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Compliance Controls Remains a Priority for Government. Lee says disrespectful and unlawful behavior must be addressed sternly

POND ISLAND – Minister of Public Health, Social Development and Labour Emil Lee along with Minister of Finance Richard Gibson Sr. and Minister of Justice Rafael Boasman held a follow-up debriefing meeting regarding the compliance controls carried out on March 10, 2017 with representatives from Social & Health Insurances SZV, the Police Department, Tax Department, and the Inspectorate of the Ministry Public Health, Social Development and Labour (Ministry VSA).

“Improving compliance is a process that touches all of the ministries, and current efforts have the support of the Council of Ministers. Current controls have shown that there are individuals occupying positions without the proper documentation in place. Positions such as sales, bartender, waiter/waitress, and cook are positions that locals can occupy”, stated Minister Lee

One of the main challenges identified in the meeting was the need to improve communications between the various departments. Every department has very specific responsibilities and authorities that, at times, create barriers to the exchange of information.

Overall collaborative strategies were discussed to find the most efficient and effective method to improve compliance. “Compliant businesses or businesses that are genuinely working to become fully complaint will find a government that is receptive and cooperative.”

“We are here to educate and help you become more compliant. “Those that demonstrate a blatant disregard of our people and our laws will find a government that is fully committed to improving compliance.

Minister Lee stated that disrespectful and unlawful behavior must be addressed sternly. Otherwise, we are setting a precedent that disobedience is tolerated.” This unacceptable behavior undermines the fabric of our community. There are too many people, especially young adults, searching for work and every position that is held by an undocumented non-compliant worker is an opportunity for employment that can be held by a local.”

From the controls last we there have already been some positive results; such as one business that has already hired a number of locals to fill positions in their business. A number of businesses have expressed their gratitude for the efforts of compliance, as they are unable to compete on an unlevelled playing field. Businesses that are complaint with the law, paying their taxes and various social premiums, find it difficult to compete against businesses that are non-complaint.

Government is in the process of pursuing a number of identified uncollected revenues. An interesting development is that we are now receiving tips to check certain businesses that may also be non-compliant.

We are in the process of handling those while working on an overall strategy. Minister Lee recommended that the community remain proactive about becoming compliant and encouraged visiting the ministry’s website, www.ministryvsa.sx, to make sure that you have an understanding of the rules and regulations surrounding compliance.

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Vocational Education Saba and St. Eustatius trained in CBET test

SABA/ST. EUSTATIUS - In the past two weeks the first teachers of vocational education on Saba and St. Eustatius participated in an "Assessor training workshop". The aim of the workshop was to train the teachers in the planning and use of testing, based on the CBET (Competence Based Education and Training) testing methodology.

Learning to work with this way of testing forms part of the transition to the vocational education system CVQ (Caribbean Vocational Qualification) of the CXC (Caribbean Examination Council) education.

Typical of the CBET methodology is to focus on the skills, so what should the student be able to do at the end of the run. The competencies are based on the requirements of the business c.q. that employers make to their staff. Participants were familiarized during training in the key methodology of CBET and what the system expects of both the teacher and the student. The teachers were Dawn Gill and Daniel Best of the TVET Council Barbados (vocational education council).

According to participant and team leader PrO Brian Carty, the course was especially useful for teachers to learn keys to create tests themselves: "In the Dutch system, teachers make extensive use of existing tests that are offered for different methods and on websites. As a result, most teachers could use some training in creating tests themselves."

An important feature of the new system, according to biology/chemistry teacher, René Pas, is that it is very thorough. "Where a pupil in the Dutch system also has succeeded with an 8 or a 9, in this system he or she must demonstrate compliance on each alleged competence."

According to him it brings more work with it: both teachers and pupils have to track their progress in a so-called "portfolio". On the other hand, he thinks  it is positive that everything is documented as well, which brings along  that discussions on study results are no longer on the agenda.

In the coming weeks the participants will work out a number of commands in a so-called "portfolio" in the daily practice of their work. These must be sent to Barbados for review. In May, the teachers will have the opportunity to defend their portfolios via Skype Calls. Teachers who do this successfully will be certified as "assessor". (RCN Caribbean Netherlands)

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Jiu Jitsu Instructor Bardfield returns with two bronze medals

COLE BAY - Brazilian Jiu Jitsu instructor Melissa Bardfield has returned from the IBJJF Pan American Jiu-Jitsu championships in Irvine, California with two bronze medals.

Melissa earned a bronze medal in the Black Belt Master lightweight division. She also competed in the absolute (open weight) category and earned a place on the podium again receiving a second bronze medal.

Melissa represented Team Renzo Gracie St. Maarten alongside Blue belt athlete Wesley Hendriks. Both Melissa and Wesley also completed a Referee certification seminar.

Plans are underway for an inter-island tournament in May and the team is also planning to compete in the World Championships June 1-3 in Long Beach, California.

For more information on Brazilian Jiu Jitsu and Self Defense classes for all ages visit www.sxmbjj.com

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Power Hour Goes E.P.I.C. in 2017! E.P.I.C. Power Hour focuses on Entrepreneurship, Productivity, Innovation, and Collaboration!

GREAT BAY - POWER HOUR is the premier networking event for entrepreneurs, small business owners and professionals. Over the course of the past three years, it has influenced more than 1000 entrepreneurs and professionals. It is regarded as the experience where entrepreneurial people are equipped by some of the best local and international business leaders while connecting with like-minded individuals.

Information shared and connections made have allowed many attendees to transform their business and lives. This has produced several success stories including, an architect being put on retainer by a real investor she connected with at POWER HOUR and has since left her job to accommodate these kinds of clients and a chef who now caters for the yachting industry after started a catering business based on the information and contacts she obtained at our first POWER HOUR.

On March 29, 2017, this E.P.I.C POWER HOUR is focused on Entrepreneurship, Productivity, Innovation, and Collaboration.  From 7:00 – 9:00 PM at Rum & Peas Restaurant, which is known for its bold Caribbean flavors, this E.P.I.C. POWER HOUR is expected to be dynamic, interactive, informative, and fun.  This is the first POWER HOUR of 2017 and seeks to better connect entrepreneurs and professionals with prospective clients and partners. Unique activities have been designed to facilitate this process.

During this evening, attendees can also expect to gain insights from seasoned and notable business leaders in our community, whilst gaining a sneak peak of the latest businesses and services that are available on the island.  The keynote for the E.P.I.C. POWER HOUR is Mr. Arun Jagtiani.  Through collaborative and innovative efforts, his company Island Real Estate Team, which has been voted #1 Real Estate Broker of 2015.

Mr. Jagtiani’s real estate career spans close to two decades and his entrepreneurial success close to a decade.  During this time he has been featured six times on HGTV, the premier international cable channel for home improvements and remodeling.  Ever a community minded, Mr. Jagtiani has produced a successful social media show, “Talking Politics”, to cover the last elections and the related topics. On March 29, Mr. Jagtiani will provide insight on how being collaborative and innovative can transform businesses.

To help reach the goal of becoming the largest networking event on the island, the POWER HOUR is designed to attract a variety of entrepreneurs and professionals all focused on achieving extraordinary success.   For larger businesses, this is a unique opportunity to connect with a key target group: small business owners and entrepreneurs. For small medium enterprises, this provides a supportive network for business growth and low cost marketing. For those just starting their career, this provides an opportunity to gain knowledge that normally takes decades to  acquire.

As a way to give back to the community, the organizers have made it available at no cost for attendees. However, due to limited space a simple registration process is required. For those who want an enhanced experience, affordable VIP packages and business matching services.

For more information or to register please call +1-721-523-1842 or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

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Motorworld remains committed to continuous staff development. MD credits employees for success of company

COLE BAY - Managing Director of the Motorworld Group Tariq Amjad has expressed strong optimism that the company’s staff development initiatives are bearing fruit and believes that, in 2017, the performance of the various departments will exceed the productivity for last year.

“We already had a very good year in 2016 and in the preceding years, and the fact that we are expecting even more growth and expansion this year could only bode well for our plans in the next five years and beyond,” said Mr. Amjad.

With a number of staff members sent on overseas training programmes in recent months, Mr. Amjad said the company remains committed to ensuring that key personnel remain on the cutting edge of the latest trends in knowledge, information and technology, particularly with regard to their various areas of work.

Further illustrating the company’s proud stance on staff development initiatives, Mr. Amjad went on to give a number of recent examples of overseas training programmes which staff have been attending.

At Motorworld, in October 2016, Technicians Daniel Kartokromo and Francis Duzong attended sessions at the Honda Training Centre in Miami, South Florida where they were trained in brake systems, engines, electrical fundamentals, electrical diagnosis, pre-delivery inspections and general use of tools.

Also at Motorworld, in January 2017, Workshop Manager and Master Technician Ivmaral Carrilho participated in an intensive programme at the Hyundai Training Academy in Miami, Florida, focusing on the operations and diagnosis of multi-point injectors (MPI) and gasoline direct injection (GDI) engines, which are used by Hyundai in the Caribbean region.

This was quickly followed by Caribbean Auto Head Master Technician Jason St. Louis, who participated in a Ford Electrical Diagnosis and Repair Training Programme in San Juan, Puerto Rico in January this year, where he was trained in areas such as electrical diagnosis and repair and the importance of fixing problems right the first time in a workshop.

More recently, earlier this month, Garage Foreman at Caribbean Auto Jovannie Stapleton benefitted from a comprehensive training workshop on the new Audi R8 in Davie, Florida. Topics covered included the vehicle’s dual injection system and 10-cylinder petrol engine, quattro drive, suspension, air conditioning and refrigerant circuit, features of the Modular Infotainment Platform, electrical power supply structure, energy management, exterior lighting and light functions, and virtual cockpit

Further, as part of part of Volkswagen training, Mechanics and Service Advisors are given individual targets and goals to achieve. “We are proud to say that they are all self-motivated to complete the training while at home,” said Mr. Amjad.

The Managing Director added that there is also strong emphasis on in-house training, as part of which managers are required to monitor how well staff members under their respective supervision are performing in the various programmes the company is making available, and for which funding is being provided.

“The fact remains that our human resources are our most critical and valuable asset, hence we are making substantial investments, financially and otherwise, in the overall development of the very people who make us successful,” noted Mr. Amjad.

“This philosophy has guided our operations for some time now and we don’t intend to change it,” he said. 

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UP Party says all Victims of Crime deserve to be treated with dignity, respect and sensitivity

PHILIPSBURG – The United People’s (UP) Party has taken note of the appeal by Attorney-at-Law Geert where an official complaint has been filed with the Joint Court of Justice against the non-arrest of a man who allegedly severely mistreated his mother in February.

“Not knowing the details of the case, and understanding the frustration of the lawyer where the alleged perpetrator continues to walk free while the victim may live in fear because of this.

“Victims’ rights are part and parcel of an individual’s protections and to be treated with dignity, respect and sensitivity.  A victim is usually defined as a person who has been directly harmed by a crime that was committed by another person.

“Victims generally have the right to be treated with courtesy, fairness, and care by law enforcement and other officials throughout the entire criminal justice process.  Victims have the right to protection from threats, intimidation, or retaliation, and we call upon the relevant authorities to adhere to the aforementioned in all cases of crimes related to a victim,” UP Party Board said in a press release.

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Central Committee meeting scheduled for Tuesday about decision lists

PHILIPSBURG – The Central Committee will meet in a session on March 21, 2017.

The Central Committee meeting has been set for Tuesday, March 21 at 14.00 hrs. in the General Assembly Chamber of the House at Wilhelminastraat #1 in Philipsburg.  This session will be carried via Soualiga Newsday live video feed.

The agenda point is:

Approval Decision Lists Central Committee meetings Parliament Year 2015-2016 no. 01, 02, 03, 04, 05, 07, 08, 09, 11, 14, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24, 25, 26, and 27.

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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Chamber of Commerce to hold Bi-Election due to Vacant Board position

PHILIPSBURG - The Election Committee of the St. Maarten Chamber of Commerce met to discuss the upcoming Chamber Bi-Election.

The Electorate

We hereby wish to inform you that in accordance with Federal Ordinance of the Chamber of Commerce & Industry (P.B. 1944 No.202) one position on the Board representing Small Business has become vacant due to a resignation.

Voters for Small Businesses are those entitled to vote, whose names appear in the Commercial Register as involved in an established company with less than one hundred thousand guilders capital investment.

Consequently, the Election Committee will sit and subsequently inform you of the Bi-Election date.             

Entitled to vote:  Eligible voters are persons who meet all of the following requirements:

        Residents (those registered with the Registry Office for 2 years);

        of Dutch citizenship/nationality;

        25 years or older as of August 15, 2016;

        Involved in an established company;

        No incompatibilities (more persons in the same business);

        Not excluded from eligibility (see entitled to vote).

        Who for one year, immediately preceding the making up of the Register of Voters, appear in the Commercial Register of the Chamber as:

Owner, partner, manager, deputy manager, managing director, supervisory director, general attorney or proxy holders (with no limitations).

Excluded From Voting Are:

        Prisoners, persons put in a ward because of insanity, persons adjudged bankrupt, etc.

Duration of Membership

A term of office lasts three years.  Each year, one third of the membership steps down by rotation. Temporary vacancies: also stepping down by rotation.

        Voluntary resignation.

        Dismissal by law.

We want to advise all businesses who want to take part in the by-election to first settle their outstanding bills at The Chamber of Commerce & Industry.

Chamber of Commerce and Industry 

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Pre-Carnival 2017 Message to Parents and the Youth from Minister of Culture Jacobs

POND ISLAND – Minister of Education, Culture, Youth & Sports Silveria Jacobs on Thursday issued her 2017 Carnival Season Message to the nation.  Pre-Carnival activities are scheduled to kick-off this weekend.

Minister Silveria Jacobs Message:

As the Carnival Season quickly approaches with jump-ups, pageants, calypso eliminations and parades ahead of the opening of the village, I wish my fellow St. Maarteners and visitors alike, much fun and enjoyment of the cultural celebrations St. Maarten has to offer.

Do enjoy the local cuisine, music and revelry, and in everything you do this Carnival season, do it responsibly. I encourage you to not use this time to deal with a petty feuds or create scenes. Instead, build relationships and support our artists as they get the opportunity to showcase their varied talents. Go out of your way to welcome our visitors and show them a good time, in true St. Maarten style.

To the parents,

Keep your children close during the jump-ups and parades, and ensure they attend age appropriate events. We are a community and we need to come together and be the village that raises the child. As Minister of Youth, I believe we must ensure our youth are not over exposed to nor engage in the excesses associated with alcohol consumption, and sexually suggestive conduct, which seems to be accepted as the norm. Many youth do as they see rather than what they are told, therefore we must lead by example and display behavior we can be proud of down the line for generations to come.

As parents we must also set limits for our children and enforce them. Ensure that your children respect themselves and the laws put in place to protect. They must also be taught to respect others including those who were entrusted with the task of enforcing and upholding the laws for a safe and prosperous community.

In this also, we, as adults, must lead by example. Do not encourage drinking and negative behavior in our youth. Make sure your children attend school regularly during this time and keep up with school assignments and responsibilities as well; that should be your and their first priority.  

To the youth,

Enjoy the activities that are being organized for you. In due time, your time for adult activities will come. There is no rush.  With adult activities, come adult responsibilities. Do not give in to the peer or adult pressure to drink or engage in other acts you know are inappropriate, as a decision made today, can have serious or negative effects on you for the rest of your life.

I encourage youth participation in cultural events like calypso & soca shows, pageants, as well as Youth Extravaganza and junior/teen parades during this season. This fun is especially for you.

We, the revelers, spectators and carnival lovers of St. Maarten must determine what our greatest cultural festival should portray. We should celebrate St. Maarten’s culture, music, artistry and creativity in a safe and fun way for the entire family to enjoy.   

This carnival season, I look forward to great entertainment, inspired creativity, enticing cuisine and all around togetherness and fun. I encourage all carnival lovers, spectators and participants to be safe and to enjoy the festivities responsibly.

You can only experience life, once you’ve experienced a St. Maarten Carnival, so come Experience Life with St. Maarten Carnival 2017.

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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. On March 13th, 2017 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 (the Netherlands represents the Caribbean islands Saba, St. Eustatius and Bonaire) 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.”

Together with the shark and rays, another fish, the Nassau Grouper, as well as a bird, the Painted bunting, and the Florida tree snail were also listed for protection under the SPAW Protocol.

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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