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Soualiga Newsday Features (878)

DP Condemns Recent Acts of Violence

PHILIPSBURG, Sint Maarten - The Democratic Party condemns the acts of violence perpetuated on the island in recent days. One of these hideous acts took the life of a businessman on the Northern side of the island and a young female student suffered serious injuries at the hand of an allegedly mentally unstable man in South Reward. The use of violence and availability of weapons is all too commonplace in our community.

No excuse however can justify these types of assaults on members of our community and must be condemned in the strongest possible way.

The Democratic Party supports the  increased cooperation between the two sides of the island in the different areas and, while crime fighting is chief amongst these, we note with concern the financial limitations to execute strategic crime fighting projects of the Ministry of Justice.

We extend our heartfelt condolences to the family and friends of the late Anan and we express our sincere wishes for a speedy recovery of the young student. We encourage all members of the community to help take a "bite out of crime" by demonstrating tolerance, looking out for each other, not condoning criminals or criminal acts.

It is also with sadness that we received the news of the suicide death of candidate notary Lars de Vries.

All in all, sad days for several families in our communities and as a compassionate society we share in these families' grief. May God grant them strength.

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Spate of Violence has Governments Attention

PHILIPSBURG, Sint Maarten - The Prime Minister of St. Maarten,  the Honorable Sarah Wescot-Williams  has expressed  her deep  concern over  the recent spate of violence the community has experienced. The PM made her comments while abroad attending the Caribbean Overseas Countries And Territories of the European Union Conference in Montserrat; “I am saddened to learn of the recent spate of violence  in the communities of both sides of our island and I would like to express sympathy and strength to the victims and their families as they struggle to cope with these incomprehensible acts of violence and disregard for human life and rights. I trust that our law enforcement authorities will do their jobs and  I encourage our citizens to have faith in our authorities and to assist them where they can.

“The situation has my full attention and the Government of St. Maarten will  continue to do all that  is within its power to ensure that our population is safe and secure.

At the same time, attention needs to be paid to the social and health issues that contribute to persons' state of mind. Mental health in its various forms and gradations also deserves our attention . The limited data available to us suggests that there is a worrisome number of persons who have to cope with effects of poor  or unbalanced mental health. 

We need to work with the organizations that provide service to the  chronically mentally challenged as well as those with bouts of mental lapses, chronic depression etc.

We need to sensitize our services to these illnesses.

“Finally I again would like to wish the victims and their families much strength as they seek healing and try to cope and overcome the loss and stress due to these  acts of senseless violence,” concluded Prime Minister Wescot-Williams.

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Minister Lourens-Philip tells Caribbean conference delegates to push forward

GREAT BAY, Sint Maarten (DCOMM) – His Excellency Governor Eugene B. Holiday and the Honorable Minister of Education, Culture and Youth Affairs Patricia Lourens - Philip encouraged Caribbean delegates to push the Caribbean forward during UNESCO’s conference closing session on Capacity Building on Heritage Conservation in the Caribbean Small Island Developing Sates (SIDS).

 

24 members representing SIDS came to a consensus on Tuesday afternoon during the closing of the UNESCO meeting on Capacity Building on Heritage Conservation in the Caribbean with an agenda for follow-up priorities and responsibilities to be delivered during the sequel meeting in St. Vincent & the Grenadines in 2015, during which His Excellency Governor Holiday and Minster Hon. Patricia Lourens-Philip emphasized the importance of “pushing” the Caribbean forward in World Heritage Matters.

 

“There are challenges we have to overcome and we must continue to position ourselves in the international arena in terms of showing our history and that we can be going forward” said Honorable Governor Holiday during his closing statement as he sat in during the drafting of the agenda.

Among the SIDS representatives were Anguilla, Antigua & Barbuda, Belize, Bahamas, British Virgin Islands, Cayman Islands, Curacao, Dominica, Dominican Republic, Grenada, Jamaica, St. Kitts & Nevis, St. Lucia, St. Maarten, St. Vincent & the Grenadines, Suriname, Trinidad & Tobago and St. Eustatius as an observer.

 

Honorable Minster of Education, Culture, Youth & Sports, Patricia Lourens-Philip commended each member for accepting their invitation to the UNESCO meeting which was organized by her ministry by the Department of Culture and making measurable progress. “We are convinced that we have a rightful place in the Caribbean History in the English, Dutch, French and Spanish speaking Caribbean and as such we want to say thank you for being here and participating with a lot of passion,” she said.

 

Himalchuli Gurung, Programme Specials for Culture, UNESCO Kingston Cluster Office for the Caribbean, as well as Victor Marin, CCBP Coordinator, UNESCO Havana Regional Office for Latin America and the Caribbean on behalf of all participants commended Department Head of Culture, Mr. Neville York for his hard work in putting the meeting together and thanked the St. Maarten government for prioritizing the importance of the meeting and making it happen.

 

The UNESCO and SIDS representatives avidly worked on identifying areas of development, methods of funding and prospective areas of preservation in respects to creating their respective tentative lists, and nomination dossiers for World Heritage Sites while sharing intelligence and creating an informal network/skills bank to create accessibility among themselves when initiating projects or activities that will require the expertise of one or more of the members.

 

The official opening of the UNESCO meeting took place last Saturday on May 10, 2014 which commenced with a flag inauguration and supporting messages from Honorable Governor Holiday, Honorable Prime Minister Wescot-Williams and Honorable Minister Lourens, as well as Director and Representative, UNESCO Kingston Cluster Office for the Caribbean, Christine Norton, whom all emphasized 2014 being the international year of Small Islands Developing States and the relevance of the work to follow during the conference.

 

The conference meetings followed with discussion on Caribbean strategies on managing serial heritage sites, a field trip to Fort Amsterdam and supporting historic areas, updates on the Kingston Action Plan, presentations on country experiences in preparing nomination dossiers, group work, and closed with a St. Maarten Declaration on Caribbean Capacity Building Strategy for the Caribbean SIDS.

All members were given a token of appreciation sponsored by the St. Maarten Tourism Office as well as PITCH-IT Foundation, which was presented to the members by Minister Lourens - Philip and Mr. Neville York.

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Prime Minister and Police DARE Foundation to Team Up for Zumba Walk Involving Primary Schools

PHILIPSBURG, Sint Maarten - The Prime Minister of St. Maarten the Honorable Sarah Wescot-Williams met with representatives of the St. Maarten Police Force regarding the organizing of a joint DARE Foundation, Police Force of St. Maarten We 2 Can Move project assisted and supported by the Cabinet of the Prime Minister.

The police officers were met with the Prime Minister and her Cabinet in order to present the DARE Foundation project, which seeks to involve all primary schools pupils to take part in exercise and thus encouraging them to stay away from drug and alcohol abuse. The We 2 Can Move will take place on the 7th of June, with the Zumba exercise walk starting from the Raoul Illidge Sports Complex and proceeding to the Carnival Village.

The Prime Minister’s Cabinet will be collaborating with the Police Force and the DARE Foundation on making the project a reality. The Prime Minister, during her meeting, thanked the officers for seeking collaboration on the project; “ I would like to thank you for contacting our cabinet with respect to the DARE program and the association you have sought with the U2 Can Move Campaign. I think movement can play a significant role in not only making our youth healthy but to also in using health and exercise to steer our youth away from drug and alcohol abuse. I therefore look forward to collaborating on this project,” emphasized the Prime Minister.

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Business sector and vital organizations reminded to apply for Hurricane Mobility Pass

GREAT BAY, Sint Maarten (DCOMM) – The Office of Disaster Management would like to remind the business sector and vital organizations to apply for their Hurricane Mobility Pass for the upcoming 2014 Hurricane Season.

The application process started April 28 and concludes May 23.

The pass allows the aforementioned to visit their business address to assess possible damage to their property in the event that a hurricane can caused damage to parts of the country.

Potential applicants have until May 23 to present all relevant information related to the process of requesting a Mobility Pass.

The hurricane pass application procedure is only intended for businesses and vital organizations with respect to their key personnel receiving an exemption to a curfew.

The Office of Disaster Management is handling the application process for the passes on behalf of the Prime Minister.

The hurricane mobility pass system is a mechanism to maintain public order during emergency situations. The Prime Minister assesses the damage after a disaster has occurred and can impose a curfew if the extent of the damage poses a threat to the safety and security of the community.

The application form has to be completed and submitted to the offices of the Fire Department & Disaster Management, to the attention of the secretary located at Jackal Road 5, Cay Hill before May 23, 2014, with all necessary documents attached.

Applicants will be informed by email or telephone when to pick up the pass at the aforementioned address between office hours, Monday – Friday, 9.00 AM – 4.00 PM.

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Nature Foundation Gives Nature Education Lectures in Local Schools

COLE BAY, Sint Maarten - The St. Maarten Nature Foundation over the course of the last few weeks have been headed into the classrooms of various schools on the island in order to give Nature Education lectures. The lectures are centered on both the work of the Nature Foundation in Terms of Nature Conservation on St. Maarten as well as educating pupils about the natural ecosystems and natural heritage of St. Maarten.

“The involvement of the young is one of the most important ways in preparing the new generations to ensure that their natural surroundings and natural heritage is protected,” read a Nature Foundation statement. “It is essential that students are made aware of the need to protect our ecosystems and our environment and that they understand the importance of sustainable development and conservation. That is why we find it very important as an organization to involve the youth, whether it is through our yearly Snorkel Club or through field trips and schools visits.”

Presentations are given on a wide variety of subjects including the Marine Environment, Wetlands and Mangroves, Sharks, Whales and Dolphins and Conservation practices. If schools are interested in receiving a presentation on any of these topics they are urgend to contact the Nature Foundation at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..



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Prime Minister Clarifies Presentation to Parliament Regarding Plans of Approach for Departments

PHILIPSBURG, Sint Maarten - The Prime Minister of St. Maarten the Honorable Sarah Wescot-Williams clarified to the public over the weekend her presentation to Parliament last Thursday.

The Prime Minister, during her weekly Radio Program One on One with the Prime Minister, commented on various subjects which came up during the session in Parliament, including issues related to the Plans of Approach of various Departments within Ministries, the issues ongoing at the Census Office including Issues Related to Dutch Passports and the retaining of qualified personnel for Government Departments; “It is very important that the public realize the background and realities of what is going on aside from all of the politics they are being faced with and last Thursday’s Parliamentary meeting is no different.

The discussions in Parliament stem from the days of the Constitutional Change from before 10-10-10 that is still ongoing today. We realized that for those departments that needed to be upgraded as a result of Constitutional Change a special cooperation was needed and was eventually agreed upon, the so-called Plans of Approach.

The Institutions or Ministries that form part of the plans of the approach were our Councils of State, the Justice Ministry, the Ministry of VROMI and the Ministry of General Affairs. In the Ministry of General Affairs the two departments under focus were the Census office and the Legal Affairs department. In the Plans of Approach it was also stated that every three months a progress report would be issued: every quarter departments would have to report on how far they were able to get with regards to upgrading and strengthening.

“There is therefore also a progress committee that looks at the progress and implementation reports from the Departments and makes up a progress report. This is then discussed by the Ministerial Consultation comprised of the Prime Minister and the Kingdom Minister of Interior Affairs. Initially this was done for two years and has further been extended for extra four years in order to fully comply with the Plans of Approach.

“Parliament requested the thirteenth and fourteenth report for the Plans of Approach for the Ministry of General Affairs, with one of these departments, that of Legal Affairs, no longer forming part of the plans because we have completed all of the set forth requirements. Yes there are still some challenges with regards to the Department such as filling vacancies with competent local experts and keeping them there.

“The Government of St. Maarten is dealing with this in different ways, one through an incentive policy for persons that work for the Government: as they accomplish a few years in Government part of their study loans will be paid for, something that was implemented since the time I was Commissioner of Education. We have also started several professional training courses for persons already working in Government, giving them the possibility of continuing to work while still having the ability to upgrade.

“As I explained in Parliament yesterday on where we are and why we are doing certain things we need to be able to reflect. Before country status there was a lot of criticism. Our Census office used to be accused of many things, with allegations of fraud being especially worrisome. During the Island Territory days there were even interventions and investigations at the Census office with a lot of issues playing at the time.

“Based on that the Census Office was decided to be monitored and the plans of approach were established for that. An important aspect of this was the cleaning up of the registry as was training and digitalizing the information of the Census Office. I was happy to Report to Parliament that the Census Office will soon also be excluded from the Plans of Approach. This does not mean that the upgrades will stop but that we are not officially monitored. With VROMI as well the activities which have been ongoing will also soon be excluded from the Monitoring, with should be excluded in 2014.

With regards to the Ministry of Justice practically every department was put under Monitoring. There too different Justice Ministers worked on fulfilling those Plans of Approach. And the only departments now remaining are the Police and the Prison, and that it why it has been decided that the resolution for the cooperation agreement had to be extended, “explained Prime Minister Wescot-Williams.

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Prime Minister Wescot-Williams Highlights National Cultural and Historical Heritage at Opening of UN Conference in Maho

PHILIPSBURG, Sint Maarten - The Prime Minister of St. Maarten during her featured address at the opening of the UNESCO Capacity Building Conference for Small Caribbean Developing Nations highlighted the need for Heritage Conservation and the commitment to strengthen stakeholders already involved in the process during her featured address on Saturday evening. The conference, hosted by the Ministry of Education, Culture, Youth and Sport Affairs was focused on the building of capacity for small island developing nations in the Caribbean to better preserve their heritage through the building and strengthening of capacity of stakeholders, institutions and organizations to effectively preserve and conserve their historical and natural heritage. The results of the conference will eventually result in the St. Maarten Declaration that will lay forth a framework for national heritage capacity building in the insular Caribbean.

The Prime Minister during her address highlighted that St. Maarten, in its development throughout the years has undergone significant changes which has not always placed heritage conservation at the center; “St. Maarten in the past has developed very rapidly with all the consequences associated with that, it is for that reason that we must value the things, both in terms of natural and cultural heritage, that we still have. Our heritage is extremely valuable to us as a nation and as a country and it is therefore essential that we preserve the things that make us unique as a country. St. Maarten has a unique place within the Caribbean with its diversity rooted in our own unique Caribbean Culture, it is therefore essential that we strive to conserve our heritage and place this central in our various programs, something which we are currently doing in our National Development Plan.

“It is therefore with great honor and gratitude that I welcome delegates to this very unique and auspicious occasion and grateful to the Ministry of Education, Culture, Youth and Sports for hosting this conference. Likewise I would also like to thank the United Nations and specifically UNESCO for having the confidence in St. Maarten to have such an important occasion, both the meeting on Coastal Fortifications next week and the conference on capacity building for Small Island Nation States being held for the next coming days. I would also like to welcome delegates from the region, including regional heads from Cuba and the UNESCO headquarters in Jamaica and all other delegates for attending this conference,” stated Prime Minister Wescot-Williams.

The Prime Minister concluded by praising and encouraging the stakeholders: institutions and organizations already involved in heritage conservation on St. Maarten, for their work in the field; “I would especially like to give my thanks and express my gratitude to those organizations and individuals who have, at times under difficult odds, worked diligently and selflessly in conserving our Cultural and National Heritage. Without their important work we would be in a very different situation from where we are now. I encourage you to use this conference to indeed build on your capacity and to get encouragement to continue with the work that you are doing,” concluded Prime Minister Wescot-Williams.

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Saba on its way to a full accountant’s approval over 2014

THE BOTTOM, SABA - Saba will likely end the year 2013 with a budget surplus, which will be added to its reserves. These reserves contribute to the improvement of the resistance capital of Saba. The reserves are for instance needed for unforeseen events and natural disasters. The budget for 2014 is being executed according to plan.

 

The Board of financial supervision (College financieel toezicht Bonaire, Sint Eustatius and Saba - Cft) visited Saba on May 5th and had meetings with the executive council and the island council.During the visit to the island, the board introduced Mr. Hyden Gittens as the new board member on behalf of Bonaire, Sint Eustatius and Saba. He is the successor of Mr. Max Pandt, who was a much appreciated member of the Cft since the onset of financial supervision. Mr. Gittens is no stranger to most Sabans and he received a warm welcome from the members of both councils.

Budget execution

Saba stated that it expects a budget surplus over the year 2013 and the Cft already received a draft of these annual accounts. By adding this surplus to the reserves, Saba shows that it is improving its capacity to cope with risks, calamities and unforeseen setbacks. Recently Saba requested three interest-free loans to invest in infrastructure. With these loans Saba is able to make important improvements in infrastructure. The data received shows that Saba is capable of meeting the obligations of the payment costs regarding the requested loans.

The Cft made clear that while Saba indeed has the possibility to reach the next stage, it is important that it expands the content of the quarterly reports, in order to include some additional financial information that is important for complete financial insight. One such report is a quarterly cash flow statement, which currently does not form part of the quarterly package. The executive council of Saba made clear that Saba has always been keen on transparency with regard to its financial administration and intends to facilitate with the requested additional information once acceptable formats are cleared with the Cft.

Annual accounts

Saba has made impressive progress in the past years in strengthening its financial administration. The annual accounts for 2012 received a first time approval by the external auditor with respect to a true and fair view. The Saba administration is aiming for a full approval from the external accountant over the year 2014, including the approval with regard to the legitimacy of the expenditures made. This would be a major step towards a fully transparent and accountable financial administration, which will help the island council in performing its controlling function.

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Leadercast Live thanks Victorious Living Foundation for its Partnership

ATLANTA /ST. MAARTEN - “The excitement level continues to grow as we get closer to yet another year of epic leadership content in 2014!” stated Bradley Hutson, Vice President of International Business Development for Leadercast. According to Hutson, Leadercast continues to grow in the international community and is currently in over 20 countries around the world.

“We are pleased to be partnering with Victorious Living Foundation for the second consecutive year to bring Leadercast Live 2014 to St. Maarten,” stated Hutson. He underscored the fact that Giant Impact, the organizers of Leadercast, rely on host sites like Victorious Living to effectively grow their international footprint and ultimately change the way the world thinks about leadership.

He noted that the in-depth understanding of the needs of the local community can only come from being an active part of the community. “Without the support of organizations like Victorious Living Foundation the Leadercast message would not impact as many lives as it does,” stated Hutson.

Leadercast’s mission is to build leaders worth following. To help clarify, this leader, a leader worth following thinks, leads, and behaves differently. These leaders pursue an innate ability to create culture, an unyielding passion for simplicity, an ability to drive creativity deep within an organization, and just insane bravery. These are just a few of the behaviors we will bring to life during Leadercast 2014.

Hutson expressed his gratitude to Victorious Living in a personal letter to the Foundation’s visionary, N. Erna Mae Francis-Cotton by stating: “Thank you for your support in meeting the leadership needs of St. Maarten and helping to build leaders worth following!”

Registration for Leadercast is currently closed, however, businesses that see the need for exposing their managers and the general public to such dynamic content may decide to become a partner and underwrite the costs of being able to accommodate an additional twenty to thirty registrants. Businesses who see underwriting the costs of having more attendees as part of their corporate social responsibility may contact Victorious Living at 1-721-524-8731 or visit www.victoriouslivingsxm.org or e-mail This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. to do so.

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