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Symposium Boards of financial supervision ‘Further together in the Kingdom’

SINT MAARTEN/CURACAO - On Thursday June 22nd there was a special Cft symposium on the occasion of bidding farewell to the chairman and two members of the Board of financial supervision.

Former Governor and Minister of State Jaime Saleh and former member of the Second Chamber (Tweede Kamer) and Chairman of the Standing Committee on Kingdom Relations Jeroen Recourt gave an explanation on the ‘Further together in the Kingdom’ theme.

Rector Magnificus of the University of Aruba Glenn Thodé opened the symposium by emphasizing the importance of financial supervision.

Next Mr Saleh gave a lecture on the added value of the Kingdom and how this should be implemented in a concrete way. Saleh indicated that within both the public and the private sector a ‘wake-up call’ is required to introduce a common vision on the added value of the Kingdom.

Not only the government but also ‘the man in the street’ must play a central role herein. Mr. Recourt also left a deep impression on the attendants with his contribution ‘you have to tell your children’. He emphasized the importance of telling ‘the story’ of our Kingdom, and the need to develop a common vision for the future of the Kingdom.

A necessary condition for this vision is the reversal of the negative ‘underflow’, which is felt on both sides of the ocean. Recourt praised the Cft on the fact that it has proven to be very successful as a supervisor and an adviser, ‘the doctor for the financial health of the countries’. The symposium was concluded with a special word of thanks to chairman Age Bakker by Ms. Sybilla Dekker, Cft member on behalf of the Netherlands.

The direct occasion for this special symposium was the farewell to both chairman Age Bakker and two members of the Board of financial supervision, Mr. Alberto (Chos) Romero and Hyden Gittens. Attendees had the opportunity to meet the new chairman Raymond Gradus.

Parting chairman Bakker said to be pleased that he could conclude his term at the Cft in this manner. He expressed his special thanks to the secretariat, his fellow board members and to the valedictory board members Alberto 'Chos' Romero and Hyden Gittens.

The lectures will be posted on the Cft website, www.cft.cw.

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Nature foundation Starts Conch and Seagrass Research

COLE BAY - The St Maarten Nature Foundation started their queen conch (Lobatus gigas) research with a survival experiment to determine if the survival of juvenile queen conchs, which in many parts of the Caribbean are primarily associated with native seagrass beds, differs between native (T. testudinum) versus invasive seagrass (H. stipulacea).

The Nature Foundation is collaborating with and supported by Ecological Professionals, Wageningen University and the Caribbean Netherlands Science Institute for this project (CNSI). The project is funded by Statia Terminals, NuStar Energy L.P. and the Dutch Ministry of Economic Affairs (EZ). 

The invasive seagrass H. stipulacea is native to the Red Sea and the Indian Ocean and was first sighted in Grenada in the Eastern Caribbean in 2002 and subsequently recorded on Sint Maarten in 2011. The species has since spread rapidly throughout the Eastern Caribbean.

The invasive seagrass is known to be more competitive, have higher production rates and be less sensitive to environmental disturbance than native seagrass and is expected to spread even further throughout the region in the coming years.

Current information regarding the effects off the invasive seagrass on our marine life and their survival, including juvenile queen conch, is very limited.

“The queen conch has a high cultural and economic value for local people and is an iconic species in the Caribbean region. However, the species has been heavily exploited throughout large parts of its natural range which has resulted in concerns for the species’ future. 

A critical part of the survival of the species is determined by the success of juveniles which often use native seagrass beds. Therefore, it is important to gain more information into the ecological function of the invasive seagrass and its effects on the life history of queen conch in order to be able to implement the necessary management actions if required.

With this specific research, we will compare the survival of juvenile conchs in native versus invasive seagrass beds” stated conch scientist PhD candidate Erik Boman from St Eustatius. 

The Nature Foundation is looking forward to a successful collaboration and in determining whether invasive seagrass can cause a change in survival of juveniles and affect the regrowth of the conch population on St Maarten. The results will be of great importance into what possible effects invasive seagrass can have for the resilience of queen conch populations in the wider Caribbean.

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St. Maarten at Regional Conference for Partnership Framework

GREAT BAY – St. Maarten is among Caribbean countries represented at Caribbean Action 2030, a regional conference seen as a major event for Caribbean countries, particularly the 18 countries, including St. Maarten, which are signatories of the United Nations Multi-Country Sustainable Development Framework (UNMSDF) for the Caribbean region.

Government representatives from the Caribbean will deliberate in plenary, panel discussions and solutions workshops, and will be joined by delegates from civil society, academia, youth and non-governmental organizations.

More than 30 local, regional and international academics and experts in their field are expected to present papers highlighting research, national experiences and opportunities in implementing the United Nations long term Sustainable Development goals (SDGs) in the region, being held in Kingston, Jamaica, from June 28 to June 30. St. Maarten is attending at the invitation of the Jamaican government.

The objective is to reaffirm the commitment amongst countries in the Caribbean region through a Partnership Framework, which would promote cooperation and coordination in achieving the SDGs, Small Island Developing States Accelerated Modalities for Action (S.A.M.O.A pathway), the Paris Agreement on climate change and Addis Ababa Action Agenda on financing for development. These are all aimed at strengthening regional policies in support of the preservation of so-called global public goods, which are essential to all countries, people, and generations. Examples of global public goods are clean air and drinking water.

The 3-day meeting wants to step up intergovernmental cooperation to advance its cause, supported by the United Nations Multi-Country Sustainable Development Framework (MSDF) that has been agreed between Caribbean governments and UN partners as one appropriate platform for the coordination and focus of our further efforts.

Countries worldwide have agreed on a series of bold measures to overhaul global finance practices and generate investments for tackling a range of economic, social and environmental challenge.  That commitment was made at the United Nations Third International Conference on Financing for Development, held in Addis Ababa in 2015.

In support of implementation of the sustainable development goals, the Addis Ababa Action Agenda contains more than 100 concrete measures. Importantly, it addresses all sources of finance.

At this week’s conference in Jamaica, participants look forward to a final report with recommendations for policy implementation and follow-up.

Recognizing that this will require long-term commitment and partnerships, the conference looks, for instance, at the establishment of a regional online platform that takes due consideration of existing efforts in the region and that will enable the academic community, civil society and policy makers to engage in ongoing dialogue on the basis of evidence-based research, open data and exchange of good policy practice.

Not being overlooked is the importance of national and regional multi-stakeholder partnerships that are imperative for national and regional sustainable development implementation. These require creative efforts to increase financial resources.

The United Nations has been approached to seek further advice and support from within and outside the Caribbean region, including from international financial institutions to explore ways to best address the special capacity needs and policy challenges facing middle income countries in the Caribbean. The idea is to have the UN assist Caribbean countries in achieving the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals.

The mobilization of domestic resources and the access to funding in the international community continues to be a challenge by members of the Caribbean region.

Financial sustainability is a vital element in ensuring not only that the SDGs are achieved but also that the accomplishments have a positive impact, particularly for the most vulnerable ones of the population. The exclusion of countries within the region from concessional and grant resources, based on Gross Domestic Product (GDP) per capita can result in the erosion or hindrance of gains impeding sustained development, for all.

St. Maarten has a relative strong economy and high GDP compared to other Caribbean nations. But still the island faces challenges that she cannot overcome without support like dealing with the effects of climate change and the resulting sea level rise and more frequent and more severe weather events.

Attending the conference, on behalf of St. Maarten, is Andrea Ortega-Oudhoff, Senior Project Manager at the St. Maarten government’s Department of the Interior and Kingdom Relations. She is joined by Tom Woods, a UN appointed projects leader, presently assisting the St. Maarten government.

The conference is being hosted by the Jamaican Government in partnership with the University of the West Indies (UWI) and the United Nations, which is funding the event.

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Miami Family Barril becomes One Millionth Cruise Passenger for 2017

PORT ST. MAARTEN – On Tuesday morning, a family of five out of Miami, Florida, were selected as the one millionth cruise passenger milestone for 2017, which is also the 16th annual one millionth milestone for the destination.

During the months of June and July, the destination surpasses the one millionth cruise passenger which signifies the growth of the country’s cruise sector over the years.

Family Barril, on their first cruise visit to the destination on-board Harmony of the Seas, were greeted by St. Maarten Carnival Queen Shanice Powell, the Mighty Dow, representatives from the St. Maarten Tourist Bureau and Port St. Maarten, as they walked towards the Cruise Terminal Building to enjoy their time on the island.

The Barril family were looking forward to their tour and spending time down at Maho to watch the planes land at one of the world’s top 10 scenic airport landings.  The approach of aircraft to the Princess Juliana International Airport (SXM Airport) has been described as iconic and for those standing on the beach as breathtaking.

The family received a complimentary one-week stay at Oyster Bay Beach Resort from General Manager Ricardo Perez who was on hand to present the certificate; gift bags from the St. Maarten Tourist Bureau containing promotional and gift items; a gift certificate from Little Switzerland on behalf of Port St. Maarten; and a CD from the Mighty Dow group.    

Port St. Maarten has been celebrating the one millionth cruise passenger mark since 2002 when the nation for the first time catered to 1,066.033.

Port St. Maarten has been receiving over 1.5 million cruise passengers since 2010 (1,512,618) and has sustained over 1.5 million over the past six years with the exception of 2014 when the destination catered to 2,000,864 cruise passengers.

Port St. Maarten is diligently working to convert cruise passengers into land-based vacationers.  The Florida-Caribbean Cruise Association (FCCA) in the past has urged all cruise oriented destinations to consider implementing a cruise conversion program. 

Cruise tourism contributions to St. Maarten as a destination is very prominent and represents one third of the country’s gross domestic product. 

The country’s cruise industry plays an important role in the economy and makes a considerable contribution.  According to the BREA (Business Research & Economic Advisors) Report, which is a survey-based analysis of the impacts of passenger, crew and cruise line spending, that was prepared for the Florida Caribbean Cruise Association (FCCA) and Participating Destinations, October 2015 edition, destination Sint Maarten led all destinations with nearly US$423 million in cruise passenger spending for the 2014/15 cruise season, generating an estimated 9,259 jobs paying $189 million in wage income during the 2014/15 cruise year. This placed Sint Maarten with the highest income impact and the second highest employment impact.

Average per passenger expenditures ranged from a low of $42.58 in Trinidad to a high of $191.26 in Sint Maarten.  Sint Maarten with $355 million in total passenger expenditures led all destinations and accounted for 14 percent of total passenger spending among the 35 destinations in the FCCA survey.

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WIB supports SXM Triathlete “Ms. Nicole Erato”

PHILIPSBURG - The Windward Islands Bank Ltd (WIB) assisted young aspiring St. Maarten Triathlete whom is preparing to represent St. Maarten in the following competitions; “70.3  Ironman  World Championship, Caribbean American games in Columbia, Pan American games in Lima Peru, and is a potential candidate for the 2020 Olympics in Japan.   

Sponsoring promotes both local, national visibility and helps to defer cost associated with travel, accommodations, race entry fees and gear needed to compete.  

To see Nicole’s portfolio of past and upcoming races visit; www.nicoletrisxm.com

Nicole has also created a foundation “Nicole Tri SXM” with aim to give back to our community. WIB your Partners in progress urges our business community to assist our very own triathlete ambassador.

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APS WELGELEGEN HOMES CONSTRUCTION PROCEEDING WELL

CAY HILL The much talked about Welgelegen Homes project is steadily moving one step closer to becoming reality. Becoming more visible on the site has been how the first structure is being constructed, in the wake of the recent pouring of cement for the construction works at the project site.

The housing project is being developed by St. Maarten’s general pension fund, APS, with designs by IXI Design N.V. and Cicca N.V. For this initial phase of the project, Gemini Construction has been chosen as contractor while the engineering consulting firm, ICE N.V., has been charged with engineering and quality assurance for the project.

The latest developments signal the beginning of actual construction of some 61 townhouses and apartment units on land made available by the government, in a long lease agreement to the fund. The necessary authorization process is already underway with VROMI authorities.

The units would range from one to three bedrooms in size, measuring about 70 to 100 square meters per unit.

APS launched the project in 2016, as an investment opportunity for the pension fund. The fund expects to benefit, particularly young professionals who are participants in the fund seeking their own home in St. Maarten.

The idea is to offer the majority of the units below the maximum sales price of 250 thousand U.S. dollars as stipulated in a long lease resolution granted by government to APS in late 2015. ”There is a need for reasonably priced homes on Sint Maarten – particularly in the price segments around 200 thousand U.S. dollars, says APS chairman of the board Franklyn Richards.

Over 100 persons have already contacted APS, indicating their interest in one of the units.

APS has been registering persons and passing on their information to the agent contracted by APS to provide information on the units, take care of collecting the necessary personal information from interested buyers while processing the screening of potential buyers. In addition, the pension fund has been assisting interested persons with a financing request, if needed.

To facilitate the process even further, APS is committed to working closely with a local bank, to offer financing to potential home buyers.

Persons interested can E-mail their name and contact details, such as telephone number and E-mail address to: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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TelCell 2016 Breakthrough winners launch top class music video “Trust and Time”

POND ISLAND – TelCell’s 2016 Breakthrough Talent Search winners received a thundering round of applause during a preview showing of their brand-new music video “Trust and Time” in the TelEm Group Conference Room, Pond Island, on Monday.

The R&B Hip-Hop ballad is all the work of the six winners of last year’s top-rated youth talent search contest, namely: George Woodley, Aesha Gibson, Keeshaun Hodge, Kevin Lambert, Diandra Marlin and Leo Alexander. It is the fourth Breakthrough music video to be produced by Xtratight Entertainment’s Bertaux “Mr. Rude” Fleming, and this year showcases the incredible video work of director, Joel Ayuk of CANI TV.

The highly professional production and quality sound is expected to be a big hit locally with high hopes for a strong regional and overseas following if it receives the airplay expected.

The talented youths were themselves caught by surprise after viewing the result of many weeks of hard work and seeing it all come together as a finished music video for the first time.

They said the constant takes and retakes to get just the right light or just the right facial expressions and sounds caused the making of the music video to be very challenging and frustrating at times, however they have learned much from the experience.

Each of the artists took it in turn to express how the experience of being a TelCell Breakthrough winner had changed their lives during the past year, and as that year is quickly coming to an end with the search of a brand new group of winners soon to begin, they are each grateful to the organizers for affording them the opportunity to showcase their talents and show their peers what they also can do if they have confidence in themselves and are willing to take a chance – even if it’s a second chance.

The stories from the youth were very well received by TelEm Group Chief Financial Officer (CFO), a strong advocate of the event from the outset and also from TelEm Group Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Mr. Kendall Dupersoy, who went so far as assuring the youngsters that the lessons they have learned for the past year are not only lessons on how to win a contest and get over their shyness, but also about lessons in life.

“Most important is these stories that we have heard today - More important than anything anyone else said - About getting a second chance; crying for the first time that one person did not succeed but they came back and tried again, One didn’t have the full amount of confidence and his mother was the one who encouraged him, one who didn’t want to put too much pressure on herself to win….all things that are very important when you are participating in life,” said Mr. Dupersoy.

He praised the TelCell Breakthrough organizing team for giving the youth an insight into life that they will be well able to pass on to their peers.

The CEO congratulated the youths for the positive messages they help bring to these same peers and encouraged them to use what they have experienced to move on in life and chase their dreams.

CFO Mrs. Entel said she continues to be amazed by the quality of the performers and the end result of their work which is always of a high professional standard.

Pointing to the young faces in front of her, compared the mature stars she can see on the music video, Mrs. Etnel sees this transformation as visual evidence of the multi-talented youth in the St. Maarten community just waiting to be discovered.

“You are all an example, you are the future and I am very proud that you are a part of our TelCell brand,” said Mrs. Etnel in recognition of the many TelCell promotions that the youths have appeared in during the past months. Mrs. Etnel also went on to give special thanks to the team of TelEm Group personnel who each year dedicate many months of their time to staging various sections of the event leading up to the popular sold-out finals in search of the winning talent.

TelCell Breakthrough co-organizer, Angel Richardson, said there were many challenges in coming to the stage of Monday’s music video launch, including the lack of a recording studio to do the recordings.

“The studio we would have used before was being renovated so we found a room in the TelEm Building and improvised with a makeshift studio that has produced something that is just amazing, thanks to the professional work of Mr. Rude, my co-organizer,” said Angel.

Angel, along with Mrs. Etnel and Mr. Dupersoy at various times in the afternoon paid tribute to other members of the organizing team including Suraj Ramdas, Cheryl Rismay, David Evans and members of the Sales & Marketing team for their full support and other TelEm Group volunteers.

According to Angel the Trust and Time music video will now be posted as a YouTube video and to various social media sites.

“This is the fourth music video I have produced in the last four years and each one has been different and of great quality, which proves to me that the wealth of talent and artistic skill we have in this St. Maarten community runs really deep,” said the producer Mr. Rude.

He says his job now is to take the music video to a higher level by getting some exposure for the group locally, regionally through his contacts with regional Cable TV Channel, TEMPO, and wider afield with the YouTube and social media exposure.

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COMPASS INSURANCES Hosts Second Annual Free Life Insurance Seminar

PHILIPSBURG – Compass Insurances agent for Sagicor Life, Nagico and Guardian recently held its second annual free Life Insurance seminar at the University of St. Martin with the theme “Building a Legacy through Life Insurance”.

“The objective of the seminar was to inform participants and create awareness regarding the various ways individuals and businesses could benefit from life insurance” said agency manager Barbara Pompier-Halley. “The seminar was a great success with over 150 persons in attendance which proves the need for information on this topic.

The event featured two guest speakers. Notary Meredith Boekhoudt talked about the importance of estate planning including the marriage law, inheritance law and types of wills.

Tax Advisor at Baker Tilly, Maarten Tervoort discussed the effects of income tax on insurance/ annuity premiums and their proceeds.

Other topics discussed during this year’s seminar ranged from the Importance of leaving a legacy, the significance of life insurance in creating a legacy for your family as well as your business.

Following the presentations guests in attendance actively participated in the question and answer session where numerous questions were posed to the panel of four speakers to receive more clarity and advice on various situations.

The event was filled with valuable information enabling participants to feel equipped and motivated to make appropriate adjustments in how to build

their legacy.

Barbara Pompier-Halley confirmed that “Compass Insurances will continue to organize these information sessions annually to help increase awareness in our community about the obligations and benefits of having life insurance. “We believe that a nation with the right information combined with action is better prepared for the future”.

Compass Insurance also thanks all participants and persons who contributed in helping to make the event a success. 

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PRINCESS HEIGHTS CELEBRATES 7TH CONSECUTIVE TRIPADVISOR’S EXCELLENCE AWARD

DAWN BEACH – Princess Heights luxury Boutique Condo Hotel was just awarded for 7th consecutive year with Tripadvisor’s Certificate of Excellence. This renowned international award is given to hospitality businesses that have earned great traveler reviews on Tripadvisor over the past year, including accommodations, restaurants and attractions located all over the world that have continually delivered a quality customer experience.

The certificate of excellence accounts for the quality, quantity and recency of or reviews submitted online by travelers over a complete year. Princess Heights has achieved to maintain a high “bubble rating” for 7 years in a row, which has led the property to receive this award every year since 2010.

"Princess Heights is pleased to receive our 7th consecutive TripAdvisor Certificate of Excellence,” said Arnaldo Phelipa, Asst. General Manager at Princess Heights Hotel. “We strive to offer our guests a memorable experience, and this accolade is evidence that our hard work is translating into continued positive reviews on TripAdvisor.”

Mr. Phelipa also pointed out that none of this would have been possible without the effort and dedication of the hotel staff, who work very hard to keep quality standards up to its best.

 In the occasion of this latest award and as a gesture of appreciation for the continued support, Princess Heights is extending its St. Maarten & Caribbean Exclusive Sale with even deeper discounts and incentives, as well as its SXM Corporate package, which has had great feedback from business travelers since recently launched months ago.

For those interested in SXM exclusive rates, visit www.princessheights.com and enter promo code 721SXM. For corporate deals, enter PHCORP.

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Why the aviation conference on St. Maarten was a success. 20 Countries & Territories Participate

MAHO - It is easy to assign a PR person or agency to immediately issue a run-of-the-mill press release the day after the event, stating that the Caribbean Aviation Meetup on St. Maarten was a success, said Chairman/Coordinator of Caribbean Aviation Meetup Bud Slabbaert.

“No doubt, that the event was indeed a significant accomplishment. But it was better to wait a week, do the debriefing first and evaluate the various comments and suggestions that are received. How can one recognize whether the conference was a success and what may be expected for the conference next year?

“This year’s conference may have been called a regional conference with international ambitions. The participant from the farthest away, New Zealand made a 33-hours trip to get to conference and several participants came from Europe.

“In total twenty countries and territories were represented. Next year, it will be a full- fledged International conference for the benefit of the region. There is already a serious interest of companies and organizations from Germany, Norway, Israel, Colombia, Belize and Brazil, to send representatives.

“Because of the “globalization”, one has to look ahead to set a date and examine which other international conferences are held in the industry in order to avoid conflicts of interest. 

“The date for the 3rd Caribbean Aviation Meetup next year, will be June 12-14, 2018. What also underlines the success of an event are the inquiries by countries whether it could be held there. Currently there are inquiries from The Bahamas, Turks & Caicos, and of course St. Maarten.  

“Two companies that came to the event to explore the opportunities in the Caribbean, have decided to establish an operation or branch in the region. Immediately following the conference, the executive of one of them has submitted a company internal 16-page report on the findings and information gathered during the conference.

“If the person would not see an opportunity, it would only have been a one-page report and in essence saying: “forget it”. The question remains where these companies are willing to settle. In order to explore such, the various islands should have competent networkers from both the public and private sector at the conference.

“This exploration and evaluation will again happen next year by other companies from abroad. At this year’s conference, two airports in the region had decided to send six and more staff members because of the educational content and value of the conference’s presentations.

“Government officials cannot always afford the time away from the office, or their institution cannot cover the expense of sending several of its staff members. And so, the transportation department of CARICOM which is located at their headquarters in Guyana, inquired if it was possible to follow the conference through online streaming.

“That is something that will be looked into for next year because it is important that the conference content will be disseminated as widely as possible for the benefit of the region. But the inquiry itself shows the growing importance of Meetup. 

“In the week after the event the various comments came in varying from “Thank you so much for the invitation to attend and participate in one of the best aviation forums in this part of the world” to “My hearty congratulations for arranging what I found to be an extremely worthwhile and successful conference”.

“There are the typical post-conference reports in the media. Alone the news that during the event, The Bahamas was honored with the Sapphire Pegasus Award for its international promotion of the country and the Caribbean, was published in twenty-six media outlets in the region.

“However, the international media representatives that were on location to cover the event, are currently writing their feature articles about individual subjects that were discussed, or are processing the interviews they had with persons of interest. The articles will be published in various monthly media outlets.

“As an example, one journalists informed us that his editor of an international magazine based in the UK has approved the publication of five articles on the airlines in the region in their monthly magazine between now and December.    

“Summarizing and responding to the question was the Caribbean Aviation Meetup a success, without exaggeration the answer is positive. With confidence, the planning and preparation for next year’s conference has already started,” Bud Slabbaert concludes.

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