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Report always in person to file a criminal offense

PHILIPSBURG – “Anyone may report a criminal offense. The basic principle is that the person reporting the incident to the police (or the National Detective Agency in cases where the National Detective Agency is in charge of the investigation) should be present for the investigating officer to ask further details on the report or ask questions regarding other circumstances that may assist the investigation,” according to a Thursday morning press release from the Office of the Public Prosecutor Section Attorney General.

“Depositing a report by letter to one of the offices of the Public Prosecutor in Curaçao, St. Maarten and the BES islands, sending an email, a text message or a WhatsApp message to an employee of the police or justice will no longer be considered as such.

For more information on the new guideline, please follow the link: http://www.openbaarministerie.org/images/Beleidslijn_aangfite_doen_150317.pdf

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Multi-ministerial Inspections Target Increased Compliance

POND ISLAND - Last Friday, a multi-disciplinary control was conducted by inspectors from the Ministry of Public Health, Social Development and Labor (VSA) with the assistance of the Ministry of Finance’s Tax inspectors, Ministry of Justice’s Immigration officers, representatives from SZV as well a close cooperation with the representatives from the Ministry of VROMI.

At Wednesday’s press briefing Minister Lee commended the team who carried out the inspections last Friday for their hard work and enthusiasm throughout the day. The team began their inspections from 8am – 10pm with rotating shifts. The controls included retail shops, timeshare sales people, construction sites, restaurants and bars. 

Minister Lee clarified the inaccurate reporting that recently appeared in some of the media outlets. “We did not close any business! If a large percentage of the people operating within the business are undocumented and not permitted to work, the possible consequences are that the business may decide to close because they do not have the manpower to continue its operations, but that is their decision.”

All controls were carried out in a professional and friendly manner. While controls must be carried out while businesses were operational every effort was made not to disrupt operations however, one of the objectives was to get a realistic snap shot of the operations of the businesses.

The main objective of the Government’s efforts is to improve compliance. According to Minister Lee, “I wouldn’t be surprised, based on this one-day initiative, that about 70 employment opportunities for our people was generated, in addition to closing-in-on the leakages within the economy and identifying possible revenue for tax and SZV.”

Some preliminary findings included:

-        Many employees did not have ID which is require by law

-        Many businesses were operating without have the necessary documents at all

-        Many businesses did not have all necessary documentations on site

•        Labor Registration

•        Business License

•        Operational License (if applicable)

•        Director’s License

•        Chamber of Commerce

•        Building permits (if applicable)

•        Copies of the Employment and Residence Permits of the employees

•        Copies of SZV cards/SZV registration of employees or private insurance registration     

•        Copy of List of Personnel  

•        Work schedule of employees       

•        Overtime Register of employees

-        French companies operating illegally on Dutch side.

-        Undocumented and/or unregistered employees

-        Many French side residents working without work permits and therefore illegally.

-        Amount of time cards on site does not reflect the amount of persons registered with the company

-        Many businesses employing or employees employed via a job placement agency without the required documents on site.

“These businesses who are operating on the island without following the laws of the land translate into them not paying SZV and/or certain taxes. This is a big gaping hole for the revenue of the country!” stated Minister Lee.

Therefore, the Government remains committed to improving compliance. At the moment, each of the Departments involved are busy processing the information that was gathered on Friday and conducting further investigations where necessary.

Next week the different Ministers will meet to have a debriefing session with the inspectors, the Minister of Finance as well as any other Ministers who is interested in joining. At this debriefing, the results of the simple one-day exercise will be evaluated and the team will determine what kind of structural changes can be instituted across Ministries to improve compliance.

Minister Lee urged the business community to become familiar with the laws and become ready with what is expected to be on site if an inspector were to approach your business. Get your things in order, as these controls will only increase.  Be proactive about ensuring that all documentation is in place even though the employees are being hired through a job placement agency.

The Ministry of VSA has developed a compliance guide to begin to educate the public about employees’ rights and obligations as well as those of the employers, particularly, as it pertains to following the laws of the land and what documents and paperwork must be in order before conducting business on our island. These compliance guides are available online at www.ministryvsa.sx. Be proactive, find out what your obligations are and we will assist to help you comply.

Minister Lee stated, “If a business can show that they are making their best effort to comply, the Ministry is open to working with them, however non-compliance and blatant disregard for our laws will be taken very seriously and persons who are non-compliant can expect measures to be taken.”

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OPTIONS FOR REQUESTING AND RENEWING SZV INSURANCE CARDS

PHILIPSBURG — SZV would like to apologize to its customers who were unable to make use of the Walk-in services on Wednesday March 15th. The Walk-in services which caters to customers who need to request or renew their insurance card was halted as of 1:00 pm due to an unexpected increase of customers, exceeding the average amount.

The Walk-in service was established to reduce waiting time and create more flexibility for customers in need of these services. On average 170 persons make use of the Walk-in services each Wednesday.

The influx of customers was established in the morning hours. In order to avoid excessive long waiting times for customers and ensure proper processing of requests, it was decided to end the issuance of numbers as of 1:00 pm instead of 3:00 pm.

Persons who would like to request or renew their insurance card are asked to request an appointment online via www.szv.sx or call 5466782. Appointment requests will be confirmed within two working days.

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UPDATE: Two men shot on Arch road Tuesday night in critical condition. One dies

PHILIPSBURG - The Police Public Relation Department has learnt that one of the victims in the shooting on Arch road on March 14th 2017 with initials A.R.L. T-B also known as “Nino” died of his wounds he sustained from this shooting, Police Spokesperson Inspector Henson said on Wednesday.

The second victim remains admitted to the Sint Maarten medical center for medical treatment.

The Police Department is asking anyone that have information regarding this case to get in contact with the police department by calling 54-22222 extension 213/214, the anonymous tip line # 9300 or 911.

(ARCHIVE) - SUCKER GARDEN - Detectives are presently investigating a shooting of two men at a “truck wash” located on the Arch road in Sucker Garden. The Emergency Dispatch received the first call at approximately 10.30 p.m. on Tuesday March 14th informing them that two unknown masked gunmen entered the building on the premises where the truck wash is located.

Two men who were in the building at the time were shot by these two gun men.  Immediately several police patrols and paramedics were sent to the scene to investigate what had taken place.

On the scene the investigating officers learnt that indeed a shooting had taken place and that two persons were shot.  After committing this act both suspects fled the scene.

Both victims were treated on the scene and then transported to the Sint Maarten Medical Center for further medical treatment. Both victims are in critical condition at this moment.

The scene of the crime was immediately closed off for the Forensic Department to collect evidence while detectives are presently interviewing witnesses.

Details to exactly what happened are unavailable at this time. Who the suspects are and why this shooting took place is being investigated. As soon a more information the media will be informed. (Sint Maarten Police Force)

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Major Steps for International Protection of Caribbean Sharks Following Dutch proposal

SINT MAARTEN/FRENCH GUIANA - Great news for shark conservation in the Caribbean. Today it was officially decided to protect eight shark species under the international Specially Protected Areas and Wildlife (SPAW) Protocol following a proposal by the Dutch Ministry of Economic Affairs in cooperation with a team of shark experts.

The SPAW protocol is the only cross-border legislative instrument for nature conservation in the Wider Caribbean Region.

Political representatives of 14 Caribbean countries came together in Cayenne, French Guiana to vote which species would officially be added to the SPAW protocol. Through the SPAW protocol, which is a United Nations initiative, the signatory countries set agreements to protect vulnerable animals and their unique habitats. 

The agreements concern trade and fisheries, as well as tourism and coastal development. Until now, no sharks or rays were included in the protocol, despite being an especially threatened animal group, both on a global scale and in the Caribbean region. The main threats to shark populations are overfishing and destruction of vital habitats such as coral reefs and mangroves.

“We are delighted that our proposal got such broad support from the present countries,” says Guus Schutjes of the Dutch Ministry of Economic Affairs. “The Netherlands has strived for the structural protection of nature and biodiversity in the Caribbean for some time now and cross-border protection is an essential part of this.”

Threatened species

The Ministry of Economic Affairs proposed a shortlist of eight shark species for listing on the protocol. This included three species of Hammerhead shark, the Whale shark, the Oceanic Whitetip shark, the sawfish (of which few people know it is a shark), and two manta ray species.

All of these species are Caribbean natives and threatened by human interference. Protection is needed to ensure the species are safeguarded for the future. In November 2016, the proposals of all eight species were accepted during a technical meeting in Miami. Today’s vote was the final step towards legal protection.

Irene Kingma, director of the Dutch Elasmobranch Society (DES) and one of the shark experts that helped with the shortlist: “Sharks do not respect borders and cover enormous distances, which is why it is important to protect them on a region-wide scale. The proposals from the Dutch Ministry have helped providing these fragile species with the protection they deserve, which we consider a great success.”

Tadzio Bervoets, chair of the Dutch Caribbean Nature Alliance and leader of the Save Our Sharks project: “The Dutch Caribbean Nature Alliance and its partners have been working hard in the Dutch Caribbean region and in the Caribbean in general to increase protection for sharks.

Through the funding provided to us by the National Postcode Lottery we have been doing scientific research, education and outreach and in this case significant lobbying work, and we are encouraged by this excellent development coming out of French Guiana. Sharks are critical to the Caribbean region and their conservation is essential to the health of our Caribbean Sea.

With this historic vote, shark conservation efforts have been significantly increased in the region and we are elated to have been a part of the process. We hope that more species will soon be added to the annexes of the SPAW Protocol giving them the conservation status that they need in the Caribbean Sea.”

Background

Sharks and rays belong to the animal group of Elasmobranchs, a subclass of the cartilaginous fish. As large predators, elasmobranchs keep our largest and most important ecosystem healthy and productive.

They are also key contributors to maintaining the natural balance of coral reefs, adding to their biodiversity and durable function. All available evidence points to a strong local decline in shark numbers in the Caribbean, mirroring the dramatic decline of sharks globally.

The International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) currently estimates that one-quarter of all shark and ray species are threatened with extinction, mainly from overfishing and habitat destruction.

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Air France and KLM concludes code share safety audit at WINAIR

SIMPSON BAY – Monday March 6th to Thursday March 9th, 2017 KLM / Air France auditors returned to St. Maarten to conclude the code share safety & security audit.

All findings and concerns were addressed, which will allow KLM to finalize a commercial code share agreement between the airline and WINAIR. In addition, existing code share between Air France and WINAIR will be extended per Air France/KLM procedures.

The successful implementation of this code share between KLM and WINAIR will further enhance travel options for customers wishing to connect from KLM, Air France and WINAIR’s route networks.

Passengers now can check through the hubs Princess Juliana Airport, Schiphol and Charles de Gaulle airport seamlessly as passenger and baggage through check-in will be in effect.

Code share agreements allow each airline KLM, Air France and WINAIR to market, advertise and affix their airline codes on their existing flight schedule. KLM and Air France will now offer flights to the 11 destinations served by WINAIR.

“To achieve code share status with one of the world’s leading airlines, KLM, is truly a testament to the quality and service provided by WINAIR and its staff,” stated M. Cleaver, President and Chief Executive Officer of WINAIR.

KLM is very excited to start a codeshare agreement with WINAIR on its complete network.

WINAIR has proven to be a safe and reliable airline and this new codeshare agreement will now offer all customers a wide range of new KLM destinations in the Eastern Caribbean.

Air France already has a successful codeshare agreement with WINAIR for the last two years, so we are very happy that we soon can offer the same service on KLM as well,” stated Martijn Ten Broecke, AF/KL Station Manager St. Maarten.

WINAIR looks forward to continue to be the leading regional airline in the North Eastern Caribbean.

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St. Dominic High Organizing Information Evening on Thursday about IB Diploma Programme

SOUTH REWARD - The St. Dominic High School will have an information evening on the International Baccalaureate (IB) Diploma Programme on Thursday, March 17 from 7:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. 

Interested students in Form 4 and the examination classes along with their parents are invited to learn more about this internationally recognized pre-university programme. 

Information will be available explaining the subject prerequisites and the application process.  Come and meet two students from the IB Class of 2018 who will share why enrolling in the IB Diploma Programme at St. Dominic High School is making not only better students, but better individuals. 

Get insight into the research process of the 4,000 word Extended Essay, the importance of learning outside the classroom with Creativity, Activity, Service and how we know what we claim to know in Theory of Knowledge.

St. Dominic High stands with over 2,800 schools around the world offering IBDP curriculum. It is also the first government subsidized school in the Caribbean authorized by the International Baccalaureate Organization (IBO) to offer the Diploma Programme for students aged 16 to 19.

The IBO collaborates with schools, governments and international organizations in 146 countries to develop and offer challenging programmes of international education and rigorous assessment in order to achieve its mission of developing inquiring, knowledgeable and caring young people who help to create a better and more peaceful world through intercultural understanding and respect.

Students who are interested in the journey associated with learning, want to create opportunities for themselves, are driven to be successful and desire a more challenging curriculum that encourages them to think critically, to become internationally-minded, to reflect on their learning, and to develop university ready research skills are welcome to attend this information evening on Thursday, March 16 at 7 p.m. in room 13 at St. Dominic High School.

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SXM Doet 2017 draws in over 1300 volunteers! Largest turnout ever

PHILIPSBURG – The Team behind SXM Doet is very proud to announce that this year’s 2017 event has had the largest turnout thus far with over 1,300 persons volunteering throughout the Dutch Side of the island. While a small number of projects experienced a few hiccups at their start, overall most projects ended up being a great success!

For both 2015 and last year’s edition of SXM Doet, the event brought together approximately 1,000 volunteers compared to this year’s 2017 rough estimate of a whopping 1,300 people contributing back to our island’s community over the span of two days.

A total number of 74 projects were organized respectively by 40 locally represented organizations on Friday March 10th and Saturday March 11th. The projects themselves vary in their goals; some projects consisted of organizing entertaining days out for vulnerable groups.

For example, groups of elderly persons were taken out for lunch at local restaurants and on tours around the island. Differently abled and physically challenged persons were taken out for a day at the movies where a custom wheelchair ramp was built for easier access to the theatre.

A group of dynamic young persons also spent the morning cooking up 150 meals and the afternoon delivering them around the island to less fortunate families and individuals. Patrons visiting various supermarkets on Friday and Saturday could have also run into SXM Doet volunteers kindly asking for donations of canned goods and toiletries for a local community food pantry.

Beautifying playgrounds for children was a strong theme this year, with many playgrounds belonging to various communities and schools receiving much-needed upgrades and renovations.

Murals, community gardens and establishing recreational areas for socializing were also popular projects that received a lot of outside assistance from local artists, agriculturalists, and skilled workers. 

Other projects included setting up of sports facilities like basketball courts, repairing feeding stations for stray animals, and general organizing of storage spaces in need of extra hands to get the job done.

SXM Doet is part of a Kingdom-wide initiative, whereby, this year, a total of over 10.000 projects were hosted with over 400.000 volunteers all giving back to their communities for just two days. The King and Queen join in, as well as Princess Beatrix, whom all physically contribute at a project every single year.

Here in St. Maarten, various Ministers, Parliamentarians, Government Departments and Cabinets, Netherlands representatives were spotted out in different parts of the community lending a helping hand.

Many businesses joined in on their own accord as well, with many requesting to contribute to the event in multiple ways. Some companies partnered with the SXM Doet Team to provide discounts and donations to all participants, and others donated their time and assistance by adopting a project for the weekend. To those entities we owe a very special thank you, since without such selflessness, SXM Doet would not be what it is today.

The SXM Doet Project Management Team would therefore like to thank: Easy Print, Firgos, Domino’s Pizza, Cake House, Divico, Heavenly Water, Greenfingers, Kooyman, UTS, R&R Tackling, RMG Designs, Viva Signs, the Philipsburg Broadcasting Company, The Daily Herald, Caribbean Legacy, Martijn Trading, Caribbean Cinemas, Smiles Inc., Buccaneer Beach Bar, and CC1.

Be The Change Foundation the executor and organizer of SXM Doet would also like to thank the Oranje Fonds for having brought the initiative to Sint Maarten and of course, for funding the effort locally and throughout the rest of the Dutch Kingdom.

For more information on SXM Doet or to learn how to contribute in any way, please contact: the Project Management Team, Melanie Choisy and Fleur Hermanides, at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or visit www.sxmdoet.com / www.facebook.com/SXMDOET.

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Major airlift conference with international allure on St. Maarten

SIMPSON BAY - If there is one thing everyone can agree on, it is that airlift is vital to the Caribbean region.  Airlift is a common denominator of the aviation and tourism industries that determines the strength of a country’s economy.

Even more reason to get all stakeholders together to find solutions for strengthening and improving that lifeline.

On June 13-15, twenty six speakers from 20 countries/territories and 22 nationalities will gather on St. Maarten for the 2nd annual Caribbean Aviation Meetup conference. Speakers are coming from as far as Switzerland, Russia and New Zealand.

Each speaker contributes to the meetings with expertise and experience. The aim is to offer presentations covering all perspectives of airlift, from the aviation as well as the tourism perception. Each conference participant shall walk away with more knowledge, new ideas and with network extensions. 

An example how aviation and tourism can be brought together in a unique tourism product? A seaplane operation providing aerial sightseeing tours! Taking off from, and landing on the water is an experience for itself.

Amphibious planes can perform both water based and runway operations. Cessna, one of the major aircraft manufacturers of private aircraft, will fly in a factory new aircraft on floats all the way from Wichita, Kansas, US for the conference.

The opportunity? An established seaplane operator from Florida is exploring the prospects of setting up a branch operation in the Caribbean; the location may to be determined as a result of the conference. Seaplanes can offer the flexibility and convenience of transporting guests to marinas, beaches, private clubs, and residences or even directly to a yacht.

Each conference presentation is an introduction for a discussion. Town-hall-type sessions by engaging speakers with audience interaction are encouraged. Every discussion is a way to better understand, guidance for finding solutions, and a gateway for cooperation.

To show the variety subjects to be discussed in 22 sessions, following are seven examples:

•        “What The Caribbean Needs To Pay Attention To”

by David Scowsill, President World Tourism Trade Council, London

•        “US Immigration Pre-Clearance At Airports”

by Vincent Vanderpool-Wallace, former Minister of Tourism of the Bahamas

•        “Private Aircraft Charter and its Luxury Tourism Clientele”

by Adam Twidel, CEO of PrivateFly, London

•        “Online Hotel Promotion and Reservations”

by Dimitri Canton, Director of Market Management, Expedia

•        “Airport and Airline Route Planning”

by Riad Simon, Senior Route Development Manager for seven airports in the Dominican Republic

•        “Inter-Island Tourism”

by Joy Jibrilu, Director General, Ministry of Tourism of the Bahamas

•        “Benefits Of Air Transport To Economies Worldwide”

by Michael Gill, Executive Director, Air Transport Action Group, Geneva, Switzerland  

The 2nd Annual Caribbean Aviation Meetup is hosted by Princess Juliana International Airport. The conference is appealing to a significant number of professionals from both aviation and tourism industries from the within the region and abroad.

If you want to find out more about the caliber of the conference, take to look at the line-up of speakers at www.caribavia.com, and see how the program is put together in a way that every participant can get the most out of it.

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Antigua meets Winair, Air France and KLM teams

SINT MAARTEN/ANTIGUA & BARBUDA – Tuesday March 7, 2017 WINAIR, Air France and KLM held a joined Sales & Marketing meeting in Antigua. Presenters were Claudio Buncamper representing WINAIR, Martijn Ten Broecke representing Air France and KLM.

The objective was to raise awareness that Winair connects Antigua not only to their destinations in the region, but also to the US, South America, Europe and not forgetting the connections through our interline partners.

Also, the latest developments and market trends that exist between Air France, KLM and WINAIR were shared to further enhance this market.

Schedules, traffic patterns and growth of European customers were shared with the stakeholders in Antigua. In addition, the planned code share between KLM and WINAIR, that will further enhance connections to Antigua, utilizing the hub facilities of SXM, Schiphol (AMS) and Charles de Gaulle (CDG) Airports, was discussed.

Growth in the Italian and German market to Antigua has seen an increase since inception of the code share agreement between WINAIR and Air France. Now we will truly unite the entire Air France, KLM and WINAIR route structures. With this we will offer better connectivity to Antigua and the Caribbean region.

Amongst the attendances were representatives of the Antigua Tourism Board, Charter Yacht Association, travel agents and other stakeholders. The reception we received from Antigua stakeholders was welcome and positive. WINAIR, Air France and KLM look forward to work with our partners in Antigua.

“It is critically important that the destinations are aware of the services and developments taking place to offer more effective service to their customer,” stated Mr. M. Cleaver, President and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Winair.

“It was a pleasure for Air France KLM to meet all stakeholders of the Antigua Tourism industry for the first time. After a successful roadshow with Winair in the British Virgin Islands, we joined Winair again in Antigua.

“Although we don’t offer a direct flight from Europe to Antigua, we convinced all parties that the Air France/KLM/Winair combination with our hub in SXM offers the best product and connection between Europe and Antigua in terms of frequencies and destinations,” stated Mr. Martijn Ten Broecke, AF/KL Station Manager Sint Maarten.

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