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Doncher-Arrindell breaks ground on Backstreet repairs

PHILIPSBURG - Minister of Tourism and Economic Affairs Mellissa Arrindell-Doncher symbolically "broke ground" on the Backstreet project on Saturday, April 22. She also received an update on the project from Claudius Buncamper of the department of VROMI. The Minister was also joined by Director of Windward Roads Jan-Hendrik Boekaar.

The Backstreet project is a joint project between the Ministries of TEATT (Tourism, Economic Affairs, Transport and Telecommunication) and VROMI and is being financed by the TEATT Ministry. The project is being executed by main contractor Windward Roads.

The bricks in the road will be removed and the road will be paved. Buncamper explained that the road will remain open for pedestrians at all times and to emergency vehicles. VROMI has also made it possible for residents and businesses to connect sewage lines at their own expense while the project is ongoing.

The drainage on the road will also be regulated to eliminate water accumulation in pockets. Barring any setbacks, this phase of the project should be completed in May. Minister Arrindell-Doncher noted that the project is not just important for business activity and residents, but it provides work for young men in the community.

"I am from the Philipsburg area and it was good to see some of the young men I know working on this project. It's important that they are afforded the opportunity to participate in general interest projects, in particular those in districts they reside," the Minister said.

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CPS Holding Preparatory Meetings and Steps up Surveillance for Yellow Fever

GREAT BAY, (DCOMM) – The Collective Prevention Services (CPS), a department within the Ministry of Public Health, Social Development and Labour (Ministry VSA), over the past weeks has been meeting with various stakeholders as it relates to preparatory multi-agency response, and has stepped up surveillance for yellow fever in the wake of an increase in yellow fever reports emanating from several Latin American countries. 

CPSs surveillance mechanism was placed on alert for any potential yellow fever cases in January.

Sint Maarten does not have any yellow fever cases, but due to the current situation of yellow fever being detected in areas in countries where no cases have been detected in several years, this has increased the country’s alert level.

The department is requesting for all to be on the alert and be proactive if you experience any symptoms after having travelled to an endemic Yellow Fever area. You are requested to consult your physician.

Yellow fever is an acute viral haemorrhagic disease that is endemic in tropical areas of Africa and Latin America. Transmission is primarily between monkeys, and from monkeys to humans.

According to the most recent Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) epidemiological update, suspected and confirmed yellow fever cases have been reported in Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, Bolivia and Suriname.

Reports of disease spreading among animals is currently under investigation in states bordering Argentina, Bolivia, Colombia, Guyana, Paraguay, Peru, Suriname, Uruguay, and Venezuela, represent a risk of spread of the virus to the bordering countries, especially in areas within similar ecosystems.

In Brazil, since the beginning of the outbreak in December 2016 up to 12, April 2017, there were 2,422 cases of yellow fever reported, including 326 deaths.  The case fatality rate is 34 per cent among confirmed cases.

PAHO adds that given the current yellow fever situation in Brazil and the emergence of cases in areas where no cases have been detected in several years, Member States are urged to continue efforts to timely detect, confirm, and adequately treat cases of yellow fever within a timely manner.  To this end, health care workers should be kept up-to-date and trained to detect and treat cases especially in areas of known virus circulation.

PAHO and the World Health Organization encourage Member States to take the necessary actions to keep travellers, heading to areas where yellow fever vaccination is mandatory, informed and vaccinated.

The virus is transmitted through the bite of infected Aedes aegypti, the same mosquito that can transmit the dengue, chikungunya and zika viruses.  Mosquitoes acquire the virus by feeding on infected primates (human or non-human) and then transmit the virus to other primates (human or non-human).

In urban areas e.g. within the communities of Sint Maarten, risk can be reduced by eliminating potential mosquito breeding sites and reducing your exposure to mosquito bites. 

There is one sure way of mitigating mosquito borne diseases, and that is removing mosquito breeding sites from within and surrounding your premises, and apply mosquito repellent to stop mosquitoes’ from feeding.

Symptoms of yellow fever according to the Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA) usually appear three to six days after the bite of an infected mosquito. In the initial phase, they include fever, muscle pain, headache, shivers, loss of appetite, and nausea or vomiting.

For most patients, these symptoms disappear after three to four days. Some patients enter a second, more toxic phase within 24 hours of the initial remission.

High fever returns, and several body systems are affected, including the kidneys. Half of patients who enter this toxic phase die within 10 to 14 days, while the rest recover without significant organ damage.

Vaccination is the most important preventive measure against yellow fever.

The vaccine is safe, affordable and highly effective, providing effective immunity within 30 days for 99% of those vaccinated.

A single dose of yellow fever vaccine is sufficient to confer sustained immunity and life-long protection, with no need for a booster.  The yellow fever vaccine must be administered at least 10 days prior to travel. Persons that travel to endemic countries where yellow fever is confirmed should get the vaccine.

Travelers with contraindications for yellow fever vaccine (e.g. children below 9 months, pregnant or breastfeeding women, people with severe hypersensitivity to egg antigens, and severe immunodeficiency or over 60 years of age) should consult their health professional for further advice about the yellow fever vaccine.

For more information call CPS at 542-2078, 542-3003 or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. 

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APS TO HOST PENSION SEMINAR ON PENSION REFORMS, APS INVESTMENTS AND APS COMMUNICATION STRATEGY

PHILIPSBURG – St. Maarten’s general pension fund administrator, APS, has begun preparations for a seminar, to be held on May 19 upcoming.

The seminar will be held with the theme ‘Your Future is Our Day to Day’.

The seminar is to feature presentations by APS officials, elucidating on several issues which are considered of importance to APS participants, pensioners and other stakeholders.

The seminar will additionally serve to discuss, in depth, how the pension fund aims to protect the interests of its clients through its daily operations and ongoing initiatives.

The pension fund maintains that investment opportunities are embraced with the intention of increasing the long-term return of the fund and ensuring that pension payments to civil servants and other employees of the (semi-)public sector can continue well into the future.

Those attending the seminar, can expect to learn more about the new investment projects which the pension fund is now involved in. These include the Rainforest Adventures St. Maarten project, the acquisition of a parcel of land next to the new government administration building and of an office park in the Philipsburg area.

These are in addition to the ongoing APS development of Mary’s Fancy estate and the Welgelegen homes initiative.  

Next month’s seminar will thus be in keeping with the fund’s commitment to provide information and to obtain feedback from participants, pensioners and other stakeholders, on a regular basis.

APS envisions raising awareness while disseminating pertinent information regarding pensions in general and aspects of the pension reform process.

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New Dutch government won’t have as much cash as expected

SINT MAARTEN/THE NETHERLANDS – The four parties currently discussing forming a new Dutch government will have less money to divide up than expected, chief negotiator Edith Schippers told reporters on Thursday evening.

‘A number of setbacks and current issues which have to be dealt with’ mean there is less financial room to manoeuvre, Schippers said, after being briefed by caretaker finance minister Jeroen Dijsselbloem earlier in the week.

Neither Schippers or the finance ministry would say how much money is involved. The government macro-economic think-tank CPB said last month the budget surplus would reach €3.5bn this year, mounting up to €11bn by 2021.

Despite the negative financial news, Schippers said she is ‘cautiously optimistic’ that the talks between the VVD, D66, Christian Democrats and GroenLinks will succeed.

The first 11 days of negotiations have been well used and the spirit at the discussion table is ‘extremely good’ she said. Prime minister and VVD leader Mark Rutte has also said progress is being made.

The talks will not continue next week as the four party leaders take a holiday break. (DutchNews)

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25th ANNUAL ST. MAARTEN OPEN GOLF TOURNAMENT KICKS OFF SATURDAY AT MULLET BAY GOLF COURSE

MULLET BAY - For Saturday, the first day of the tournament, based on the successful registration of players today the following pairings have been established, a press release from the St. Maarten Golf Association (SMGA) said on Friday.

The SMGA is quite pleased with the total of 79 registrations; as such the tournament is a success even before it starts.

With players from St. Maarten, St. Martin, Anguilla, Colombia, Great Britain, Netherlands, United States, St. Kitt’s, France, Guadeloupe, some playing under the St. Maarten flag due to long term residency, the multitude of nationalities bring prestige to this special 25th lustrum edition of the tournament.

TEE 1   First name Last name   TEE 10   First name Last name
7:10 Champion Scott Delong   7:15 Men 1 Yannick Cazemajou
  Champion Erwan Le Floc'h     Men 1 Alain Haillant
  Champion Troy Ferris     Men 1 Philippe Vonrufs
  Champion Jesus Antonio Rivera     Champion Kit Lee
                 
7:20 Champion Rodney Tackling   7:25 Men Yvon Springer
  Champion Charles Blake     Men Jonathan Haillant
  Champion Serge Munoz     Men Ivan Havertong
  Champion Stanley Samuel     Men Clarence Derby
                 
7:30 Champion Howard Hobgood   7:35 Men Steven Carty
  Champion Darren Banks     Men Marlon Loncke
  Champion Emmanuel Garcia     Men Ian Lucas
  Champion Louis Louchet     Men Marc Van Iersel
                 
7:40 Men Charly Sermanson   7:45 Senior Philippe Thevenet
  Men Oliver Hobgood     Senior Steven Mix
  Men Andy Holmes     Senior Didier Bedu
  Men Jan Peter Holtland     Senior Louis Amond
                 
7:50 Men Thomas Zorn   7:55 Supersenior Buzz Adamski
  Men Thomas Proust     Supersenior Chuck Ealey
  Senior Ricardo Perez     Supersenior Richard St. Peter
  Ladies Roberta Ceccarelli     Senior Sam Bashir
                 
12:00 Men Chim Cohen   12:05 Ladies Sidsel Jacobsen
  Men Lester Samuel     Ladies Manon Tortelier
  Senior Tony Lake     Ladies Joanna Ambron
        Ladies Marie Gibbons
                 
12:10 Supersenior Lionel Bouvret   12:15 Ladies Anne Marie Bouillé
  Supersenior Jeffrey Griffiths     Ladies Gitte Poulsen
  Supersenior Keith Graham     Ladies Debbie Ferland
  Supersenior Richard Ambron     Ladies Danielle Bedu
                 
12:20 Supersenior Francois Anton   12:25 Senior Didier Kerfourn
  Supersenior Stéphane Legendre     Senior Richard Berchoux
  Supersenior Marius Arrondell     Senior Larry Stott
  Supersenior Tony Rodriguez     Supersenior Valentine Banks
                 
12:30 Supersenior Steven De Windt   12:35 Supersenior David Morrison
  Supersenior Keithley Maynard     Supersenior Glenford Gumbs
  Supersenior Francis Eck     Supersenior Rourke Henderson
  Supersenior Steven Rumeser     Supersenior Richard Crompton
                 
12:40 Supersenior Rob Aberson   12:45 Senior Lee Hallam
  Supersenior Bernard Schmitt     Senior Tony Burn
  Supersenior Auguste Belardinelli     Supersenior Frank Jespersen
  Supersenior Bill Olliver     Supersenior Peter Ringenbach

The SMGA is a non-profit organization of avid golfers that promotes the practice of the game of golf and to foster community sense.

The SMGA organizes golf matches and tournaments for its members and non-members and donates most of its proceeds that are made through membership fees and during these events like the St. Maarten Open to multiple community organizations on the island.

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It Only Makes Sense: NIPA signs MOU with EPI

CAY HILL - Sun, Sea, Sand and good times, is what describes the “Friendly Island” of St. Maarten, affectionately known as a unique paradise by most who visit the island. The tourism industry is the main source of income on the island, thus creating educational programs that caters to and enhances this industry is an absolute must.

In being an institute of vision, who makes purposeful strides in catering to the needs of the community, the National Institute of Professional Advancement (NIPA) recently signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU), for the development of level 3 and 4 programs, with Colegio Educacion Profesional Intermedio (EPI).

EPI is considered to be one of the leading Culinary Arts and Hospitality Management School in the Dutch Caribbean, located on “Dushi” Aruba. With the assistance of EPI, NIPA aspires to offer programs which include: a level 3 Associates of Applied Science of Food & Beverage and Culinary Arts, a level 4 Associates of Arts in Hotel, Leisure and Travel and a level 4+ Associate of Science degree in Hospitality Management. These programs are scheduled to start in September of the new school year.

EPI and NIPA share mutual interest in providing a quality curriculum, to equip students with a broad-based view of the hospitality industry. Furthermore, the idea is for students to receive in-depth training in the methodologies necessary to succeed not only as hospitality professionals, but as active and productive members of the community.

This formal collaboration entails the exchanging of information, best practices and expertise. Not only will EPI be assisting with the development of the level 3 and 4 programs in Culinary Arts and Hospitality programs, NIPA will be assisting EPI in the implementation of the Maritime Assistant and Boat Master program at EPI.

Additionally, NIPA staff will have the opportunity to pursue American Hotel & Lodging Educational Institute (AHLEI) / Global Academic Partner (GAP) adult education programs via EPI.

What can probably be considered as the most exciting part of this collaboration is the opportunity for students and teachers to travel between the islands for internship and teaching opportunities.

Hospitality is the foundation of the economy of St. Maarten, and thus it only make sense that such programs are created, in an effort to continue to enhance our greatness as a nation, and leadership  in this industry.

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SOCA TANKING WINNERS ANNOUNCED

PHILIPSBURG - On Saturday April 15, 2017 the Soca Tanking winner were announced and handpicked by both 2016 reigning kings of Soca Rumble: King Vers and Mighty Dow. 

Ten winners won each one a ticket to watch the Soca Rumble event slated for Tuesday, April 25, 2017 in the carnival village.

In addition, during the night of the show two of the ten winners will then be eligible to win a Smart TV and $100 gas voucher courtesy of Texaco.

The 10 winning names are as follows: Monica, Albert, Sylvia, Kareen, Antonio, N.C. Wathey, Anna, Duverger.

All 10 persons will be contacted by Texaco to pick up their tickets.

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Tourist Bureau invites local photographer’s participation in CTO Cover Star Competition

GREAT BAY, (DCOMM) – The St. Maarten Tourist Bureau (STB) is inviting local photographer’s participation in the Caribbean Tourism Organization (CTO) Cover Star Competition in search of stunning romantic shots that would grace the cover of CTOs “Your Caribbean Weddings & Honeymoons” next edition.

The aforementioned publication is a major consumer and travel guide which is distributed at wedding shows and other key wedding and travel and tourism events in the United Kingdom and Europe.

The competition is open to amateurs and professionals.  Those interested should contact the following persons at the STB before submitting their photos: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. and This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

CTO is looking for photos that portray the romantic side of the Caribbean – think dreamy landscapes and loved-up couples.  The backdrop has to be unmistakably Caribbean; think sun-drenched beaches or beautiful rainforest; a romantic plantation house or a glamorous yacht.

Amateur and professional photographers should contact the STB as soon as possible for additional information as well as the terms and conditions.

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WIB, leader in innovation introduces Bankomatiko Contactless Smart Card

PHILIPSBURG - The Windward Islands Bank Ltd (WIB) as part of its affiliation with its parent bank Maduro & Curiel’s Bank (MCB), the largest bank in the Dutch Caribbean with a long standing alliance with MasterCard Worldwide, is proud to announce that it has upgraded its current Bankomatiko Smart Card to a Bankomatiko Contactless Smart Card.

The Bankomatiko Contactless Smart Card uses Near Field Communication (NFC) chip technology to communicate with point of sale terminals worldwide that are enabled for Maestro contactless transactions.

When using your Bankomatiko Contactless Smart card at POS devices that are enabled for Maestro contactless transactions, it is not necessary to insert or swipe your card.

Now you also have the option to make a contactless payment just by holding your card near the contactless reader of the POS terminal, also known as “Tapping” your card, where you will hear a beep or the screen of the POS terminal will light up to let you know that the transaction has been completed.

Contactless purchases equivalent to NAF 45.00 or less can be processed very quickly without a pin and for contactless purchases between NAF 45.00 and NAF 100.00, it is required to enter a pin. For purchases over NAF 100.00, you must always insert or swipe your card.

Regardless of the contactless feature on the card, you always have the option to insert or swipe your card and enter the pin to complete the transaction like you have grown accustomed to.

Contactless payments are gaining popularity worldwide because they are easy, faster and secure. This technology is becoming more popular every day especially at locations where it is important to have quicker checkouts at the counters.

Just think of places like bakeries, fast-food restaurants, bars and movie theatres. On top of that it adds to the safety of your card usage because you are less likely to walk away without your card as the card stays in your possession.

The roll out of Bankomatiko Contactless Smart Card will start in the second quarter of 2017.  You will recognize the Bankomatiko Contactless Smart Card by the contactless indicator on the top right corner on the front of the card.

WIB expects to roll out contactless enabled POS terminals to merchants in the Dutch Caribbean to accept contactless Maestro payments by mid-2017. The Bankomatiko Contactless Smart Card can be used for contactless transactions worldwide where Maestro is accepted and there is a contactless enabled POS terminal.

However the contactless technology is still more common in Europe where contactless Maestro cards are widely accepted.  To recognize merchants where Maestro contactless payments are accepted you should look for Maestro logo in combination with the contactless symbol on the POS terminal. 

If you have questions about the WIB Bankomatiko contactless smart card, please call us at 546-2WIB (546-2942).

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MP Wescot-Williams seeks Tax Discussion and requests Meeting of the Finance Committee of Parliament

PHILIPSBURG - After several requests for information on taxes and the answers provided by the Minister of Finance, I have now requested the Chairman of the Finance Committee to convene a meeting of this committee with the agenda point: The fiscal and tax systems of St. Maarten, Member of Parliament (MP) Sarah Wescot-Williams said in a press statement on Thursday.

The request for the meeting was made after receiving upon request, the status of several pending pieces of legislation regarding taxes etc. such as:

•           Cancellation of taxes prior to 2006

•           Amendments to the national accountability ordinance

•           Collection of taxes

•           The financial training institution

The first answers to these questions date back to August 2016 and an update was requested in March 2017.

Furthermore, I appraised the Finance Committee chair of the response by the Minister to the motion adopted by Parliament regarding the "forgiveness" of taxes, allowing taxpayers to file taxes, not filed before, the MP further pointed out in the press release.

The MP adds: Then there is the document, provided by the Government, "The Road to a Smart State of the Art Tax Administration" by Mr. E. Ys of June 2016.

"These are in my opinion, more than enough topics to warrant a discussion in Parliament, starting in the Finance Committee. I also see it as my duty as President to nudge the committees of Parliament where and when necessary and work towards independent debates in parliament," MP Sarah Wescot-Williams concluded.

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