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Police Force K-9 Unit travels to Aruba for high-risk deployment training

SINT MAARTEN/ARUBA - The Sint Maarten Police Force (KPSM) management team would like to congratulate Major John Boyrard and his patrol dog Oscar for completing the K9-training seminar from April 1st- 4th2019, police announced on Tuesday. 

The "high risk deployment" K9-training seminar was held on Aruba. Major Boyrard trained together with fellow K9-officers from Aruba, The Netherlands and even a K-9 Unit all the way from Australia.

Boyrard and Oscar dealt with very difficult and risky scenarios, like climbing a building, search a sea ship, area- and building-searches and high-risk car-stops. Besides that, they supported the Aruba "bijzonder ondersteuningsteam" (BOT) during scenarios with dangerous prison inmates and followed a lecture by Aruba's veterinarian Drs. Natalie Booi. The lecture was in regard to preventing heat strokes and other climate-related dangers when it comes to taking care of the K9 dogs. 

Boyrard and Oscar performed on an extremely high level of control, courage and obedience during all scenarios and represented KPSM very well. The management team at KPSM would like to commend him and Oscar on a job well done, representing the Sint Maarten Police as well as thank Dick Van Lenen for the warm hospitality while officer Boyrard and Oscar completed the seminar in Aruba. (Sint Maarten Police Force)

police training K 9 Aruba 2019 ins2

police training K 9 Aruba ins1

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Justice Minister De Weever says international community leaving no stone unturned to fight terrorism finances

SINT MAARTEN (POND ISLAND) – The United Nations (UN) Security Council recently adopted Resolution 2462 on Countering the Financing of Terrorism which is seen as a landmark step in suppressing the funding of terror groups worldwide.

The UN Office of Counter-Terrorism (UNOCT) says that terror groups continue to have access to both legal and illegal sources of funding, and therefore underscores the necessity for strong collaboration and targeted efforts in order to achieve concrete results in the fight against terrorism and terrorist financing.  

Minister of Justice Cornelius de Weever on Friday said that Sint Maarten is also in the process of doing its part with three pieces of legislation including the National Ordinance to Combat Money Laundering and Terrorism Financing that is awaiting parliamentary approval. 

“Sint Maarten as a country has a responsibility to comply with international obligations that includes the aforementioned.  We have to comply with 40 Financial Action Task Force (FATF) recommendations and I am looking forward to the House of Parliament passing the three ordinances or amendments thereof.

“Sint Maarten as a country within the Kingdom of the Netherlands is part of a larger community that must be in sync with global trends and developments, and the most recent UN Security Council Resolution calls on nations to do more in the fight against terrorism,” Minister of Justice Cornelius de Weever said on Friday.

The Security Council Resolution calls for the UNOCT which was established in 2017, to strengthen the Organization’s ability to implement the global counter terrorism strategy; to play a leading role in identifying ways to suppress terrorist financing. 

A priority for the UNOCT is for it to work closely with the FATF, the inter-governmental body which sets standards for combating money laundering, terrorist financing and other related threats to the integrity of the international finance system; and regional regulators.

The President of the FATF briefed the UN Security Council stating that, currently two-thirds of States are not effectively prosecuting terrorist financing, which extends well beyond the banking and financing sectors, to include construction, drug trafficking and even the used car trade.

The head of the FATF also reportedly said that the fight against terrorism, terrorist financing and money-laundering, must not adversely affect financial inclusion initiatives, that enable access to banking services.   

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REGISTER BEFORE APRIL 11 AND VOTE IN THE EU ELECTIONS

GREAT BAY, (DCOMM) – From May 26 until May 29, Europeans elect a new European Parliament. Although the European Union (EU) might seem far away, the EU is important for Sint Maarten, the Cabinet of the Minister Plenipotentiary said on Thursday. 

With Brexit around the corner, these elections will prove to be very important for those territories associated with the EU. Every Dutch national living in Sint Maarten is eligible to vote but needs to register before April 11.

In the lead up to the elections, the Cabinet of the Minister Plenipotentiary aims to organize an event on the European elections. Preparations, in collaboration with ‘het Huis van Europa’ in The Hague are currently underway. 

In 2014, only 178 Dutch nationals living in St. Maarten registered to vote. Minister Plenipotentiary Jorien Wuite expresses hope that more Sint Maarteners will register this time around. 

“Every vote counts. The people of Sint Maarten have the opportunity to vote and I hope they do register, as these elections will prove to be very important.”

Adults holding the Dutch nationality are eligible to vote, but they have to register with the municipality of The Hague before April 11. 

A registration form can be filled out at: https://www.denhaag.nl/nl/bestuur-en-organisatie/verkiezingen/kiezers-buiten-nederland/stemmen-voor-inwoners-van-sint-maarten-aruba-of-curacao.htm and can be sent in by email or post.  

Sint Maarten holds the status of OCT (Overseas Countries and Territories), as do the other Caribbean countries and special municipalities within the Kingdom of the Netherlands. 

OCTs enjoy a special relationship with the EU. This means for example that Sint Maarten can benefit from special trade agreements and from funds from the European Development Fund (EDF). This amounts to around 1.5 million euro on a yearly basis. 

The upcoming European Parliamentary elections are very important for the OCTs. The United Kingdom will leave the EU, which means that twelve out of twenty-five OCTs, among which are Anguilla and the British Virgin Islands will no longer be part of the association with the EU. 

For the remaining OCTs, it is of crucial importance that the new members of European Parliament are aware of the position of the OCTs, and of their historical and special relationship with the EU. 

This will become even more relevant in the upcoming period, as the European Parliament will vote on regulations on financial support for the OCTs. 

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Governor Holiday administers oath to Jules James

SINT MAARTEN (HARBOUR VIEW) - On Monday April 3, 2019, the Governor of Sint Maarten, His Excellency drs. E. B. Holiday, administered the oath of office to Jules James, who will be deputizing as Member of Parliament (MP), the Governor’s Cabinet said in a press statement on Wednesday evening. 

“Governor Holiday underscored the importance of working together to foster the wellbeing of the people of Sint Maarten and wished Mr. James strength and wisdom in the fulfillment of his responsibilities,” the Governor’s Cabinet statement concludes.

Jules James ran as a candidate in the February 2018 parliamentary elections on the United Democrats (UD) party slate.  With the swearing in ceremony on Wednesday, James returns to the House of Parliament after having served as an MP for a number of years.

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The CCSU meets with MP Tamara Leonard on Pregnancy leave

SINT MAARTEN (GREAT BAY) - On Friday March 22nd, 2019, the Committee of Civil Servants Unions (CCSU) met with the Member of Parliament Ms. Tamara Leonard to discuss her proposed amendments to the rules on maternity and paternity leave. 

This proposal was first submitted to the Minister of Health Care, Social Development and Labor in 2017. Unfortunately to date, there has been no meeting called to discuss this proposal in Parliament. 

The adoption of this proposal would increase maternity leave to 18 weeks and introduce a paternity leave of two weeks. Currently civil servants are entitled to a maternity leave of 12 weeks while fathers are entitled to two days. 

The WITU expressed their content with the fact that some Members of Parliament recognize the importance of equality within the Kingdom on the matter of pregnancy leave for both the mother and the father. It is for this reason that the WITU could support a proposal to have pregnancy leave increased for civil servants.

The WICSU-PSU thanked the Member of Parliament for taking the time to meet with the CCSU and present her proposal on pregnancy leave, especially considering that currently, parliamentary meetings are being held on the Budget of 2019. 

The WICSU-PSU also commended Ms. Leonard on her proposal as a few years’ prior, WICSU-PSU published an article challenging the current policies on paternity leave. 

The WICSU-PSU went on to say that they would like to see the proposal expanded on to address for example additional courtesies for parents of premature babies. 

The WICSU-PSU joined with the WITU in giving their support for the proposal of Ms. Leonard to which the Members concluded the meeting with a discussion on the options available to the CCSU and a possible way forward.

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COCI offers three businesses opportunity to attend SeatradeCruiseGlobal Conference

SINT MAARTEN (PHILIPSBURG) – The St. Maarten Chamber of Commerce & Industry (COCI) have selected three winners from its ‘Business Pitch to Seatrade’ to attend the upcoming SeatradeCruiseGlobal Conference that will take place from April 8-11 at the Miami Beach Convention Center bringing together approximately 11,000 professionals.

The Executive Board and COCI Operations representatives were the judges who selected the overall winner which is Cocomoods Concepts of Crystal Coombs.  Cocomoods Concepts was created September 1, 2018.

Coco is an upbeat temp girl who loves to travel the world and experience different cultures.  Just like anyone else, she experiences different types of moods.  She wants to demonstrate her creative lifestyle through fashion, culture and her hair.  Moods gives priority to artwork to help express cultural differences but to evoke a sense of style and set the appropriate mood.

Global Rootz, is related to offering products that cut across every culture of the world. Cocomoods Concepts makes a variety of art products that remind you of your native country and represent your rootz in style.

VooDoo Entertainment, headed by General Manager Paula Daal-Dono, established since 2008, came in first place, and provides all forms of entertainment for events including dance shows, bands, DJ’s, fire shows and specialty shows.  

VooDoo Entertainment in the post-Irma era is currently focused on doing shows for cruise passengers. They also do shows for restaurants and casinos.  

The second-place winner is Yoda Guy Movie Museum Foundation headed by Director Nick Maley. Maley, a veteran movie maker with over 60 featured films to his credit, is widely known as the ‘Yoda Guy’ for his work creating Yoda for the Classic Star Wars Trilogy.  

Maley and his wife established the Yoda Guy Movie Museum in 2011, in order to preserve the history of classic movies, and spotlighting the work of innovators in the film industry. They market the museum onboard cruise ships and offer shore excursions of their Yoda Guy Movie Exhibit.    

President of the COCI Supervisory Board Benjamin Ortega, said that the three businesses will have the opportunity to join Team Sint Maarten and represent the country at the Conference, adding that, it is an occasion to stimulate and promote their business, the island and cruise tourism.

Ortega said the selection process wasn’t easy, and it was decided to give it to three businesses instead of one.  COCI Executive Director Anastacio Baker said the products that the businesses offer is good, and the presentations were excellent.

“With 40-years of Chamber history behind us, the new board has embarked upon the initiative of ‘inclusion.’  As business owners, we need to differentiate by bringing in our own creativity.  

“All three entities that were selected have their own uniqueness and standout when showcasing their products. I would like to thank you for your participation, and we were inspired by your stories,” Ortega said on Friday when announcing the winners of ‘Business Pitch to Seatrade.’

SeatradeCruiseGlobal is the cruise industry’s most significant worldwide event that presents the opportunity to promote the island and the business community.  

The ‘Business Pitch to Seatrade’ was part of the Supervisory Board and Executive Director initiative in giving back to the business community and to stimulate business activity and innovation in a challenging economic environment post-Irma/Maria.

In order to be selected for the aforementioned, locally registered business had to pitch themselves in order to qualify.  The campaign was open to all registrants in the Chamber register.

The overall winning business will receive a round-trip ticket to Miami, hotel accommodations, and a daily allowance and SeatradeCruiseGlobal conference pass. The first and second place winners will receive round-trip tickets and an entry pass to the conference while the first-place winner receives in addition hotel accommodations and a daily allowance. 

The Chamber registrant had to submit a 90 second or less video why this business/entity should be chosen and how this opportunity would benefit their organization.

The registrant had to also submit a one-page biography of their business/organization (history, type of business, current situation and future plans for the business); and include contact information of the owner.

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Nature Foundation Plants First Coral Fragments from Coral Nursery in Marine Park

SINT MAARTEN (COLE BAY) - The Sint Maarten Nature Foundation has started the process of out planting the first fragments of coral on reefs within the Man of War Shoal Marine Protected Area as part of its ‘Fragments of Recovery, Coral Reef Restoration Program. 

The project was launched with the assistance of the Coral Restoration Foundation, NOAA, the Coral Reef Restoration Consortium and the Dutch Caribbean Nature Alliance after some 80% of some species of coral and most of the previous coral nurseries were damaged or destroyed by Hurricanes Irma and Maria. 

“The first Staghorn and Elkhorn corals have been transplanted unto reefs within the Marine Park from our coral nursery station close to Simpson Bay.  We planted back both species of coral and will be monitoring them for a while to see how they perform,” commented Nature Foundation Projects Officer Melanie Meijer zu Schlochtern.  

“Now that we are in a phase where we are further along in our recovery we have started to ramp up our coral restoration program to restore some of the damage to our coral reefs caused not only by the Hurricanes but by the issues the island has been facing over the last few decades in terms of unrestrained coastal development and improperly managed waste-water. 

“We received tremendous help from the community after the Hurricane as well as from the Coral Restoration Foundation, the US National and Oceanographic and Atmospheric Association (NOAA), the Dutch Caribbean Nature Alliance and the Coral Reef Restoration Consortium to get our project going again. 

“We will continue to plant coral in the Marine Park from our nursery when they are healthy enough to help restore the reefs that were severely impacted. We estimate that we lost about80% of our coral combined,” commented Tadzio Bervoets, Nature Foundation Manager.

The Nature Foundation also received support and expert assistance from Jamaican Coral Restoration Expert Michelle McNaught during the initial stages of populating the fragments.

NATURE CORAL SAT3003 INS1

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Minister Johnson: MSMEs are the foundation of the national economy

SINT MAARTEN (POND ISLAND) – CIBC FirstCaribbean organized its ‘First in Business’ Seminar where 80 businesses took part.

Minister of Tourism & Economic Affairs Stuart Johnson commends CIBC FirstCaribbean for its First in Business seminar initiative and looks forward to additional seminars in the future for the country’s business sector.

CIBC FirstCaribbean pointed out in a statement that Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSME) sector is one of the primary drivers of economic growth and employment in a country.  

The majority of Sint Maarten businesses comprises of approximately 85 per cent MSMEs.

CIBC FirstCaribbean said that the reason for hosting the forum is the necessity to provide important information that can assist in facilitating an improvement in the performance and management of a business.

“MSMEs are generally acknowledged to make a meaningful contribution to the economic development of our country through performance in growth, income, employment generation and innovation.

“They are the foundation of the economy of our country, a key engine of growth, and must be on the ball where innovation and service are concerned as we are a service-based tourist economy.

“Local business organizations have to upgrade, enhance productivity where necessary, innovate and transform in order to continue to grow based on capacities and capabilities. 

“The First in Business seminar can help local businesses deepen their capabilities and develop their innovative capacities improving quality and becoming a business of excellence,” Minister of Tourism & Economic Affairs Stuart Johnson said on Thursday.

The First in Business seminar provided business attendees with the opportunity to network and gain expertise in Law, Finance, Insurance and Accounting.

MSMEs have the potential to make a long-lasting positive impact on global development needs, as the engine for economic growth and job creation, which is estimated to account for two out of three net new jobs created worldwide.

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Nature Foundation Calls on Volunteers for Sea Turtle Nesting Patrols

SINT MAARTEN (COLE BAY) - The Nature Foundation St Maarten is looking for enthusiastic volunteers to patrol beaches for signs of sea turtle nesting. These precious sea creatures usually come ashore to lay their eggs during the nesting season that runs from April through November each year. 

Sea turtle population numbers have declined due to human impact, bringing many sea turtle species close to extinction and causing them to be listed as critically endangered. Few of the negative effects on Sea Turtles on St Maarten are caused by artificial lighting from businesses or street lights close to the beach, boat strikes, vibration from cars driving over our beaches, climate change and beach development. 

Sea turtle species are protected by international laws and treaties as well as local laws. The Foundation conducts various activities that involve nesting monitoring, nest excavations, beach surveys, tagging activities and nest success research. 

Due to the lack of capacity the help of volunteers is needed in order to locate sea turtle nests and patrol beaches for signs of nesting. “We are looking for volunteers which are able to commit for the entire nesting season from April until November of 2019 and which are able to patrol a certain beach a few times per week, preferable early in the mornings. 

“We will organize a little workshop for interested volunteers, to learn about sea turtle nesting, nesting signs and reporting, which will be hold in April 2019,” explained Nature Foundation’s Projects Coordinator Melanie Meijer zu Schlochtern.   

Interested persons which meet the requirements can send an email and their WhatsApp number to Melanie, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

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Minister Lee: Too many residents cannot access health insurance with current system

SINT MAARTEN (POND ISLAND) - During the council of Ministers’ press briefing of Wednesday March 27th, Minister Lee outlined several examples of groups of persons who fall in between the cracks of the current health insurance system, facing challenges in accessing health insurance. 

These groups include sole proprietors, persons working less than 5 days, persons earning above the ZV wage limit, persons who are under insured via private insurance, persons who do not qualify for private insurance based on age or pre-existing conditions etc. At present, persons who cannot access health insurance become reliant on the Government. “This might not show up on our ledgers as a health care expense, but it shows up in Government's expenditures over all.” 

It may seem as though private health insurance is always an alternative, however it is a fact that the policies of many of private insurance companies expire by a particular age, which is roughly around the time of retirement. This is also the time that people start to make more use of health insurance based on their medical condition. 

As we age, the wear and tear on our bodies causes us to need more medical interventions. Once the elderly person no longer has Health insurance for any reason and medical problems develop, more often than not they come to Government for assistance. Based on Humanitarian treaties, it is an obligation of Government to offer this assistance.

According to Minister Lee, with General Health Insurance a lot of this financial burden to Government and residents can be alleviated. The idea behind it being that everybody pays his or her fair contribution. Everyone gets access to affordable medical insurance, and quality medical care. This we believe is a basic human right. Minister Lee made clear that: “General Health Insurance, it is not free. Everyone has a right. Everyone has to pay. Everyone who has an income will contribute his or her fair share. Everyone registered census will be entitled.”

 “The healthy working class does not easily talk or think about health insurance. In general, insurance is not a sexy topic within the community. Until something happens, you find out what the financial consequences are of not having insurance. We need to learn from our mistakes and improve on how we approach the topic of insurance. 

Take hurricane season for example, we have been through Irma and still feel the financial consequences of being not insured or under insured for our homes and valuables. Will we do better or forget about it over time? As a community we as a “social” country are responsible for ensuring that their sufficient taxes to cover Government expenditures. Which ultimately translates into us as a community paying. So, let's manage it properly!” – Minister Lee, VSA

The current laws mandating the health insurance system are outdated. The economic climate of Sint Maarten has changed, demographics of our people have changed and with that, the medical needs and costs. These changes force a shift in the way Government manages health care costs while ensuring access to quality health care for its residents. The draft GHI legislation which will be presented to Parliament will include that the current groups of people that are now challenged to access health care because of no medical insurance, these people will be ‘covered’ under GHI.Over the past weeks, the Ministry of VSA has hosted several stakeholder sessions in collaboration with representatives of PAHO on the topic of General Health Insurance implementation for Sint Maarten. Next month, PAHO representatives will return to meet with the Council of Ministers and Members of Parliament to provide them with information and expand their knowledge concerning the general principles of universal health insurance.

“These sessions have been and will continue to be very informative and really a two-way conversation. And a great opportunity for us as a Ministry to get feedback on the needs and to be able to do something with this input. In addition, we are also working on a marketing strategy to help inform the public about the specifics concerning GHI.” - Minister Lee, VSA

Persons who are still interested in engaging in these types of conversations with the Ministry of VSA can contact the Ministry of Cabinet of VSA directly for information. “We as a Ministry are definitely committed to delivering quality health care close to home and as I mentioned in the past it's also important that that health care is affordable and accessible to all. And having proper health insurance is a key part of that.”

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