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Soualiga News Today (3306)

Minister Ferrier and State Secretary Knops sign 50 Million Guilder liquidity support loan

SINT MAARTEN/THE NETHERLANDS – On Friday afternoon in The Hague Minister of Finance Michael Ferrier and State Secretary Raymond Knops signed off on a 50 Million Guilder loan to Sint Maarten, staving off looming liquidity challenges that Country Sint Maarten would otherwise face shortly.

Minister Ferrier explained that the loan conditions are 0% interest, a term of 30 years, with 25 equal yearly payments of NAFls 2,000,000.00 starting in January of 2023 (5 years from now).

This arrangement puts Country Sint Maarten in a much better position to deal with its financial obligations, especially in the Post Hurricane Irma period, when Government’s income has taken a heavy hit, while expenditures have gone through the roof.

The Government of Sint Maarten sincerely thanks their Kingdom partner for this favorable arrangement in these trying times.


Complimentary Heineken-70’s BAG for all competitors of the St. Maarten Heineken Regatta

SINT MAARTEN (SIMPSON BAY) - The organizers of the St. Maarten Heineken Regatta have teamed up with 70's BAG, an American-Dutch company which focusses on designing fashionable and foldable shopping bags to encourage people to stop using single-use plastic bags, and to shop responsibly.

During the regatta registration for the upcoming 2018 event, every entry will receive a complimentary Heineken-70's BAG in their registration packet filled with goodies and information.

Patrons during the 4-day sailing and music event can also purchase this limited-edition bag at the Heineken Merchandise shops at each party location. This will make it easy and stylish to reduce plastic bag pollution during the 4 amazing days and nights of the St. Maarten Heineken Regatta and throughout the year.

70's BAG is honored to celebrate the fifth year of this wonderful partnership for this amazing event. The Heineken-70's BAG is a cleverly designed faux leather wallet which zips open to reveal a big Heineken green shopper for your shopping convenience while contributing to a plastic-bag-free environment.

Heineken 70's BAGs can also be purchased in Amsterdam in the Heineken Experience, Heineken's first brewery which has been transformed into a sensational interactive tour through the dynamic world of Heineken.

Pauline Ann, the owner and designer of 70's BAG, teamed up with Heineken's distributor on St. Maarten, John Leone, to design a custom-made bag that perfectly coordinates the brand values of 70's BAG, Heineken and the Regatta.

The special bag features a black outer surface bearing the Heineken Open Your World logo with a stunning green interior shopping bag. 

Pauline Ann adds., "70's BAG is a company dedicated to making "The World a Little Greener, Oceans a Little Bluer and Hearts a Little Truer, so this campaign is sure to be a hit on all fronts."

"The 38th St. Maarten Heineken Regatta is the largest warm–water regatta in the world, held right here on our beautiful little Island, and we are proud to work with 70's BAG to promote responsible and sustainable practices on and off the water." 

Adds John Leone. “The annual Heineken-70’s bag collaboration is one of the pioneering efforts over the years that helps make the St. Maarten Heineken Regatta a truly "Green Regatta".”

So come enjoy the St. Maarten Heineken Regatta, the wonderful parties, the beautiful island and be part of the "Serious Fun", combining the best of sporting, enjoyment and the environment.


Prime Minister Romeo-Marlin and Minister Ferrier hold successful consultation with Dutch Prime Minister Rutte

SINT MAARTEN/THE NETHERLANDS – “It was a great meeting,” were the sentiments of Prime Minister Leona Romeo Marlin and Minister of Finance Michael Ferrier following their meeting with Prime Minister of the Netherlands Mark Rutte on Thursday morning in Den Haag.

Prime Minister Rutte greeted the two Ministers from Sint Maarten warmly at his Cabinet where they discussed a wide range of topics including the progress of the ongoing recovery of Sint Maarten, the reconstruction Fund, progress of arrangements with the World Bank, French & Dutch cooperation, and the overall urgency to address the needs of the people of Sint Maarten.

Minister Ferrier took the opportunity to briefly express his frustrations with the fact that regular, lengthy processes must be followed in order for Sint Maarten to eventually access the fund that will be managed by the World Bank.

While it is understandable that Sint Maarten must comply with international World Bank and International Monetary Fund standards, it is obvious that this too will cause delays.   

Any delay translates into more waiting for relief by persons in dire need of assistance. Getting the processes completed in a timely fashion, will prevent persons from falling between the cracks.

Prime Minister Romeo-Marlin made special mention of the ongoing efforts to complete the setting up of the Integrity Chamber and Border Control, the two conditions set by Holland in order for Sint Maarten to receive the promised financial aid.

The meeting which started on a light note with both Ministers belatedly congratulating the Dutch Prime Minister on his 51st birthday, which he celebrated on Valentine’s Day, ended on the same light note with a hug of PM Romeo-Marlin by her colleague Rutte.



SINT MAARTEN (POND ISLAND) - The Department of Labor and Social Affairs will coordinate the distribution of seventy (70) water survival kits and four (4) aqua boxes that were donated by the international and regional Rotary Clubs to St. Maarten. The donation offers an alternative for water to displaced families or those without access to clean water.

The water survival kits and aqua water filters will be distributed to families most in need according to the Basic Necessities program database managed by the Department of Labor and Social Affairs. The families will be instructed on how to use the water purification kit. 

The donation was presented by the District Governor (DG) of Rotary District 7020 Dr. Robert Leger accompanied by his wife Mrs. Rosa Leger and the leadership of the different Rotary Clubs on Sint Maarten. The Ministry of VSA was extremely happy with the content of the water survival kits and aqua boxes, and to assist the Rotary Clubs of St. Maarten with the distribution to persons in need of these supplies.  

The kits were officially handed over to the Minister of Health, the Honorable Emil Lee at the Government Administration Building. The Honorable Minister Lee was very impressed by this generous donation and thanked DG Robert Leger, Rotary International and the Rotary Clubs from the United Kingdom and Switzerland on behalf of the Government and people of St. Maarten. 


TelEm Group, regional Telcos testing disaster management App.

SINT MAARTEN (POND ISLAND) - St. Maarten telecommunication provider, TelEm Group is joining other Telcos in the Caribbean in the testing phase of a disaster management App that could soon hit the global market.

The App, called SONAR, can make it possible for general populations in the region to receive up-to-the-minute information about upcoming storms and natural disasters, view weather patterns and obtain various information from government and disaster preparedness offices including information about shelters and their state of readiness.

It also advises on recovery efforts after a natural disaster by sending targeted information before, during and after a major incident.

Both users and government can benefit from another feature of the SONAR App that focuses on the recovery effort following any natural disaster with contact information for donations and other supplies that might be needed at the time.

The developers say their App is designed for governments and national disaster organizations to serve the population. The disaster organizations can make use of its additional features including: A Command Center dashboard to centralize all communication centers, customization of the App to conform with local weather systems, Call Center management to assist the public and the ability to not only add new shelters to pending list, but also to inform the public about the occupancy of these shelters in real time.

SONAR is the creation of LXJ CODE Belize, a team of young software developers based in Belize.

The team scooped top prize in the Caribbean Association of National Telecommunication Organizations (CANTO) annual Hackathon C.O.D.E.3 software development competition last year. The contest is open to software developers from all CANTO member countries.

Following months of development work with regional entrepreneurial body, PieData and the Caribbean Emergency Disaster Management Agency (CDEMA), the SONAR team conducted additional trials in their home country Belize. Last week, during CANTO’s 34th AGM in Trinidad and Tobago, the team launched their latest test version of the SONAR App that CANTO’s Telco members will now be using in a controlled test. 

TelEm Group’s Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Mr. Kendall Dupersoy, and Chief Financial Officer (CFO), Mrs. Helma Etnel, both attended the SONAR presentation in Trinidad and Tobago recently and signed up as a testing partner.

“We can see how an application of this kind can be a very useful tool for our own government’s disaster management team and also for the general public because of the two components of the App. One component features monitoring by the disaster management team, while the other has push notifications that users of the App can utilize to stay informed at all stages of a disaster event from preparation to recovery,” said Mr. Dupersoy.

Mr. Dupersoy said TelEm Group and other Telcos will test the App and report back to Piedata so that any fine-tuning can be carried out with the development team before final presentations are made to governments and disaster management organizations throughout the region. The developers hope to take their work global by customizing the Apps features for different geographical areas and globally specific natural disasters.

CFO, Mrs. Helma Etnel, says she is very excited and proud of TelEm Group’s involvement in this testing phase. She believes the success of this regionally conceived and developed App can have a significant impact on the way potential disasters are prepared for, tracked and managed to the benefit of St.Maarten and entire populations and economies in the Caribbean, and later on, further afield.

“We should be very proud that such an App is being development in our own back yard,” said Mrs. Etnel, who sees this as encouragement for St. Maarten’s own developers to build their own apps for submission to future CANTO CODE competitions.

“I recall that on St. Maarten we were also slow to enter various CANTO competitions at the start, but once we started competing, it seemed like St. Maarten was winning one of the top prizes quite often. And so I believe it will be for future Hackathon CODE coding contests,” said Mrs. Etnel.

The TelEm Group executives say they will be speaking to government and St.Maarten’s local disaster management group about the new App and its possibilities once their own tests are completed and they receive the nod from the developers, CANTO and Piedata to take the current tests to the next phase.


Police sends warning to heavy equipment operators and owners

PHILIPSBURG - The Police Department is sending a warning to all operators/owners of heavy equipment stating that, in the aftermath of hurricane Irma and Maria a lot of heavy equipment was used in the cleanup of the island.

Heavy equipment refers to heavy-duty vehicles, specially designed for executing construction tasks, most frequently ones involving earthwork operations. They are also known as heavy machines, heavy trucks, construction engineering equipmentheavy vehicles, or heavy hydraulics.

Heavy equipment operators/owners have been making use of the public roads 24 hours a day under this extra ordinary condition.

It has been five months since the passing of the hurricane Irma and Maria, and even though the debris and garbage collection on the island is still ongoing, the police department will go back to enforcing the laws.

For that reason as of Monday February 19th 2018, the police department has instructed its officers to start controlling and removing heavy equipment which is using the public roads during the hours they are not allowed to.

The hours known as the “peak hours”, during which heavy equipment is not allowed to use the public roads runs daily, not including holidays and weekends, from 06.30 a.m. to 08.30 a.m. and from 12.00 p.m. to 02.30 p.m.

These measures are in accordance with article 60-A of the Traffic Ordinance of the Windward Island. (Artikel 60-A Wegenverkeersverordening Bovenwindse Eilanden).

All heavy equipment operators/owners are hereby urged to take good note of this information and take all necessary precautions to avoid any unnecessary inconvenience. (Sint Maarten Police Force)


Sint Maarten Delegation meets KLM reps. Meeting yields positive outcome

SINT MAARTEN/THE HAGUE - Upon arrival in the Netherlands on Wednesday February 14, 2018, the Government of Sint Maarten delegation headed by Prime Minister Leona Romeo Marlin and Minister of Finance Michael Ferrier, met with executives of KLM at the airline’s head office in Amstelveen.

The KLM invitation to the Sint Maarten delegation was to get a first-hand report on the post Hurricane Irma recovery progress of the island and to discuss flight network development, as they relate to Sint Maarten/Saint Martin.

The KLM delegation was headed by their Senior Vice President, Mr. Harm Kreulen and included Mr. Willem de Jonge, Vice President Government and Industry Affairs, Mr. Edgar van Asperen, Network Planner, Mr. Frank Houben, Delegate to the Board and Mr. Daan Pijzel, Director Commercial Division BENELUX.

Discussions centered around the general condition of the island, the progress being made getting the SXM Airport repaired, the status of stay-over guest rooms, the approximate reopening of the various large properties on the island, the speed in which some segments of the tourist market seem to be coming back and the availability of reliable data.

The KLM delegation expressed the airline’s commitment to the island with the announcement that a third 3rd Amsterdam-Sint Maarten-Curaçao-Amsterdam will be added in October of 2018, a fact that will be loaded in the KLM systems this week.

“The Government of Sint Maarten is focused on the recovery of Sint Maarten and to take it to the next level” Prime Minister Romeo Marlin told her audience, adding: "I am quite excited about the KLM fight increase, as we are convinced that it will have a huge impact on our focus to bring back business to our island". KLM also announced their willingness to offer marketing support to ensure the success of any additional flights.

At the end of the fruitful meeting gifts were exchanged and Mr. Kreulens thanked the Ministers and the accompanying (The Hague based) Sint Maarten House support staff for their visit to KLM Headquarters, stressing that good, open communications between parties on both sides of the Atlantic will only serve to strengthen the relationship between the airline and the island.


Minister of Tourism De Weever opens departure pavilion at SXM Airport

SINT MAARTEN (SIMPSON BAY) – Acting Minister of Tourism, Economic Affairs, Traffic & Telecommunications (TEATT), the Honorable Cornelius de Weever officially opened the Departure Pavilion at the Princess Juliana International Airport over the weekend.

Minister De Weever mentioned during the opening ceremony that as acting Minister of TEATT, with the responsibility for the airport, government will do all within its power to facilitate the rebuilding and further development of the facilities, and will also continue to encourage strategic partnerships in this vital sector that will result in a win-win-win situation for all involved.

Hurricane Irma was the first Category 5 hurricane to strike the Leeward Islands on record, followed by Hurricane Maria two weeks later, and is the second-costliest Caribbean hurricane on record, after Maria. The devastation caused by Hurricane Irma is quite evident in the damage that was done to the airport.

“I can’t think of one St. Martiner, traveling out of the island, or returning after Hurricane Irma who has not been literally moved to tears to see what had become of our award winning Princess Juliana International Airport,” said Minister De Weever.

Minister De Weever further stated that the opening of the temporary Departure Pavilion, is indeed one step forward in improving the experience we have all had, having to depart from a makeshift area that did not have all the top notch conveniences we had been accustomed to over the years.

“Every adversity, they say, offers opportunities and Irma is certainly no exception. The rebuilding of the Terminal Building provides a great chance to incorporate into its design and planning, a sterile transit area and the US Pre-Clearance to which our government is fully committed and for which negotiations are continuing according to schedule,” said Minister De Weever.


Dutch and French side Governments rekindle cooperation discussions

SINT MAARTEN (PHILIPSBURG-MARIGOT) – On Sunday morning February 11th Prime Minister Leona Romeo Marlin together with Minister of Finance Michael Ferrier, Minister of Justice Cornelius Deweever, and Minister of VROMI Miklos Giterson lead a delegation of technocrats to French St. Martin to meet President Daniel Gibbs, Prefet Anne Laubies and their Civil Servants team at the Collectivite in Marigot.

“The rekindling of discussions between both Governments ends a period of 14 months where no talks have taken place. This meeting begins the process of reversing the potential risk of jeopardizing the continuation of important EU funded joint projects that are essential and beneficial to the people of St. Martin / Sint Maarten.

“The goal of this initial meeting was to reaffirm the commitment to the St. Martin / Sint Maarten Territorial Cooperation Programme 2014 – 2020. A progression update on three existing projects were discussed namely; Belle Plaine drainage project, Simpson Bay Lagoon cleanup & Waste to water treatment plant for the Simpson Bay / Cole Bay area.

“The waste to energy solution for the sanitary landfill/dump was also discussed as a possible 4th project but those discussions are preliminary and exploratory in nature at this early juncture as both sides still require much more research and development before going forward with any possible proposal.

“In conclusion both Governments expressed the need for a unified message when having discussions with their respective European counterparts on issues of mutual cooperation.

“They also conveyed that cooperation on a local level must continue on structural basis and the historical unity and cooperation that has been displayed for many years must continue to be an example for countries in the world to recognize and admire,” according to a release from the Cabinet of the Prime Minister. 


SXM Airport Opens Temporary Departure Pavilion to Improve Passenger Comfort

SIMPSON BAY - Passengers departing from the Princess Juliana International Airport, SXM, will as from Friday, February 9th, 2018 have a much improved experience as they will be leaving from the Temporary Departure Pavilion which has been erected to enhance their comfort.

The Pavilion, which will be officially inaugurated at 10:30 this Friday morning, is fully air-conditioned and will replace the luggage processing area previously used as Departure Hall.

See below the speech by the Acting CEO and CFO, Ravi Darayanani.

“Good morning Honorable Prime Minister, Stakeholders and all invited guests:

“As I stand here today, I am reminded of the saying “FALLING DOWN IS A PART OF LIFE. GETTING BACK UP IS LIVING”

“September 6, 2017, is a date that will be etched in our minds for many years to come. The island of St. Maarten took a direct hit by the largest hurricane in history, Hurricane Irma that crippled our community and businesses.

“Immediately after the storm, the country was placed on a mandatory curfew, the Dutch military took control of the airport to administer evacuation flights, and there were limited supplies and repair materials on the island. Recovery efforts were also disrupted by the threat of Hurricane Jose and the torrential rainfall from Hurricane Maria. Like many, Princess Juliana International Airport, was down, but we were not out.

“Despite the many challenges, Princess Juliana International Airport’s management and staff, persevered by addressing the required safety and security requirements needed to obtain Civil Aviation’s approval to re-open operations. This happened in a mere 34 days. Although it seemed like an eternity at the time, re-opening the airport in such a short-time frame is a monumental achievement, for which we should applaud the dedication and hard work demonstrated by Mr. Hyman, our COO, all the employees, and 3rd parties who made this happen.

“In early December, night operations resumed, again as a result of the hard work to install the required runway lighting. Remember, airport operations are complex, and the Princess Juliana International Airport must adhere to a number of safety, aviation, and regulatory requirements….

“It’s not as simple as just opening our doors for business. But we also understand what our airport represents. It is not only a critical part of the strategic infrastructure of the island, it is also a symbol of our progress. The airport started as a small airfield back in the 1940’s and developed over time into an award-winning international airport and the second largest hub in the region. The people of St. Maarten are proud of this facility, because it stands as testament to our aspirations as a nation.

“Hurricane Irma, while devastating, is only a bump in our road to an even bigger and brighter future. We have started our comeback and where we are today, dedicating these temporary facilities that will accommodate visitors and residents is because of a team effort.

“I would like to commend our management team and our airline partners for their collaboration in the ongoing recovery and reconstruction efforts. Their collective efforts have been essential in keeping St. Maarten and our neighboring islands “Open for Business”.

“We have a long road ahead of us. It will take time to restore our iconic terminal building. While we work on that milestone, we can take a moment to celebrate an important step in the process. Today we celebrate the grand opening of our new temporary departure pavilion. Our temporary facility provides approximately 8,000 square feet of space to accommodate 315 seats, 11 concessionaires, 17 airline check-in booths, 2 sets of restrooms, security screening, transit processing, and emigration processing, all in an enclosed air-conditioned environment.

“With this facility, we strive for operational effectiveness, while simultaneously providing our passengers with an enhanced experience. In a few weeks, the Princess Juliana International Airport will also install a new temporary arrival pavilion.

“These two pavilions will serve to represent the “SXM” destination while we work on bringing back our pride and joy, the Princess Juliana International Terminal Building.  

“We continue our recovery efforts “en route to new horizons” and in the not too distant future, we will come together for another celebration; the re-opening of a better and stronger terminal facility.

“Thank you for celebrating with us today. We are grateful for your continued support and patience as we rebuild.”

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