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Port St. Maarten files notice of Complaint to the Court of First Instance

PORT ST. MAARTEN – On Friday, February 15, 2019, Port Sint Maarten filed a notice of complaint to the Gemeenschappelijk Hof van Justitie against the Public Prosecutor’s refusal to prosecute the American dredging company Devcon. 

The Port’s request for such prosecution concerns the Emerald investigation, in which Devcon turned out to presumably have secretly and illegally raised invoices to a total amount of more than US$ 3 mln. 

The invoices refer to dredging activities in the Port during the years 2012-2016. The Port wishes to reclaim these amounts of money, as they were paid without any legal basis which the Port found out recently. 

As a victim of a possible crime, the Port has the right to request for prosecution and to formally complain against the refusal of such prosecution.

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NA Board: Straight Forward with NA. Party Congress set for March 17

SINT MAARTEN (CAY HILL) - The Board of the National Alliance (NA) is pleased to announce that it will be hosting its annual general membership meeting commonly referred to as the Party Congress this year. This meeting according to the constitution of the party must be held at the latest in the month of June of every year. “We are all excited to announce that it will be held on Sunday, March 17th, 2019 at the Belair Community Center from 4.00pm until 7.00pm.

“During this Party Congress board members will be elected for a period of two years. The leader and the deputy leader, who are also members of the board, were elected for a period of two years during a Special General Membership Meeting that was held in December of 2017. 

“Therefore, their positions will not be up for election during this Congress. Our members will also have the opportunity to question the direction of the party and to make recommendations for the further growth of this organization to take this country to the next level.  

“A great American president once said; "Ask not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country." Therefore, we believe that our theme “Building our nation, it starts with me” is very fitting for this occasion, says the leader of the NA Ms. Silveria Jacobs. 

“Each resident must be prepared to contribute towards the further development of this nation and more so since the devastation of hurricanes Irma and Maria in 2017 of this island nation which caused many of us still to be roofless and jobless.

“We are hereby inviting all our members to join us as we come together at this 16th Annual Party Congress of the National Alliance on Sunday, March 17th, 2019 at the BelAir Community Center in Cay Hill from 4.00pm to 7.00pm,” the NA Board said on Monday in a statement.

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Happy Bookers Celebrating 10 Years

SINT MAARTEN (PHILIPSBURG) - Ten years ago, an ad appeared in the Daily Herald and the Happy Bookers Book Club was founded and started in February 2009, the Happy Bookers stated in a press release on Monday. 

“The Happy Bookers comprise of members both male and females from both sides of the island at varying ages and stages in their lives. New parents, young professionals, retirees and expats. They meet every second Wednesday of the month.

“In celebration of their 10th Anniversary the ‘Bookers’ will be hosting a Fundraising breakfast on February 23rdat the Philipsburg Jubilee Library in Philipsburg. The cost isor NAFLS 18, USD 10 or Euro 10 for a tasty Caribbean breakfast consisting of Johnny cakes, saltfish, eggs, fruit and the best bush tea. 

“The proceeds from the breakfast willgo towards lending a helping hand to the libraries on both sides of the island, The Philipsburg Jubilee Library and the Le Médiatèque, these were both destroyed by Irma in 2017. 

“We will be purchasing and donating much needed books for both Libraries, so that school children and teens can use the mini libraries while waiting on the return of the main libraries. 

“On Saturday February 9th, the ‘Bookers’ presented to the Rotary Club of St. Martin Sunseta donation of reading books. The donation was made towards the Little Free Library which is located on the Waterfront in Marigot. 

“A donation of reading books was also made to the St. Maarten Yacht Club in Simpson Bay, for their lending library.For more information on ‘The Happy Bookers’ or the fundraising breakfast please contact1-721-520-1899 or 011-590-690-55 54 60.”

SUNSET DONATION

Book donation to The Little Free Library.

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Airport Chief Mingo: Future of PJIAE and its 270 workers in the hands of ALL Stakeholders

SINT MAARTEN (SIMPSON BAY-AIRPORT) - Chief Executive Officer (PJIAE). Mr. Brian Mingo, says the immediate and combined effort of all Stakeholders and interested parties is urgently needed to pull St. Maarten’s premier port of entry, the Princess Juliana International Airport (PJIAE) out of its poor financial state so that the facility can lead a booming recovery of the island.

For the second consecutive month, PJIAE is finding itself having to juggle cash and says it is being forced to meet liquidity challenges head-on.

Now with the end of the February month fast approaching, the recently appointed CEO is building a financial recovery strategy that he says will require buy-in from all Stakeholders so that PJIAE can lead the way in a new wave of restoration construction on St. Maarten.

“We will continue to experience cash shortfalls unless we take action now. St. Maarten is still reporting just over 60% recovery of its hospitality inventory consisting of the main hotels, restaurants, property rentals etc,” said Mr. Mingo.

He said investors cautiously adopted a “Wait & See” attitude as they wait for the economy to pick up again, and most will not expose their capital until they see some strong activity, in areas of the economy such as our airport.

“PJIAE stands ready to be the catalyst for these investors to give them the confidence they need to invest in St. Maarten again. Once the Airport is up and running and the Airlines will further step up their schedules to the island once again, we can really say “we’re really back in business”,” said the CEO. 

Mr. Mingo says Management and staff at PJIAE have done an amazing job with very little resources and are once again utilizing one-third of the Airport Terminal Building, much to the appreciation of travelling passengers. Mr. Mingo notes however, that these passengers are under the misapprehension that the Airport reconstruction is actually under way and get frustrated and angry at the lack of progress.

“What people do not realize that the main reconstruction phase has not started yet,” said Mr. Mingo.

“We have spent millions of dollars cleaning up, making the environment safe, making  the facility useable and as comfortable for passengers as much as possible and we have also spent a massive $14Million securing the roof alone,” explained the PJIAE chief.

“What we need immediately is a $15 Million bridge loan that has been allocated by the Netherlands, so that we can meet our immediate liquidity needs and support the cash shortfall, and then a final decision on financing to that. The works can then begin on the reconstruction plans within three weeks and start of construction by July this year.

“If all goes as planned and urgent action is taken now, we will be celebrating the re-opening of our reconstructed airport terminal by Christmas 2020,” said Mr. Mingo.

Mr. Mingo will send a report to the Supervisory Board PJIAE this week, outlining his plans and will promote the urgency for the much needed airport financing.

One source of funding Mr. Mingo is ready to accept, with government and board approval, is a $100 Million soft loan for the World Bank (WB) and the European Investment Bank (EIB).

Mr. Mingo says government has been most supportive of the Airport’s struggles up to now, recognizing particular support and interest from the Prime Minister, Hon. Mrs. Leona Romeo-Marlin, Minister of Finance, Hon. Mr. Perry Geerlings and Ministers of TEATT, with his Ministry’s responsibility for PJIAE, Hon. Mr. Stuart Johnson.

“I thank government for their input and help so far, but it is not our government alone, the Netherlands, Parliament, the Shareholder Representative, the Supervisory and Management Boards and the personnel. We also need to come together, to be on the same page, to remain focussed and head in the same direction to fuel the growth of St. Maarten through our no#1 port of entry,” said Mr. Mingo.

Mr. Mingo says anything other than the signing of agreements to put the airport back on a sound financial footing should be viewed as “unnecessary noise and distractions” that serve no good purpose, except to hold back development and further risk the future our airport and the livelihoods of the 270 employees, the families they support and the host of businesses and operations that all depend on the airport operations for their living.

Mr. Mingo is hopeful he can take the comprehensive recovery plan and his message to government himself along with the support of his Supervisory Board and is ready to secure funding for the airport without further delay.

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CBCS: Curaçao and Sint Maarten economies contracted

SINT MAARTEN/CURACAO – Both economies in the monetary union of Curaçao and Sint Maarten contracted during the third quarter of 2018, the Central Bank of Curaçao and Sint Maarten (CBCS) stated in its latest Quarterly Bulletin. 

Real GDP fell in Curaçao by 1.7%, while Sint Maarten’s real GDP shrank by 4.7%. Furthermore, inflation accelerated in both countries. In Curaçao, inflation edged up to 3.1% in the third quarter of 2018 from 1.1% in the third quarter of 2017 driven mainly by higher international oil prices. Sint Maarten’s inflation is estimated to have risen also as a result of higher prices of consumer goods, construction materials, and insurance premiums. 

In Curaçao, the manufacturing, construction, wholesale & retail trade, and transport, storage, & communication sectors were primarily responsible for the country’s economic contraction. Real output dropped significantly in the manufacturing sector due to a lower production level of the Isla refinery, owing mainly to the limited supply of crude oil from Venezuela and disruptions in the steam delivery by the CRU plant. 

Construction activities shrank as several large projects were completed or reached their final stages. Meanwhile, the decline in the wholesale & retail trade sector was caused by lower domestic demand and fewer free-zone activities, moderated by increased tourism spending. The transport, storage, & communication sector reported a contraction because activities dropped at both the airport and the harbor. 

The negative outcome at the airport reflected a decline in the number of passengers handled and the number of commercial landings. Meanwhile, the poor performance of the harbor was the result of a marked decline in the number of tankers that visited the port of Willemstad because of the lower production at the refinery. 

By contrast, the number of cruise ships and freighters piloted into the port and the number of container movements rose. The utilities sector also recorded a slight contraction on the back of lower electricity production, mitigated by an increase in water production. 

By contrast, activities in the restaurants & hotels and financial intermediation sectors developed positively in the third quarter of 2018. The buoyant performance of the restaurants & hotels sector was the result of a strong increase in the number of stay-over and cruise tourists. 

Also, the number of visitor nights and the occupancy rate rose. Meanwhile, growth in the financial intermediation sector stemmed from the international financial services sector only, which recorded higher wages & salaries and other operational expenses. However, domestic financial services recorded zero-growth as net interest income remained unchanged. 

In Sint Maarten, the restaurants & hotels, wholesale & retail trade, real estate, renting, & business activities, and transport, storage & communication sectors were behind the economic contraction. Real value added dropped considerably in the restaurants & hotels sector due to a sharp decline in stay-over tourism across all source markets mainly because of Hurricane Irma’s damage to much of the country’s tourism infrastructure, including major hotels and the terminal building of the Princess Juliana International Airport. 

By contrast, cruise tourism recorded robust growth reflecting some loyal cruise lines returning to Sint Maarten, the quick and effective recovery of the A C Wathey Cruise and Cargo Facilities, and the reopening of cruise tourism-related attractions and activities. Activities in the wholesale & retail trade sector contracted because of the decline in private consumption and lower tourism spending. The sharp decline in stay- over tourism also caused the contraction in the real estate, renting, & business activities sector, in particular the timeshare sector. Meanwhile, the negative outcome in the transport, storage & communication sector was the result of a decline in airport-related activities moderated by more activities in the harbor. 

By contrast, real value added rose in the construction, financial intermediation, utilities, and manufacturing sectors. Growth in the construction sector stemmed from ongoing repair and reconstruction activities, while the expansion in the financial intermediation sector reflected an increase in net interest income and fees & other income earned by the banking sector. 

Output went up in the utilities sector driven by an increase in water production moderated by lower electricity production. Meanwhile, growth in the manufacturing sector was the result of more repair activities on yachts, consistent with the return of yachts following the restoration of marinas and related businesses in and around the Simpson Bay Lagoon. 

On the fiscal front, developments in Curaçao were characterized by a widening of the deficit on the current budget during the third quarter of 2018 compared to the third quarter of 2017, as the decline in revenues exceeded the drop-in expenditures. 

These developments were partially related to the exclusion of the income and expenditures of the social security bank, SVB, from the current budget. Consequently, nontax revenues fell, while transfers & subsidies and “other expenditures” dropped. Furthermore, a decline in tax proceeds in all categories contributed to the drop-in government revenues as the compliance efforts of the government did not achieve the expected results. 

Meanwhile, the government of Sint Maarten posted a lower deficit on the current budget of the third quarter of 2018 compared to the third quarter of 2017. The improvement in the fiscal situation was the result of an increase in government revenues, moderated by higher expenditures. 

The rise in government revenues reflected largely the resumption of government operations, including tax collection, after most of these came to a halt following Hurricane Irma in September 2017. As a result, tax revenues and income from concessions & fees rose. Meanwhile, the growth in expenditures was driven by more spending on social security, interest expenses, and goods & services. 

The complete text of the Bank’s third quarter 2018 Quarterly Bulletin can be viewed on the CBCS website at www.centralbank.cw under the Publications & Research section.

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Nature Foundation St. Maarten cleans up Belair Beach with Tourists and Volunteers

SINT MAARTEN (COLE BAY) - The Nature Foundation organized a beach clean-up session with visitors and volunteers in order to clean-up Belair beach. A group of about fifteen tourists, which came to St Maarten to enjoy the island, decided to give back to our environment and spent a morning cleaning up the beach. 

The group was very motivated and collected 450 pounds of trash, including many single-use plastics such as plastic bottles, straws, cups, bags, and also cans, glass bottles, hurricane debris and other garbage items were found. 

The tourists and volunteers also learned about the serious negative impacts of single-use plastics on marine life and the environment and how they can reduce their own plastic output by using reusable and biodegradable products. 

Each participant was given a reusable bag and gloves provided by the Nature Foundation. The reusable bags were filled with garbage and single-use plastics, all bags were weighed in order to have a record of the number of waste that was collected, using the Trash Tracker method of 4Ocean.  

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Electoral Council Moves. Several parties removed from register of references

SINT MAARTEN (PHILIPSBURG) - The Electoral Council recently moved to its new offices on Charles Voges Street 7 in Philipsburg. In the past year, the Electoral Council has made several decisions that were published in the National Gazette.

By virtue of Article 22 of the National Ordinance on Registration and Finances of Political Parties, the Electoral Council is required to delete the registered reference to be placed above the list of candidates of a political party if the party failed to submit a list of candidates for the last parliamentary election. 

The United People’s Party Association,The Democratic Party of Sint Maartenand the One St. Maarten People Party,which have been registered with the Electoral Council, did not participate in the 2018 parliamentary elections.

Consequently, by Decision No. 2/2018, Decision No. 3/2018 and Decision No. 4/2018, respectively, the Electoral Council has deleted the reference UPof the political party The United People’s Party Association, the reference DPof the political party The Democratic Party of Sint Maarten and the reference O.S.P.P. of the political partyOne St. Maarten People Party, from the register of references. 

In accordance with Article 22, of the National Ordinance on Registration and Finances of Political Parties, the Electoral Council decides to cancel registration of a political party upon its request. Two political parties requested to cancel the registration of their respective parties due to inactivity of the political parties. Subsequently, the registration of the political parties Helping Our People Excel Association andMillennial Advancement Partyhave been cancelled by Decision No. 1/2018 and Decision No. 1/2019, respectively.

Based on Article 25 of the National Ordinance on Registration and Finances of Political Parties, an interested party may file an appeal against these Decisions with the Court in First Instance no later than the sixth day following the date of publication of these Decisions in the National Gazette.

All involved political parties have been informed of the aforementioned by the Electoral Council Decisions.

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Geerlings update Cft on reforms at tax Dept. and the Dept. of Public Finance

SINT MAARTEN (POND ISLAND) - Minister of Finance the Honourable Perry Geerlings informed the Committee for Financial Supervision Cft that his ministry is in the final stages of preparing the trajectory for improved financial management and tax reform.

Geerlings held discussions with the visiting College of Financial Supervision Cft who were on the island for meetings between February 11 and 13. He gave the Cft updates on the Finance Ministry's plans and the necessary steps that will be taken in connection with the reform of the Tax Department and the Public Finance Department when he met with them on Monday, February 11, at the Government Administration Building in Philipsburg.

The urgent need to improve Financial Management within Government and improve the functioning of the Tax Department is consistent with Minister Geerlings’ Financial Recovery Plan post-Irma, which aligns with the Governing Program for the St. Maarten United Christian Democratic Coalition, entitled "Building a Sustainable St. Maarten." 

During the meeting, the Minister provided updates on the work being done behind the scenes to improve financial accountability and outlined his Ministry's plans of approach as it transitions from planning and preparation to the next phase, which is implementation. “The CFT is one hundred per cent in support of our plans and the approach we intend to take for these reforms and to improve the Public Financing for Country St. Maarten. The Cft has also pledged to provide assistance wherever necessary to ensure that these two critical financial, operational improvement projects reach fruition at the earliest possible time,” said Geerlings. 

He said the objective is to move Country St. Maarten to a status where it no longer needs to rely on financial assistance from third parties. To achieve this objective, Geerlings says, “Reform is urgently necessary.” 

The Cft and Finance Minister also discussed other financial matters as it relates to Country St. Maarten including the status of affairs regarding the 2015 Instruction. That instruction includes the need for the Government to improve its financial management, reduce the country’s debt and to finalise outstanding payments amongst others. 

The Cft stressed the need for the Government to finalise the financial statements that are still pending from 2013 to 2018. At present, the government has submitted the 2013 and 2014 Financial Statements to Parliament for approval while the Ministry of Finance is preparing the 2015 and 2016 and 2017 financial statements. 

Minister Geerlings said the Cft was also informed that the 2019 Budget would be ready as promised to be submitted to his Excellency Governor Eugene Holiday during this month. That budget is a revised version of the first Draft 2019 Budget which was sent to the Parliament of St. Maarten in 2018 but was recalled after the Cft submitted recommendations for reduction in projected spending amongst other things. The revision of the Draft 2019 Budget was prepared in close collaboration with the Cft to ensure that all changes were mutually acceptable to Government and the Cft.

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Minister Johnson congratulates radio station management, staff and program hosts on World Radio Day

SINT MAARTEN (POND ISLAND) – Minister of Telecommunications Stuart Johnson would like to congratulate the management, staff and producers/hosts of radio programs on World Radio Day 2019, today Wednesday the eighth edition since it was established.

Minister Johnson said that radio is a communication tool that informs and transforms and reaches the masses instantly.

The theme for World Radio Day 2019 is: ‘Dialogue, Tolerance and Peace.’

The day according to UNESCOmarks a time where people around the world celebrate radio and how it shapes our lives. Radio informs, transforms and unites us. It brings together people and communities from all backgrounds to foster positive dialogue for change. More specifically, radio is the perfect medium to counter the appeals for violence and the spread of conflict, especially in regions potentially more exposed to such realities.

“The Sint Maarten community fully understand the power of radio.  During quiet times, we are informed and kept aware of developments taking place around us.

“During the time of natural disaster which we are very much aware of, radio played a key role in the dissemination of information here and abroad. 

“I take this opportunity to commend once again all those in the radio broadcast field for their commitment and dedication to the Sint Maarten community especially before, during and after the passing of a hurricane as was the case with Irma back in September 2017.

“Radio continues to be the mode of freedom of expression during many radio-talk-programs, and of course with that comes respect and tolerance and overcoming differences that may exists.

“Congratulations once again as we celebrate the importance of radio on this day February 13,” Minister of Telecommunications Stuart Johnson said on Wednesday.

February 13 represents the day the United Nations (UN) Radio was founded in 1946 and is now placed under the sign of the World Day of the radio.

The eight edition raises awareness among the general public and the media about the value of radio or to encourage decision-makers to develop access to information through radio, according to the UN. 

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Rotary Club Mid Isle Donates to 84 Staff Members at Royal Islander Club

SINT MAARTEN (MAHO) - The month of December included an early New Year for 84 staff members employed by the Royal Islander Club of Maho, Rotary Mid Isle Club said in a press release on Wednesday.  

“The workers received a personalized bag of useful items including clothing, deodorants, hair dryers, sports coats and other useful and needed items for the staff and their families.

“Nearly 500 pounds of clothing and materials were shipped from Johnstown, Pennsylvania through Miami, Florida to Tony’s Air-conditioning, where they were handled by members of The Rotary Club of St. Maarten-Mid-Isle and Jerry Zahorchak a Rotary member of the Johnstown (PA, USA) Rotary Club.  

“Denise Antrobus, president of Mid-Isle, began discussions between the two clubs almost seven months before the project was completed. Jerry started talking to his friends from Johnstown and his local club members who enthusiastically joined in on preparing for the arrival and distribution of the clothing and materials. 

“Jerry thanked Mid Isle members Vice President Anjali Manek, Jeff Jhangiani, and Special Projects chair Grace Linger for their extra efforts; and of course, without the support of Treasurer Tony Da Cunha the project would not have been as successful as it was.  

“The Rotarians of the Johnstown Rotary Club were grateful for the thoughtfulness and efforts of Rotarians involved in this project. With the help of many Rotarians and many others around the world. St. Maarten is making an impressive recovery.

“Donna Christopher, president of the Johnstown Rotary, offered her State Farm office building as a place to store the items collected by her Club members and Rotaract members from the University of Pittsburgh, Johnstown. 

“Christopher said that soon after reports of the terrible aftermath of the hurricane were making the news, she and Johnstown Rotary Club member, Jerry Zahorchak agreed that they wanted to help somehow,” the Rotary Mid Isle statement said. 

Zahorchak said, “St. Maarten is a second home. I made personal financial donations and I was pleased when the Johnstown Club saw fit to gather clothing and sponsor the costs to ship the materials to Miami.”

Zahorchak thanked members of both Rotary Clubs, Rotaract, Tony’s Air Conditioning and leaders from the Royal Islander administrative team. “The joy on the faces of the recipients and their expressions of gratitude were invaluable and made this joint effort more than worth the effort of everyone involved.”

The Rotary Club of St. Maarten-Mid Isle meets Tuesdays at 7pm at Pineapple Pete in Simpson Bay. For more information please contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or visit their Facebook page Rotary Club of St. Maarten-Mid Isle.

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