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Soualiga News Today (3314)

Sint Maarten Delegation meets KLM reps. Meeting yields positive outcome

SINT MAARTEN/THE HAGUE - Upon arrival in the Netherlands on Wednesday February 14, 2018, the Government of Sint Maarten delegation headed by Prime Minister Leona Romeo Marlin and Minister of Finance Michael Ferrier, met with executives of KLM at the airline’s head office in Amstelveen.

The KLM invitation to the Sint Maarten delegation was to get a first-hand report on the post Hurricane Irma recovery progress of the island and to discuss flight network development, as they relate to Sint Maarten/Saint Martin.

The KLM delegation was headed by their Senior Vice President, Mr. Harm Kreulen and included Mr. Willem de Jonge, Vice President Government and Industry Affairs, Mr. Edgar van Asperen, Network Planner, Mr. Frank Houben, Delegate to the Board and Mr. Daan Pijzel, Director Commercial Division BENELUX.

Discussions centered around the general condition of the island, the progress being made getting the SXM Airport repaired, the status of stay-over guest rooms, the approximate reopening of the various large properties on the island, the speed in which some segments of the tourist market seem to be coming back and the availability of reliable data.

The KLM delegation expressed the airline’s commitment to the island with the announcement that a third 3rd Amsterdam-Sint Maarten-Curaçao-Amsterdam will be added in October of 2018, a fact that will be loaded in the KLM systems this week.

“The Government of Sint Maarten is focused on the recovery of Sint Maarten and to take it to the next level” Prime Minister Romeo Marlin told her audience, adding: "I am quite excited about the KLM fight increase, as we are convinced that it will have a huge impact on our focus to bring back business to our island". KLM also announced their willingness to offer marketing support to ensure the success of any additional flights.

At the end of the fruitful meeting gifts were exchanged and Mr. Kreulens thanked the Ministers and the accompanying (The Hague based) Sint Maarten House support staff for their visit to KLM Headquarters, stressing that good, open communications between parties on both sides of the Atlantic will only serve to strengthen the relationship between the airline and the island.


Minister of Tourism De Weever opens departure pavilion at SXM Airport

SINT MAARTEN (SIMPSON BAY) – Acting Minister of Tourism, Economic Affairs, Traffic & Telecommunications (TEATT), the Honorable Cornelius de Weever officially opened the Departure Pavilion at the Princess Juliana International Airport over the weekend.

Minister De Weever mentioned during the opening ceremony that as acting Minister of TEATT, with the responsibility for the airport, government will do all within its power to facilitate the rebuilding and further development of the facilities, and will also continue to encourage strategic partnerships in this vital sector that will result in a win-win-win situation for all involved.

Hurricane Irma was the first Category 5 hurricane to strike the Leeward Islands on record, followed by Hurricane Maria two weeks later, and is the second-costliest Caribbean hurricane on record, after Maria. The devastation caused by Hurricane Irma is quite evident in the damage that was done to the airport.

“I can’t think of one St. Martiner, traveling out of the island, or returning after Hurricane Irma who has not been literally moved to tears to see what had become of our award winning Princess Juliana International Airport,” said Minister De Weever.

Minister De Weever further stated that the opening of the temporary Departure Pavilion, is indeed one step forward in improving the experience we have all had, having to depart from a makeshift area that did not have all the top notch conveniences we had been accustomed to over the years.

“Every adversity, they say, offers opportunities and Irma is certainly no exception. The rebuilding of the Terminal Building provides a great chance to incorporate into its design and planning, a sterile transit area and the US Pre-Clearance to which our government is fully committed and for which negotiations are continuing according to schedule,” said Minister De Weever.


Dutch and French side Governments rekindle cooperation discussions

SINT MAARTEN (PHILIPSBURG-MARIGOT) – On Sunday morning February 11th Prime Minister Leona Romeo Marlin together with Minister of Finance Michael Ferrier, Minister of Justice Cornelius Deweever, and Minister of VROMI Miklos Giterson lead a delegation of technocrats to French St. Martin to meet President Daniel Gibbs, Prefet Anne Laubies and their Civil Servants team at the Collectivite in Marigot.

“The rekindling of discussions between both Governments ends a period of 14 months where no talks have taken place. This meeting begins the process of reversing the potential risk of jeopardizing the continuation of important EU funded joint projects that are essential and beneficial to the people of St. Martin / Sint Maarten.

“The goal of this initial meeting was to reaffirm the commitment to the St. Martin / Sint Maarten Territorial Cooperation Programme 2014 – 2020. A progression update on three existing projects were discussed namely; Belle Plaine drainage project, Simpson Bay Lagoon cleanup & Waste to water treatment plant for the Simpson Bay / Cole Bay area.

“The waste to energy solution for the sanitary landfill/dump was also discussed as a possible 4th project but those discussions are preliminary and exploratory in nature at this early juncture as both sides still require much more research and development before going forward with any possible proposal.

“In conclusion both Governments expressed the need for a unified message when having discussions with their respective European counterparts on issues of mutual cooperation.

“They also conveyed that cooperation on a local level must continue on structural basis and the historical unity and cooperation that has been displayed for many years must continue to be an example for countries in the world to recognize and admire,” according to a release from the Cabinet of the Prime Minister. 


SXM Airport Opens Temporary Departure Pavilion to Improve Passenger Comfort

SIMPSON BAY - Passengers departing from the Princess Juliana International Airport, SXM, will as from Friday, February 9th, 2018 have a much improved experience as they will be leaving from the Temporary Departure Pavilion which has been erected to enhance their comfort.

The Pavilion, which will be officially inaugurated at 10:30 this Friday morning, is fully air-conditioned and will replace the luggage processing area previously used as Departure Hall.

See below the speech by the Acting CEO and CFO, Ravi Darayanani.

“Good morning Honorable Prime Minister, Stakeholders and all invited guests:

“As I stand here today, I am reminded of the saying “FALLING DOWN IS A PART OF LIFE. GETTING BACK UP IS LIVING”

“September 6, 2017, is a date that will be etched in our minds for many years to come. The island of St. Maarten took a direct hit by the largest hurricane in history, Hurricane Irma that crippled our community and businesses.

“Immediately after the storm, the country was placed on a mandatory curfew, the Dutch military took control of the airport to administer evacuation flights, and there were limited supplies and repair materials on the island. Recovery efforts were also disrupted by the threat of Hurricane Jose and the torrential rainfall from Hurricane Maria. Like many, Princess Juliana International Airport, was down, but we were not out.

“Despite the many challenges, Princess Juliana International Airport’s management and staff, persevered by addressing the required safety and security requirements needed to obtain Civil Aviation’s approval to re-open operations. This happened in a mere 34 days. Although it seemed like an eternity at the time, re-opening the airport in such a short-time frame is a monumental achievement, for which we should applaud the dedication and hard work demonstrated by Mr. Hyman, our COO, all the employees, and 3rd parties who made this happen.

“In early December, night operations resumed, again as a result of the hard work to install the required runway lighting. Remember, airport operations are complex, and the Princess Juliana International Airport must adhere to a number of safety, aviation, and regulatory requirements….

“It’s not as simple as just opening our doors for business. But we also understand what our airport represents. It is not only a critical part of the strategic infrastructure of the island, it is also a symbol of our progress. The airport started as a small airfield back in the 1940’s and developed over time into an award-winning international airport and the second largest hub in the region. The people of St. Maarten are proud of this facility, because it stands as testament to our aspirations as a nation.

“Hurricane Irma, while devastating, is only a bump in our road to an even bigger and brighter future. We have started our comeback and where we are today, dedicating these temporary facilities that will accommodate visitors and residents is because of a team effort.

“I would like to commend our management team and our airline partners for their collaboration in the ongoing recovery and reconstruction efforts. Their collective efforts have been essential in keeping St. Maarten and our neighboring islands “Open for Business”.

“We have a long road ahead of us. It will take time to restore our iconic terminal building. While we work on that milestone, we can take a moment to celebrate an important step in the process. Today we celebrate the grand opening of our new temporary departure pavilion. Our temporary facility provides approximately 8,000 square feet of space to accommodate 315 seats, 11 concessionaires, 17 airline check-in booths, 2 sets of restrooms, security screening, transit processing, and emigration processing, all in an enclosed air-conditioned environment.

“With this facility, we strive for operational effectiveness, while simultaneously providing our passengers with an enhanced experience. In a few weeks, the Princess Juliana International Airport will also install a new temporary arrival pavilion.

“These two pavilions will serve to represent the “SXM” destination while we work on bringing back our pride and joy, the Princess Juliana International Terminal Building.  

“We continue our recovery efforts “en route to new horizons” and in the not too distant future, we will come together for another celebration; the re-opening of a better and stronger terminal facility.

“Thank you for celebrating with us today. We are grateful for your continued support and patience as we rebuild.”


Cft: Additional measures to get the economy going and decrease expected deficit 2018 needed

SINT MAARTEN (PHILIPSBURG) - From the 5th of February until the 9th, the Board of financial supervision Curaçao and Sint Maarten (Cft) visited the Windward Islands, amongst which Sint Maarten. The main topics of discussion on Sint Maarten were the expected deficits, the precarious liquidity position and the weak state of financial management.

Cft Chairman Raymond Gradus: “While a deficit is inevitable, Sint Maarten should keep the expected deficit 2018 to a minimum”. While rebuilding Sint Maarten and get the economy rolling, government should also improve financial management and solve the lasting IT-problems.

During its visit, Cft met with the Governor, the Council of Ministers and the Financial Committee of Parliament. Cft was impressed with the resilience the people of Sint Maarten have shown during these past few months. Cft chairman Gradus: “Though Sint Maarten evidently is getting back on his feet, there are still many challenges ahead”, hereby also referring to the vulnerable economic and financial position of Sint Maarten.

As usual, Cft also met with the minister of Finance Ferrier to discuss government finances. During the different meetings, the focus was especially on the deficits of 2017 and 2018 as well as the liquidity position. Furthermore, Cft expressed its concern about the non-improving state of financial management and the continuous IT-problems that handicap government and parliament in executing their responsibilities. Cft also visited the Sint Maarten Medical Centre, the harbor and spoke with representatives from the airport and the reconstruction team for Sint Maarten.

Regarding the 2017 deficit, Cft pointed out that for the budget to be compliant with the law of financial supervision (Rft), additional decision-making by the Kingdom Council of Ministers (RMR) is required. The draft budget for 2018, which was recently presented to Cft, will be a big challenge for Sint Maarten. The presented deficit is substantial and the substantiation of the presented figures is not sufficient at this point.

Cft-chairman Gradus:”Cft is aware of the difficult circumstances for Sint Maarten. However Cft cannot properly advice on a budget without proper substantiation”. Cft also pointed this out in its advice on the draft budget that was issued on the 8th of February to the minister of Finance. Although Sint Maarten will probably need help from the Dutch Government regarding the 2018 budget, it is also important to look at what measures Sint Maarten can take itself to decrease the presented deficit. These measures are not reflected in the budget yet. Raymond Gradus: “It is important that Sint Maarten shows that available and reasonable measures to minimize the deficit, even under these difficult circumstances, should be mentioned in the draft budget 2018”.

Concern was furthermore expressed about the liquidity position of Sint Maarten. On different occasions it was stated by Sint Maarten that the coffers will soon be empty and that the need for additional liquidity is imminent. A proposal for additional liquidity for 2017 was offered by the State Secretary of Kingdom Relations. For this, some formal steps have to be taken by Cft, government and Parliament, amongst others.

Cft also stresses the importance of getting the economy going again. The Reconstruction Fund of EUR 550 million plays a vital role in restarting the economy. A boost in economic activity can have a positive influence on government’s finances and the expected deficit. Cft took a part in intensive discussions between the government of Sint Maarten, the Dutch government, the IMF and the World Bank this week. These constructive deliberations will support progress and cooperation in the process towards reconstruction.

During its visit Cft again pointed out the necessity for improving financial management and solving the IT-problems that started in the third quarter of 2016. For years, there has been no significant improvement in financial management. This, combined with the ongoing IT-problems, provides insufficient and unreliable insight in government finances.

“Without proper financial information Sint Maarten is flying in the blind” the Cft-chairman pointed out. Over the course of time, Sint Maarten has not been able to prove that it independently can improve financial management. Therefore Cft advised to ask the Dutch government for technical assistance and capacity building in this regard. In the opinion of Cft, strong financial management would be beneficial for both Sint Maarten and the Netherlands.


SER calls on Government to tackle Waste Management

SINT MAARTEN (HARBOUR VIEW) — The Social Economic Council (SER), along with the entire public of St. Maarten, have been affected by the recent two dump site fires that covered Philipsburg and the surrounding neighbourhoods with toxic smoke.

The Council, which in the past, called on Government to address the country’s landfill emergency situation, drafted its advice in December 2016. “The present challenges of the Pond Island landfill are critical and urgent.

These problems go beyond party politics and should not be attributed to the past, present and/or future government(s),” said SER. Tackling the landfill is a concern for everyone in the community and should not be viewed as a political issue, according to the Council.

The SER is now calling on Government to come together and address this issue once and for all.

In its advice SER urged Government to start the sorting of garbage such as the removal of recyclable and toxic materials. Management plans should ideally encompass operational requirements with appropriate guidelines/standards, including capacity building and regular monitoring against/of fires, said SER.

The SER being aware of the environmental urgency of the waste management problem on St. Maarten, which has been a problem now for more than 50 years worked on this unsolicited advice which was published in March 2017. The following six advisory points that were represented are core to any formal strategy going forward in creating a sustainable and safe environment for St. Maarten as a community and as a leading hub within the region.

This is the advice that was given by the SER at the time.

The SER unanimously advises the government of Sint Maarten:

  1. To resume cooperation with the French side and to adopt an integrated waste management system similar to Saint Martin, focused on waste minimization, re-use, recycling and covering issues related to the health and ecology of the landfill.
  1. To start with immediate effect separating the various waste streams on the landfill with the aim to sell various waste streams products. This includes the efficient sorting of the garbage such as the removal of recyclable and toxic material. Management plans should ideally encompass operational requirements with appropriate guidelines/standards, including capacity building and regular monitoring against fires.
  1. To start a public awareness campaign to promote reduction of waste at house-hold and community levels. Waste reduction should include use of clean technologies, reuse, separation and recycling.
  1. To immediately resume and renew the cooperation between the municipality of Amsterdam and Sint Maarten[1]. Mainly the exchange of knowledge and experience in the areas of waste management and environment. This agreement expired on October 16th, 2017. The city of Amsterdam based on its working relationship with Sint Maarten, officially offered to dispose at least 50% of the present landfill. This offer would significantly aid the government of Sint Maarten with regard to the disposal of existing waste.
  1. To update legal framework for waste management in line with international standards and to place more focus on enforcement measures. In addition, government should incorporate best practices from the Dutch Kingdom and adopt EU/international standards in waste management.

By doing so, the locally separated products are compatible with these markets.

  1. Not to pursue the waste-to-energy facility for Sint Maarten. In 2010 the media reported that government plans to construct waste-to-energy facility for USD 115 million[2]

In a press release issued by the Honorable Minister of Public Housing, Spatial planning, Environment and Infrastructure, Miklos Giterson stated that “it is believed that these two fires were man made”.

The Council stated that every time the landfill is set ablaze, the people, the tourist product and environment suffers. The SER is concerned about the type of impact the various airborne pollutants, resulting from fires and toxic smoke, might have on the health population.

Although the St. Maarten Medical Center has not (yet) reported any increase in cases of respiratory related issues, high risk groups such as senior citizens, children and persons suffering from asthma remain at risk because of high sensitivity and/or high exposure from the smoke coming from the landfill; apart from more long-term effects that may not be noticeable for years to come.

Furthermore the continued forced closure of government offices, schools and businesses down-wind from the landfill fires are negatively affecting our community as a whole.

Although SER is an advisory body to Government, the Council of Ministers is not bound to follow the recommendations in the letter titled “Better Waste Management for St. Maarten.” Nevertheless, the SER is urging government in the interest of the people to address this issue post haste.

You can visit the SER website to download a copy of the advice.

[1]  Samenwerkingsovereenkomst tussen Sint Maarten en de gemeente Amsterdam Oktober 2013-2017.

[2] Press release “Waste Plant related contracts approved “The Daily Herald of Tuesday, May 11, 2010

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Join the race action on the official St. Maarten Heineken Regatta spectator boat

SINT MAARTEN (SIMPSON BAY) - Get close to the action of the 38th St. Maarten Heineken Regatta, and enjoy the best seats in the house. Go first class aboard the Golden Eagle Catamaran and feel like a real VIP.

The official St. Maarten Heineken Regatta spectator boat will be sailing out on Saturday March 3 and Sunday March 4. Make sure to get your tickets on time because they usually sell out quickly.

On Saturday, the boat will depart from the police dock at the Simpson bay bridge so that guests can enjoy the more distant start of the race classes. On Sunday, the boat will leave from Bobby’s Marina, Philipsburg. For both days the departure time will be at 7:30AM and the boat returns to the marina around 12:30PM.

During the day, guests will receive live commentary of all the on-the-water action taking place. A delicious breakfast and lunch will be provided on board, and the open bar will make sure no one gets thirsty.

In addition to this, guests will also receive an exclusive goody bag filled with specialties donated by loyal sponsors of the St. Maarten Heineken Regatta.

For only US$ 125 per person, guests can get on board of the Golden Eagle Catamaran and be part of the regatta. Feel like a real VIP as you sail down to the start line. The price includes the trip out on the water, breakfast, lunch, open bar, goody bag and a live commentator.

For more information or to buy tickets, contact the Regatta Office at +1 721 588 6122 or email Maxim at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. Tickets can also be bought online at


Ministry of Finance organized Round Table Conference Sustainable Financial Government

GREAT BAY, (DCOMM) – On Tuesday February 6, 2018, the Ministry of Finance of the Government of Sint Maarten organized a Round Table Conference “Sustainable Financial Government,” with the Netherlands, the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the Committee for Financial Supervision of Curacao and Sint Maarten Cft.

The goal of this conference was to get all parties together and have an open dialogue on the way forward to a financial sustainable Sint Maarten and how progress can be achieved in bringing relief to the people of Sint Maarten in the short term.

The main topics discussed was the issue of liquidity support to the government of Sint Maarten, the application of 550 million euro made available by the Netherlands, the benefits of using the professional services offered by the World Bank and the IMF, in collaboration with the Cft.

Progress has been made in getting clarity with regards to the completion of the 2017 and 2018 budget process. 

The Conference was attended by the Dutch Project Director General of Reconstruction for the Windward Islands, Hans Leijtens, Head of the Representation of the Netherlands in Philipsburg, Chris Johnson, representatives of the World Bank, IMF, Cft and the Government of Sint Maarten.

Representing Sint Maarten were the Minister of Finance, Michael Ferrier, with members of his Cabinet, the Secretary General of the Ministry of Finance, Arno Peels and support staff, the Secretary General of the Ministry of General Affairs, Hensley Plantijn and civil servants from the Department of Foreign Relations.

The conference was moderated by former Minister of Justice and Chairman of the Workgroup National Recovery Plan, Dennis Richardson.

Now that there is a shared understanding of the way forward, one of the next steps is for Prime Minister Leona Romeo Marlin and the Minister of Finance Michael Ferrier to visit the Netherlands to continue these discussions and to strengthen the relationships between the two Kingdom partners.

Both the Dutch and Sint Maarten delegations are very pleased with the level of progress made in charting the way forward.

Minister Ferrier and Project Director General Leijtens thanked all participants for their contribution to the open dialogue and clear communication. They look forward to further collaborations on the different levels to expedite the progress.


Minister Wuite overjoyed missing student Nathan York found

SINT MAARTEN (POND ISLAND) - Minister Jorien Wuite, after speaking to close family members of Nathan York, is extremely pleased to confirm that the student has been found and is presently with his parents at the St. Maarten Medical Center.

Nathan, a student of the Martin Luther King Jr. School (MLK), was reported missing after last being seen leaving the school campus on Tuesday afternoon. Patrols of the police and VKS as well members of the truancy team of the department of education joined family members and persons of the general public in searching for the student.

A preliminary report of the incident was presented to Minister Wuite Wednesday morning as she met with MLK School Management, the inspectorate of Education and members of Nathan's family.

The Minister has demanded that a full report be presented by noon today as the matter is being thoroughly investigated.

The Minister expresses her gratitude to all who joined in the search with the family and the Middle Region community. She is extremely overjoyed that Nathan was found.


Two schools to remain closed. Daycare centers in Lower Philipsburg should remain closed

GREAT BAY, (DCOMM) – Prime Minister Leona Romeo Marlin in an update on Wednesday evening says in follow-up assessments on Wednesday, the Charlotte Brookson Academy and the Oranje Primary School will remain closed on Thursday, February 8 due to the persistent smoke from the landfill fire on Pond Island which has been impacting the lower parts of Philipsburg.

The Minister of Education Jorien Wuite has advised that daycare centers located in the lower part of Philipsburg should also remain closed on Thursday.

Additional information will be forthcoming within short with respect the status of the Government Administration Building.

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