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Cft: Additional measures to get the economy going and decrease expected deficit 2018 needed

SINT MAARTEN (PHILIPSBURG) - From the 5th of February until the 9th, the Board of financial supervision Curaçao and Sint Maarten (Cft) visited the Windward Islands, amongst which Sint Maarten. The main topics of discussion on Sint Maarten were the expected deficits, the precarious liquidity position and the weak state of financial management.

Cft Chairman Raymond Gradus: “While a deficit is inevitable, Sint Maarten should keep the expected deficit 2018 to a minimum”. While rebuilding Sint Maarten and get the economy rolling, government should also improve financial management and solve the lasting IT-problems.

During its visit, Cft met with the Governor, the Council of Ministers and the Financial Committee of Parliament. Cft was impressed with the resilience the people of Sint Maarten have shown during these past few months. Cft chairman Gradus: “Though Sint Maarten evidently is getting back on his feet, there are still many challenges ahead”, hereby also referring to the vulnerable economic and financial position of Sint Maarten.

As usual, Cft also met with the minister of Finance Ferrier to discuss government finances. During the different meetings, the focus was especially on the deficits of 2017 and 2018 as well as the liquidity position. Furthermore, Cft expressed its concern about the non-improving state of financial management and the continuous IT-problems that handicap government and parliament in executing their responsibilities. Cft also visited the Sint Maarten Medical Centre, the harbor and spoke with representatives from the airport and the reconstruction team for Sint Maarten.

Regarding the 2017 deficit, Cft pointed out that for the budget to be compliant with the law of financial supervision (Rft), additional decision-making by the Kingdom Council of Ministers (RMR) is required. The draft budget for 2018, which was recently presented to Cft, will be a big challenge for Sint Maarten. The presented deficit is substantial and the substantiation of the presented figures is not sufficient at this point.

Cft-chairman Gradus:”Cft is aware of the difficult circumstances for Sint Maarten. However Cft cannot properly advice on a budget without proper substantiation”. Cft also pointed this out in its advice on the draft budget that was issued on the 8th of February to the minister of Finance. Although Sint Maarten will probably need help from the Dutch Government regarding the 2018 budget, it is also important to look at what measures Sint Maarten can take itself to decrease the presented deficit. These measures are not reflected in the budget yet. Raymond Gradus: “It is important that Sint Maarten shows that available and reasonable measures to minimize the deficit, even under these difficult circumstances, should be mentioned in the draft budget 2018”.

Concern was furthermore expressed about the liquidity position of Sint Maarten. On different occasions it was stated by Sint Maarten that the coffers will soon be empty and that the need for additional liquidity is imminent. A proposal for additional liquidity for 2017 was offered by the State Secretary of Kingdom Relations. For this, some formal steps have to be taken by Cft, government and Parliament, amongst others.

Cft also stresses the importance of getting the economy going again. The Reconstruction Fund of EUR 550 million plays a vital role in restarting the economy. A boost in economic activity can have a positive influence on government’s finances and the expected deficit. Cft took a part in intensive discussions between the government of Sint Maarten, the Dutch government, the IMF and the World Bank this week. These constructive deliberations will support progress and cooperation in the process towards reconstruction.

During its visit Cft again pointed out the necessity for improving financial management and solving the IT-problems that started in the third quarter of 2016. For years, there has been no significant improvement in financial management. This, combined with the ongoing IT-problems, provides insufficient and unreliable insight in government finances.

“Without proper financial information Sint Maarten is flying in the blind” the Cft-chairman pointed out. Over the course of time, Sint Maarten has not been able to prove that it independently can improve financial management. Therefore Cft advised to ask the Dutch government for technical assistance and capacity building in this regard. In the opinion of Cft, strong financial management would be beneficial for both Sint Maarten and the Netherlands.

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SER calls on Government to tackle Waste Management

SINT MAARTEN (HARBOUR VIEW) — The Social Economic Council (SER), along with the entire public of St. Maarten, have been affected by the recent two dump site fires that covered Philipsburg and the surrounding neighbourhoods with toxic smoke.

The Council, which in the past, called on Government to address the country’s landfill emergency situation, drafted its advice in December 2016. “The present challenges of the Pond Island landfill are critical and urgent.

These problems go beyond party politics and should not be attributed to the past, present and/or future government(s),” said SER. Tackling the landfill is a concern for everyone in the community and should not be viewed as a political issue, according to the Council.

The SER is now calling on Government to come together and address this issue once and for all.

In its advice SER urged Government to start the sorting of garbage such as the removal of recyclable and toxic materials. Management plans should ideally encompass operational requirements with appropriate guidelines/standards, including capacity building and regular monitoring against/of fires, said SER.

The SER being aware of the environmental urgency of the waste management problem on St. Maarten, which has been a problem now for more than 50 years worked on this unsolicited advice which was published in March 2017. The following six advisory points that were represented are core to any formal strategy going forward in creating a sustainable and safe environment for St. Maarten as a community and as a leading hub within the region.

This is the advice that was given by the SER at the time.

The SER unanimously advises the government of Sint Maarten:

  1. To resume cooperation with the French side and to adopt an integrated waste management system similar to Saint Martin, focused on waste minimization, re-use, recycling and covering issues related to the health and ecology of the landfill.
  1. To start with immediate effect separating the various waste streams on the landfill with the aim to sell various waste streams products. This includes the efficient sorting of the garbage such as the removal of recyclable and toxic material. Management plans should ideally encompass operational requirements with appropriate guidelines/standards, including capacity building and regular monitoring against fires.
  1. To start a public awareness campaign to promote reduction of waste at house-hold and community levels. Waste reduction should include use of clean technologies, reuse, separation and recycling.
  1. To immediately resume and renew the cooperation between the municipality of Amsterdam and Sint Maarten[1]. Mainly the exchange of knowledge and experience in the areas of waste management and environment. This agreement expired on October 16th, 2017. The city of Amsterdam based on its working relationship with Sint Maarten, officially offered to dispose at least 50% of the present landfill. This offer would significantly aid the government of Sint Maarten with regard to the disposal of existing waste.
  1. To update legal framework for waste management in line with international standards and to place more focus on enforcement measures. In addition, government should incorporate best practices from the Dutch Kingdom and adopt EU/international standards in waste management.

By doing so, the locally separated products are compatible with these markets.

  1. Not to pursue the waste-to-energy facility for Sint Maarten. In 2010 the media reported that government plans to construct waste-to-energy facility for USD 115 million[2]

In a press release issued by the Honorable Minister of Public Housing, Spatial planning, Environment and Infrastructure, Miklos Giterson stated that “it is believed that these two fires were man made”.

The Council stated that every time the landfill is set ablaze, the people, the tourist product and environment suffers. The SER is concerned about the type of impact the various airborne pollutants, resulting from fires and toxic smoke, might have on the health population.

Although the St. Maarten Medical Center has not (yet) reported any increase in cases of respiratory related issues, high risk groups such as senior citizens, children and persons suffering from asthma remain at risk because of high sensitivity and/or high exposure from the smoke coming from the landfill; apart from more long-term effects that may not be noticeable for years to come.

Furthermore the continued forced closure of government offices, schools and businesses down-wind from the landfill fires are negatively affecting our community as a whole.

Although SER is an advisory body to Government, the Council of Ministers is not bound to follow the recommendations in the letter titled “Better Waste Management for St. Maarten.” Nevertheless, the SER is urging government in the interest of the people to address this issue post haste.

You can visit the SER website www.sersxm.org to download a copy of the advice.

[1]  Samenwerkingsovereenkomst tussen Sint Maarten en de gemeente Amsterdam Oktober 2013-2017.

[2] Press release “Waste Plant related contracts approved “The Daily Herald of Tuesday, May 11, 2010

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Join the race action on the official St. Maarten Heineken Regatta spectator boat

SINT MAARTEN (SIMPSON BAY) - Get close to the action of the 38th St. Maarten Heineken Regatta, and enjoy the best seats in the house. Go first class aboard the Golden Eagle Catamaran and feel like a real VIP.

The official St. Maarten Heineken Regatta spectator boat will be sailing out on Saturday March 3 and Sunday March 4. Make sure to get your tickets on time because they usually sell out quickly.

On Saturday, the boat will depart from the police dock at the Simpson bay bridge so that guests can enjoy the more distant start of the race classes. On Sunday, the boat will leave from Bobby’s Marina, Philipsburg. For both days the departure time will be at 7:30AM and the boat returns to the marina around 12:30PM.

During the day, guests will receive live commentary of all the on-the-water action taking place. A delicious breakfast and lunch will be provided on board, and the open bar will make sure no one gets thirsty.

In addition to this, guests will also receive an exclusive goody bag filled with specialties donated by loyal sponsors of the St. Maarten Heineken Regatta.

For only US$ 125 per person, guests can get on board of the Golden Eagle Catamaran and be part of the regatta. Feel like a real VIP as you sail down to the start line. The price includes the trip out on the water, breakfast, lunch, open bar, goody bag and a live commentator.

For more information or to buy tickets, contact the Regatta Office at +1 721 588 6122 or email Maxim at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. Tickets can also be bought online at shop.heinekenregatta.com.

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Ministry of Finance organized Round Table Conference Sustainable Financial Government

GREAT BAY, (DCOMM) – On Tuesday February 6, 2018, the Ministry of Finance of the Government of Sint Maarten organized a Round Table Conference “Sustainable Financial Government,” with the Netherlands, the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the Committee for Financial Supervision of Curacao and Sint Maarten Cft.

The goal of this conference was to get all parties together and have an open dialogue on the way forward to a financial sustainable Sint Maarten and how progress can be achieved in bringing relief to the people of Sint Maarten in the short term.

The main topics discussed was the issue of liquidity support to the government of Sint Maarten, the application of 550 million euro made available by the Netherlands, the benefits of using the professional services offered by the World Bank and the IMF, in collaboration with the Cft.

Progress has been made in getting clarity with regards to the completion of the 2017 and 2018 budget process. 

The Conference was attended by the Dutch Project Director General of Reconstruction for the Windward Islands, Hans Leijtens, Head of the Representation of the Netherlands in Philipsburg, Chris Johnson, representatives of the World Bank, IMF, Cft and the Government of Sint Maarten.

Representing Sint Maarten were the Minister of Finance, Michael Ferrier, with members of his Cabinet, the Secretary General of the Ministry of Finance, Arno Peels and support staff, the Secretary General of the Ministry of General Affairs, Hensley Plantijn and civil servants from the Department of Foreign Relations.

The conference was moderated by former Minister of Justice and Chairman of the Workgroup National Recovery Plan, Dennis Richardson.

Now that there is a shared understanding of the way forward, one of the next steps is for Prime Minister Leona Romeo Marlin and the Minister of Finance Michael Ferrier to visit the Netherlands to continue these discussions and to strengthen the relationships between the two Kingdom partners.

Both the Dutch and Sint Maarten delegations are very pleased with the level of progress made in charting the way forward.

Minister Ferrier and Project Director General Leijtens thanked all participants for their contribution to the open dialogue and clear communication. They look forward to further collaborations on the different levels to expedite the progress.

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Minister Wuite overjoyed missing student Nathan York found

SINT MAARTEN (POND ISLAND) - Minister Jorien Wuite, after speaking to close family members of Nathan York, is extremely pleased to confirm that the student has been found and is presently with his parents at the St. Maarten Medical Center.

Nathan, a student of the Martin Luther King Jr. School (MLK), was reported missing after last being seen leaving the school campus on Tuesday afternoon. Patrols of the police and VKS as well members of the truancy team of the department of education joined family members and persons of the general public in searching for the student.

A preliminary report of the incident was presented to Minister Wuite Wednesday morning as she met with MLK School Management, the inspectorate of Education and members of Nathan's family.

The Minister has demanded that a full report be presented by noon today as the matter is being thoroughly investigated.

The Minister expresses her gratitude to all who joined in the search with the family and the Middle Region community. She is extremely overjoyed that Nathan was found.

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Two schools to remain closed. Daycare centers in Lower Philipsburg should remain closed

GREAT BAY, (DCOMM) – Prime Minister Leona Romeo Marlin in an update on Wednesday evening says in follow-up assessments on Wednesday, the Charlotte Brookson Academy and the Oranje Primary School will remain closed on Thursday, February 8 due to the persistent smoke from the landfill fire on Pond Island which has been impacting the lower parts of Philipsburg.

The Minister of Education Jorien Wuite has advised that daycare centers located in the lower part of Philipsburg should also remain closed on Thursday.

Additional information will be forthcoming within short with respect the status of the Government Administration Building.

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38th St. Maarten Heineken Regatta Pillar of Island Strength Prepares to Welcome International Fleet

SINT MAARTEN (SIMPSON BAY) – The St. Maarten Heineken Regatta has been a Caribbean favorite for almost four decades, and this year’s 38th edition, scheduled for March 1-4, will prove no exception to the rule. 

Already, 75 boats representing 22 countries have registered to race in the island of St. Maarten’s first major event since Hurricane Irma passed through in September. With three weeks to go, organizers have ensured that the parties and entertainment will continue to be legendary as they complement four days of serious on-the-water competition.

“We have been saying that the best way to support our island is to come to it, and by the looks of the entry list, which is growing daily, that is exactly what the sailors are doing,” said Regatta Race Director Paul Miller, adding that the 38th edition will aim to raise funds for dedicated marine, humanitarian and environmental efforts through the K1 Britannia Foundation, the St. Maarten Nature Foundation, the St. Maarten Sea Rescue Foundation and the St. Maarten Yacht Club Regatta Foundation. “We hope to act as an example of strength and solidary, and help raise awareness as we continue the rebuilding of the island.”

Headlining the regatta’s concert series this year will be Grammy Award-winning musician Shaggy, who has offered to perform for a highly reduced fee to support the fundraising efforts. He will be joined by other notable talent, including Carnival legends Destra and 3 Cylinder.

The Competition

The world-class St. Maarten Heineken Regatta is known for attracting a largely international fleet of maxi, monohull and multihull boats. This year’s roster is comprised of teams coming mostly from North America, South America, Europe and Australia.

Sir Richard Matthews will skipper the 42-foot Judel Vrolijk designed Power of Love to represent one of ten UK-based teams competing.

“People keep coming back to the St. Maarten Heineken Regatta, because it’s good competition and a great place to race,” said Matthews who first raced in the event over 25 years ago. His team won its class last year, racing his Humphreys 39 Oystercatcher XXX1. “We’ve done quite a lot of sailing in the Caribbean, and I have had 31 race boats under the Oystercatcher name, but this year we will be racing a new boat coming down from America, which is slightly larger than what we competed in last year. We’re very competitive, but at the same time we sail for fun.”

Rob Butler and his Canadian team on the Reflex 38 Touch2Play Racing raced in the St. Maarten Heineken Regatta for the first time last year and will be returning this year.

“I’ve done a lot of regattas in my lifetime all over the world, and it’s pretty hard to match the St. Maarten Heineken Regatta,” said Butler whose team took second in its class last year.

“When it comes to sailing, there are not many places that can rival the Caribbean, and St. Maarten, in particular, is just a fun place to sail. With all the different classes and the ability to charter race boats onsite, it is no surprise there are so many boats that enter every year. That, on top of the amazing parties and the incredible entertainment they bring in, makes it a pretty spectacular event.”

The regatta, kicks off Thursday, March 1 with the separately scored Gill’s Commodores Cup. On Friday, the fleet embarks on the event’s 26-nautical mile Around the Island Race before taking on a series of windward-leeward races on Saturday and a single coastal race on Sunday.

Each day of racing is rounded out with shore side entertainment from the “Regatta Village” located at Princess Port de Plaisance Resort and Casino and the Yacht Club at Port de Plaisance (across from race host St. Maarten Yacht Club).

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Winair announces direct service to Curacao, Santo Domingo and Haiti as of February 26

SINT MAARTEN (SIMPSON BAY) - Winair is pleased to announces direct service to Curacao, Santo Domingo, and Haiti, commencing February 26, 2018. “We will offer daily service to Curacao, five flights per week to Santo Domingo - Dominican Republic, two flights a week to Port au Prince – Haiti,” the airline announced on Wednesday.

“These services will be available to the public using a state of the art ATR 42 with a capacity of 48 passengers. These flights are in partnership with our alliance partner Air Antilles, all flights will originate and terminate in St. Maarten.

“With the current state of regional air travel Winair is proud to assist the traveling public by providing air connectivity to these vital destinations,” the airline press release says.

“In keeping with Winair’s tradition of providing safe, reliable transportation we are very pleased to recommence service to these destinations. Winair looks forward to the continued support of the shareholders, employees and most importantly our customers with these new services.

“This positive development fills a much needed void in air connectivity and will also provide additional employment to St. Maarteners in these trying times,” states Michael Cleaver, Chief Executive Officer and President of Winair.

For flight schedules, reservations and bookings, contact Winair by calling 545-4237 or via email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., or visit their website www.fly-winair.sx, or contact your favorite travel agent.

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LATEST - MISSING PERSON: Young 12-year old boy missing. Community assistance needed

UPDATE - DUTCH QUARTER - The Police Department has put search teams together, along with the help from VKS and they have been actively searching, in the area of Dutch Quarter and Middle Region since early this morning. However, Nathan York has not been found yet.

The Sint Maarten Police Force also requested help of the police officers with a drone to search for the young boy in the area of Middle Region, where he was reported last seen after he left school. The Police Patrols are still on the lookout for Nathan and will continue to do so.

He was wearing the MKL uniform, purple shirt and grey pants, black shoes and a multi-color blue bag. Nathan is a very quiet child, he is mannerly and very respectfully towards his peers. When he is around his family, he is very playful and energetic. He does not have any friends in the district of Middle Region, he is family oriented and does not linger in the street unsupervised.

We are urging the community to help in the search, or share information concerning his where about. If you have any operating CCTV system in the area of Middle Region, check the camera(s), if you see Nathan on February 6th after noon.

Please do contact the Sint Maarten Police Force immediately, even with little information, which can bring him back home as soon as possible. Any information can help, the parents of Nathan, the Police Force and the community are really concerned about his wellbeing.

Call the emergency line 911 or CPO Lenoard on 588 40 37. You can also share you tip anonymous by calling the tip line 9300 or send a private message to the Sint Maarten Police Force Facebook page, this will be handled confidentially. 

police search for nathan

ARCHIVE WEDNESDAY MORNING, UPDATE, DUTCH QUARTER (DCOMM) – Minister of Education, Culture, Youth and Sport Jorien Wuite, is urging the general public especially the residents of Middle Region, Belvedere, Madame Estate and Dutch Quarter to join in the search for young Nathan York, a student of the Martin Luther King Jr. (MLK) School who has been missing since Tuesday afternoon.

Nathan was last seen at 12pm on Tuesday leaving the MLK School. He is 161 meters tall, has a slim posture, light dark complexion and low cut black hair. He was last seen wearing his school uniform (purple shirt, grey pants, black shoes) and has a blue backpack.

Police and VKS patrols and members of the truancy team of the department of education are currently searching as well as members of his family and family friends. The larger community is urged to join in.

Anyone who may have information about Nathan York should immediately get in contact with the parents by calling 586-5763, Community Police Officer Leonard 588-4037 or the police department emergency line 911.

ARCHIVE, DUTCH QUARTER - On Tuesday February 6th 2018 a missing person report was filed at the Police Department by his parents, stating that their twelve year old son Nathan York had gone missing.

“He was last seen coming out of school in Dutch Quarter Martin Luther King School at 12 pm, he left school early. His parents have been searching for him and have contacted other family members and many of his friends in order to locate Nathan. He has not been in contact with his parents and his whereabouts is unknown.

“Nathan York is approximately 5 feet tall, slim posture, light dark complexion, low cut black hair. He was last seen wearing his school uniform from the Martin Luther King School in Dutch Quarter. The Police patrols are on the outlook for Nathan, but assistance from the community is needed as well to find the young boy.

“Anyone who may have information about Nathan York should immediately get in contact with the parents by calling 586 57 63 or the police department, Community Police Officer Leonard 588 40 37 or the emergency line 911,” Police said late Tuesday night. (Sint Maarten Police Force)

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Dutch State Secretary Knops to visit and discuss/assess recovery fund progress

SINT MAARTEN/THE NETHERLANDS - State Secretary for the Interior and Kingdom Relations Raymond Knops will visit St Maarten on Thursday, February 8th and Friday, February 9th. His two-day packed schedule will revolve mainly around the recovery fund allocated for Sint Maarten.

During the first part of his visit, Mr. Knops will meet with island officials to discuss matters regarding the next steps involving the recovery fund. The rest of his time will be utilized to visit the various early-recovery projects that have been initiated through the 7-million euros, which were made available by the Netherlands in December.

This fund was aimed to finance a number of short-term projects to local and international organizations. In total six organizations were funded to execute a variety of projects. The focus of the approved projects is to meet people’s basic needs and support vulnerable groups in society. Some projects include the reconstruction of housing for elderly, catering daily meals for school children and providing low-interest loans to small business entrepreneurs.

Mr. Knops and his delegation will aim to visit all organizations to get a first-hand look at the positive impact of their projects within the community of Sint Maarten.

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