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Oyster Pond Bridge to be Repaired starting July 7. Motorists requested to be observant

OYSTER POND (DCOMM) – Ministry of Public Housing, Environment, Spatial Development and Infrastructure (Ministry VROMI), will be repairing the collapsed bridge in the Oyster Pond area, which succumbed to its feebleness when a dump truck fell into the ditch below the bridge back in February 2015.

Works are scheduled to commence on Tuesday July 7, from 7:00 AM and are estimated to continue for approximately two weeks from start date, weather permitting.

The preparation works will include demolishing a piece of the current bridge and excavation of the grounds which will cause traffic obstructions.

Windward Roads who will be constructing the new bridge will be operating heavy equipment and directing traffic in the area as necessary.

Once the bridge is complete railings will be installed for increased safety measures. 

Motorists are requested to be observant of the traffic adjustment during this time.

Ministry VROMI apologizes for any inconveniences this may cause.

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Sint Maarten Reps Ready for 9th UNESCO Youth Forum in Paris from October 26-28

SINT MAARTEN/FRANCE - Majorie Cortico Ramirez and Ralph Cantave have been selected to represent St. Maarten at the 9th UNESCO Youth Forum, which will be held at UNESCO Headquarters in Paris, France from 26 to 28 October 2015.

The Forum will take place under the general theme “Young Global Citizens for a Sustainable Planet”, focusing on how young women and men, as global citizens, can contribute to building sustainability, from the global to the local level, explained Marcellia Henry, Secretary General for Sint Maarten National Commission for UNESCO.

The selection of the youth representatives is a joint venture with the Youth Department within the Ministry of Education, Culture, Youth and Sports. The St. Maarten Youth Council also assisted with selection process. This is the second time youth from St. Maarten will be participating in the UNESCO Youth Forum since becoming an Associate Member of UNESCO in 2011.

Majorie Cortico Ramirez is a graduate of the University of St. Martin, where she obtained a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Elementary Education.  She is presently an elementary school teacher at the St. Joseph School (Catholic School board).  She is a member of the St. Maarten Leo Club, and volunteers at the Center for Catechesis.

Cortico Ramirez is also an award winning Leeward Islands past debater of the Hyacinth Richardson Education & Awareness Foundation, and represented St. Maarten during her high school years, but now volunteers to assist others.     

Ralph Cantave is currently studying General Liberal Arts at USM with the intention to major in Communications, History and minor in Political Science.  He aspires to be a journalist, writer, and politician. He is a writer for the Teen Times newspaper for the past three years, he volunteers at the UJIMA Foundation.  Cantave recently was selected to represent St. Maarten at an UNESCO Youth Heritage Workshop in Montego Bay, Jamaica. 

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EMERGENCY ROAD CLOSURE Dutch Quarter section of A.T Illidge Road CLOSED!

PHILIPSBURG, Ministry of Public Housing, Environment, Spatial Development and Infrastructure (Ministry VROMI), will be closing a section of A.T. Illidge Road in Dutch Quarter in the area of Doctor Bryson’s clinic on Saturday at 6 am through 12 pm midday due to an emergency repair to a sewage pit (list station #2) which was reported damaged on earlier this morning.

The sewage pit succumbed to blockage which caused an overflow of raw sewage unto the public area. Immediate precautions were taken to manage the situation.

The Dutch quarter area will experience limited access as there will be no through traffic from the belvedere roundabout to Dutch Quarter. Motorist seeking access into the area must use the Mount William Hill entry to do so.

Motorists are requested to be observant of the traffic adjustment during this time.

Ministry VROMI apologizes for any inconveniences this may cause.

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Cholera: PAHO urges Member States to remain vigilant. CPS advises travellers to Haiti and Dominican Republic to take preventative measures

GREAT BAY (DCOMM) – Collective Prevention Services (CPS), a department in the Ministry of Public Health, Social Development and Labour (Ministry VSA), is advising travellers from Sint Maarten to Haiti or the Dominican Republic, to take preventive measures while visiting friends or family in both countries during the summer holiday season.

Cholera is an acute diarrhoeal disease that affects both children and adults and can kill within hours if left untreated. The infection is ingested by food or water contaminated.  It has a short incubation period of two hours to five days.  Up to 80 per cent of cases can be successfully treated with oral rehydration salts.

While in the Dominican Republic or Haiti, ensure that you take precautions such as hygienic food preparation, boiling or purifying all water, and washing hands often with soap and clean water.

Symptoms can occur within 24 to 48 hours of being infected with the cholera causing bacteria.  Cholera symptoms are generally mild; they include diarrhoea, vomiting, and muscle cramps.  About one infected person out of 20 has severe signs and symptoms, such as increased heart rate, dehydration, and shock.

Immediately consult your physician if you have travelled and have any of the symptoms, while maintaining proper hygiene.

To minimize the number of people infected, frequent hand washing, personal hygiene, safe water use and food preparation are a necessity.  Maintain these basic hygienic habits as you travel.

By taking a few basic precautions, cholera as well as most other food and water-borne diseases can easily be prevented.  The main rule is, always be aware of the quality of what you eat and drink. Also be observant of sick persons in your close proximity and maintain strict hygiene practices.

Enjoy and keep safe as you travel for the summer holiday season and help us keep Sint Maarten Cholera Free!

The Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) reported in a recent epidemiological update on cholera that since the beginning of 2015 up to epidemiological week 22, a total of 16,961 cases have been reported in three countries in the Region of the Americas: Haiti (16,687 cases), the Dominican Republic (273 cases) and Cuba (1 case).

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High Schools invited to nominate for Annual President of Parliament Award

PHILIPSBURG – High schools are being asked to consider nominating somebody for the Annual PresidentofParliamentAward.  The public and organizations are encouraged to participate in the process of nominating a person.  

The application documents are on theparliament’s website.  Persons have until August 15, 2015 to submit their nominations. 

The website address is: www.sxmparliament.org and can be found under the documents section.  Select the link and you will be able to download the application form. 

The purpose of theawardis to honour young persons on Sint Maarten that are a great example to the youth and who have contributed positively to the community and the country. 

Nominations can be submitted by any citizen of Sint Maarten who believes that the individual that he/she is nominating meets the criteria. 

The eligibility criteria are: the candidate must have the Dutch nationality and/or has been legally residing in Sint Maarten for 10-years or more consecutively, and has been registered in the Civil Registry for that period of time; must be between the ages of 15-24 years; has made a worthwhile contribution to the development of the community and the country; these contributions/achievements must have taken place within the last three years; contributions/achievements must have been made while the individual was acting as a private citizen, not as an appointed or elected government official; and must have demonstrated capacity for leadership and ability to motivate. 

Nominations for the AnnualPresidentofParliamentmay be submitted to TheParliamentof Sint Maarten, attention, AnnualPresidentofParliament AwardCommittee, Wilhelminastraat 1, Philipsburg. 

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Cft Chairman Age Bakker: ‘Great challenges form no obstacle in making Aruba public finances sound again’

ORANJESTAD, Aruba - Aruba is facing great challenges, but there is willingness to make the agreements made between the governments of Aruba and the Netherlands a success.

Whilst preparations are being made for the Ordinance to enter into force the latest on August 1st, the Board of financial supervision paid a visit to Aruba. According to Cft Chairman Age Bakker, this is a good opportunity to build a good basis for the future work relation. As long as the Ordinance by means of which the CAft will be established has not yet entered into force, the Cft will execute the supervisory tasks according to the agreements made at the end of December 2014.

On Monday June 29th the Board visited Aruba. The Board spoke with the Governor, the Advisory Council, the Prime Minister, Minister of Finance and the Permanent Commission for Financial Economic Affairs and Administrative Organization of the Aruba Parliament. During the visit the agreements made between the Netherlands and Aruba on May 2nd (Ordinance CAft) and the advice of June 4th concerning the adopted budget 2015, the first quarter execution report, the progress report 2014-2018 and the loan petition were discussed. 

Trust

The factual recommendations the Cft presented in December 2014 and April 2015 have been adopted up to a limited degree. This means that it is not necessarily certain that the deficit in 2015 will result in 3.7% of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP). The increase of the BAZV with 1% grants trust. The announcement the Minister of Finance made in his reaction to Parliament on May 8th 2015 that the government is willing to take additional measures in case the deficit standard of 3.7% is at risk, enforces this impression. 

Risks

The Cft identified the risks in the progress of the measures that are intended to bring the budget in order again and to make the structural growth of the expenditures controllable. The Cft advises to make a swift start in preparing the 2016 budget, so the constitutional deadline can be met and the risks can be handled as soon as possible. On the short-term a process will have to be designed to reduce the structural growth of the expenditures. Reducing the expenditures requires a joint effort of the entire Council of Ministers of Aruba.

Loans

In the meanwhile, the Aruban government has taken a domestic loan and is in the process of closing off an international one. The income of these loans is entirely destined for the repayment of existing loans and related interest costs. With the emission of these loans the lending ceiling has been reached for 2015. The use of the budget should be monitored closely in order to avoid additional deficits. For as far the government is contemplating not to borrow in dollars, it is important that the necessary measures are taken to cover currency risks according to the advice of the Central Bank of Aruba of May 21st, 2015.

College Aruba financieel toezicht (CAft)

The CAft wil be supervising independently and will consist of Mr. Age Bakker, Chairman and member on behalf of the Kingdom, Sybilla Dekker, member on behalf of the Netherlands and a yet to be nominated member on behalf of Aruba. Aruba will nominate a member for the next meeting of the Kingdom Council of Ministers. The Ordinance on financial supervision should enter into force at the latest on August 1st, according to the agreements made between the government of Aruba and the Netherlands. The CAft expects to be able to present itself in September of this year. Till that time the necessary preparations will be made, including finding an office on Aruba as well as attracting additional workforce to further expand the expertise regarding Aruba.

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Age Bakker (Cft): ‘Saba runs a stable budgetary process’

THE BOTTOM, Saba - By setting up and implementing a balanced and organized budgetary process, Saba is able to control its public finances. This can be concluded from the first execution report and the budget amendment. The execution of the 2015 budget is going according to plan.

On June 26th, 2015, the Board of financial supervision of Bonaire, Sint Eustatius and Saba (Cft) met with the Executive Council and the Island Council of Saba, a few members of which have recently assumed office. The annual accounts of 2014, the execution of the 2015 budget and the preparations for the 2016 budget were discussed. 

Budget execution and liquidity

The budget year 2015 is going according to plan. In its first amendment Saba proposes to increase the budget total by almost USD 1 million in a budget-neutral way. This is related to the inclusion of budgetary plans which are to be financed with special transfers. 

The liquidity position of Saba remains vulnerable. The interest free loans taken out recently to reinforce the infrastructure will have to be paid back within ten years. This creates pressure on the liquidity position, hence, Saba should remain alert to not incur deficits in the long run. In consultation with the Cft, Saba acknowledged this risk, and indicated that if necessary an additional budget surplus would be run. 

Approving declaration

The public entity probably closed 2014 with a surplus. Because of its delicate liquidity position, Cft advised Saba to use said surplus to boost its financial resilience instead of applying it towards new government policy. Should the government have new policy aspirations, the existing budgetary space will clearly have to be reprioritized.

Financial management

During the past years Saba made vast progress in the area of financial management.

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40-Year Old Female Suspect Arrested

ST. PETERS - On Tuesday June 30th at approximately 08.25 a.m. a 40 year old female suspect was arrested at her home in Sint Peters on several charges of verbal and written public defamation, stalking and insult.

During a search at her home numerous items ranging from computers, video cameras, external hard drives etc. were confiscated. The suspect was brought to the Philipsburg Police Head Quarters where she is held for questioning.

The investigation is being done by the Detective Department. (Police Force Sint Maarten)

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MP Lake says Government owned company supervisory boards and subsidized foundations should go through a screening process and Corporate Governance Council

PHILIPSBURG – United People’s (UP) party Member of Parliament (MP) Hon. Maurice Lake, on Monday said the Government should consider having members of all government owned company supervisory boards as well as subsidized foundation boards go through a screening process and their candidates should be presented to the Corporate Governance Council in accordance to the rules.

“I believe that all members of government owned boards and Government subsidized Foundations should go through Integrity screening and the Corporate Governance Council.

“Boards and Foundations have to also be more transparent and must be held accountable for their actions and decision making processes.

“Government has to start enforcing the rules and regulations and amend and actualize the current subsidy ordinance with Foundations to enforce the right checks and balances.  Imagine Government is subsidizing certain Foundations, and have little say on how they are spending the funds disbursed to them for the work they are doing on behalf of Government and the tax payer’s money.

“Government should change all subsidy clauses with Foundations and put the necessary checks and balances in place where annually the Board is evaluated and audited to make sure they are meeting the vision and mission of all stakeholders. If they are not meeting the vision or mission as set forth in their articles of incorporation, Government should stop the subsidy, or demand a change in the board.

“We have persons sitting on Boards or Foundation for years with no sense of vision or direction for the organization without obtaining any results.

“Government owned Boards and Foundations should be audited by the General Audit Chamber to ensure they are complying with good governance.  Their financials can then be reviewed and a report can then be issued to Parliament.

“Government owned companies and Foundations should make a presentation to the Council of Ministers about their plans and investments for their organization every year.  This is what transparency is all about. 

“Government can't say or do anything but at the end of the day it is the Government’s  Minister's that needs to go to Parliament and explain their short comings with little knowledge of the situation.  This needs to change drastically. 

“Parliament needs to raise the bar and stop entertaining these type of meetings without facts, especially if it is in court which only confuses the public even more and puts the respective minister in an awkward situation to provide sensitive information or documents that the Minister can be held personally accountable for in court.   

“There should be an evaluation clause for all Board and Foundations to see if they are achieving their objectives for the organization.  If they are not, we need to know why.  We have persons sitting on boards for years just for the position and status instead of contributing anything.  There should be an age clause to sit on boards or foundations.

“I would like to see more independent young professionals on boards with the right experience and background for the position.  There should be a balance or mix between those who are experienced and our young professionals.

“We need to stop lynching our young professionals and give them the opportunity to serve their Country.  It is a shame what we see happen to Hiro Shigemoto, Denicio Richardson, Vernon Richards, Edward Dest and a lot more other young professionals without assisting them back with their jobs and restoring their image back in the community.

“We need to put the right people in the right positions on boards and foundations if the Country is to prosper to avoid what is happening now at NIPA and other organizations.  The students should not be the ones to suffer from our lack of vision and accreditation of diplomas of the institution.

“There should be a crash course for all members of Boards and Foundations to teach them about Institutional and Individual Integrity of Board and Foundation members.  To explain to them what their main legal task is on boards or foundations which should be supervising, strategic planning, approving budgets, audits, curriculum development, strategic planning, approving budgets, audits, curriculum development, strategic investments and not micro managing the business, or institutions or leaking information to social media. 

“This is the right time for Government to take the lead to make those adjustments on how Boards and Foundations operate in St. Maarten.  The aforementioned can start off on a different track in the second half of 2015 where transparency is a cornerstone in the functioning of these bodies,” UP MP Lake said on Monday.

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Permanent Committee on Education and Youth scheduled to meet Monday with Minister Bourne-Gumbs about NIPA

PHILIPSBURG – ThePermanent Committee of Education, Culture, Youth and Sports Affairs (CECYSA) of Parliament, will meet in public session on June 29 with Minister of Education Hon. Rita Bourne-Gumbs

The House session will be carried live via Soualiga Newsday live video.

The Permanent Committee meeting is set for Monday at 10.00am in the General Assembly Chamber of the House at Wilhelmina Straat #1 in Philipsburg.

The agenda point is an update with respect to developments at the National Institute for Professional Advancement (NIPA).

Members of the public are invited to the House of Parliament to attend parliamentary deliberations. 

The House of Parliament is located across from the Court House in Philipsburg.

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