Soualiga News Today Thu, 26 May 2022 06:50:04 -0400 en-gb Dirt-bike rider injured on the airport road

SINT MAARTEN (SIMPSON BAY) - The personnel of the traffic department are busy investigating a traffic incident that took place on May 25, 2022, at approximately 3:15 p.m. close to the round-about at the PJIAE airport.

According to the preliminary investigation, it appeared that a rider of a dirt-bike who was coming from the direction of Maho, was in the process of overtaking several cars. At that same time a black bus was about to drive onto the main road which resulted in a crash.

The motorcycle rider sustained injury to his legs, and torso. He was administered first aid by the ambulance personnel and later transported to the St. Maarten Medical Center for further treatment. His injuries are not life threatening. (KPSM)

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]]> (Roddy) Soualiga News Today Wed, 25 May 2022 22:25:08 -0400
COM offers deepest condolences on the passing of Acting Governor Reynold Groeneveldt

SINT MAARTEN (PHILIPSBURG) – The Council of Ministers (COM) was deeply shocked and saddened upon learning of the passing of the Acting Governor Reynold Groeneveldt, who served the country for the past 12 years in this capacity.

The country has indeed lost another giant; one who has served as a civil servant in the Island Territory of St. Maarten for many years, before becoming a lawyer and contributing in service to his clients and the country in that capacity.

Prime Minister Hon. Silveria Jacobs: “On behalf of the Council of Ministers, I extend heartfelt condolences to the family and pray that grace and mercy covers all who are left to mourn.

“Mr. Groeneveldt’s great example of dedication and service to his family and this country should serve as an example for all other citizens of St. Maarten. May we all live to be dearly loved and appreciated by our families, and make an impact on our people, our livelihood, on St. Maarten.”

As a dignitary of the country, the flags will fly at half-mast at government buildings tomorrow (Wednesday) and on the day of internment in honor of his life. Acting Governor Reynold Groeneveldt was an example of a humble servant of the people, always willing to assist, give advice to individuals as well as government. Mr. Groeneveldt also kept the people of St. Maarten informed via various media forums.

His contribution to the development of St. Maarten and her people both during the days of Island Territory, as well as the first Acting Governor of St. Maarten since Oct 10, 2010 has not gone unnoticed and will be revered and memorialized throughout history.

On behalf of the Council of Ministers and people of St. Maarten, we offer deepest condolences and heartfelt prayers for strength to endure these difficult days ahead to his widow, Mrs. Glenda Groeneveldt-Smith, the entire family circle, and the people of St. Maarten as we mourn the loss of a great man.

]]> (Roddy) Soualiga News Today Tue, 24 May 2022 22:53:07 -0400
Statement Governor Eugene Holiday on the passing of Acting Governor Reynold Groeneveldt

SINT MAARTEN (HARBOUR VIEW) – “I was saddened to learn of the passing of my colleague, acting Governor Reynold Groeneveldt. With his passing Sint Maarten has suffered a great loss,” a press statement from the Governor’s Cabinet stated on Tuesday night on behalf of His Excellency Governor Eugene Holiday.

“Originally an educator Reynold Groeneveldt went on to become a legal scholar, respected attorney, and champion of our constitution. Mr. Groeneveldt was a proud Sint Maartener who served his country in various capacities.

“He was acting lieutenant governor during the constitutional transition in 2010. On October 10, 2010, Mr. Groeneveldt became the first acting Governor and was reappointed in 2016. In that capacity my staff and I could always count on him to hold the fort during my absence.

“His profound passion for the office was evident during many of our conversations behind closed doors. He was a proud and generous Sint Maartener who was always willing to share his time and knowledge.

“Our thoughts and prayers are with his wife Glenda, his daughter Angela, and all the people of Sint Maarten who hold Reynold Groeneveldt dear. “He will be dearly missed.”

]]> (Roddy) Soualiga News Today Tue, 24 May 2022 22:24:48 -0400
Banking sector weathers pandemic storm CBCS remains vigilant with regards to the outlook

SINT MAARTEN/CURACAO - The banking sector of Curaçao and Sint Maarten proved to be resilient and able to withstand shocks, despite the challenging macro-economic conditions caused by the pandemic.

The impact of the pandemic was unevenly distributed across the different segments of the economy, which was visible in the asset quality of the banks. Although the solvency position of the banks remained stable, the Centrale Bank van Curaçao and Sint Maarten (CBCS) is concerned about latent credit risk and will remain vigilant.

The Financial Stability Report, published by the CBCS, describes the main vulnerabilities associated with the local banking sector. The solvency of the banks remained stable, partially due to the dividend payout restrictions implemented by the CBCS in 2020. At year-end 2021, the capital-to-risk-weighted assets ratio stood at 19.3% on a monetary level, which is above the minimum supervisory requirement of 10.5%.

However, credit risk continues to be a concern given the consistently high volume of nonperforming loans and latent credit risk. In addition, Covid- 19-related moratoria on distressed loans have created a problem of forbearance in some institutions. Significant uncertainty persists regarding the size of Covid-19-related losses that banks will ultimately realize, as these will depend on the speed of economic recovery.

The CBCS closely monitors the development in the asset quality and will mandate the banks to maintain adequate reserves levels to mitigate deferred credit risks. Overall profitability of the sector remains under pressure, driven mainly by declining lending rates, high operating expenses, loan loss provisioning, and increased competition.

The average lending rate has declined steadily since 2010, with the local banking sector facing increased competition from institutional investors, especially in the corporate sector. The liquidity in the banking sector has been increasing steadily and an excess liquidity of more than NAf.2 billion was observed at the end of 2021.

Despite the excess liquidity, allocation of resources has been insufficient throughout the years. This is particularly visible in the extension of credit, as the credit growth in the monetary union has been weak for several years.

The outlook for the banking sector remains on the cautious side. Accessibility and affordability of the housing market may deteriorate for households due to the steep rise in prices in the construction sector, which could potentially shrink the mortgage market.

Despite the excess liquidity in the banking industry, effective allocation of resources is not expected to improve in the short-term. A lack of qualitative investment opportunities in the local markets remains a great concern.

Increasing competition from large non-banking financial institutions on the lending market may further reduce available investment opportunities. Credit guarantee schemes could help attract more large investment projects and mobilize excess liquidity in an effective way.

The CBCS continues to encourage banks to examine their business models to counter lagging profits, and closely monitors developments impacting the banking sector. If necessary, the CBCS will implement macroprudential measures to mitigate forthcoming risks.

The complete text of the Financial Stability Report is available on the CBCS-website at

]]> (Roddy) Soualiga News Today Tue, 24 May 2022 13:56:40 -0400
Team Budget Marine wins first Diam 24 Grand Prix Race Day in Great Bay

SINT MAARTEN (SIMPSON BAY) - Together with the Diam 24 class representative, Pierre Altier, the Sint Maarten Yacht Club hosted the first Diam 24 Grand Prix Race Day in Great Bay last Sunday. The Diam 24 is a one design sport boat, simple and accessible for all, that allows people to discover multihull racing. To continue growing the current 5-boat fleet in St. Maarten and increase the local interest, 10 teams from the Marine Industry were invited to participate in this invite only event. A total of seven races were sailed, with Team Budget Marine as the ultimate winner.

Originally planned as a try-out event, the competitive nature of the invited participants turned Sunday’s event into a proper Grand Prix where the thrill of these fast-paced racing trimarans was fueled by the excitement of the sailors. Each boat had an experienced Diam 24 sailor on it and 2 or 3 sailors from the respective companies. The experienced sailor was helping aboard, however not allowed to helm, giving the participants an opportunity to experience all aspects of racing the Diams.

Teams represented were the Tropical Sail Loft, Budget Marine, Island Water World, the Maritime School of the West Indies, Club de Voile de Friar’s Bay, MDA (secondary school in Marigot), Arawak Sailing, a youth and staff team from the Sint Maarten Yacht Club and the 12 Meters association. After the initial instructions regarding the Diam 24 and the racing of that day, the 5 Diam’s left the dock with the first teams to race. Sailing catamaran Mojito was used as the committee boat for the day and accommodated the other teams to watch the racing while awaiting their race time.

Wind conditions were perfect for those unexperienced sailing these fast-racing trimarans, at 12 knots with gusts up to 18. A windward leeward course was set with a gate at either end, making it a tactical racecourse forcing the sailors to locate the best wind conditions. Race committee started fleet A, consisting of SMYC Youth Team, Team Arawak, Team Budget Marine, Team Maritime School of the West Indies and the 12 Meters Team, on 2 races to conclude the first 2 finalists of the semi-finals.

At the first start it was clear that most participants were not used to racing on trimarans, as most boats carefully approached the line. Except for one team, Team Arawak being the only one having extensive experience on their 52ft racing catamaran, who came in hot and sailed the Diam 24 as if they had done it for years. Their enthusiasm showed in them taking the lead quickly after the start, flying one hull high out of the water most of the race. At one point they got hit by a heavy gust resulting in them nose diving into the wave, no bother for this team as they continued with big smiles on their faces. They gave it their all, but it just wasn’t enough with two third places. With the first two races concluded, the SMYC Youth Team and Team Budget Marine went on to the semi-finals with two first places for Budget Marine and two second places for the SMYC Youth Team.

“I hadn’t raced in over 5 years, however after watching the first 5 teams race, I couldn’t wait to get out there myself. Once on the boat I was surprised at how stable these boats remain, even with one hull out of the water, you just want to keep pushing to go faster! This is truly a boat anyone can and should race. I was lucky to have Sam Peeks as our helmsman, who I know is a very talented dinghy sailor, but to see him just grab the tiller of this multihull and race it brilliantly, was amazing to see. I will definitely race more often on these boats.” Said Michele Korteweg, General Manager at the Sint Maarten Yacht Club participating in the SMYC Staff Team.

Fleet B, consisting of Team Island Water World, Team Tropical Sail Loft, the SMYC Staff Team, Club de Voile Friar’s Bay and Team MDA, continued to show that anything can change at any time of the race. The SMYC Staff Team got across the starting line first and kept the lead after rounding the first mark, after which it all went downhill on that race for them as they struggled with the downwind leg. Looking as if they were going to come in dead last, on the final leg they managed to catch the wind and finished seconds ahead of Team Tropical Sail loft. In the second race the SMYC Staff Team got the hang of the boat and by jibing around the windward mark they got into clean, strong winds on the opposite side of the course, a strategy that paid off as they finished in first place. In the meantime, a close battle took place between Team Island Water World, Club de Voile de Friar’s Bay and Team MDA, all Melges 24 sailors. It was amazing to see how quickly monohull sailors became pros at sailing these 24ft trimarans. Team MDA was the stronger team with a first and second place, taking one of the semi-final spots, one point ahead of the SMYC Staff Team.

The semifinals saw very close racing between the 4 teams, but quickly it became clear that Team Budget Marine and Team MDA were close rivals and sailed ahead of the fleet in a battle for first and second place. Team SMYC Youth and SMYC Staff had their own battle, student’s vs instructors. Without causing for much embarrassment, as the SMYC Staff Team won third place overall, putting Team Budget Marine and Team MDA in the final.

Race committee decided on a double lap for the final race. As Team Budget Marine and Team MDA started, the race committee allowed the rest of the fleet to join in one more unofficial start 2 minutes after the finalists crossed the start line. It was a neck and neck race for Team Budget Marine and Team MDA all the way to the finish line where Team Budget Marine only finished seconds ahead of Team MDA, making them the overall winner of the first Diam 24 Grand Prix.

Prize giving was hosted back ashore where the appreciation from all participants was expressed as boat owners and experienced captains made this event reality. The event couldn’t have happened without Pierre Altier, who has been the main motivation behind the Diam 24 class.

“It was a fantastic Diam 24 Day in Great Bay! So many talented sailors took this first Diam 24 Grand Prix to a spectacular level of sailing. This day made obvious that the Diam 24 is a perfect boat for the Caribbean Regattas. Economical, fast and, robust, this one design class trimaran is the easiest way to sail at 20 knots. Build your team, get your boat, and take part into the Diam 24 history on Saint Martin - Sint Maarten.” Concluded Pierre Altier, Diam 24 class representative of the Caribbean.

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The Diam 24 Grand Prix took place in Great Bay - Photo by Robert Luckock

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Big gust caused Team Arawak to nose dive - Photo by Robert Luckock

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Team MDA secured a spot in the finals after close racing - Photo by Robert Luckock

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Team Budget Marine won the first Diam 24 Grand Prix - Photo by Robert Luckock




]]> (Roddy) Soualiga News Today Mon, 23 May 2022 23:36:43 -0400
Banco di Caribe N.V. and PSS N.V. partners in new ATM location

SINT MAARTEN (PHILIPSBURG) - The Postal Services St. Maarten N.V. (PSS) and Banco di Caribe N.V. reached a historical agreement to have an ATM strategically located on the Post Office premises.

Interim Managing Director of PSS, Ms. Marinka Gumbs, stated that the bank did not hesitate to collaborate with PSS when the concept of a “walk-up” ATM Machine was first pitched. She added that the idea of having an ATM has been part of her vision for PSS, citing the need to expand its product offering to its customers and the community in the vicinity.

Banco di Caribe Management stated that collaborating with PSS in this initiative was immediately welcomed, recognizing the many activities in the vicinity by both consumers and (small) businesses who would appreciate having the convenience of an ATM for their banking needs.

At this new ATM location, users can withdraw cash and perform a balance inquiry. In addition, Banco di Caribe customers can transfer money between their own accounts and periodically change their Debit Card PIN.

Ms.Marinka Gumbs is grateful for Banco di Caribe’s visionary partnership in this endeavor and for the Government of St. Maarten in facilitating the construction.

As shown on the picture(s), representatives of both Postal Services St. Maarten and Banco di Caribe were present on the inauguration date earlier this month. The community of St. Maarten is cordially invited to use the Banco di Caribe ATM located at the Post Office premises.

]]> (Roddy) Soualiga News Today Sun, 22 May 2022 21:27:23 -0400
MP Emmanuel: By breaking the law, might as well pay full vacation allowance,-might-as-well-pay-full-vacation-allowance&Itemid=450,-might-as-well-pay-full-vacation-allowance&Itemid=450

SINT MAARTEN (PHILIPSBURG) - Independent Member of Parliament (MP) Christophe Emmanuel on Thursday said he is pleased that the Minister of Finance Ardwell Irion has followed his advice and finally realized that he has a duty to workers and has found a way to pay them something from the outstanding vacation allowance.

“But if you are going to break your own law, then I think you should pay the workers 100% of what is owed to them or repeal these abusive laws which the Minister has used in a discriminating manner.”

MP Emmanuel stressed that the Minister should not further discriminate and pay government workers the same way he did, illegally, for others who left government service. He explained that the government revoked the legal basis for the granting of vacation pay and other benefits.

The only way to legally grant vacation pay, is to repeal the law and explain what steps are being taken to have this done. “I have been calling on government to do this for months. So now he will proceed to pay vacation pay in contravention to the same law that he and the Prime Minister spear-headed,” MP Emmanuel said.    

In February 2022 MP Emmanuel said that he had been made aware that the government has paid out vacation pay to some civil servants, in direct contravention of the law (national ordinance) to cut the employment benefits and income of civil servants, (semi) public sector workers.

Calling it “discriminatory, unfair and clearly illegal” the MP explained that the vacation pay was paid out to persons who left government service, while those who are currently in government service are not receiving anything “These abusive laws were passed and went into effect. This is an illegal pick-and-choose practice that both the Prime Minister and Minister of Finance are accountable for and must explain,” the MP said.

Despite the Minister of Finance statement in Parliament that he was made aware of the situation and would look into it, to date neither he nor the Prime Minister has ever addressed or clarified the issue.

He continued: “This is why I had urged the Minister to pay workers something, anything that can help our people in difficult times. If you are going to act against the law and selectively pay-out some people, supporters and cronies their vacation pay, then you should keep that same energy and pay out vacation pay to all workers. Now that the Minister again doesn’t seem to care about his law, he might as well pay out 100%.”

The MP re-iterated that he has pointed out the abuse of the income cutting laws from day one. The laws he said fully tramples on worker’s rights and has been made worse by the Minister’s discriminating actions to pay those leaving government service, neglecting those who are actually in service working and sacrificing daily.

“The laws are against ILO conventions (International Labour Organizations), they are against the LMA in most cases, and they are against basic human rights laws. The laws are abusive, immoral and a cop-out by a clue-less government who did not standup against the Dutch and their demands which were not even placed on the people in the Netherlands. And at this point, the laws are definitely not based on a foundation of solidarity. So while I am relieved that the Minister finally has found some courage, he needs to continue his trend of acting in contravention of these laws and pay 100%. Pay the people everything you owe them,” the MP said.

MP Emmanuel also chided Prime Minister Silveria Jacobs for her statement that she will discuss the 12.5% on workers income and benefits cut with State Secretary Alexandra van Huffelen, but maintain the cuts for MPs and Ministers. “Here again we have the Prime Minister and her a-typical, scared approach with the Dutch.

“Tell the State Secretary that your government and its support in Parliament will repeal abusive laws that are hurting all of your people and that go against your laws. Stop trying to sound like a martyr as if you are maintaining something that helps the country. The CFT have already shown, twice, that the cuts have led to no significant savings for government. Government in fact never stopped hiring and is currently hiring many more people which will wipe out any miniscule savings. So what exactly is the point? The Prime Minister need to stop running from her own shadow and a terrible decision her government made and stop the bleeding of our people in hard economic times with no relief in sight. The Dutch for sure, have placed no such burdens on their people,” the MP concluded.      

]]> (Roddy) Soualiga News Today Thu, 19 May 2022 18:45:28 -0400
PSG CEO Gumbs: Corporate Governance Core Principle for Long-term Sustainable Success

PORT ST. MAARTEN – A number of senior and mid-level management officials at the Port St. Maarten Group (PSG) received their certificates after recently attending a planned three-day Corporate Governance training that was given by crmLiNK from the Netherlands.

Port St. Maarten Group Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Alexander Gumbs said Corporate Governance allows PSG to continue to comply with local and international rules and regulations by being up to date with trends and developments in this area.

PSG recognizes the importance of good Corporate Governance and considers it a core principle of best practice governance principles at the highest ethical standards with oversight of management and steering the business strategy of the group.

“I have made Corporate Governance one of my core principles since being appointed CEO late last year. Corporate Governance allows us to regulate relationships with shareholders, stakeholders, the community, employees, and management, and it facilitates effective and pragmatic management decision-making in compliance with local and international regulations leading to the long-term sustainable success of PSG,” CEO Alexander Gumbs explained.

Some presentations covered on the first day of the training included the introduction to Good Corporate Governance; Roles, Profiles and Competencies; Conflict of Interest, Integrity, and Moral Framework.

The second day covered Law and Legislation which was given by Franklyn Richards, a former Governor of St. Maarten, and a lawyer by profession; Finance and Control; Compliance and Corporate Risk Management, was presented by St. Maarten born Candia Joseph who is currently the Director of SOAB St. Maarten.

The final day of the training covered Boardroom Dynamics, Sessions about Information Provision, Communication and Governance. All presentations were given by either representatives of crmLiNK or were invited from different professional sectors and backgrounds.

crmLiNK was established to assist companies and individuals in this age of major change, this is the age of disruption. The labor market will be organized differently in the coming years in a rapid pace, according to crmLiNK. crmLiNK provides professionals for board of directors, supervisory boards, and management.

In the field of (permanent) education, professionalization, consultation, and transformation, crmLiNK offers specific trajectories and customized training solutions, and is associated with the Dutch institution Central Register of Short Professional Education (CRKBO).

]]> (Roddy) Soualiga News Today Wed, 18 May 2022 19:09:05 -0400
Ministry VROMI & Finance Job Mixer a Success. 300+ Attend

SINT MAARTEN (GREAT BAY, (DCOMM) – The Minister of Public Housing, Spatial Planning, Environment & Infrastructure (VROMI) Egbert J. Doran and Minister of Finance Ardwell Irion held a job mixer on May 12, 2022, for persons interested in various positions within both ministries, and it has been a great success.

There was an average of 300+ persons who attended the event, which was held at the Government Administration Building room 1 from 1.00 pm to 5.00 pm.

Both ministers expressed their gratitude for the interest shown in the Job Mixer and would like to thank all those who came to the event and those who have already applied.

The applications will be reviewed, and persons will receive an email once that process has been completed.

A team of the ministries staff and the Department of Personnel and Organization was on-site to provide valuable information and to answer questions that the applicants had about the job vacancies within the different ministries. Interested persons filled out the application forms and provided their resumes.

Ministers Doran and Irion were present to welcome all and interacted with the attendees. Both Ministers spoke and gave words of encouragement.

Prime Minister Silveria Jacobs was also present at the event and endorsed the Job mixer.

Other members of the Council were also present and showed support for the initiative.

The Ministry of VROMI has the following positions available: policy officer, secretary general, public relations officer, policy advisor, GIS officer, project manager, warehouse manager, head of infrastructure, maintenance worker, contract manager, senior employee in the Permits Department, permit evaluator, and inspectors in the Inspection Department.

The Ministry of Finance has the following positions available: policy advisor, division head, tax inspector, collections officer, section head in Support Services, public relations officer, and Head of Audit and Criminal Investigation.

For further information, please visit the Sint Maarten Government’s website:, their Facebook page at Government of Sint Maarten, and the Facebook page of VROMI.

Persons can also contact the Ministry or department directly.

MinVROMI Job Mixer Pix 1 Attendees

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]]> (Roddy) Soualiga News Today Tue, 17 May 2022 18:22:26 -0400
Minister Doran Reappoints Nature Foundation as Ecosystem Authority

SINT MAARTEN (PHILIPSBURG) - On May 13th, the Minister of Public Housing, Spatial Planning, Environment and Infrastructure, Egbert Doran, signed the continuation of a service level agreement with the Nature Foundation in which the organization is granted the authority to manage the marine and terrestrial ecosystems of Sint Maarten and provide related services to the Ministry.

Minister Doran and Jan Beaujon, Chairman of the board of the Nature Foundation, signed the agreement during a brief ceremony at the Government Administration Building.

Since 2014, the Nature Foundation has been appointed the Scientific and Management Authority of Sint Maarten, as related to the CITES convention, and as required through the National Ordinance for nature management and protection. As such, the Ministry of VROMI had maintained this service level agreement with the foundation to support the execution of these executive tasks.

Areas of responsibility bestowed upon the foundation through this updated agreement include research and advice, site inspection and enforcement (on matters related to the management of the natural environment), active park management, public outreach, and protection of (endangered) species. Specific tasks in these areas include maintenance of dive moorings, fisheries management, sea turtle nesting and beach monitoring, and providing advice to the government in all matters related to the management of the natural environment, including the impacts of developmental activities.

In addition to the routine tasks and services to be rendered by the Nature Foundation, this agreement includes additional support for the management of invasive species, and more specifically, the management of the invasive vervet monkey. This comes following the results of the foundation’s monkey management project in 2021. The Ministry of VROMI is pleased to maintain this positive working relationship with the Nature Foundation and looks forward to continued progress towards pursuing the sustainable management of the natural environment.

]]> (Roddy) Soualiga News Today Mon, 16 May 2022 16:27:49 -0400
LU overall winner of the 5th Annual Domino’s Interschool Dinghy Sailing Championship 2022

SINT MAARTEN (SIMPSON BAY) - The 5th edition of the Domino’s Interschool Dinghy Sailing Championship took place on Sunday May 15. A total of 32 sailors in 26 boats, representing 7 schools took part in 5 races in the lagoon. 

The sailors were representing the following schools, Learning Unlimited (LU), Caribbean International Academy (CIA), Milton Peters College (MPC), Sister Regina Primary School, St. Dominic, Jean de la Fountaine and Victor Hugo.

The organization was very happy to see new sailors joining the race. It was a very exciting event for them to experience their first race and they did great.

New this year was a reaching start from the Sint Maarten Yacht Club dock, so that parents, schoolteachers, and spectators had first row seats to see the sailing competition. After the sailors had completed their course they finished at the Yacht Club dock as well, which ended up in a lot of cheering and applause for every competitor crossing the finish line.

In the Laser Class Lucas Dish scored a third place for St. Dominic, Alex Speetjens came in second sailing for MPC, and Emma Lennox won the Laser Class for Learning Unlimited. 

In the RS Zest class 4 schools were represented. Henry Darling came in third in the Zest class and Melina came in second, both sailing for MPC. But St. Dominic took the win with Rio Stomp winning the Zest Class. 

The RS Quest class saw 3 competitors. Maya, Clarice and Wabi sailed together, representing MPC in the RS Quest class and came in third. Natalie and Lauren Johnson sailed the Quest for Learning Unlimited and came in second. The class was won by Louka Williams and Filippa Vriezen representing CIA. 

The Optimist Class was the biggest class in this year’s interschool regatta with 9 competitors. Joseph Johnson, sailing for St. Dominic came in third, but LU took second place and first place in the Optimist class. Feline Oosterhof came in second and James Lennox won the Optimist Class.

After the individual prizes were rewarded the Sportsmanship prize was awarded to Rylan Benjamin, competing for the Sister Regina school. Rylan started sailing in September last year in the Primary School Program. He showed great progress in the primary school program and was so motivated to join the interscholastic championship! Well done, Rylan!

For the overall school trophies, the results of the 3 best performing boats per school were added and compared. MPC took home the third-place trophy, while St. Dominic got second place. The overall winner, for the 5th time in row, was Learning Unlimited!

“Domino’s is proud to sponsor events like the Interscholastic Sailing Regatta as it us catering towards our youth and youth athletes. Watching the sailors compete for their schools out on the water today was incredible,” said John Caputo the local Domino’s Franchisee.

The SMYC is thanking Domino’s Pizza for making this event a great success, we are looking forward to next year! Thanks to all volunteers that helped us out, the students for participating and the parents and schoolteachers for cheering them on!

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]]> (Roddy) Soualiga News Today Mon, 16 May 2022 14:13:00 -0400

SINT MAARTEN (PHILIPSBURG) - Gracita Arrindell, Leader of the People’s Progressive Alliance (PPA) on Sunday in a media statement said: “We are two years into discussions back and forth between Kingdom partners in an attempt of the Dutch government to solidify the Caribbean entity for Reform and Development by means of a Consensus Kingdom Law.

“This intended structure is aimed at among others supervision of the restructuring processes on the islands paid for by the Dutch tax- payers’ monies. Yet the question to date on the minds of the man on the street remains: ‘what is this Coho thing?

“Clearly, this effort by the government in Holland is not understood by the ordinary citizen given this question we encounter regularly. It is equally an enigma to most of the business community as recently expressed by some representatives of this sector. Especially the manner in which the current government handles the COHO discussions with the Netherlands as well as with the Parliament and people of Sint Maarten leaves much to be desired to state it mildly.

“A new deadline of May 20th is set for the governments and Parliaments of the three Caribbean ‘Countries’ to present their position on this new administrative entity. This date too is ill fated. Most likely proposals will once again be hastily submitted. Why? Our local administrations are still seriously overwhelmed and critically understaffed since assuming our new status in 2010. The brain drain in critical positions continues as we write. Bottom line… this COHO thing in my humble view means that the Dutch government including the First and Second Chambers are implying to the people of Sint Maarten that there’s a lack of Good Governance, Transparency and Accountability in managing this island while government is broke, can’t pay its bills as and when due. Therefore article 38 of the Kingdom Charter is used to establish COHO to bring you ((citizen) much needed Reform and Development.”

Arrindell continues: “Two years and counting, our local government’s messages and proposals when presented are at best, ambiguous, elusive, accusative while COHO technical meetings are held behind closed doors of Parliament. All such meetings must be held public in the House of Parliament for transparency’s sake. Dutch Ministers in charge of Kingdom Relations ‘applied the carrot & stick “policies in order to reach ‘consensus’ which includes:

a. no liquidity support if all conditions (some previously mentioned) are not met

b. withholding financial support for Princess Juliana International Airport if government and Parliament doesn’t accept and approve a COHO Consensus Kingdom Law.    

“These efforts are a futile attempt to ‘fry three pancakes from the same dough’ in one pan and flip them simultaneously to have a common shape and look’. The behaviors and expectations at both sides of the Kingdom are contra productive and unhelpful,” stated Arrindell.

“Our position on the new proposed entity including ways to firmly increase and strengthen our country’s liquidity position were presented publicly on several occasions during these past two years. Immediate objection to imposing 12.5 percent cut in civil servants salaries as expressed in our November 20, 2020 publication while we proposed new income/ revenues including the lucrative ‘offshore’ for our government coffers under the title “now is not the time,” Arrindell said.

Gracita states: “Most factions in Parliament have a different position on this proposed Consensus Kingdom Law. Rather than resort to grand standing over this ‘COHO’ thing, we are better off stating the obvious: Common sense dictates that the proposed law has little bottom-up support (draag-vlak) and it is lost in translation between our local elected and appointed officials, as well as business communities. Additionally, too many objections and concerns have been expressed across the board by experts from different backgrounds within the Kingdom in spite of efforts to make improvements in order to satisfy it’s naysayers.”

PPA Leader states: A firm No to COHO by Consensus Kingdom Law is warranted and defendable for reasons mentioned by many previously and publicly. Time, expertise, finances are more efficiently served if applied directly to strengthen the standing government organizations in their execution of their daily management tasks with expertise and COUNTERPARTS to ensure continuity rather than establish a parallel administrative entity by Law in the Hague with money and powers that supersedes the powers of local governments and Parliaments. Consider:

  1. To include the already established work organization created to oversee the execution of the ‘Country’ packages into the standing government organizations. As an Ad Hoc committee Reform and Development there will be more cohesion in the execution of the proposals when the Secretary Generals (SG’s) of the seven ( 7 ) Ministries are included in this Ad Hoc committee. The standing organization is familiar with the budget preparatory process. This synchronization of minds, money to implement new methods is more likely to succeed because it’s based on common sense, rather than seeking common grounds from three separate countries. Areas in need of upgrading and restructuring are well documented and known.
  2. Parliaments Constitutional Affairs Committee must prepare and call monthly meetings to monitor the process and its progress.
  3. Establish a Junior Minister for Constitutional Affairs in the 3 countries as counterpart to the Minister of Kingdom Relations and Interior Affairs.

PPA leader concludes, “We must bring tranquility back to the Island governments. No need to hear lamentations or statements that local governments are accepting conditions for liquidity support under threats from the Netherlands. This coming week we will know.”

]]> (Roddy) Soualiga News Today Sun, 15 May 2022 22:48:21 -0400
NPOwer releases first batch of support nine videos for 2022

SINT MAARTEN (PHILIPSBURG) - NPOwer, tasked by Foresee Foundation with capacity strengthening for local Non-profit Organizations (NPOs) released the first batch of 2022 “Know your NPO” video. These nine videos highlight their work, needs and impact on the island. The videos are now available via Foresee Foundation’s YouTube channel, the NPOwer website and the social media accounts of the participating NPOs.

This initiative, financed by St. Maarten Development Fund (SMDF) and Samenwerkende Fondsen Cariben (SFC) via NPOwer, facilitates concise promotional videos of NPOs, showcasing their good works, raising awareness of the work being done on St. Maarten while inspiring others to support through volunteerism or other means.

The new videos produced by NPOwer in collaboration with local videographer Serb Tember and his colleague Richaira Rondei are:

  1. Inter-vision Foundation (Seaside Nature Park)
  2. Mental Health Foundation
  3. Windward Islands Emergency Medical Services (WIEMS)
  4. St. Maarten Nature Foundation
  5. Kidz At Sea Foundation
  6. Senior Citizen's Recreational Foundation
  7. Home Away From Home Foundation
  8. St. Maarten Football Federation (SXMFF)
  9. St. Maarten National Basketball Association (SXMNBA) is part of 2021 batch of videos. Due to some technical and logistical issues this video was not in the package for last year.

"NPOwer understands the value of recognition, brand building and empowering organizations. These videos also serve to connect the people of St. Maarten to initiatives and groups that would inspire volunteerism. We are a nation that embraces the value of volunteerism and over the years, we at NPOwer have facilitated a range of volunteer events, however nothing compared to the body of work and initiatives our featured NPOs have accomplished over the many years of their existence on St Maarten, so highlighting NPOs thought these videos showcase their continued efforts to build our nation,” said NPOwer’s Rajesh Chintaman.

NPOwer’s Jose Sommers said, “We at NPOwer and our partners are sharing these videos on our various online platforms and we encourage all to share the videos so that the causes of these featured foundations can gain the awareness and support they need. It is important to recognise the achievements of hard working NPOs on St. Maarten because often organizations are taken for granted and are only recognised when people see them at an event but with this video initiative, we remind viewers that lots of work is being done on St Maarten behind the scenes and not always visible.

]]> (Roddy) Soualiga News Today Thu, 12 May 2022 20:59:35 -0400
Seatrade Cruise Global Conferences Gives Strong Indications of a Sustainable Global Cruise Recovery

PORT ST. MAARTEN – Seatrade Cruise Global 2022 wrapped up recently in Miami, Florida where 9,350 cruise line executives, political decision-makers, thought leaders, suppliers, and destinations from 110 countries came together at the Miami Beach Convention Center for four days of networking at the biggest global cruise industry gathering since 2019, according to the organizers.

Port St. Maarten Group Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Alexander Gumbs took part in a panel discussion, “Adapt and Thrive Through Public-Private Innovation,” along with several other panelists that included cruise line executive Rick Sasso from MSC Cruises.

Gumbs also held several strategic stakeholder meetings with representatives of various cruise corporations and the Florida-Caribbean Cruise Association (FCCA).

“A new dynamic has been established between the cruise industry and destinations as we continue to transition out of the pandemic setting the stage for future success. We are all looking forward to a sustainable transition and things are looking positive for our 2022-2023 high cruise season,” PSG CEO Gumbs said.

Gumbs added that there’s a lot of changes within the industry leaders’ grid and congratulates Michele Paige on being appointed the CEO of FCCA and Adam Ceserano the new President. “Our relationship with FCCA is at an all-time high and we look forward to collaborating on further initiatives in the interest of the Port St. Maarten Group.” – PSG CEO Alexander Gumbs.

According to the Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA), the cruise industry expects to exceed its pre-COVID passenger levels by next year; by July 90 per cent of the industry’s cruise capacity will have returned to service, representing 270 ships and 550,000 lower berths.

The four-day conference explored the latest trends with industry influencers and high-level cruise executives. The three-day exhibition is the largest gathering of the cruise industry hosting over 700 exhibiting companies from all sectors including Design & Ship Interiors: Entertainment, Environmental & Health, Hotel Operations and Concessions, Information Technology, Ports & Destinations, Safety & Security, Ship Equipment & Shipbuilding.

The discussions at one of the leading cruise conferences focused on the cruise industry and destinations banding together to survive the COVID-19 pandemic along with the ‘State of the Global Cruise Industry.’

Confidence in the cruise industry is being restored with countries and Governments at higher rates than 2019 levels. Based on recent statistical data and outlook, 69 per cent of persons that never cruised have started cruising, while 87 per cent of millennials are willing to go on a cruise. Global cruising levels are expected to return to 2019 levels in 2023.

There were a number of workshops and sessions focused on how the cruise industry is adapting to climate change where sustainability is the buzz word with major progress being made in lowering its environmental carbon footprint in transitioning to a carbon-free future.

Seatrade Cruise Global is considered the leading annual business too business (B2B) event for the global cruise industry. Seatrade Cruise Global is part of the Seatrade Portfolio, an integral portfolio within Informa Markets, providing a range of global exhibitions, conference, events, awards, news websites and publications that cover every aspect of the cruise and maritime industries. Seatrade is owned by Informa PLC, the largest B2B event’s organizer in the world.

]]> (Roddy) Soualiga News Today Thu, 12 May 2022 17:14:36 -0400

SINT MAARTEN (SIMPSON BAY) - On May 11, 2022, Princess Juliana International Airport (PJIAE) completed the successful refinancing of its 2012 indenture, with borrowings under a new term loan facility in the amount of USD 90 million. The new facility has been closed at more favorable terms and a reduced interest rate of 4,75%, which allows PJIAE to stabilize its much needed cash position. 

By taking advantage of low borrowing costs and actively managing its near- and medium-term maturity profile, PJIAE has enhanced its ability to invest in future financial stability and growth. This step is consistent with PJIAE’s strategy to build the airport for the future of Sint Maarten. 

Ben van der Klift, Chief Financial Officer of PJIAE ‘Today’s announcement is an important step forward and another vote of confidence in PJIAE and it underscores our transformation into an airport with  strong ambitions for the future.

With the announcement of this oversubscribed refinancing, and our continued strong performance through Q1 of 2022, we have positively repositioned PJIAE, while enhancing our financial flexibility. However, we’re not out of the woods yet. Hurricane Irma and COVID-19 has had a deep impact on the performance and results of our airport in the last five years and we are on the road to recovery in the coming years’.

PJIAE was able to find the necessary funding within the former Netherlands Antilles and is extremely excited to report that most of the funds (46%) came from St. Maarten institutions, 39% from Curacao based institutions and 15% from Aruba based institutions. AIB Bank N.V. from Aruba acted as mandated lead arranger and RBC Bank N.V., a St. Maarten based financial institution, will be the security and facility agent.

The refinancing of the loan facility would not have been accomplished without the honorable Prime Minister, Minister of Finance, and the Minister of TEATT of Sint Maarten. The Management Board of PJIAE N.V. extends their gratitude for their relentless support during the entire re-financing process.

]]> (Roddy) Soualiga News Today Thu, 12 May 2022 17:00:34 -0400
Emmanuel: SMMC project out of money is embarrassing puppet show of incompetence

SINT MAARTEN (PHILIPSBURG) - Independent Member of Parliament (MP) Christophe Emmanuel on Wednesday said his concerns have been validated when it was announced that the new hospital project is out of money. He once gain immediately called on the Minister of VSA to finally conduct a real investigation into how and where US $100 million disappeared, and to stop letting the contractor make a fool out of local leadership.

The MP also pointed to the incompetence of the World Bank, the Trust Fund Steering Committee and the NRPB and its director Claret Connor as once again dropping the ball on a major project years in the making, with no results to show. “This is an embarrassing puppet show of incompetence on display,” he stressed.

MP Emmanuel was reacting to a press release issued by the St. Maarten Medical Center Foundation announcing that the new project construction is delayed due to international developments. The SMMC states in its press release verbatim: “As a lingering result of the pandemic, there have been delays in purchasing and shipping materials and steep increases in the prices of construction materials. These challenges make it unrealistic to build the hospital at the original price and by the original due date. The result of these discussions might be an increase of the overall SMGH construction budget caused by external factors that are beyond our control. Therefore, SMMC has started discussions to look into additional financing possibilities with the relevant stakeholders”

“Translation: Money done! Am I fear-mongering now?” the MP rhetorically asked, while pointing out that it is “downright impossible that all the money was spent on the pouring of a concrete foundation. That has to be the most expensive foundation in history.”

In 2018 the hospital signed a loan with a group of lenders and financial institutions in St. Maarten and Curaçao for $75 million. The World Bank is providing the hospital with a grant of $25 million from the Dutch trust fund set up after Hurricane Irma.

“For almost year I, along with MP Claudius Buncamper, have pointed out that there is something amiss at the hospital project. People weren’t getting paid on time, deadlines missed, FINSO having financial issues, no man-power at the work site and a reported mis-appropriation of funds from the project that has yet to be confirmed or denied by SMMC or the government,” MP Emmanuel said.

“There is always flimsy excuse at every juncture, including from the government. I even warned the current Minister of VSA not to believe what they are telling him and to investigate the project, in particular the financial aspects. Two weeks ago the Minister visited the site and said he would hold contractor FINSO and others accountable. Will they be held accountable now and how? And who will be held accountable? Will Emil Lee be held accountable for saddling the country with INSO now FINSO?”

The MP pointed out that several other projects on the island and in the surrounding islands has continued uninterrupted despite the pandemic. He said only on St. Maarten has two major projects run into financial issues in the millions.

“First the airport is now up to 150 million and now SMMC can’t even get past the pouring of the foundation and 100 million is gone. Mind you, not even the foundation is finished because the last pour of the main building was scheduled for the end of July 2022. Severe budget overruns seems to be the norm on St. Maarten projects with zero accountability being demanded by the government, who then could be seen as complicit in these debacles,” MP Emmanuel said.  

Besides the government, he went on to question the silence of the World Bank, the Steering Committee for the trust fund? and the NRPB in particular its Director Claret Connor? “Where is the oversight of these projects? Where are the explanations based in facts and evidence? Where is the World Bank who always touts its strict financial disciplines and protocols? Why do we only hear from Claret Connor when he is posing in a picture giving the airport another 20 million just so and without proper explanation? All of these entities have dropped the ball once again on yet another major project. The same projects they boast about when it’s convenient,” the MP said.

He continued: “The press release from SMMC has opened up a Pandora’s box of questions that must be answered. How much more money will the project need from lenders and the government? Is the government in a position to provide additional funding? Can the project continue in the meantime? Does “delay” mean all work halts? Have lenders been informed, when and what were the responses? Did government know? How healthy is FINSO financially? If 100 million has been spent thus far on just preparation work and a concrete foundation, how much is it going to take to complete the entire project? Will someone finally answer the question about the missing money and how much that was? Or am I fear-mongering again?” the MP concluded.        

]]> (Roddy) Soualiga News Today Wed, 11 May 2022 14:16:48 -0400
MP Wescot expresses her utter disappointment in the government’s rhetoric regarding relief to the population

SINT MAARTEN (PHILIPSBURG) - It’s about a month ago, that the Minister of TEATT, Roger Lawrence said that he had made a proposal to “offer relief to consumers at the pumps”, Member of Parliament (MP) Sarah Wescot Williams said in a press statement.

“The minister went on to say that he had received the support of the council of ministers before he made the announcement publicly. In fact, the minister stated that he “had collaborated with his colleagues, the Minister of Justice, and the Minister of Finance. To add insult to injury, that relevant article in a local newspaper was pictured with the 3 aforementioned ministers, MP Wescot recalls.

The minister alluded to the role of his 2 colleagues in this respect, namely “to enact changes within our legislation….” And that the next step was to quickly submit draft legislation for its approval.

MP Wescot surmised that calculations were already made, as the minister of TEATT recounted a month ago that the proposal will reduce government’s duty revenue by approximately 14 percent.

“As member of parliament and very aware of the burden for so many households due to the rising cost of living, I have been looking at the buildup of the cost of fuel at the pumps and noting the income for government from TOT on 2 levels and excise duties.”

I have been promoting a combination of actions to be undertaken by the government to assist the community in general and the lower income earners in particular. How much longer must I be content with the promise that the basket of controlled goods will be expanded? That the 12.5% reduction in benefits will be reversed? That agriculture and fishery will receive a real boost to lower the cost of at least these food items.

MP Wescot is frustrated by the obvious flipflop last week: “Now there is a different tune coming from the Minister of Finance and the Prime Minister, with the contradictory arguments such as, we are comparing apples and pears, when members of the media referenced to relief given by other islands in the region.”

What is clear, MP Wescot continued, is that the government according to the Minister of Finance is looking for income to substitute for the loss for government, if the relief is granted to the consumers on St. Maarten, and the Prime Minister did not help things by suggesting that legislation is going back and forth and sort of alluded that she was picking up the slack for the minister of TEATT, who was absent.

From these statements, I have to conclude that it is not the slowness of the legislative process to enact relief for the citizens, but rather the lack of cohesion between the government ministers and between the governing parties, MP Wescot once again made clear.

“Giving the minister the authority to adjust tax rates etc. via a lower legislative instrument, as proposed by a member of parliament will not solve the problem and is but a distraction from the real matter at hand.”

“Going by the very minimal concrete information provided by the respective ministers on this topic, I make the following assumptions and call upon the government to act.”

The member of parliament proceeded to provide the following synopsis: “Fourteen percent of the budgeted income for excise duties (7 m) amounts to 980.000 guilders. This is the “hole” the government apparently has to fill if relief is granted. The minister did however not reveal what the reduction would entail for the consumer.

However, if the government is serious about this relief (which I doubt) I propose the following approach:

In 2021, it was budgeted that the government would receive 9.4 million guilders in excises: in 2022 this amount was lowered to 7 million, because in 2020 only 6.6 million guilders were collected from excise duties.

Every quarter the governments provides the budgetary realization numbers. The full year 2021 yielded 9.5 million in excise duties. I therefore conclude, unless otherwise proven, that the excise income in 2022 will be over budget.”

From that synopsis, MP Wescot concluded her advice “that the government has under budgeted the excise duties amount 2022, and since the ministers seem to be staring down a black hole, my advice is to adjust that number in tune with a real projection and provide the relief to the consumer as promised, since other budget amendments are also projected.

]]> (Roddy) Soualiga News Today Wed, 11 May 2022 12:55:15 -0400
SMGH construction delays due to international developments

SINT MAARTEN (CAY HILL) - Due to international developments, St. Maarten General Hospital (SMGH) construction activities have slowed down over the recent weeks.

As a lingering result of the pandemic, there have been delays in purchasing and shipping materials and steep increases in the prices of construction materials. These challenges make it unrealistic to build the hospital at the original price and by the original due date. SMMC and the contractor (FINSO) are working on a solution to address the increased cost of materials and challenges with shipping.

The result of these discussions might be an increase of the overall SMGH construction budget caused by external factors that are beyond our control. Therefore, SMMC has started discussions to look into additional financing possibilities with the relevant stakeholders (e.g. the lenders, government). It is noteworthy that SMMC is not the only construction project that is affected with extraordinary price increases as many projects around the world must deal with the same issue.

As the outcome of these discussions and the chosen path forward is awaited, SMMC continues with improving the delivery of quality care, close to home. Various expansions and upgrades to SMMC’s current facilities, which will be highlighted in the coming weeks, have been realized recently with the support of the Trust Fund managed by The World Bank as SMMC aims to meet the local care demand for years to come. As such, SMMC will continue on its path forward in becoming Fit For The Future.

]]> (Roddy) Soualiga News Today Wed, 11 May 2022 12:37:24 -0400
SJIS launches ‘Be The Village, Foster A Child’ recruitment campaign

SINT MAARTEN (PHILIPSBURG) - The need for foster parents and for awareness about the needs of foster children and foster parents will be highlighted in a month-long campaign titled “Be The Village, Foster A Child”. This initiative of Stichting Justitiële Inrichtingen St. Maarten (SJIS) will run throughout May, Foster Care Awareness Month.

People interested in learning more about foster parenting or who are willing to open their home and hearts to a child or children in need of a stable and caring environment can do so at the month-long recruitment drive. The recruitment drive will he held outside of supermarkets every Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, and Saturday starting at Carrefour.

The connecting thread through all planned activities will be raising awareness about foster parents and recruitment of people who are willing to train to become much-needed foster parents and mentors for the country’s most vulnerable – its children.

Activities started off with the opening and launch of the campaign together with a recognition ceremony of foster parents on May 3 in the Government Administration Building.  The ceremony concentrated on the impact foster parenting has on the lives of children, the importance of foster parents, and the role family members, volunteers, mentors, child welfare professionals, policymakers and other members of the community who help children and youth in foster care find permanent homes and connections. Foster parents, mentors and a former foster child shared their experiences, and the dedication of foster parents were recognized in the ceremony, with the foster parent of the year being bestowed on Mrs. Veronica Benjamin of New Start Foundation.

Activities for children in connection with the theme of the month will be held throughout the month. These include a Cultural Carousel on May 7, during which the children will learn to make a variety of local dishes, dance, and storytelling, a Family Fun Day planned for Emilio Wilson Cultural and Historical Park on May 26, and a walk-a-thon on May 28 throughout Philipsburg.

A movie night and a fun day at Kid zone.

SJIS noted that May is a time to recognize that everyone in the community can each play a part in raising awareness about the need for foster parents and help enhance the lives of children and youth in foster care.   

It is important to increase the number of foster families and as such address the growing need for safe and nurturing homes for our children in which to live and develop, said SIJS.

SIJS is an independent foundation that forms part of the judicial chain. It is subsidized by the Ministry of Justice. The foundation is the umbrella for the Probation Office (responsible for assessing and management of persons who are in conflict with the law) and Family Guardianship Department (responsible for overseeing minors under court-appointed supervision). The Unit Foster Family Central is an important part of the family guardianship department. It is responsible for the recruitment, selection, and matching of foster parents, mentors and minors.

Foster Launch Photo Recognized Foster Parents

Foster Launch Photo Recognized Foster Parents.


]]> (Roddy) Soualiga News Today Mon, 09 May 2022 20:01:49 -0400
R4CR launches grant scheme information sessions

SINT MAARTEN (PHILIPSBURG) - In the week of May 16 R4CR will organize the next round of information sessions for civil society organizations (CSOs) about obtaining grants through the R4CR program.

Officially called “Resources for Community Resilience” the R4CR program includes a grant scheme as funding mechanism for community and social rehabilitation initiatives on Sint Maarten and focuses on improving the capacity of local CSOs in reconstruction and resilience activities post hurricane Irma. Project activities by locally registered CSOs that are eligible for funding can cover subject areas such as neighborhood initiatives, sports, nature/environment, culture, poverty relief, day care centers/after school programs, youth employment, skills development, psycho-social support or preventing gender-based violence.

The upcoming information sessions will mark the fourth time that R4CR is organizing such gatherings to kick off the official call for project proposals. Since the launch of R4CR in 2020 the program has supported 35 small scale projects, disbursed or committed approximately US$ 1.7 million to local CSOs and provided free training to strengthen the capacity of local foundations.

On Monday, May 16, Tuesday, May 17th and Wednesday May 18th face-to-face sessions will be held at the R4CR office (Illidge Road 60 – the former WIB branch office) from 6:30-8:00 PM. 

On Thursday, May 19th a ‘Zoom’ video session will be organized for those who were unable to attend the sessions in person. The time for this online session is from 6:00-7:00 PM.

Online registrations are required due to limited seating (max 16 persons per session) for the in-person sessions. Interested CSOs can register online by clicking the following link:

The link for the online Zoom session will be sent after registration.

The R4CR program is financed by the Government of the Netherlands via the Sint Maarten Trust Fund. The latter is administered by the World Bank and implemented by the NRPB (National Recovery Program Bureau). The R4CR program is locally managed by the VNGI (International Cooperation Agency of the Association of Netherlands Municipalities) in close cooperation with Foresee Foundation and other local partners.

For more information about the R4CR program or an overview of all current projects please visit or the Facebook page (R4CRSXM).

]]> (Roddy) Soualiga News Today Mon, 09 May 2022 14:35:30 -0400
MP Wescot-Williams lauds SZV’s recent activity, but says there is much more to it

SINT MAARTEN (PHILIPSBURG) - “Good Move by SZV, sponsor of the Walk to Prevent Immobility organized by the Sint Maarten Police Pensioners and Retirees Association,” Member of Parliament (MP) Sarah Wescot Williams said in a press statement on Monday.

We of the U 2 CAN MOVE Organization were elated to see the large turnout for the early Saturday walkathon organized by the Sint Maarten Police Pensioners and Retirees Association and sponsored by the SZV. Several members of the U 2 CAN MOVE Fitness program joined the large group of persons early on May 7th in an appropriately 6K walk, the MP stated in a recent release.

In commenting on the event, U 2 CAN MOVE founder, MP Sarah Wescot-Williams emphasized the importance of physical mobility.

“I always motivate my members with the phrase that it does not matter what you do, once your activity contributes to bodily movements. Walking is a natural exercise and since we have been blessed with such a beautiful climate, we can surely walk to prevent many diseases and ailments that can affect our health.

The risks of walking are minimal, and all steps count towards better health. The evidenced benefits of walking, especially if you push for some moderate exertions are numerous. Evidenced benefits such as lower risk of heart disease, lower cholesterol levels and lower risk of diabetes, improved sleep and more. So, the brisker the walk, the better the results. In controlling our weight, walking does burn calories and should be part of a healthy lifestyle.

MP Wescot in her statement regarding the “health walk”, touched on the larger picture of the overall health of our nation, an area of continued concern for the MP.

Approximately twelve years ago, a study on St. Maarten revealed that almost 40% of the children studied were overweight and some 54% were obese and that the leading diseases in adults were high blood pressure and diabetes.

“Today we talk a lot about cutting health cost, reducing the national health bill and collecting outstanding sickness premiums. Needless to say, that several areas of our health system are in need of reform. However, there should be a concerted effort to improve better health and the overall wellbeing of our population. “

This should be based on the health data of our country through the long-awaited Health Information System and with the focus that prevention is always better than cure. This should be the motto of all health agencies and providers, beginning with the ministry of public health. Not sporadically, but based on a vision, the MP added.

If we wish to truly perform sustainable reform actions in the health sector, much more urgency needs to be demonstrated for the overall health of our community, for updated health data and for universal health coverage, MP Wescot stated in a not so subtle reference to the ongoing discussions regarding reforms.

mp sww ins1 mon0905


]]> (Roddy) Soualiga News Today Mon, 09 May 2022 13:00:51 -0400
WIB’s SXM Extravaganza set for May 21

SINT MAARTEN (PHILIPSBURG) - The general public is invited to the Windward Islands Bank (WIB) WIB’s SXM Extravaganza Show at the Belair Community Center. The event will take place on the Saturday 21, May 2022 from 10am to 6pm.

WIB will bring together several local business suppliers to display their products and services such as Home Construction & Essentials, Home security systems, solar water heaters, Generators, Home Office, Kitchen, Realtors, Hurricane-Preparation, Vehicles, Boats and more.

WIB SXM Extravaganza promises to provide a one stop shop atmosphere offering great rates and discounts. 

The WIB’s SXM Extravaganza will be an informative, fun filled day with a great selection of products, food & drinks, and a kiddy’s corner. You can obtain relevant information from the experts as WIB’s Sales & Services officers, Online banking ambassadors and the BSure Insurance team will be present to assist with all financing possibilities. Now is the best time to invest and enjoy savings.

Come let us tell you what you qualify for.                            

Businesses interested in participating in WIB’s SXM Extravaganza can contact Ferdinand Beauperthuy at 546-2865 or email

]]> (Roddy) Soualiga News Today Fri, 06 May 2022 13:49:40 -0400
Festival Village Renamed after National Cultural Icon Jocelyn Arndell

SINT MAARTEN (PHILIPSBURG) - Sint Maarten’s Carnival Festival Village on Pond Island has been renamed, the Jocelyn Arndell Festival Village, after the person who contributed significantly to the identity, development, and progression of Sint Maarten’s culture.

On Tuesday evening May 3rd, 2022, during a ceremonial launch, the unveiling of the Jocelyn Arndell Festival Village sign took place at the entrance of the Festival Village.

The event which was hosted by the Honorable Minister of VROMI Mr. Egbert Jurendy Doran, also saw in attendance His Excellency the Governor of Sint Maarten, Drs. Eugene Holiday, Honorable Prime Minister Silveria Jacobs, Chairlady of Parliament Grisha Heyliger-Marten, Honorable Minister of Education Culture Youth and Sport Drs. Rodolphe Samuel, Honorable Minister of Finance Ardwell Irion, Honorable President of the Collectivity Louis Mussington, Chair of Parliament Aruba and Curacao as well as Members of these respective Parliaments, Mrs. Ingrid Arndell, wife of the late Jocelyn Arndell and family, other invited family and friends of the late J. Arndell, St. Maarten Government Buildings Foundation SOG President Kurt Ruan and St. Maarten Carnival Development Foundation President Alston Lourens.

The event started with words of welcome by the MC for the evening Mr. Fernando Clark, followed by a prayer by Mr. Harold Richardson.

This was followed by the Sint Maarten Song which was rendered by Mr. Leroy Brooks, known as King Beau Beau.

A heartwarming tribute was rendered by the Honorable Minister of VROMI Egbert Jurendy Doran.

In his speech, the Minister of Public Housing, Spatial Planning, Environment and Infrastructure (VROMI) Egbert Doran highlighted Arndell’s hard work, dedication, and contributions in his function as a Civil Servant as well as towards the cultural development of Sint Maarten often going above and beyond the call of duty to serve his country.

The Minister stated that in 1970 Mr. Jocelyn Arndell and his team were the initiators of the cultural village and festivities that have brought us to where we are today in terms of it being Sint Maarten’s largest cultural festivity.

Minister Doran who quoted the late Martin Luther King’s words: “Everybody can be great because everybody can serve” and also encouraged everyone to play their role in serving Sint Maarten.

“If Mr. Jocelyn Arndell had not served, we would not be standing here today,” the Minister stated.

One of the biggest highlights of the evening was the crowd-moving renditions given by four (4) surviving members of the Tanny and the Boys band, of which Mr. Arndell who loved music with a passion was a member for decades where he played the guiro, the marimba, and the accordion.

Representing the family, Mr. Arndell’s son Everard (Ebby) Arndell, stated that his father, although--not seeking any--received various recognitions and awards throughout his lifetime, but that the naming the Festival Village in his honor, was like “lighting the candle on top of his cake.”

He expressed his gratitude to Minister Doran and the team and stated that if he had the opportunity to tell his father that the Festival Village was named after him, his father would have asked him “which great mind came up with that idea?”

The evening continued with more speeches and encouraging words given by The Honorable Minister Samuel, Mr. Kurt Ruan, and Mr. Alston Lourens.

During the unveiling of the sign that stated “Jocelyn Arndell Festival Village”, a beautiful rendition by Mr. Isidore York and Dow’s Musical Foundation was given.

The event closed off with a rendition by King Beau Beau with his song Sint Maarten Sweet, together with the Flag Lady Aishira Cecilia, who was joined by Roadmarch Queen Singing Olivia, Groovy Soca King Magicx, and the 2022 reigning Carnival Queens Talya Panthophlet and Doraniya Pascal.

The Honorable Minister Egbert Jurendy Doran wishes to thank the Council of Ministers, his Cabinet, the Secretary of VROMI and his Team, the family of Mr. Jocelyn Arndell, all participants in the program, and all who made it possible for the event to have been an astounding success.

]]> (Roddy) Soualiga News Today Fri, 06 May 2022 13:47:54 -0400
350,000+ Cruise Passengers for First Four Months of 2022. Ship Occupancy Increasing for Slow Months,000-cruise-passengers-for-first-four-months-of-2022-ship-occupancy-increasing-for-slow-months&Itemid=450,000-cruise-passengers-for-first-four-months-of-2022-ship-occupancy-increasing-for-slow-months&Itemid=450

PORT ST. MAARTEN – So far for 2022, Port St. Maarten has catered to 350,507 cruise guests who visited the destination via 282 cruise ship calls for the first four months – January to April - of the year.

Port St. Maarten Group Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Alexander Gumbs said on Thursday that the cruise industry continues to deal with the challenges brought on by COVID-19 and now more recently high energy costs attributed to a combination of global economic factors, supply chain issues and the war between Russia and Ukraine.

“We remain confident for the coming months as we approach the slow season. As we enter this period, multiple cruise ships are being scrapped or sold thereby limiting the tonnage in the Caribbean Basin.

“Our performance has been positive. Occupancy onboard cruise ships have been slowly increasing as more people decide to take a cruise in the coming months. In comparison with figures for the first quarter of this year, cruise ship occupancy levels were hovering around 45 per cent, but we have been experiencing an average of above 75 per cent, and currently some vessels are already nearing 100 per cent occupancy.

“We continue to remain focused and planning in a strategic manner along with the cruise industry and other stakeholders as we overcome the challenges that we all have been confronted with for the past two+ years.

“By August 2022, according to the Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA), all cruise lines who are members of CLIA should have their ships back in operation. This is also good for St. Maarten as it can translate into more cruise ship calls to the island in the coming months leading into the 2022-2023 high season,” PSG CEO Alexander Gumbs said on Thursday.

In January the island received 92,491 guests and 88 cruise ship calls; February 82,233 and 79 calls; March 116,773 and 72 calls; and April 59,010 and 43 calls. In 2021, the destination received 243,450 cruise guests and 383 cruise ship calls.

CLIA, the leading organization that represents the global cruise community in its Cruise Industry 2022 Outlook Report, said that CLIA ocean-going cruise lines have welcomed more than six million guests onboard since resuming operations in July 2020.

“Cruise tourists, and the money they spend, create jobs and opportunities for local communities around the world. Every 24 cruisers create one fill-time equivalent job. Cruisers spend an average of US$750 per passenger in port cities over the course of a typical seven-day cruise. Six in 10 people who have taken a cruise say that they have returned to a destination that they first visited via cruise ship.” - CLIA

The cruise industries leading public health protocols have facilitated the resumption of cruise tourism around the world, which has put people back to work and reinvigorating local and national cruise tourism economies.

CLIA says more than 75 per cent of ocean-going member capacity of cruise ships have returned to service and taking guests to destinations around the world. Nearly 100 per cent of cruise ships are projected to be in operation by August 2022.

CLIA ocean-going member cruise lines are projected to debut 16 new cruise ships in 2022, including five LNG-powered vessels and nine expedition ships.

]]> (Roddy) Soualiga News Today Thu, 05 May 2022 20:43:01 -0400
Divi Little Bay and Oceans at Divi Little Bay joins to facilitate volun-tourism

SINT MAARTEN (LITTLE BAY) - As part of its ongoing Divi Cares initiative, Divi Resorts is proud to announce that Divi Little Bay Beach Resort and Oceans at Divi Little Bay on St. Maarten have joined forces with social initiative platform (a program of St. Maarten Development Fund (SMDF) and NPOwer) and Pack for a Purpose, an organization aids travelers to make a difference in the local community by saving room in their suitcase for needed supplies.

This joint effort have as its first beneficiaries New Start for Children Foundation, a local foster home for children, and SECDA, the umbrella organization of St. Maarten’s independent daycare centers. To see what supplies are needed and join to help, island visitors can visit either of these portals: or

“This addition to, St. Maarten’s national volunteer bank, is part of our strategy to offer visitors a structured way to get involved with building and supporting our island. We have seen over the years that visitors are no longer just interested in sun, sand and sea but want to leave a positive impact. This joint effort offers visitors the chance to give to worthwhile initiatives on St. Maarten. We are staunch advocates for working together, building on the strengths of each other in the nonprofit organization NPO sector that is why we reached out to internationally established Pack for a Purpose,” said NPOwer’s Jose Sommers.

“Pack for a Purpose is thrilled to welcome Divi Resorts as a participant on our website,” said Rebecca Rothney, Founder and Chairperson for Pack for a Purpose. “We are also delighted to be adding a new country, the island nation of St. Maarten. We are honored to promote the wonderful work that they do in their community.”

Pack for a Purpose is a non-profit organization that positively impacts communities around the world by assisting travelers who want to take meaningful contributions to the destinations they visit. The supply lists for destinations on are provided directly by the local community-based projects that receive and use the supplies, enabling travelers to make informed decisions and take items that meet the needs of those who will be using them.

“It’s an easy way to make a huge difference! We’re asking travelers to save a little space in their suitcases for some much-needed supplies. Once you arrive at the resort, all you have to do is drop those items off at the front desk and you’re done. It’s that simple,” said Divi Little Bay Beach Resort and Oceans at Divi Little Bay on St. Maarten General Manager Anne-Marie Brooks. “We’ve worked with the New Start for Children Foundation many times in the past, so we’re overjoyed to have another opportunity to support this wonderful cause. Plus, SECDA is another great organization that supports children in our community by providing opportunities for them to thrive and learn in pre and afterschool programs.”

“It’s easy to donate and you’ll make a priceless impact in the lives of local children and families,” said Marco Galaverna, President & COO of Divi Resorts. “To help travelers choose St. Maarten as a destination, we’re offering 30% off both Divi Little Bay and our newly launched Oceans at Divi Little Bay.”

From now until June 1, 2022, vacationers can take advantage of these discounted rates for travel throughout 2022:

  • Divi Little Bay Beach Resort, St. Maarten – $209 per night (room only), $226 per person, per night (all-inclusive)
  • Oceans at Divi Little Bay, St. Maarten – $249 per night (room only), $250 per person, per night (all-inclusive)

To check availability, travelers can visit or use promo code 30OFF. Reservations can also be made by calling 1-800-367-3484 (toll-free) or 1-919-419-3484 (international).

]]> (Roddy) Soualiga News Today Thu, 05 May 2022 13:43:21 -0400
MP Sarah Wescot-Williams breaks down the COHO proposal ahead of IPKO

SINT MAARTEN (PHILIPSBURG) - When the Inter-parliamentary Kingdom Consultations (IPKO) discussions get underway this Wednesday, the elephant in the room will be the draft consensus Kingdom law to establish a body for reform and development for the three Caribbean Dutch countries of Aruba, Curacao and Sint Maarten, the COHO, Member of Parliament (MP) Sarah Wescot Williams said on Monday in a media statement.

MP Wescot quickly adds, “Not to say that the topic will not be tabled. The draft COHO law is subject of debate in the tripartite meeting of the 3 Caribbean countries on Tuesday, as it will be in the 4-party IPKO meetings.”

The parliaments of the four countries are all at different stages of handling this law, with all eyes however on the Second and First chambers, as this is where the votes will eventually fall.

“In essence the question is, are the parliaments for or against the present draft; what are they against and what if there is no consensus to be reached?”

Some proponents of the law or parts of the law, equate this COHO law with much needed reforms. Others see in the law the materialization finally of much needed developments.

It is from this premise that MP Wescot addresses the draft COHO law.

In the MP’s opinion, the origin of the COHO construct was not one to aid in the development of the countries. It was “plain and simple a way to push through a plethora of matters via a (new) type of higher supervision.”

“We have seemingly forgotten that the forerunner of the COHO was the CHE, the Caribbean Reform Entity, an entity that would supervise and report on the agreed upon reforms, that initially even included the infrastructure of the country, which was later rescinded”, MP Wescot stated.

“The CHE was strongly opposed to, as its infringements on the constitutional order of the Dutch Kingdom were as glaring as day. All this taking place in a strained political environment between Kingdom partners and this strained political environment was exacerbated by the Covid 19 pandemic that had all 4 countries in its grip.

It must be said though, that for emergency relief, especially in the health area, the Netherlands sprang into action towards its smaller Kingdom partners without hesitation.

“While it is a well-known fact that the initial reform entity was rejected based on its far-reaching usurpation of the countries’ responsibilities and autonomy, the spirit of this construct has however remained in the COHO.”

The country packages were agreed upon between the Netherlands and the respective countries via the mutual agreement format of article 38, sub 1 of the Kingdom charter. This type of agreements, which has become all too common, escapes parliamentary scrutiny and their use needs to be revisited, in the opinion of the MP.

“The Sint Maarten government pussyfooted around this entire matter, with different parts of the ruling government on completely opposite trajectories, leading to some very embarrassing moments, such as partially denying the UN petition filed on behalf of the parliament of Sint Maarten, the embarrassing moments in the Kingdom Council of Ministers’ meetings.”

“Most recently in a closed-door technical meeting with the Prime Minister in attendance, parliament was told how well St. Maarten did in defending its position, only to be followed by a public central committee meeting where we heard again how the government’s hands were twisted to arrive at a consensus between the 4 governments.”

Who can be against reforms, right?

But in the opinion of MP Wescot, “the country package is a far cry from a national reform agenda based on goals and objectives and priorities. The country package is a hodgepodge of reform areas, some urgently needed, others desirous, yet others demanded from us and then some random actions, without any motivation or prioritization.”

“The COHO project is a clever way to force the hands of the governments of the ACS countries. It is a form of higher supervision without the legalities for higher supervision and this in my view does not contribute to sustainability”, MP Wescot adds.

“I foresee major issues when it gets to the financing of the reform packages, without a clear financial picture from the side of the COHO. Not to mention the further negative development of our debt position.

While it is true that in the country package some long-stalled agreed upon reforms (e.g., tax reform and financial reform) again see the light of day, unfortunately the country package is not a comprehensive and synchronized set of measures based on a vision for the country going forward.

Blanket reforms such as those dictated by the country package needed to be preceded by a plan, mapping out the envisaged development goals and the future outlook.

In the opinion of MP Wescot, the budget of the government will now be vetted based on the reform package of the country and these ties the hands of government considerably. “It’s an overarching control of the budget and infringes on the budget right of the parliaments.”

Parliament’s oversight role will be relegated to “rubber stamping”, as by the time the budget reaches parliament, the implementation agenda, projects, and capital investments will have already been inked.

“The now added role of the CFT is also cause for concern, as there will be overlaps and there are still too many ambiguities.”

While the World Bank’s management of the Trust Fund is very bureaucratic, the existence of the (temporary) NRBP ensures the “couleur locale” and this is evident of how -even for a temporary organization, if it is to be sustainable- the foundation need to be implanted locally. The same can be said for the COHO construct. Any other set-up therefore needs to be devised with attention for sustainability and capacity building and in MP Wescot’s opinion, the country package/implementation agendas need to be redrafted.

Many of the issues that we face with the WB Trust Fund construct are going to repeat themselves with the temporary work organization as well as with the COHO.

Problems such as 1) reaching agreement on how and when to proceed,  

2) having the necessary local capacity to act as counterparts, 3) lack of a public national plan in which all of this takes shape.

“In addition to all of that, if the government continues to roll out whatever and the population, stakeholders and the different sectors are not being involved in what the government is doing, is going to create an atmosphere of mistrust and polarization nationally.

The powers delegated to the COHO organization belong more in a type of Development and Investment Bank structure with all the necessary checks and balances that any such institution demands; a structure for development that better fits small islands, ensuring that checks and balances are in place and all accountability has teeth.

In terms of our national development, what this current approach, both organizational and reformational totally overlooks, are the inherent vulnerabilities of small island developing states”, the MP further stated.

The MP quotes:

“On the front line of multiple world crises -including climate change and debt, SIDS face chronic structural challenges and vulnerabilities that are becoming more interconnected and intense over time. They rely on external financing to help prepare and recover from these crises. The climate crisis is more expensive for SIDS. Debt is more expensive for SIDS. Infrastructure is more expensive. Assistance from partner countries doesn’t stretch as far.” (UN-OHRLLS)

What is absent in all of this?

Where is the 3-prong sustainable development triangle of Environment, Economy, and Social Development? Where are the sustainable development goal indicators and targets for St. Maarten? Where are our long-term priorities?

“It’s not for the lack of plans per se, as we have had numerous plans for tax reform, we have (had) plans for education, for financial reform, we have a plan for universal health insurance, we have a status report of our youth in collaboration with UNICEF. Were these even made known at the tabling of the country package”? the MP queries in her remarks on the draft COHO law.

“I can only hope that we can have an open discussion with the other parliaments of the Kingdom on this draft law that was birthed during a time of mistrust, impatience and antagonism, at least in the case of St. Maarten and that the consensus principle will be upheld throughout the process”, MP Wescot concluded.

]]> (Roddy) Soualiga News Today Mon, 02 May 2022 21:10:09 -0400
CDFHA “Get ready, get prepared” and attend Hurricane Preparedness Information Sessions

SINT MAARTEN (GREAT BAY, (DCOMM) – The Department of Community Development, Family & Humanitarian Affairs (CDFHA) which falls under the Ministry of Public Health, Social Development and Labor (Ministry VSA) is hosting its “Get Ready, Get Prepared” information sessions on hurricane preparedness Tuesday May 3-31, 2022, from 6:30pm – 8:00pm.

Further, the objective of the project is to: (1) Increase community/residents’ awareness on the different aspects of hurricane preparedness; (2) empower residents with knowledge, tools, and skills to engage in advanced planning and effectively prepare and respond during or after an emergency or disaster.

The weekly sessions will take place in the following locations: (1) the Seventhday Adventist School, Cole Bay (Tuesday May 3, 2022); Government Administration Building, Great Bay (Tuesday May 10, 2022); Belvedere Community Center (Tuesday May 17, 2022) Dutch Quarter Community Center (Tuesday May 24, 2022); St. Peters Community Center (Tuesday May 31, 2022) from 6:00pm-8:30pm.

Each session consists of six (6) presentations that cover the following topics: “Safety and security”, “preparing minors for hurricanes”, “Hurricane forecasting”, “Shelter management” “insurance”, “First aid/CPR”, and “Stories of resilience”.

For more information, please feel free to send CDFHA an email at, or contact any of the following Help Desks: Cole Bay Help Desk 1721-5204315; St. Peters Community Help Desk 1721-5203418; Dutch Quarter Community Help Desk 1721-5207651.

]]> (Roddy) Soualiga News Today Mon, 02 May 2022 18:03:33 -0400
Emmanuel says he remains in total opposition to COHO. Calls it a divisive tool in the Kingdom

SINT MAARTEN (PHILIPSBURG) - Independent Member of Parliament Christophe Emmanuel’s position towards the COHO remains the same as it has been from day 1: complete opposition to the entity which he says will obviously infringe on St. Maarten’s autonomy and relegate the government and Parliament to the sideline.

“There can be no talk of good faith from the Dutch government if they continue to seek control over the budgets of the countries while holding the “no liquidity support” ax over our necks. It is disingenuous and blatant political blackmail,” the MP said. “I will call it as I see it,” he added.

He said he is not impressed with vague statements coming from some Members of Parliament who supported the COHO full-throat, but are now apparently convinced that the entity is bad for the country. “I am not impressed because if they believe it is no good, then say so with conviction and act accordingly,” the MP said.

“We see the Parliament of Curacao passing a unanimous motion against the COHO in its current form. But we fail to understand that the Dutch government, through COHO, will not negotiate its way out of overall control of reform projects. Neither will they drop any measure that holds liquidity support over the heads of these islands.

“It is an exercise in futility and colonialism by a different name. It is a divisive tool within the Kingdom. Here we have a country, the Netherlands, that wants to pride itself on human rights, democratic principles and a united Kingdom. But they are dividing this same kingdom by implementing an entity on one group of people in the same Kingdom.

“Saba and Statia doesn’t have a COHO, not a single province in Holland has a COHO, but you choose the people of St. Maarten upon which to utilize this colonizing tool that is anchored in ‘do as we say or else’. That is exactly what this is. If the Netherlands cannot genuinely assist us in crossing the street to get to a safe place, then let us go,” the MP said.

He said he intends to once again express his position at IPKO as he had once before when he told MP’s of the Kingdom that COHO remains unclear and foreign to the people of St. Maarten. “As time has passed and State Secretaries change, COHO has not. This entity is entirely unnecessary if the government of St. Maarten allows the civil core to execute local governmental reforms without severe political interference.

The government, he said, has not presented an alternative plan, not even an economic plan, for this country. In the meantime, State Secretary Alexandra van Huffelen and BZK is willing to take St. Maarten’s concerns about infringing on its autonomy and laws into account only after the COHO law is passed. “When translated this means never,” Emmanuel said.

“The government and Parliament will lose control over our national budget and this means we lose our country,” MP Emmanuel stressed. “The Prime Minister of St. Maarten will have to answer to BZK and even to a State Secretary.”

The CFT, already a restrictive body on St. Maarten, will be given more budgetary oversight powers including having to report to the COHO on whether or not there are obstacles included in the annual country budget that could hamper implementation of the country packages or other COHO projects. Should the COHO agree that such obstacles are clearly apparent, this will form the basis to decide whether or not to continue with liquidity support.

“The direct involvement of BZK with COHO is very worrisome because this is de facto the Dutch governments running the Caribbean countries through the COHO construct. If there are objections, it is the same COHO and BZK that ultimately decides what is in line with the execution agenda for the country packages. The will and intentions of local politicians will not be considered in our own country,” Emmanuel said.

To date he added, neither the State Secretary nor the Council of Ministers of St. Maarten can say otherwise to these facts. He said it is clear that the Parliament of St. Maarten will have no power as the COHO will draft the execution agenda for the country packages and nothing will move forward unless the COHO so approves.

“Keep in mind COHO also retains the power to initiate projects on its own accord. So as much as the government thinks certain measures will not be included, that is not up to government and Parliament. If the COHO and its handlers feel like proposing a land tax for example, it can do exactly that,” Emmanuel said.

“We have no cohesive, solid position towards the COHO. I have preached from the mountain tops about everything we see happening today. It was clear where their “trajectory” was heading; direct to an administrative body, constructed in the Netherlands by the Dutch government, with the intention to finally control these islands by controlling their budgets. Any protest would be met with no liquidity. This is the trajectory the government of St. Maarten followed and that this MP will continue to oppose alone for as long as I have to,” MP Emmanuel concluded.

]]> (Roddy) Soualiga News Today Mon, 02 May 2022 15:57:09 -0400
One person arrested by French authorities as a suspect in human smuggling investigation

SINT MAARTEN (PHILIPSBURG) - The Human Trafficking Human Smuggling Unit (UMM) of the Sint Maarten Police Force has been carrying out investigations into several human smuggling incidents since the middle of 2021, originating from Sint Maarten (Saint Martin) with the ultimate destination being the United States Virgin Islands (USVI).

The nationality of the people who were being smuggled often were Haitians, Venezuelans, and Brazilians. In the meantime, several arrests have been made of suspects who are believed to have played an organizing role within this smuggling organization.

Collaborating closely with the French police, a suspect involved in this investigation was arrested by the French police upon request of the human smuggling team of KPSM.

During one of these human smuggling incidents, the vessel used encountered problems and ultimately sank. One of the crew members went missing in the process and probably drowned. This investigation is ongoing and the UMM team is not ruling out more arrests. (KPSM)

]]> (Roddy) Soualiga News Today Fri, 29 Apr 2022 15:44:33 -0400
Grand Carnival parade on Sunday, May 1. Police prepare for street closures,-may-1-police-prepare-for-street-closures&Itemid=450,-may-1-police-prepare-for-street-closures&Itemid=450

SINT MAARTEN (PHILIPSBURG) - This Sunday, May 1, 2022, the SCDF will hold its grand carnival parade. The parade will start on L.B. Scott Road and will end at the Salt Pickers roundabout behind the Police Station in Philipsburg.

It will be one of the last events held before the closing of this carnival period. As is customary, the parade will also be passing through Front Street.

In the meantime, the public is requested to refrain from parking their vehicles on Front Street as the vehicles may be towed away in the interest of public safety. It is anticipated that the first troops will be expected to arrive on Front Street around 12:00pm. In connection with the free movement of the carnival parade, Front Street will be cordoned off earlier in the day.

St. Maarten Police made it possible for churchgoers to use Front Street to get to the church on Sunday morning May 1, 2022. Worshippers can use Front Street to drop off the parishioners, but their vehicles will have to be parked on Back Street or any other parking locations. Law enforcement personnel have reached out to several of the church's pastors in order to make it easier for their congregation to get to their church service and back home.

Parishioners who are attending Methodist Church on Sunday, May 1, 2022, will be able to enter through school-streeg (next to Oranje-school) in order to access Front Street.

A request goes out to the church members who finish with the mass after midday, that they should use Soualiga road or Sucker-garden Road, to go exit Phillipsburg not to get caught up in traffic.

The St. Maarten Police wishes all revelers and the community a very safe final days of carnival. (KPSM)

]]> (Roddy) Soualiga News Today Thu, 28 Apr 2022 21:25:09 -0400
Minister of Justice Richardson a step ahead with professionalism

SINT MAARTEN (PHILIPSBURG) - On Friday, April 22, the Honorable Minister of Justice Anna E. Richardson paid a visit to a four-day workshop on ‘Civil Servant’s Rights & the Advising Process’ currently undertaken by personnel advisors of the Ministry of Justice from April 19 until April 22. The safety and protection of the St. Maarten community greatly depend on the efforts of the civil servants in the Ministry. As such, this workshop comes as a step forward in improving the Ministry’s personnel affairs processes and dealing with the issue that affects its most important asset; its employees.

“Since taking office in 2020, I have been focused on improving the various issues that have plagued this Ministry for more than 10 years. Concerns, regarding the existing staff and further staffing, are being addressed, firstly, with the completion of the Ministry’s Function Book which has now been published, and now via dialogue with the unions in order to regulate the legal position of KPSM and the National Detectives, and their new salary scales,” stated Minister Richardson.

The Ministry has been working diligently toward filling numerous key positions within the various departments. Among these, are the recruitment and selection of professionals for the Victim Support Services (VSS), the further processing of the organizational plan for the Executive Protection Unit (EPU), and the completion of training for 12 certified customs officers who were sworn in on April 22. KPSM has seen an increase in the police force over the past two years via the training and certification of their recruits, a practice that continues at present, and training for Point Blanche Prison guards is expected to begin in June 2022. Critical professional development projects are also being prepared to train personnel of various sections of the Immigration and Border Control Services, and in the interim, training qualifications required to recognize several educational programs formally, are being reviewed.

The workshop for the personnel advisors is the beginning of a new approach where cooperation between the executive services is being improved. Working in teams from the different departments will allow staff members to learn from each other and make better use of the power of collaboration which has been strengthened by Minister Richardson with the approval of the development and implementation of a digital platform. The platform will allow direct communication among the Ministry’s staff, where requests concerning allowances and other employees’ benefits can also be made.

]]> (Roddy) Soualiga News Today Wed, 27 Apr 2022 23:05:52 -0400
Royanna Baly makes history as first known St. Maarten-born Deputy Prosecutor

SINT MAARTEN (PHILIPSBURG) - On April 22, the community of St. Maarten learned about Ms. Royanna Baly’s appointment and participation in her first court session as Deputy Prosecutor. Baly has been working at the Public Prosecutor’s Office (OM) of St. Maarten since 2020 and is the first known St. Maarten-born person to have accomplished this milestone. She is now able to work on minor cases as Deputy Prosecutor.

Prime Minister Silveria E. Jacobs stated, “As St. Maarteners, it is time for us to continue recognizing the achievements and highlight the importance of our collective growth. This historical moment adds to our collective efforts required towards the continued building of our nation. It shows what our younger generation, with the right support structure, education, and love for country, can and will achieve for their personal growth and ultimately taking their rightful places as future leaders.”

The Government of St. Maarten hereby extends congratulations to a daughter of the soil, Ms. Royanna Baly and the OM on her first court session appearance, and being the first known St. Maarten-born person to achieve this milestone, thereby contributing to the positive future of St. Maarten.

]]> (Roddy) Soualiga News Today Tue, 26 Apr 2022 20:53:50 -0400
MPC students showed their craftmanship during the SKILL Finals in the Netherlands

SINT MAARTEN/THE NETHERLANDS - This week Nathan Joseph and Gilmar Blackman, Electrical Engineer students from Milton Peters College (MPC), are busy with their Practical Central Exam in electrical engineering and plumbing, but they had a good trial run last month during the vocational SKILLS Competition in the Netherlands, SVOBE said in a press statement on Tuesday.

“As the only representatives of the Caribbean Dutch islands, Nathan and Gilmar competed against seven other electrical teams from various Dutch provinces. In five hours’, time they had to make a lamp from copper pipes and install it.

“Only one team managed to complete this time-consuming assignment, but the MPC students scored high in planning, preparatory installation work and remained steadfast and focused throughout the competition.

“Afterwards they enjoyed watching the students of tertiary vocational education (MBO) competing in their two-days challenge in robotics, vehicle technology, wall plastering, culinary arts and about 30 other vocational areas.

“Other highlights were witnessing snow and a visit to the MBO school Summa College, where the students participated in a lesson in digital electronics. The copper lamp they have assembled will be shipped to Sint Maarten and will receive a nice spot in the renovated school to honor the craftsmanship of our committed students,” the SVOBE statement concludes.

]]> (Roddy) Soualiga News Today Tue, 26 Apr 2022 14:05:43 -0400