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Internet entrepreneurship centre to hold its first event in the Caribbean

SINT MAARTEN/TRINIDAD & TOBAGO - A new initiative is being launched this month to help Caribbean professionals get more out of the digital space.

The Virtual DNS Entrepreneurship Center of the Caribbean (VDECC) will hold its first event on February 19 at the Hilton, Port of Spain.

DNS is the domain name system, which automatically translates Internet addresses to the numeric machine addresses that computers use.

VDECC is a joint effort of the Caribbean Network Operators Group (CaribNOG), the Caribbean Association of National Telecommunication Organisations (CANTO), the Latin American and Caribbean Country Code Top-Level Domain Association (LACTLD), and the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN).

“We are getting together in Trinidad and Tobago to launch the center with our community and to conduct sessions on two fundamental aspects of digital presence: websites and domain names,” said a joint statement from Daniel Fink, Stakeholder Engagement Senior Manager (Brazil) at ICANN and Albert Daniels, Stakeholder Engagement Senior Manager (Caribbean) at ICANN.

Sessions will explore what makes a good domain name and what makes a good website. Topics covered will include the DNS ecosystem, website builders, how to resell domain names, and how to become ICANN accredited registrar.

Registration is now open for in-person and remote participation: http://www.vdecc.online/vdecc/event

BY GERARD BEST

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St. Maarten, St Croix moving forward with airport reconstruction efforts

SINT MAARTEN/COMMENTARY - Nearly six months after parts of the Caribbean were ravaged by Hurricanes Irma & Maria the situation remains far from normal. Or perhaps it should simply be accepted that there is a new normal in place. And that’s not a particularly good thing.

St. Maarten’s Princess Juliana International Airport was trashed by the storm. The main terminal building is no longer a viable operation. PJIA recently opened a temporary “pavilion” to handle passengers. That tented facility includes check-in counters and some concessions, major improvements to the prior post-storm work. And unlike the “temporary” facility at Dulles airport this one truly is intended to serve a short-term role.

The airport faces some $100mm in repair costs according to its COO Michel Hyman and getting those paid could prove interesting. The government-owned facility is insured but some on the island are questioning the remuneration process and just how much of the policy payout will ultimately be reinvested in the facility.

MP (Member of Parliament) Perry Geerlings in particular is challenging decisions made around the demolition and reconstruction process. In a recent Parliamentary hearing Geerlings questioned the need for three insurance adjusters to handle the claim. Each will take a significant chunk of the settlement funds as their fee, potentially leaving the government on the hook for funding more of the repair than expected.

Hyman suggests that the demolition and rebuild work could be completed in as little as a 9 months. Given the limited progress so far that seems a terribly optimistic outlook. The airport must also contend with passenger numbers down some 70% year over year on a similar capacity decline.

With much of the tourism infrastructure on the island still out of service those numbers should not come as much of a surprise. Even with the airport rebuilt those numbers are expected to remain depressed as the other recovery efforts languish.

Just over 100 miles to the west the St. Croix airport also moves towards recovery, though that work is more focused on the business jet side of the ledger. Bohlke International Airways is the sole service provider at St. Croix’s Henry E. Rohlsen Airport and its facilities were also trashed by the storms.

It operates today from another hangar at the field that remained in place after the hurricanes tore through. By next year Bohlke hopes to have a new, 20,000 square foot hangar in service. The new facility will allow Bohlke to serve larger aircraft than it could prior to the storm. The company hopes this will give it – and the island of St. Croix – a leg up on the neighboring competition. The fact that portions of the island are still without power or full tourism facilities suggests that it could be some time before that investment pays off with significant returns.

Aviation industry analyst Seth Miller of PaxEx.Aero.

COMMENTARY: The author is responsible for the contents of this editorial.

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Victorious Living Expands Leadercast to Three-Day Leadership Summit: Leaders Challenged to Lead themselves & be Leaders They’d Want to Follow

SINT MAARTEN (PHILIPSBURG) - We live in a world of political upheaval, integrity breaches and disappointment with leadership in practically every sphere of society. Consequently, most of us want to see the world filled with better leaders. The truth is, filling the world with Leaders worth following starts with you and me—in our companies, organizations and communities.

Therefore as we have done over the past five years, Victorious Living Foundation (VLF) is hosting Leadercast on May 4, 2018, under the theme: Lead Yourself: Be the leader you’d want to follow. We are inviting leaders and aspiring leaders on St. Martin and beyond to join more than 100,000 leaders from around the globe at the world’s largest leadership event—Leadercast Live; broadcast live from Atlanta.

Leadercast Live brings together acclaimed global leaders to create a leadership experience unlike any other. And the more than 350 persons who have attended Leadercast on St. Martin over the past five years can attest to the value of their rich experience at Leadercast and how it has impacted their lives.

Among the speakers this year are: Dr. Mae Jemison, the first woman of colour in the world to go to space when she flew aboard the Space Shuttle Endeavour in 1992. She has broken many barriers as a leader (literally and figuratively!), and her career is a testament to the power of self-leadership. Her perseverance, fortitude, discipline, and self-advocacy put her in the position to lead groundbreaking research that benefits those in need around the world. Dr. Jemison will teach about the importance of self-leadership and give practical takeaways on how to be individually fit to lead. 

VLF has partnered with Ann De Vere aka “The Global Visibility Catalyst”, Executive Producer of “Access To Experts TV” and “Meet The Press LIVE,” out of Hollywood California, to help our leaders, executives and aspiring entrepreneurs to be able to effectively share their expertise and the value they bring to the market place. This critical training available to youth and adults will equip our local leaders to showcase their capabilities, increase their influence and financial returns in their businesses and organizations. Persons may register now at http://lightscamerainterview.com/.

Ann Devere has trained and interviewed hundreds of experts who are appearing on Network Television as Guest Experts, Hosting their own TV Shows and creating videos for their websites, blogs, social media presence etc. Persons who register now, have access to the free live follow up training on May 3rd at VLF’s Leadership Summit.

This Sunday Ann De Vere will be featured on the popular radio show Love and Inspiration, hosted by Roy Cotton Jr. from 3-5p.m. on 102.7FM or http://pjd2radio.com/  along with Nelson Els, entrepreneur, teacher & speaker of the John Maxwell Team.

Els, a new board member of VLF will be teaching “The 15 Invaluable Laws of Growth” by John Maxwell at the Summit. More exciting speakers will be released in the coming days. To register for the Summit call 1-721-524-8731 or e-mail This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or visit www.victoriouslivingsxm.org

PHOTO CUTLINE: Nelson Els

Nelson Els

Ann de Vere write

PHOTO CUTLINE: Ann de Vere

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Member of Parliament and another person arrested in relation to Emerald investigation on fraud and corruption

SINT MAARTEN (PHILIPSBURG) - The anti-corruption team TBO executed two searches in homes and one in a company on Sint Maarten, a joint press release from the Public Prosecution Service (OM) and the Anti-Corruption Unit said on Wednesday.

“Two suspects were arrested. One home was seized. The arrest of F.G. R. (1968) is the result of the research "Emerald", an investigation into fraud and corruption in the port of Sint Maarten. In that case, 7 suspects were still in session last week. In two of those cases the judge pronounces judgment on 22 February 2018.

“The other cases will be discussed further in the month of March of this year. The accused suspect is a member of the parliament on Sint Maarten, just like the suspect C.E. B., one of the seven suspects who were at court last week. F.G. R. is suspected of accepting bribes and tax fraud. F.G.R. is also suspected of participating in a criminal organization aimed at recruiting votes for itself.

“This investigation is run by the National Detective Agency of Sint Maarten (Landsrecherche Sint Maarten) under the direction of the Public Prosecutor's Office of Sint Maarten. On February 13, 2018 a search was conducted against him at an address in the Sucker Garden district and today 14 February 2018 at addresses on the French part, Saint Martin, including at the address of the defendant himself.

“Data carriers and administration were seized during the search. The second arrest concerns J.H. B. (1964) and emerged from the research "Larimar", an investigation into, among other things, the bribery of civil servants, (political) authorities and persons in the construction sector.

“Previous actions, including a search on January 24, 2018 at a construction company on Sint Maarten, led to this arrest. The defendant is the director of the construction company. In addition to these arrests, the TBO has also searched a company building in the same investigation today.

“The TBO has special attention on Sint Maarten after the destruction after hurricane Irma and regarding the reconstruction of Sint Maarten. TBO is alert to signs of corruption and fraud in both the public sector and the construction sector. The Public Prosecutor’s Office (OM) of Sint Maarten will be extra alert during the period up to the elections on signals of buying and selling votes ('vote buying'),” the joint press statement concludes.

Persons who have information about this are asked to contact the National Detective Agency (Landsrecherche Sint Maarten) - if necessary anonymously. This is possible via the telephone number: +1721-5225810.

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Minister Wuite signs off on repairs for Melford Hazel Sports Center and basketball courts

SINT MAARTEN (POND ISLAND) – In line with the vision of recovery, Minister of Education, Culture, Youth and Sport Jorien Wuite informs that repairs to the Melford Hazel Sports Center along with several basketball courts in various districts on the island have been signed off on to be executed within the coming weeks.

The National Sports Institute (NSI) will be the executing agency to oversee the repairs with funds made available through the approval of a subsidy by the Government of St. Maarten

The Melford Hazel Sports Center, an indoor and outdoor sports facility, suffered major damage after the passing of hurricanes Irma and Maria in September 2017. After a damage assessment was performed by the NSI it was reported that the roof of the facility had several holes, the basketball and tennis fields on the property were destroyed as well as the on-site playground.

Iron gates and fencing surrounding the property were also destroyed. The first phase of repairs to the complex will concentrate on the main building making it available for use. A second phase to start at a later date will cover the repair of the outside gazebo used by the general public for sports and other events.

Six basketball courts are also slated for repairs. They are the courts located in Cole Bay at the Leonard Connor School, Dutch Quarter at the Martin Luther King School, Middle Region at the Sister Marie Laurence School, St. Peters at the Rupert Maynard Community Center, Simpson Bay at the Sister Regina School and Belvedere by the sports field.

These six courts provide a location for youth to engage in play within their local communities. With the repairs of these basketball courts, as well as the Melford Hazel Sports Center, Minister Wuite looks forward to these communities being one step closer to returning to our “new normal”.

“Once children are safe and engaged in school, sports and after school activities it encourages family life to return to normal; parents and guardians can then turn their attention to other critical priorities” the Minister explained. 

The Minister also complements the NSI, Sports Department and private volunteers for their proactive and committed efforts as additional repairs to the island’s sports facilities have already commenced. Major damage was reported at the majority of the sporting facilities on the island after the passage of the two hurricanes.

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UPDATED: Minister of Finance Ferrier travels to Holland to thank Dutch Government for Assistance

SINT MAARTEN (SIMPSON BAY) - Finance Minister Michael "Mike" Ferrier along with three civil servants left the country for the Netherlands on Tuesday, via Curacao.

Ferrier, a pilot, will fly a privately owned aircraft from Princess Juliana International Airport to Hato International to connect to Royal Dutch Airline KLM.

"This is the quickest and cheapest and most cost effective way to Holland,” Ferrier said before departure.

The plane belongs to a company owned by pilot friend of Ferrier, and comes with no cost to government. “We use each other’s airplane and have an ongoing agreement that calls for the pickup of direct cost such as fuel and airport expenses by he who flies which ever airplane. I fly, so I pay,” said Ferrier adding, “…besides saving Government money, I get to pursue my favorite hobby and at the same time contribute to trying to dig St. Maarten out of the hole created by a natural disaster on one hand and the subsequent mismanagement of the recovery by the previous Government on the other hand.

"This trip to Holland is to make sure St. Maarten gets all the possible funds it can for the recovery process. And in getting to Europe, I have ensured there is no unnecessary expense for government," said Ferrier.

Out of Curaçao the minister is flying “in the back of the bus” with the civil servants. It has been customary for ministers to fly business class on official trips.

Prime Minister Leona Romeo-Marlin will join Ferrier in the Netherlands for the continued discussions on how best to access the promised Dutch recovery aid. She is travelling to The Hague via the United States using American Airlines. She did not make the trip together with Ferrier because her schedule did not permit the same travel itinerary.

The trip is also "to thank the government and people of Holland for their continued support," said Ferrier.

After their joint meetings in The Hague, Ferrier returns home on Sunday and Romeo-Marlin will go on to Brussels, Belgium, for meetings with European Union (EU) to attend the 16th EU O.C.T. conference where she will chair the CARIBBEAN Regional Ministerial meeting plus participate in other meetings at the conference.

"The prime minister's meetings in Brussels are not related to my portfolio, so I am coming back home as soon as possible. There is work to be done here," said Ferrier.

PHOTO CUTLINE: A copy of the commercial pilot's license of Michael Ferrier from the United States Federal Aviation Authority (FAA).

commer pilots license

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Minister of Telecommunications De Weever Commends Local Radio Stations on World Radio Day

POND ISLAND – The Acting Minister responsible for Telecommunications Cornelius de Weever, would like to congratulate radio station owners, staff and listeners on the occasion of World Radio Day which is being observed around the globe today, Tuesday, February 13.

The theme for World Radio Day 2018 is “Radio and Sports.”

“Radio is a very powerful tool, and we once again experienced that on September 6, the day hurricane Irma made landfall and caused catastrophic damage to our beloved island.

“For several weeks, several radio stations served as beacons of hope as they provided information to the community and to loved ones abroad who were following developments on the island right after the hurricane.

“I would like to take this opportunity to commend our radio stations, the owners, the staff, technicians, program producers and hosts for the very important role that they played after the hurricane.

“In the past, pre-Irma and today, radio continues to perform a very important role and this will continue for the foreseeable future. Thank you for what you do every day 365 days a year,” Acting Minister of Telecommunications Cornelius de Weever said on Tuesday.

Radio has shaped lives across many countries around the world.

Radio is still the most dynamic, reactive and engaging medium there is, adapting to 21st century changes and offering new ways to interact and participate.

World Radio Day was first celebrated in 2012, following its declaration by the UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization) General Conference.

It was subsequently adopted as an International Day by the United Nations General Assembly. Previous annual themes have included gender equality, youth participation, radio in humanitarian and disaster situations, and "Radio is You!"

In past years, World Radio Day has seen wide success, with over 500 events taking place worldwide in 2017.

Radio informs us and transforms us, through entertainment, information and audience participation. Having a radio means you are never alone – you always have a friend in radio, according to UNESCO.

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District Governor (DG) of Rotary District 7020 concludes successful trip to islands

SINT MAARTEN (SIMPSON BAY) - Once a year, the District Governor (DG) of Rotary District 7020 makes an official visit to each club in the district, between July 1st and December 31st. The purpose of the visit is to allow the DG to communicate directly with all Rotarians in our District, the civic club said in a press statement.

“He is there to listen to the club leadership and gain a better understanding of their club, to provide helpful and friendly advice to club officers as requested and to answer questions about Rotary International and the District.

“The DG serves as a catalyst to help strengthen the programs of Rotary and ensures that the requirements set by Rotary International are being met.

“The current Governor of district 7020 is Dr. Robert Leger. He was born and raised in Les Cayes, Haiti. He went on to study medicine at the Universidad Nacional Autonoma de and graduated as a General Surgeon from Hospital Juarez.

“Mexico was his home for 11 years and it was there that he met his lovely wife Rosa. In 1981, he returned to his native country of Haiti to fulfill his dream of giving back to his country.

“Dr. Leger joined Rotary Club Des Cayes in 1983 and was elected President of his Club for two terms. During his 34 years as a Rotarian, he has held all the posts in his club.

“DG Robert Leger and First lady Rosa Leger arrived on St.Maarten on January 29th 2018. They were greeted at the airport by the Assistant Governor Marcellia Henry, President of Rotary club of St. Martin Sunrise, Damali Bryson, President of Rotary club of St. Maarten Midisle, Anjali Manek, and President of Rotary club of St. Maarten John Caputo, along with other Rotarians.

The first item of business on the DG’s agenda was to meet with the presidents and secretaries of the various clubs. The next few days the DG spent attending club meetings, board meetings and visiting community projects the clubs had done. He also made trips to St. Barth’s and Anguilla to visit Rotary clubs there.

During the meetings the DG focused on how the clubs and their members were faring in the aftermath of Hurricanes Irma and Maria. Other key items discussed in the meetings were how Rotary can assist in the rebuilding and restoration efforts of the affected islands.

The clubs made sure that the DG understood that while the islands were making good progress, there is still a lot of work to be done to get back to the pre-Irma state. The DG emphasized that District 7020 has set aside a disaster fund to help finance community improvement projects. He urged the clubs to develop projects and make use of those available funds.

During his visit, the DG met with officials of St. Maarten/ St. Martin including the Honorable Prime Minister of St. Maarten Leona Romeo-Marlin, His Excellency Governor Eugene Holiday and President of Collectivite of Saint Martin, the Honorable Daniel Gibbs. He also made multiple radio appearances on both the Dutch and French sides.

A fellowship for all Rotarians was held at Emilio’s in Dutch Cul de Sac. DG Robert gave his address at this event, expressing his happiness at seeing the progress and recovery of the islands. He encouraged those present to continue their good work because there was still a lot that needs to be done.

Rotary is about community and we are there for them. This occasion was also used to put a few individuals and organization in the spotlight that show true Rotarian spirit “Service above self”. The St. Maarten Club donated a new car to Ms. Mary Bryson of Meals on Wheels, on organization dedicated to bringing food to the elderly and others who are unable to provide for themselves.

The car she used for this purpose was damaged during hurricane Irma. The Rotary Club of St. Maarten Midisle awarded Ms. Helen Hart of voices the prestigious Paul Harris Award for her work with youth. The Sunrise Club gave awards to the SXM PAWS organization and Mr. Euriel A. Douglas, a.k.a. Drae. SXM PAWS succeeded to evacuate over 200 cats and dogs that were abandoned after hurricane Irma.

Drae has been reroofing the homes of senior citizens free of charge since and is currently working on houses numbers 27 & 28. The DG was very impressed with these noble efforts.

The DG returned to Haiti on February 4th after concluding a successful trip to our islands.

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OSPP Party missed deadline donation registrations

SINT MAARTEN (PHILIPSBURG) - Eleven of the thirteen political parties that were registered with the Electoral Council in 2017, submitted their donation registers of 2017 before the dead-line of February 1st, 2018 in accordance with the National Ordinance on registration and finances of political parties.

Before the deadline, one party requested for a week’s extension after the deadline and in the meantime, submitted its donation register to the Electoral Council. However, despite several reminders of its legal obligations by the Electoral Council, the political party One Sint Maarten People Party (O.S.P.P) failed to submit its donation registration.

The Electoral Council is urgently requesting the O.S.P.P. to submit its register of donations for the year 2017 in order to avoid measures being taken against the party as is laid down in Article 44 of the aforementioned National Ordinance.

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TRIPARTITE HOST PROGRESS MEETING WITH CFT ON NEW GENERAL HOSPITAL

SINT MAARTEN (CAY HILL) - The Tripartite, consisting of the Ministry of VSA, Social & Health Insurances (SZV) and the St. Maarten Medical Center (SMMC) hosted a meeting with the Committee for Financial Supervision (CFT) on Thursday February 8th to discuss the progress being made on the build and operations of the New General Hospital.

The presentations and tour took place at SMMC and highlighted the need for improved healthcare on St. Maarten, the scope of quality care to be provided in the new general hospital.

The progress of healthcare reform, including addressing the cost of prescription drugs, streamlining the referral process and cooperation with French St. Martin and quality control of medical professionals was also part of the presentation. The comments of CFT were positive, stating that the presentation was ‘impressive’.

The completion of the new general hospital, as to when it would be operational, is projected to be within three (3) years. CFT representatives were given a full circle presentation of the progress of the plans, the phased approach of the execution which addresses improving the quality of care on several levels.

The need for the new hospital is evident as all stakeholders agree that the quality of care in the country should be improved and needs a combination of mechanisms and structures in place to do so. The CFT was briefed on the project plan schedule, which includes funding, training of staff, JCI accreditation, medical tourism and collaborations with international specialists through exchanges and telemedicine.

“When we speak of the new general hospital there is often focus on the building. The plans for the new facility include plans for new services, accreditation of quality, new equipment which we do not have now, updated equipment of which we are in need of, facilities to welcome new and needed specialists, training of the current staff, more rooms for patients and the list goes on. We are not moving the old into the new. The new general hospital will be one of the key mechanisms towards improving quality care on St. Maarten. The meeting with CFT was very positive, we will continue to update the CFT and provide additional information in support of the conversations with the World Bank.” - Minister Emil Lee (VSA)

The Tripartite formation was initiated in March 2015 by the SZV. The Tripartite’s goal was to come to collaborate and sustainable approach to improving health care on St. Maarten. For the Ministry of VSA, it was important that the process and execution of the project was done in systematic and transparent manner, this way ensuring that the project is sustainable and that checks and balances could be monitored.

Close to 70% of the insured population of St. Maarten is insured via SZV and there is an annual rise in medical referrals abroad which are processed not only by SZV but also private medical insurance companies.

Having a new general hospital capable of serving the population based on its needs would significantly reduce the costs of referrals abroad for SZV. These costs rank up to millions of guilders each year as travel, lodging and daily allowances are also included.

“For many years we at SZV have been juggling the task of travel agents and mediators, sending our customers abroad for medical care. Yes, it does not always go as planned. A hurricane passes, an airline cancels, a specialist is fully booked, the challenges are pages long for our customers and us at SZV. By advocating for the new general hospital we are creating the opportunity for our customers to be at ‘home’ when they are ill instead of travelling while ill to a foreign country, sometimes alone and with language barriers. Care close to home is what we want for our customers.” – Glen A. Carty, Director of SZV

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