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Nine controls carried out of public street traders and restaurants

GREAT BAY, (DCOMM) – The Inspectorate of Tourism, Economic Affairs, Traffic and Telecommunications (TEATT) conducted a joint control with Inspectors from the Ministry of VSA (Public Health, Social Development and Labour) on public street traders and a restaurant on Thursday, November 9th. 

A total of nine controls were executed. Seven vendors and one restaurant were controlled from W.G. Buncamper Road along the entire W.A. Nisbeth Road.

One person was found vending on Octavius L. Richardson Road in Belair who was not in possession of a permit and was given a warning. During the control several violations were found of which the majority were related to food safety, storage and temperatures.

One vendor along W. A. Nisbeth Road was found to have connected drainage from the food preparation area of their vending establishment to the Great Salt Pond.

The connection was ordered to be removed by officials. Other vendors were ordered to clean up the food preparation of their establishment as it was found not be in a sanitary condition.

Tables and chairs were ordered to be removed from vending locations as vendors are not allowed to create the opportunity for a sit down and eat service.

A popular local bar/restaurant along W. A. Nisbeth Road was controlled and during the control it was found that the majority of the building had no roof and was covered in tarpaulin while food was still being prepared in the kitchen and being sold to the public.

Upon further inspection, tears in the tarpaulin were observed and the kitchen and other areas of the building were exposed to the outside.  In agreement with the permit owner the establishment was closed in order to allow them to repair the structure as food was being displayed and served along the public street while the building itself has been severely damaged by the hurricane.

Vending permit holders are obligated to abide by the conditions of the vending permit, including stationary and mobile vendors.

Permit holders, their helpers, equipment and the site itself must be kept in a sanitary condition at all times. No chairs, tables or loud music is permitted at vending locations.

Vendors must not be a nuisance or hindrance to the general public or public safety at any time. All permit holders are obliged to comply with the lawful instructions of government officials immediately, when issued.

A valid government issued ID must be carried by all persons carrying out public street trading at all times as well as the public street trading permit must also be available upon first request by the official as well.

Permit holders should register their helper (by law you are only permitted one helper) with the Department of Economic Licenses located at the Government Administration Building or they can be contacted at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Lastly, exercising street trade without the appropriate permit from the Minister of TEATT is a violation of the Landsverordening openbarestraathandel and can be punished by a fine not exceeding one thousand guilders or imprisonment of no more than two months.

street trader control pix2

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Prime Minister Marlin thanks Dutch Government for 550 million Euro Recovery Fund

POND ISLAND - Prime Minister William Marlin said that the first thing he did on Friday morning was call State Secretary of Kingdom Relations, Mr. Raymond Knops after receiving news that the Dutch government had taken a decision on the Recovery Fund and on the amount of 550 million Euros in recovery aid to Sint Maarten.

This is great news, he said, and he expressed a big Thank You to the government and people of the Netherlands for the relief aid received so far, amounting to over 50 million Euros and now the decision to establish the Recovery Fund with no less than 550 million Euros.

Marlin said he hopes to welcome State Secretary Raymond Knops personally to the island and thank him in person on behalf of the government and people of our country when he visits sometime later this month.

“With this decision the recovery of Sint Maarten can now start to take shape. We have always been ready and prepared to work with the Dutch government,” Prime Minister Marlin stated.

The outgoing Sint Maarten Prime Minister reiterated in a press statement on Friday as well, that his government had NEVER refused aid. We have been accepting aid from the Netherlands, from before the hurricane made landfall up to and including today.

“We have also NEVER turned down aid in the form of the Recovery Fund. What we had a dispute with the Netherlands about was the conditions that the Netherlands had attached to receiving recovery aid,” the Prime Minister said in his press statement on Friday.

The Prime Minister said that a deadline had been set for accepting the conditions, which was October 31, 2017 and the government agreed to the conditions on October 30, 2017, one day before the deadline.

On Thursday morning the Prime Minister received the advice on the final draft of the Integrity Chamber Ordinance and he immediately convened an extraordinary meeting of the Council of Ministers to approve the advice so that the Parliament could take a vote on it before the end of November.

Marlin, said that shortly after the devastation caused by Hurricane Irma, the Dutch government and the Council of State had been informed of the situation on St. Maarten and had requested extra time to finalize the approval of the draft ordinance.

It is a pity he said, that others misused the hurricane to their political advantage to break the government. St. Maarten does not deserve political instability at this time, all hands should be on deck securing a sound recovery of our country.

Attempts by both himself and Minister of Education, Silveria Jacobs to bring the other parties together and form a national government all in the best interest of the people has been met by resistance by particularly one party, the press release from the Minister of General Affairs concluded.

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SHTA business representative group formally denounces the calling for snap elections

PHILIPSBURG - With keen interest Sint Maarten Hospitality & Trade Association (SHTA) has followed the recent political shifts and the debate in the Parliament of St. Maarten, a press release from the business representative group said in a press statement on Friday.

“The dismissal of the Marlin Cabinet and the subsequent call for snap elections will most definitely further hinder our recovery; taking precious resources and energy away from critical decision making and action.

“The additional and prolonged hardships inflicted on the residents (both individuals and businesses) of St. Maarten are significant and could have been prevented.  At the time of these events, valuable time had already been wasted and the in-action had already caused untold damage to our Tourism Product and natural resources.

“The risks involved with the postponement of equitable action to jump-start the recovery process in earnest are immeasurable but it can be expected that it will cause more business closures, higher unemployment and increased levels of crime. The actual cost of pride is always higher than one is willing to pay.  

“With a non-functioning post office, a weakened Electoral Council and a shortened time frame for postulation, the quality of our democracy is further restricted.  By eliminating the possibility for new parties to step in, community members that now recognize the inadequacies and limitations in our current political situation, who may have come forward will not be able to participate and will now have to sit back with a same ol’ same ol’ attitude and any spirit toward civic change will again be quashed. The question is: Will it get better. The answer is: Probably not.”

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Arrindell-Doncher breaks ground for new FBO facility at airport

SIMPSON BAY/SXM AIRPORT - Minister of Tourism, Economic Affairs, Traffic and Telecommunication (TEATT) Mellissa Arrindell-Doncher “broke ground” on Friday for the construction of the new Fixed Based Operator (FBO) facility at the Princess Juliana International Airport (PJIA).

The project (a private jet terminal) should take about 18 months to complete and will give St. Maarten a world class facility to effectively handle and enhance the private air travel business that is vital to the airport and by extension St. Maarten. 

Calling the moment a “momentous occasion for St. Maarten and for SXM Airport”, the Minister said “though we are currently not under the ideal circumstances and our beautiful airport still has some ways to go to regain its splendor, the groundbreaking of a new FBO facility to a positive and hopeful sign for the future of our international airport.”

She congratulated the management and board of the airport (past and present) for getting to this starting point for this very important project. She also congratulated the FBO operators “who will be able to move customers through a world class FBO facility and meet many of their needs.”

“The FBO facility, 25 years in the making, will represent another major step which forms an important part of SXM Airport’s Capital Improvement Program for which the airport obtained financing on the international market,” the Minister said.

“This new FBO facility is a tribute to our past and future success. We executed hundreds of private aircraft movements last year and look forward to growing these numbers in the coming years. In fact, I’ve been told that despite the devastation our entire country has had to ensure, including our airport, private aircraft numbers for the upcoming season remain solid,” she said.

The Minister added: “We want to be the leader in business aviation and we are not short of competition for that title. To get there, our airport will remain dedicated to world-class service and the highest levels of safety and security. With an outstanding Fixed Base Operations facilities, we will provide our customers with an experience that will enhance their air travel experience, with a touch of St. Maarten flare.”

She said the facility will be a great enhancement to St. Maarten’s world-class airport facilities and “we are thankful for the opportunity to celebrate this ground breaking with colleagues and friends.”

“We look forward to welcoming customers from around the world, and providing them with premium business aviation services. Once again congratulations to all and our people are looking forward to seeing their airport and their new FBO Facility up and running very soon. I am sure you will make us all very proud,” the Minister concluded.

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Dutch government puts €550m into fund for post-hurricane Sint Maarten

SINT MAARTEN/THE NETHERLANDS – The Netherlands is pumping €550m into the special fund to rebuild its former colony of Sint Maarten following the devastation caused by hurricane Irma.

The first payment will be made to the island authorities as soon as they agree to the establishment of a special chamber to ensure the cash is spent properly. In addition, the Netherlands want border controls to be stepped up to make sure the work goes to local firms and local workers.

The establishment of the fund ran into trouble earlier when the then-prime minister William Marlin refused to accept that the Dutch authorities would have final say on the integrity chamber.

Since then, the government has fallen and an interim administration is in charge. ‘It is a lot of Dutch tax money,’ junior home affairs minister Raymond Knops said. ‘People are still without a roof over their heads and the Netherlands wants to help, but it is a gesture with strings attached.’ Earlier estimates had put the size of the fund at €260m. (DutchNews)

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Ministry VSA Temporary Basic Necessities Voucher Program Launched

POND ISLAND - As part of the ongoing effort to provide relief to the members of the community that have been impacted by Irma to the point that they are at risk of not being able to feed themselves or their family, the Ministry of VSA (Public Health, Social Development and Labour) has worked diligently to develop and launch the Temporary Basic Necessities Voucher Program which is a two month pilot program.

Minister of VSA Emil Lee wants to thank the participating merchants - Le Grande Marche, Prime Distributors, Sang’s Supermarket, and Sunny Foods - that are supporting the program by providing Government a bulk purchase/community support discount on the total costs.

This program allows persons who have experienced a serious financial setback as a consequence of the impact of the recent hurricanes to receive a voucher valued at NAF 150.-. A family of one or two persons can apply for one voucher and larger families can receive two.

Eligible families will receive voucher(s) every two weeks depending on if their situation has changed. These vouchers can be redeemed at participating supermarkets.  Vouchers can be used to purchase basic necessities which includes food, water, hygiene and sanitation products excluding tobacco and alcohol products at participating retailers.

Those who wish to apply for this program are advised to report to the new Government Building on Pond Island at the Social services Department Monday –Friday between 8.30 AM and 12 NOON. Applicants will have to fill out an intake form with information on their financial situation demonstrating they are not able to buy food, and need to present a valid identification document, such as a ID card, a passport or a driver’s license.

Only applications of persons or families who suffered a significant fall in their sources of income will be considered for the program. After the applications are submitted and processed, applicants will be contacted with regards to the decision taken.

“This program is a natural evolution of our emergency relief program where food, water and hygiene supplies were physically delivered to different neighborhoods. The details and approvals for the program have taken a bit of time to finalize but we feel that developing proper criteria, forms, agreements with supermarkets, fraud prevention measures and evaluation processes were critical in developing a program that is fully transparent, accountable, and auditable.

“We believe that based on the success of this program we will be able to attract other donors to contribute to extend the program, as well as to other social programs currently in the pipeline, for example a construction voucher program,” stated Minister Emil Lee.

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Insured Losses over US1.3 Billion

SINT MAARTEN – Members of the Sint Maarten House of Parliament were informed on Tuesday during the House debate by representatives of the St. Maarten Insurance Brokers Association (SIBA), that estimated insured losses for the country amounted to more than US$1.3 billion due to Hurricane Irma on September 6th, 2017.

Damage to property is approximately US$1.1 billion.  The losses do not include economic/business interruption or motor insurances, and those are included, the amount climbs to US$1.3 billion.

In the US, during the January 1 renewal season, reinsurance prices are likely to rise significantly, with expert forecasting double-digit rate increases.  There is a huge gap of tens of billions of dollars between the third-quarter catastrophe loss estimates of reinsurers and those of risk modelers, industry experts recently states.

Insured losses are expected to be about US$100 billion from Hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria.  Standard & Poor’s Global Ratings rep said the tally from re/insurers’ preliminary estimates adds up to about US$31 billion. 

SOUALIGA NEWSDAY REPORT

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Soca Music Cruise hits the waves on November 16

SINT MAARTEN/CARIBBEAN – Ubersoca Cruise (USC), the largest Soca festival at sea, has partnered with the region’s tourism development agency, the Caribbean Tourism Organization (CTO) for its 2017 cruise, which sails from Miami to Cozumel, Mexico, November 16 – 20.

CTO will host a Destination Showcase onboard Ubersoca 2017, which will give passengers an insight into the diversity of the region and the attributes that make the Caribbean islands such a popular tourism destination.

The foundation for this partnership was laid when USC participated as a sponsor of CTO’s Caribbean Week New York in June of this year, and the onboard workshop is part of the collaboration arrangement.

The CTO workshop, which will be facilitated by Amanda Charles and Kennedy Pemberton of the CTO’s Sustainable Tourism Product Development Division, will feature highlights of ongoing CTO initiatives, information on Caribbean destinations as well as a Caribbean Trivia competition with exciting prizes to be won.

The event will culminate with an open forum dealing with issues and opportunities in Caribbean Tourism, Music, Culture and Carnivals.

“The CTO is pleased to partner with Ubersoca Cruise as part of its continuing efforts to promote Caribbean Tourism, and initiatives such as the CTO Scholarship Foundation and Hurricane Relief fund.

“We salute the young entrepreneurs that have transformed a traditional tourism product into an authentic Caribbean cultural experience, and look forward to exploring this new frontier with the Ubersoca Team in adding value to the regional cruise tourism experience,” Amanda Charles, Sustainable Tourism Specialist, Caribbean Tourism Organization.

About Ubersoca Cruise

Ubersoca Cruise is the first and only full cruise ship charter dedicated exclusively to soca music. The cruise sails from Miami Florida to Cozumel Mexico from November 16th – 20th 2017 and features over 60 of the best soca artists and DJs in the world.

It all starts with the pre-cruise party in South Beach Miami Florida on November 15th 2017. In addition to multiple live concerts and themed events/parties, Ubersoca Cruise, offers a number of other activities and surprises which make it an ‘experience beyond the music’.

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Governor Holiday appoints Franklin Meyers as formateur to form interim government

HARBOUR VIEW – On November 7, 2017, the Governor of Sint Maarten, His Excellency drs. E.B. Holiday, requested the fraction leader of the United Peoples Party, Mr. Franklin Meyers, to form an interim government as formateur.

The Governor held consultations between November 3 and 6, 2017 with the leaders of the political parties that hold seats in Parliament, (the United Peoples Party, the National Alliance, the United St. Maarten Peoples Party and the Democratic Party) as well as with the vice chairperson of the Council of Advice and the representatives of the social partners.

These consultations were a result of the declaration of October 29, 2017, signed by the United Peoples Party, Democratic Party and MP C.E. Brownbill to form a new Government, the motion of no confidence passed against the Cabinet Marlin II and the decision of the Council of Ministers to dissolve Parliament. During the consultations the Governor discussed the political developments and the social-economic situation on the island and the opportunities to move forward.

As a result the Governor shared his concerns and emphasized the urgency and importance of unity and working together at this point in our history to address the major challenges the people of Sint Maarten are confronted with.

Based on the consultations the Governor requested Mr. Meyers to form an interim government supported by as broad a majority in Parliament as possible to foster political stability.

A government that consists of ministers who are committed to the promotion of the well-being of the people of Sint Maarten and who are dedicated to the reconstruction of Sint Maarten.  

In addition, the Governor requested the formateur to form an interim government that dedicates itself to take immediate action to conclude the development of a recovery plan,  to reach agreement with the Netherlands on the financing of the recovery plan, to cooperate with the social partners in rebuilding Sint Maarten, to revisit the budget for 2018, to develop a plan to strengthen security, to execute the agreement with the Netherlands on border control, to implement the law on the integrity chamber in accordance with the protocol with the Netherlands, to the execution of the elections and to take steps to realize electoral reform.

The Governor further emphasized the importance of the strict observance of the regulatory requirements including the screening criteria, applicable to the appointment for candidate-ministers.

The formateur took the commission into consideration and will inform the Governor regularly during the formation process. The Governor requested Mr. Meyers to present him the final report of the formation process ultimately December 4, 2017.

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MP Wescot Requests from Government all Documents related to Integrity Chamber Law and Border Control

PHILIPSBURG - The President of Parliament and Member of Parliament (MP), Sarah Wescot-Williams has requested the Government of St. Maarten to submit to the Parliament the draft Integrity Chamber ordinance and all documentation pertaining to this matter as well as the documentation pertaining to the agreement on border control.

These two subjects are at the center of the dispute between the Government of St. Maarten and the Dutch Government as far as aid from the Kingdom of the Netherlands is concerned.

The documents are necessary for the Parliament to follow up on its motions regarding the integrity chamber and border control. The President of Parliament has placed the motions on the agenda of parliament for Tuesday, November 7th, with the expectation that the draft ordinance along with the advice of the Council of Advice and government’s comments will be presented to Parliament to be handled post haste.

If, as the government has alleged, these matters are already finalized, then nothing stands in the way of Parliament’s handling and subsequent approval.

In its motions, the Parliament of St. Maarten has taken a clear stand on the matters of the integrity chamber and border control, as the stated conditions for the reconstruction aid from the Kingdom government.

The draft integrity chamber law (ordinance) has to follow the legal procedures of any law, including advising by the Council of Advice. This advice must be accompanied by government’s comments and reaction to the Council’s advice.

While the border control agreement is the justice minister’s prerogative and the parliament has already instructed the minister to comply with parliament’s motion on this, the integrity chamber must be formalized in a law of Parliament.

While hypothetically, an initiative from Parliament can also accomplish legislation, such also has to be submitted to the council of Advice and reacted upon.

Hence the call to Government to speed up the process and by doing so, take away at least this hurdle standing in the way of the much needed aid for St. Maarten.

Tuesday’s meeting is a central committee meeting, a necessary part of the legislative trajectory, but the law can only be voted upon in a public meeting of Parliament.

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