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PM Says UP Party Loses Court Case against her and Government of St. Maarten on Voter’s Registry Issue

PHILIPSBURG - The Legal Case brought by Sylvia Myers-Olivacce as president of the Board of the United People’s Party was thrown out of court on Tuesday.

The UP Party, represented by Peggy-Ann Brandon and Brenda Brooks, took Prime Minister and the Government of Country St. Maarten to court claiming that the Prime Minister and the Government was to be held legally responsible for the voters registry not being released to political parties. The Plaintiffs wanted to order the Prime Minister and the Government to issue the Voters Registry as per a court verdict or risk a fine.

However, the ruling stated that the Civil Court could not accept the plaintiffs’ claim based on the existing laws and ordinances of the country. Based on the Electoral Law the Minister is obligated to give to any individual information on his or her registry in the voter’s registry, but then on an individual basis. Before the constitutional change of the Tenth of October 2010 the voter’s registry was available to political parties upon payment, however this has not been taken up in the new Electoral Laws for country St. Maarten after the constitutional changes of 10-10-10. The only way this would have been possible would have been through the changing of the laws by members of Parliament, something that they failed to do during the past four years.

The Court also established that the Prime Minister was in accordance to all administrative laws of the country when not answering the request to make the voters registry public as well as establishing that the argument of the plaintiffs position to hold the Prime Minister liable for their claim did not have a legal basis; a Minister can only be held liable if his or her actions if he or she goes beyond their functions and can only be made in instances of serious accusations, which was not remotely applicable in this case. (From the Cabinet of the Prime Minister)

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UP to refile case in its fight to have Government respect the constitutional voting rights of the people

PHILIPSBURG - The board of the United People's Party (UP) says the Judge did not throw out the case initiated by the United People’s (UP) Party with respect to obtaining a copy of the voter’s registry which has been common practice in the past.  The Judge ruled the case inadmissible due to a semantic error where it should have been against country Sint Maarten and not the Government, and therefore it is not perceived as a loss.

The UP will resubmit the case to the Courts soonest after the correction has been made.

The UP Party presented a case with respect to the constitutional voting rights of the people.

You have cases where persons have been stricken from the voter’s registry, and you have numerous cases currently in court where the individuals are fighting to have their voting rights restored so they can exercise their right to vote on Friday, August 29.

The UP Party started a case based on the Election Ordinance.  We wanted to get an insight into the voter’s registry by getting a copy based on the new ordinance that governs our country’s national elections. 

Voters are being surprised today by not receiving their voting card.

The UP Party is fighting to preserve the voting rights of the people and for Government to respect these rights which are enshrined in our laws and Constitution.

Nobody should be allowed to take away those rights just like that.  You have individuals who have been voting in every election and now they are being disenfranchised.

The UP Party is working in the interests of the people to protect their voting rights and will address this constitutional right of the people.

If the voter’s registry was handled according to the law there would be no cases in front of the Judge today by the people who are fighting for their rights to be put back on the registry so they can vote.

The Civil Registry Department falls under the Minister of General Affairs who is the Prime Minister. The system is broken and needs to be fixed, and the UP is prepared and ready to fix it.

The UP Party will not stand by and allow disenfranchisement of the people’s right to vote. (Contributed by the UP Party)

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HEEL PRICK SCREENING FEASIBILITY STUDY REPORT PRESENTED TO MINISTER DE WEEVER

GREAT BAY -Minister Cornelius de Weever thanked Collective Prevention Services for the report of the feasibility for the introduction and sustained implementation of the heel prick screening for new born on St. Maarten.

Discussions on heel prick screening for St. Maarten have been going on for years but were intensified in 2012 after a presentation and discussion of a recent case of a child with a metabolic disorder that was born on St. Maarten where the family had to go to Holland for diagnosis. After reporting to the Minister, CPS was tasked to carry out a feasibility study on the introduction and sustained implementation of the heel prick screening on St. Maarten as foundation for a well informed decision.

For this study it was decided to partner with the RIVM; since the constitutional change Bonaire, St. Eustatius and Saba became special municipalities in the Dutch Kingdom making it necessary to introduce the heel prick on these Islands. Holland was already preparing for the study and the preliminary results showed that it was evident that St. Maarten played an important role. Many children from Saba and St. Eustasius are born on St. Maarten. Partnering with RIVM was the only logical move and the most cost effective solution to our feasibility study.

During a work visit from Dr. Asin, Head CPS, to the RIVM and the GGD in 2013, the initial contours for collaboration where discussed, steps to come to a formal collaboration agreement where mapped out and contact persons were identified to work as a special Dutch Caribbean Heel Prick Screening Committee.

The two Ministers of Health, Minister de Weever, Minins St. Maarten and Minister Schippers, Minister VWS Holland, secured this collaboration with their signatures.

Dr Josien van Wijk, Youth Health Care Physician and Acting Section Head Youth Health Care of Collective Prevention Services, was the representative of CPS in this committee. The strategic approach was that while the RIVM was carrying out the feasibility study for these three islands, CPS at the same time worked on the feasibility study of Sint Maarten.

The purpose of the neonatal heel prick screening is to detect diseases in which intervention shortly after birth has obvious advantages over interventions that without screening cannot take place or only at a later stage. Interventions include treatments such as giving a drug or a diet, but also preventive measures such as avoiding fasting in certain disorders of fatty acid metabolism. The test is offered shortly after birth, within 3 to 8 days. A small sample of blood is taken from the baby’s heel and screened for a certain amount of specific conditions. CPS is proposing to screen for 18 specific conditions, including sickle cell anemia and congenital hypothyroid disease.   In the event of a positive result, prompt treatment can prevent or mitigate any adverse effect on the child’s further physical and mental development. The objective of the Neonatal Heel Prick Screening (NHS) is to screen the newborn for serious congenital disorders. Since the tests are reliable, and treatment is possible, it is believed that early diagnosis and treatment will provide better health for the child.

Dr Asin stated that she was proud to present to the Minister the report on the feasibility study for the introduction of the heel prick. She thanked Dr Josien for the diligent work she put in contributing to the study and the writing of the document. Special thanks was also expressed towards all the stakeholders that made this report possible, the colleagues from the RIVM in the Netherlands, the colleagues on Bonaire, St. Eustatius and Saba, the department CPS, the pediatricians dr. Offringa and dr. Tilanus and the SLS lab.

Minister de Weever thanked CPS for the study and will inform about the decision. (From the Cabinet of the Minister of Public Health)

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MP Meyers advises non-profit organizations not to allow themselves to be used to serve political agendas

PHILIPSBURG - Member of Parliament (MP) Honourable Sylvia Meyers, who is also President of the United People’s (UP) Party Board, says non-governmental organizations or not got profit bodies should not allow themselves to be used for political agendas during the election campaign.

MP Meyers was referring to the unintentional snub by an organization that represents Indian businesses on the island.  One candidate is running on a political party of the Prime Minister.

“An event was organized for August 18 to celebrate India Independence Day.  At the same time, the Indian Ambassador was visiting the country and would also be at the event.  An invitation was extended only to the Prime Minister to attend this activity.

“From the information that I have, no formal invitation was extended to the President of Parliament nor the Governor.  This is a gross violation of protocol.  Whether it was a lapse, oversight, what have you, it shouldn’t have happened, and especially when in the past protocol was fully observed.

“Such a violation in protocol would lead to an official protest being lodged with Indian authorities, because it is also an embarrassment for the Indian Ambassador when two representatives of the constitutional entity of the country were not formally invited, only the Prime Minister.

“That’s why I say, not for profit organizations should keep an arm’s length from politics, because some will try to take advantage of you.  I think for the organization in question this is a learning experience for them, and in the future protocol will be observed in the manner that it should with respect for the institutions of the country,” President of the UP Party MP Sylvia Meyers pointed out on Monday. (Contributed by the UP party)

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Integrity Commission and Monitoring Committee to be established

PHILIPSBURG - The Prime Minister of St. Maarten the Honorable Sarah Wescot-Williams gave an update on the release of the Integrity Report and the reaction of Government on the content of the report. The PM also explained what the next steps with respects to the integrity investigations will be and the consequences it will have for all parties involved, including the establishment of a so-called integrity commission within Government.

“It is important to state that this report is the report that has been compiled by the commission that has been established by the Government of St. Maarten. Some months ago we believed that the Kingdom Government in instructing our Governor went out of bounds with their request, infringing on the sovereignty of a country within the Kingdom, nevertheless Government decided to go ahead and be part of the Integrity Investigations. The report was presented on the 15th of July and Government informed the commission that the council of Ministers would have given their comments on the nineteenth of August and once approved by the Council of Ministers the report would be sent to the Commission. There was a question of leaking of the document but this actually meant nothing, Government decided long time that the report should be made public.

“We have agreed to the recommendations of the report and will establish a commission in Government to ensure that there is sufficient follow-up and that there will be a monitoring committee to ensure that all things are in line with the findings of the outlined in the report. The kind of unilateral imposing of certain measures on any one of the Countries in the Kingdom is something that we reacted to and we also mentioned that clearly in our report. We highlighted our stance that all countries should be able to appeal any decision made on the Kingdom Government level that may have an adverse effect on the management of that Country. This has happened in Curacao and this has happened recently also in Aruba and this is an item which needs to stop,” emphasized Wescot-Williams.

The PM also commented that the Integrity Investigation commissioned by the Governor will probably focus on other areas than those covered by the recently completed report; “Transparency International similarly has a specific way of looking at the Governance of the country and carrying out the integrity system analysis. All of these reports will be public knowledge. Government even before 10-10-10 started with an integrity program in Government seeing how important it is to deal with the matter of integrity. Government has been making it mandatory to ensure that civil servants are up to date on the integrity of Government,” concluded the Prime Minister. (From the Cabinet of the Prime Minister)

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Police K-9 Finds Two Additional Guns Bringing Total Confiscated to 12

PHILIPSBURG – POLICE HQ - On Saturday August 23rd and Sunday August 24th police continued to execute their plan of action to remove illegal fire-arms from the streets.

During these two days police were successful in removing two more illegal fire-arms. These weapons are late model pistols caliber .40 and .38 millimeter.

Both weapons were found hidden in vehicles that were checked by the police K9 search dog. The police dogs have been quite successful in locating these illegal fire-arms that were hidden in suspect vehicles.

In connection with these controls a total six suspects have been arrested and remain in custody pending further investigation. (Contributed by the Police Force of Sint Maarten)

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Ministry VROMI announces Road closure section Union Road vicinity entrance Princess Port de Plaisance up to Causeway Roundabout

COLE BAY – Ministry of Public Housing, Environment, Spatial Development and Infrastructure (Ministry VROMI), hereby announces road closure from the entrance of Princess Port de Plaisance up the Causeway Bridge Roundabout.

This road works is a project from Windward Roads BV to finalize placement of hot asphalt on the intersection Union Road/Causeway roundabout.

These works will start Monday 25th August 2014 at 4:00am and will end on the same day 25th August 2014 at around 8am.

Traffic coming from Union Road will be diverted onto the new concrete road right of Union Road and will continue and end up in the roundabout which will continue their normal route. Road users have to pay keen attention and follow the traffic signs.

Traffic coming from Marigot or from the Causeway Bridge can go via Union Road through the roundabout taking a right turn on the same concrete road and end up on the Union Road.

Due to the nature of the works there will be no special measures for any of the Emergency Services during the duration of these works.

Motorists and residents are requested to be vigilant and pay keen attention due to the fact of various heavy machinery being used on the road during the civil works.

Ministry VROMI apologizes for any inconvenience that this may cause.

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COM Secretariat Participates in Change Management Workshop

GREAT BAY - The Staff of the Secretariat of the Council of Ministers (COM) participated in the workshop ‘Change Management’ offered by TDC (Training and Development Centre) on Monday, August 18, 2014.

The workshop was intended to support the staff in dealing with upcoming work related changes. According to TDC the effectiveness of these kinds of workshops increases when providing the tools for changes before major changes take place and while ensuring the involvement of the staff in the process.

The Staff of the Secretariat is currently preparing for the move to the new Government Building, as well as, the upcoming transition in Government. The workshop not only prepared the staff for these upcoming changes, but also strengthened their teamwork.  

Both TDC and Staff are convinced that the workshop will have a positive result on the outcome of the upcoming changes, as well as, others when these will be implemented in the future. The staff of the Secretariat appreciated the workshop and the insight provided concerning the steps needed to have a successful change when a change is required.  

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Minister Lake Comments on Vorst Cay Hill Property Verdict

CAY HILL – Minister of Public Housing, Environment, Spatial Planning and Infrastructure (Ministry VROMI) Hon. Maurice Lake says the court ruled in its proceedings on August 21 that the agreement that exist to purchase the Vorst property in Cay Hill remains in place and government has to pay the sales price.

“As said from the start, I have been negotiating with the Vorst family from/on the basis of the (binding) Letter of Intent signed by the previous Minister of Justice, which would have cost the government considerably more money (almost US$9 million) for which we would have ‘only’ received  a right of long lease.

I have always considered the outright purchase of the property for less money (US$5.5 million) the best way to go, and that is why I came to this purchase agreement with the Vorst family. It saves the tax payer money.  Why pay more when you don’t own the property when you can pay less and own the property.  This is good business sense. 

“With a full ownership of the property government would not have the risk that the ‘owner’ would want the land back for his own use, like one would have with a right of long lease. I would like to build homes for our (returning) young professionals without them having to live with the risk of having to leave their home. Besides the homes, a commercial center to create jobs for our people such as a call center, a metal signage shop and a sewing center.

“I would also like to reiterate, that before I entered into the payment schedule of the purchase price, I discussed this payment schedule with the Minister of Finance regarding the budget, not about the agreement, and was advised by the Secretary General of Finance how to reflect the payments in the advice that was put before the Council of Ministers.

“It was indicated that the US$3 million could be paid from the 2014 budget and the remainder of the purchase price to be paid in 2015. Both payment dates, May 27, 2014 and May 1, 2015 were put in place after consultation with finance. In May and thereafter June, Finance indicated that the payment of US$ 3 million was good to go.  I have my email correspondence to back-up the process and procedures that were followed.

“After the first payment was not paid on May 27, 2014 however, the Vorst family invoked the penalty and interest payments of the agreement, which amounts to a payment of US$2.082 per day.

“In order to try to avoid the interest and penalties payments to run higher and higher and to have to ‘battle’ in court, I discussed and agreed with the Vorst family to pay them what is on the budget, and change the summary proceedings into a regular proceeding pertaining to the mortgage part of the second payment, which would not be put within the notarial deed in order to sign the notarial deed of delivery of the property.

“The Vorst family had agreed at that point in time, and that they would only ask for the interest and penalty payments for the period of May 27, 2014 till June 26th, 2014, if the notarial deed would be signed by the 4th of July.  Nonetheless the foregoing, the Council of Ministers unfortunately decided differently, with resulted in today’s verdict.

“This entire affair is a result of politics being played.  This started from the beginning of the year.  When you try to work in the interests of the people, your colleagues are playing politics and doing all kinds of things to slow down the people’s business, which is very unfortunate.

“With the experience that some of the members of the Council of Ministers have, you would think that political maturity would be the order of the day, but its petty politics that overshadows what you want to accomplish for the people of this country. But, moving forward I shall despite the obstacles that are placed before me,” Minister Hon. Maurice Lake concluded.

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UPDATED: Local Business Community Urged to Register to Participate in FCCA Conference & Trade Show

POINT BLANCHE – The St. Maarten/St. Martin business community is encouraged to register to participate in the 21st Florida Caribbean Cruise Association (FCCA) Conference & Trade Show from October 6-10.

As the conference date gets closer, trade show booths are filling quickly and before you know it, booth space would have been sold out, so register within the coming days to ensure you have a spot to promote your services or products to the cruise industry.

Delegates are hereby informed that the process to start registering for one-on-one meetings with cruise executives has started. These meetings are first come, first serve, and requests will be sent based on the time of registration.

Registration can be done at the following address: https://www.regonline.com/fccastmaarten

The later a delegate registers for the conference, the less of a chance they have of getting one-on-one meetings.  Only delegates have access to meetings and workshops, not exhibitors.

The conference and trade show will attract to the destination more than 1000 cruise industry partners, including close to 100 cruise executives during the October one week period.

The focus of the conference is on developing business, relationships and knowledge during the event’s four-day series meetings, workshops and social functions, and one of the best occasions for this is during the numerous one-on-one meetings.

Delegates have up to three meetings with their selected cruise executives, who represent the various departments of their cruise line(s), including operations, purchasing, marketing, shore excursions and government relations.

Each one-on-one meeting allots 15 minutes for delegates to privately discuss with and receive personalized input from a cruise executive that can positively impact their business in many ways – from selling a product or shore excursion on-board or increasing ship calls to tailor-making an excursion/product or developing infrastructure that the cruise lines and destinations need.

For cruise executives, ports and destinations, cruise and tourism agencies, attractions, ship agents, suppliers and tour operators, the annual FCCA Cruise Conference & Trade Show is the premier industry event of the year to meet key industry players, analyse trends and discuss current issues.

Construction and set-up is currently taking place at the Dr. A.C. Wathey Cruise & Cargo facility of a convention center that will host the FCCA Conference & Trade Show.

The Convention Center is being constructed on harbour property that was used as a container storage area.  

Four buildings will be erected during the course of several weeks that will be used by approximately 1200 delegates who will be attending the conference in October.

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