. For couples living independently, the social relief is $571 per two weeks on Bonaire, $668 on St. Eustatius and $662 on Saba.

That is an increase of 36 per cent on average, giving couples around $160 to $170 more per two weeks in 2023. The basic social relief amount will be increased only by inflation and will come out at $216 on Bonaire, $254 on St. Eustatius and $252 on Saba.

Please visit www.rijksdienstcn.com for the minimum wage table and all benefit amounts in 2023.

(RCN Caribbean Netherlands)

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Several traffic accidents with injuries. Two tourists seriously injured

SINT MAARTEN (PHILIPSBURG) - Police have dealt with several vehicle collisions in the last week whereby several people were injured.

About 4:00 p.m. on Friday, November 25, 2022, Central Dispatch received several calls regarding a vehicle accident in Dawn Beach in which two tourists were seriously injured.

A number of police patrol and ambulance personnel were dispatched to the scene. Once there, the patrol encountered the two female victims on the ground who were complaining of pain over their heads and lower body.

According to the preliminary investigation, it appeared the two victims were attempting to ride up the hill on the Melford Hazel Road in Dawn Beach on a Quad.

At some point the driver lost control of the Quad and began to skid proceeded on the other side of the road and crashed into a steel pipe. As a result, both driver and fellow passenger sustained serious injuries.

They were administered first aid at the scene by the ambulance personnel and shortly thereafter rushed to the St. Maarten Medical center (SMMC) for further treatment. Their injuries were not life threatening.

Patrons should be aware that Quads (ATVs) can be unstable and hard to control, particularly at high speeds. Rollovers and collisions happens, and some of these can be fatal. Injuries from riding ATVs are common too and can mean an emergency-room visit. (KPSM)

police atv sun27

 

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SHTA & Inspired Focus hold Masterclass on Marketing Funnel

SINT MAARTEN (PHILIPSBURG) - This Wednesday 23 November, the St. Maarten Hospitality and Trade Association (SHTA) and St. Maarten marketing company Inspire Focus held a joint masterclass on how to strategically convert an audience into customers by using the Marketing Funnel as a strategic instrument.

Sixteen representatives of SHTA membership, retail, wholesale, educational and tourism backgrounds learnt about various ways on how knowing your customers can help to improve your marketing campaigns by creating messages especially for that audience. Specifically, the masterclass guided on how to use the Marketing Funnel model, a model in use worldwide to analyze marketing opportunities.

The masterclass was performed by Inspire Focus senior marketing consultant Cherryl Lambooy. “It is 5 to 6 times more expensive to acquire a new customer than to keep an existing customer. Marketing Funnels are an important tool to plan how to attract new customers, but also to build marketing systems that get existing customers to spend more or return more frequently.

Born and raised on St. Maarten, she gained experience in communications and marketing at GEBE and the National Institute of Arts (NIA). After working for IKEA Europe, she returned to work on St. Maarten for Q & E marketing before founding Inspire Focus. She also works for University St. Maarten as a marketing instructor.

As the masterclass was geared to companies small and large, Lambooy stated the marketing funnel can be useful for any company. “In essence, marketing is putting the right message in front of the right people at the right time, if you can get a customer to visit your business twice as often or spend 20% more, you’ve effectively grown your business without expensive Marketing campaigns.”

For more information, please contact our offices at 1-721-542-0108 or visit our website at www.shta.com.

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Did the SSRP hit the mark?

SINT MAARTEN (PHILIPSBURG) - The General Audit Chamber submitted its report entitled “Efficiency audit: Sint Maarten Stimulus and Support Program (SSRP) for 2021.” This is the follow-up report to the review of the implementation of the 2020 SSRP programs published in December 2021.

The Temporary 2021 Payroll Support Regulation is almost identical to that of 2020. The government transferred ANG 103 million to SZV to implement the Payroll Support program for 2020-2021. SZV spent a total of ANG 97 million. For the income and unemployment support programs, the Government awarded the SMDF ANG 12.58 million in 2021. SMDF ultimately disbursed approximately ANG 9.8 million.

The programs encountered delays which impacted the timeliness of payments to recipients. While the programs were terminated in September 2021, a few payments continued into 2022, due to delays and others related to finalizing objection procedures.

As part of the review, the General Audit Chamber compared the SSRP to a similar program in Aruba. A significant difference between the programs is the process of verifying lost turnover at businesses seeking financial support. To qualify for business payroll support, the verification occurred upfront in St. Maarten. In Aruba, the check on companies was done essentially after the fact. In Aruba, approximately Afl. 73 million (of a total of Afl. 271 million) must be reimbursed by businesses. The estimated amount to be refunded on St. Maarten’s is ANG 266,064, which is still under review.

It was not possible to determine whether the SSRP was effective. Mass layoffs seem to have been prevented. However, without reliable data, this conclusion cannot be substantiated. The General Audit Chamber sees an opportunity for Government to look deeper and examine whether limited public funds were effectively spent. The funds used are loans that must be repaid.

The report is published in both English and Dutch and is available on the website of the General Audit Chamber (www.arsxm.org).

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Man pushes girlfriend out of car

SINT MAARTEN (COLE BAY) - Officers of the detective department are presently investigating an incident that occurred on the night of November 23, 2022, at a gas station on Union Road, Cole Bay.

At approximately 10:00 p.m., Central Dispatch received a report of a lady lying unconscious on the ground at the gas station. A patrol was dispatched to the location.

It later emerged that the victim with the initials M.R.K. was shoved out of her boyfriend's vehicle after an altercation.

The victim was later treated by ambulance paramedics and subsequently filed a domestic violence report with the criminal investigation department, which is still ongoing. (KPSM)

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Sint Maarten Library: www.library.sx

SINT MAARTEN (PHILIPSBURG) - With the unveiling of the new library name, the new logo, and the launching of the website, Sint Maarten Library celebrated its 99th anniversary. Honored by the attendance of our Governor his excellency Mr. Ajamu Baly, LLM, and with the support of many representatives from the community, Sint Maarten Library presented its new identity. The Mistresses of the ceremony were Ms. Marcelia Henry and Ms. Glenderlin Holiday.

After the invocation by Mrs. Agnola Wyatt, Mr. Tyler Percival performed the Sint Maarten Song on the steelpan. Dame Ruby Bute treated the audience with two powerful poems and with her remembrance of her first storytelling in the library. Ms. Jeanina Dupersoy, secretary of the board, welcomed the audience and shared the importance of this milestone.

Interim Dean USM and former Board member Mr. Wycliff Smith addressed with his keynote speech the importance of having a library in the community. Sint Maarten library celebrates 99 years, but the library as an institution goes back 5,000 years. The library is not only a source of information and knowledge but also a public safe place where people can meet and relax. The Sint Maarten Library now also offers innovative community-oriented activities and tops it off with its 21st-century-level extensive digital library service. Since 2020 it has also established links to the digital library of the Royal Library and recently with the Digital Library of the Caribbean dLOC for its patrons and visitors.

In the absence of Minister Drs. Rodolphe E. Samuel who is away on a working visit, Mrs. Shermina Powell, the Secretary General of the Ministry of Education, Culture, Youth, and Sport in her brief address complimented the board, management, and staff and shared that the meaning of the number (99) signifies the end of evolution and that this leads into the beginning of the next cycle. Therefore, as of this date, the Sint Maarten Library has started a new phase in its existence and pledged her support as SG and wished the library much success in its endeavors.

Project manager Mr. Pieter Lucas introduced the process that the task force went through. He explained that first of all it was decided that the new logo should reflect that the library is not only about Philipsburg but of all people in Sint Maarten. Hence, the new name became Sint Maarten Library. The combination of the name and the pelican serves as a recognition of the ownership of the people of Sint Maarten and the Library's acknowledgment of the importance of the island’s national symbols.

While the new logo was unveiled, the secretary of the board, presented a toast and invited the audience to join her. Following this Mr. Pieter Lucas and Ms. Francia Housen, the Library ICT coordinator, guided the audience through the most important parts of the website. The animated pelican captured the audience's attention and the audience received a quick tour through the home page and other important sections such as the latest news, the upcoming activities, available resources, current services, and the library team. It can now be said that the countdown to the 100th anniversary started and again the need for a new building is extremely evident.

Participants in the program received a certificate of participation in honor of their steadfast reading practice. The seven patrons were four years old Amara Richards, the teenager Nathan Sagnia, the juveniles Shandreigia Marsham and Keziah Williams, the adults David Sandreen and Honore Richards, and the senior Angele Brill were presented with their new Library card by His Excellency A. Baly, the Board Secretary and the Director of the Library. Together they read more than 700 books within a year. To close off this section all staff members received their new uniform polo shirts of six different colors with the new logo.

During the vote of thanks, the director, Mrs. Glenderlin Holiday, expressed appreciation to the Ministry ECYS for the monthly subsidy to the library and Flow for their sponsorship of the entire network system, which allows the Sint Maarten Library to offer not only patrons but also visitors the best quality FREE WIFI available on the island. In addition to those two main sponsors of the library, several stakeholders, such as R4CR, NPower, USM, AUC, Litmoon, BDO, Telem, the schools, and the parents and friends of the library were also thanked for their support of the library in kind or otherwise.

The director ended by expressing great praises to the staff for their years of service and invaluable contribution to the accomplishment of these 99 years of library service to the island of Sint Maarten. In her final word she assured the audience and the public that the Sint Maarten Library will continue to promote, encourage, and stimulate active reading, whether it is a book, an e-book, or any other legible material. As of today, November 23, 2022, newly registered patrons and patrons that pay their annual fee will receive the new library card, a phased implementation of the new cards for especially the schools will take place over the next months.

In closing, the mistress of the ceremony Ms. Henry thanked the director, the staff, and the board for selecting her to lead this very momentous occasion” The Sint Maarten Library 99th anniversary ceremony.” 

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WYCCF is organizing the 6th Alzheimer's Support Group meeting this Saturday

SINT MAARTEN (ST. JOHN’S) - On Saturday, November 26th, 2022, from 5-6 PM, the White & Yellow Cross Care Foundation (WYCCF) organizes its sixth Alzheimer’s Support Group meeting at the St. Martin's Home in St. John's. This meeting is specifically organized to support those who are currently providing care, have provided care, or are going to provide care to someone with Alzheimer's disease or dementia. The WYCCF invites everyone in this situation to come by and share, listen and learn through shared experiences. Everyone will get the opportunity to share their experiences if they wish or ask our healthcare professionals any questions they might have. The WYCCF will provide drinks and snacks, and the event is open to everyone.

The group is continuously increasing in size, as the last meeting two months ago was attended by over 25 people. Not only the size but also the mutual trust and respect continue to increase as many personal stories are shared. Because those are the persons that can genuinely understand what they are going through because they are in the same situation. Attendees especially appreciated the opportunity to ask their questions to professionals. Some people prefer to just sit and listen, and of course, that’s fine too. The WYCCF welcomes everyone who was there in the first three meetings and hopes that more people for whom this meeting is relevant will come out.

Alzheimer's disease is a challenging disease to cope with. One can slowly lose certain abilities, which may result in losing the independence one had their whole adult life. This gradually makes one more and more dependent on the care of others, which can be very difficult to accept. In most cases, the family members take on the care. And what may begin with light help can end up becoming a full-time job. This gradually increasing workload often proves very hard for family members to keep up with. The caregiver might still have a job, and other responsibilities and, on top of that, may not be trained to provide this type and amount of care.

Besides the practical aspects, caring for a loved one diagnosed with Alzheimer's can be difficult emotionally. Someone's personality can change; they can become angry or frustrated without apparent reason, or they no longer trust the persons that were always the closest to them. Sometimes this results in strange or even aggressive behavior, which can be difficult to deal with. To see a loved one slowly but steadily changing like this, seemingly without anything you can do about it, can be a heavy burden to carry. 

Many persons in this situation greatly benefit from some form of support. This can be asking a question to an expert, learning from others who are going through the same situation, or simply getting some things off your chest. It's important to realize that you are not alone and don't have to go through this alone. For persons who have gone through this experience in the past, it can help to talk about it. On the other hand, it can be of great value for those at the start of this journey to hear what they can expect and how others cope with specific situations.

For this reason, the WYCCF started with the Alzheimer support group meetings, of which the sixth edition will be this weekend from 5 to 6 PM in the St. Martin's Home at St. John's Estate Road #6, Cul-de-Sac.

The WYCCF stands for quality care, and this meeting signifies what we mean by that. Quality care is not only looking out for the client’s immediate needs. But we also look at how we can improve the client's environment and the people around them. Because the care for a person with Alzheimer's or dementia doesn't stop when they leave the WYCCF at the end of the day, it is essential to support the people around them. Taking on this type of care can be a heavy responsibility, and it can become hard to provide care if they're not doing well themselves. Therefore, supporting these persons is an essential part of delivering quality care.

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Results perception survey among clients RCN unit SZW

SABA/SINT EUSTATIUS) - Good service delivery on Bonaire, Saba and Sint Eustatius is a priority for SZW. The research bureau Linkels & Partners conducted a survey in the first half of this year, commissioned by the RCN unit SZW, to find out how citizens experience the services. The survey offers many starting points to improve service delivery.

The RCN unit SZW is committed to safe, healthy and fair working conditions and pays out social insurance on behalf of the ministry to contribute to the security of existence for the elderly, parents and people who are temporarily unable to work or are in a financial emergency situation.

The service is constantly evolving. For instance, the RCN unit SZW implemented the corona emergency support package from 2020, digitalised the process of reporting sick and applying for loss of wages in 2021 and recently started implementing the temporary scheme for parents of children requiring intensive care.

SZW would like to know from its customers how its services are perceived, which is why the research firm Linkels & Partners conducted a qualitative study into the organisation's customer experience on Bonaire, Sint Eustatius and Saba.

The survey revealed important points of attention and issues where things could and should be better. For instance, accessibility by phone and e-mail could be improved and, partly due to the housing situation, customers do not always feel safe to speak freely about personal matters.

Also, some customers expect more empathy from staff and find it tedious if they have to repeat their story to another staff member. A conclusion of the researchers is also that no signals have emerged from the customers indicating very serious shortcomings or improper practices by the unit.

In terms of customer experience in the implementation of specific instruments, the unit scores well on labour-related issues. AOV recipients on the islands are also generally positive about the service experience. On service delivery in the areas of underemployment and loss of wages, clients are more critical.  

Follow-up

The results of the survey will be discussed in detail with employees during team days in December. Partly based on this, a concrete action and improvement plan will be made, taking into account what is feasible in the short and longer term.

A complaints officer recently started at the RCN unit SZW. In addition, some employees have started a customer orientation training, others will follow next year.

The full survey (in Dutch) can be viewed here. Customers who have questions in response to the survey or about SZW's services can email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

(RCN Caribbean Netherlands)

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