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Government of Sint Maarten stands in solidarity with the people of Saint Vincent & the Grenadines

SINT MAARTEN (POND ISLAND) - The Government of Sint Maarten made contact with Prime Minister of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Ralph Gonsalves on April 8, 2021, regarding the possible approaching emergency; the eruption of La Soufriere Volcano in Northern Saint Vincent.

Reports at the time mentioned that the Volcano was expected to erupt within the hours or days. For this reason, the Government of St. Maarten has reached out to Prime Minister Gonsalves to show solidarity and offer support if the need arises. During the conversation, Prime Minister Gonsalves conveyed that he had indeed just ordered the evacuation of the red zone as more activity had been noted. Residents are being evacuated to shelters in safe zones and off island via boat to neighboring islands.

Deputy Prime Minister Egbert Doran stated, “It is important that within the region, we maintain relationships and help when one of our brothers and sisters are in need, especially when it’s a natural disaster, which is beyond our control, and unpredictable. This is what being a part of the Caribbean is all about. We hope to find ways to assist Prime Minister Gonsalves and the people of St. Vincent should the need arise.”

Prime Minister Gonsalves expressed gratitude for the contact made and expressed that he would let St. Maarten know of any needed support in the coming days.

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R4CR funds infrastructure of Playground in Middle Region

SINT MAARTEN (MIDDLE REGION) - The construction of a Multi-Functional Recreational Park, situated next to the Sister Marie Laurence Primary School in Middle Region and which forms an extension of this Catholic school, is currently in its final stages of completion.

The last element to be constructed is the playground, which will be located behind the brand-new basketball court and the soon-to-be completed Garden Community Space. The funding for the infrastructure of this long-awaited playground was secured via the Resources for Community Resilience (R4CR).

The R4CR program is a grant scheme that focuses exclusively on financing and strengthening of local Civil Society Organization (CSOs). The program is financed by the Government of the Netherlands via the St. Maarten Trust Fund.

The latter is administered by the World Bank, implemented by the NRPB (National Recovery Program Bureau) and executed by VNGI (the Vereniging van Nederlandse Gemeenten International) in close cooperation with Foresee Foundation-NPOwer and other local partners.

This new Multi-Functional Recreational Park aims to offer immediate uplifting to the district of Middle Region, and it ties directly into the vision of the new Exceptional School – Sister Marie Laurence, a construction project that will be financed with the Trust Fund monies. The new school will be in the form of a true Community School with integrated community facilities, including those facilities of the Recreational Park.

According to the Foundation Catholic Education St. Maarten, “the aim is to engage the entire district of Middle Region and to provide an uplifting experience by enhancing this area on a Social, Educational and Recreational level. The facilities offered in the Multi-Functional Recreational Park are an extension of the school”.

The facilities are offered to the community of Middle Region for their use as well from 5:00 – 10:00 p.m. on school days, and from 7:30 a.m. – 10 p.m. on non-school days. The goal of the various elements of the Recreational Park is to offer something positive, relaxing, and enjoyable for all age-levels.

This playground will offer a safe and adventurous environment for the youngsters to build social, emotional, and cognitive skills. It will allow for exercising and free/creative play which will have a positive effect on their executive functioning, and it will increase their capacity to develop coping skills which will strengthen them and make them more resilient.

“Our youths have really faced much adversity these past 3.5 years, with the passing of hurricane Irma and the emergence of the Covid-19 virus. Offering them a place to enjoy themselves will have so many added benefits for their well-being. The Foundation is very grateful that the R4CR’s support and commitment regarding the construction of this playground”, according to the Foundation.

To further assist with the realization of the playground, contributions in various forms were made by Foundation Catholic Education St. Maarten, the Municipality of Amsterdam, the Rotary Club of Sint Maarten, GEBE N.V., Windward Roads, Caribbean Palms, and Dijtham.

skos Playground infrastructure 1

 

 

 

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A HISTORICAL MOMENT FOR ST. MARTIN’S MOKO JUMBIE CULTURE

SINT MAARTEN (PHILIPSBURG) - The Soualiga Capoeira group were the founders of the Soualiga Mokos Jumbies, a local stilt walking group that existed in early 2000s has donated their costumes to Funtopia Youth Initiative Foundation the founders of the Soualigan Giants Moko Jumbies.

“This is a significant moment for the culture of Moko Jumbies on the island, says President Lucinda Audain. “I see it has passing on the baton for the culture continue to thrive. More collaboration is needed between cultural organizations in order for them to survive these current world changes.”

“While we took great joy in helping to revitalize the Moko Jumbie tradition - with the help of many others - we do recognize good work when we see it and it was far better to donate these costumes (that were used for various shows, during carnival and Xmas parades etc.) to the current generation of Stilt-walkers than to have them sit idly in storage. We’re happy to be able to contribute this knowing that they will be in good hands under great leadership,“says Tyrone Phelipa.

At present the newly renamed Soualigan Giants Moko Jumbie tribe has been active since 2014. The group currently has 35 members and 26 elementary students training in the Unesco after school program.

Funtopia youth initiative hopes to continue spreading the culture and knowledge about the art form and hope to increase their numbers in the hundreds. On April 30, the new members will be on the board walk to put on a cultural display showcasing what they have learnt in the last three months.

For more information, follow Funtopia Youth Initiative Foundation and Soualigan Giants Moko Jumbies on Facebook.

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MP Ottley calls on Sint Maarten to pray for St. Vincent and the Grenadines

SINT MAARTEN (PHILIPSBURG) - La Soufriere volcano in St. Vincent has erupted and displaced thousands of people, which Member of Parliament for the United People's (UP) Party Omar Ottley says, "it’s a sad turn of events for the entire Caribbean."

In a Press Release issued Friday Morning, the MP also said the volcanic eruption and displacement of St. Vincent and the Grenadines people should be "a wakeup call for those who are responsible for making the decision that impacts St. Maarten’s ability to recover."

"As people of the Caribbean, whenever one of our neighbours suffer, we feel their pain because we are all connected by blood and water," said Ottley. He issued a plea to the people of St. Maarten to "keep St. Vincent and the Grenadines in your prayers."

Ottley is also calling on the Nature Foundation on St. Maarten to "pay keen attention to oceanic developments that may result from the volcanic eruption." Studies show that after a volcanic eruption, evaporation decreases over the ocean. This change in sea condition can lead to sea creatures migrating to other areas for haven.

"We will need to count on the expertise of the Nature Foundation and others to advise the government on what effects can be expected here in St. Maarten due to volcanic eruption and how best we can prepare," said MP Ottley. 

Ottley said that at this critical time, organizations like the World Bank that manages the Sint Maarten Recovery, Reconstruction and Resilience Trust Fund, which is financed by The Netherlands, should be paying attention to what the new era of natural disasters are like.

According to MP Ottley, the World Bank, St. Maarten has been waiting since Hurricane Irma's aftermath in 2017 to see tangible signs of recovery. 

"World Bank must be mindful of the supernatural acts such as hurricanes and volcanos that are no longer occurring at regular rates or with normal force." I urge you to see this latest development as yet another sign and make it your priority to rebuild and prepare St. Maarten as we enter a hurricane season that has already been predicted will be above average in the coming months. 

St. Vincent's National Emergency Management Organization, NEMO, announced early on Friday that "La Soufriere experienced an explosive eruption." It released over five (5) miles of ash plum, which could see for miles while they were rushing to waiting ferries to take them off the island. 

"Our lives will forever change, and for us here in St. Maarten, we know only too well what the impact of natural disasters can do to displace people and change lives." 

According to MP Ottley, generations to come will be reminded of the tragic experience for the people of St. Vincent. "We in the Caribbean are just beginning to experience the real effect of the Corona Virus COVID-19 that has devastated global economies. I cannot imagine what life would be for the people of St. Vincent now that they have the added burden of this volcanic eruption," said Ottley.   

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MP Ottley awaiting an update on protection for local contractors

SINT MAARTEN (PHILIPSBURG) - On Thursday April 1st, Member of Parliament for the United People's Party MP Omar Ottley sent a letter to Prime Minister Silveria Jacobs to urgently provide updates on a September 2020 motion that mandated her Government to establish a National Public Procurement Policy.

"We are talking about being able to redistribute the wealth locally, and Government being the largest purchaser of goods and services, can reshape the local market, " said MP Ottley in a press release issued Monday.

MP Ottley says the Executive Branch of Government can use its powers of purchasing to redistribute the wealth by ensuring local contractors have the first option on bids," said MP Ottley.

He suggested urgent attention be paid to the implementation of a procurement policy. Ottley also wants Government to revisit the funding agreement from The Netherlands through the World Bank for rebuilding after hurricane Irma in 2017.

"If we use Article 67 of the Constitution to reallocate the funds earmarked initially in 2017 for reconstruction, to boost our economy today since that money has not been used almost four years later."

Ottley submitted the Motion to Parliament on September 27, 2020. It resolved, amongst others, "to have the Government of St. Maarten establish a National Public Procurement Policy to guide the public bidding process for especially Government and Government-owned companies.

He said this is especially critical for construction-related projects funded by the National Recovery Project Bureau through the World Bank Trust fund and projects financed by foreign investors.

The Motion passed unopposed by the thirteen members of parliament present at the time of the Public Meeting. It mentioned COVID-19's impact on the global economy and stated, "the need to revitalize St. Maarten's economy after months at a standstill, will be dependent on construction."

However, one of the main points of the Motion is that St. Maarten did not have local legislation for public procurement, which prevents the "multiplier effect" [local dollars remaining in the local economy] from boosting economic activity.

"If we establish a points system, it will allow other relevant factors to be considered when awarding procurement contracts, and decisions will not solely depend on the bid price," said MP Ottley. The Motion asks for a detailed Contract Award Criteria with simplified local procurement preferences in a "best value evaluation and award" process. It also requires the Government to apply a streamlined bid price of between 6% and 10% threshold to allow local subcontractors to get the bids if the prices fall within that threshold. The MP also recommends using a joint venture policy that requires foreign contractors to subcontract local contractors if the supply of product or services is available locally. If the Motion is successfully implemented, local heavy equipment operators will finally be protected against foreign contractors bringing in locally available machinery.

"We have to protect we" because they protect themselves," said Ottley. He said, "The struggle our people face today will only end if we can protect our own. We have to ensure Government can spend that money on development so the locals can have money in their pockets," said MP Ottley.

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SMMC expands Radiology Services with MRI Suite

SINT MAARTEN (CAY HILL) - St. Maarten Medical Center (SMMC) is pleased to announce the expansion of their Radiology services with the opening of the new, state-of-the-art MRI Suite. This is the first time that SMMC is able to offer this long-anticipated service to their patients.

Construction of the MRI Suite began in November 2020 and with the recent arrival of the MRI magnet, operations are scheduled to begin in May.

An MRI machine is a device that generates scans (or images) of the body using a strong magnetic field and radio waves. All organs and tissues (with the exception of lung and bone tissue) can be seen in the scan. MRI exams are used to determine traumatic head injuries, tumors, abnormalities, infections and a number of other medical diagnoses which may ultimately save lives.

Unlike X-Rays, there is no risk of radiation exposure during an MRI exam, however there are other risks such as potential interference with medical equipment such as pacemakers, chemotherapy pumps, metal implants and cochlear implants. Prior to having an MRI exam, the referring Physician fills out an MRI Questionnaire form with the patient which assesses the risks and contra-indications for the exam.

This MRI Suite allows SMMC to provide MRI services to its patients ahead of the completion of the new St. Maarten General Hospital (SMGH) in 2023, which will have its own MRI Suite. This is in an effort to be able to continue to reduce the number of off-island referrals and provide patients with quality care, close to home.

SMMC congratulates the Radiology Department, the Patient Care Department and the Maintenance and Facilities Department on a job well done and thanks all staff, General Practitioners, Insurance Companies and other Healthcare Stakeholders for their continued cooperation and support.

SMMC Photo 1 MRI Magnet being loaded into MRI Suite

The MRI Magnet being loaded into the MRI Suite.

 

 

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Sint Maarten and the Netherlands meet over liquidity support. Knops awaits letter from Brison

SINT MAARTEN (POND ISLAND) - On Monday, March 29, 2021, Prime Minister Silveria Jacobs and her support staff were invited to a meeting arranged by the Dutch representative’s office with State Secretary Knops. The meeting was amicable, however, State Secretary Knops still needed more reassurance from the Parliament of Sint Maarten concerning support for the trajectory of the Kingdom Consensus Law COHO and the country package agreements finalized in December 2020.                                 

Prime Minister Jacobs stated, “During the meeting, State Secretary Knops agreed that the Government of Sint Maarten has lived up to the agreements. As such, Sint Maarten is very disappointed that we aren’t able to move forward as per the agreements made based upon the feelings of the Ministry of the Interior and Kingdom Relations (BZK) with support from the Kingdom Council of Ministers (RMR).”

“In government’s opinion, the goal post continues to be moved, as the condition for the fifth tranche of liquidity support was the finalization of the Implementation Plan which is ahead of schedule. In light of this, the signing of the Implementation Plan did not proceed as State Secretary Knops expected even as Sint Maarten remains committed to the process. This is a clear example of how the democratic deficit negatively affects us in the Dutch Caribbean,” Prime Minister Jacobs continued.

During the meeting, Prime Minister Jacobs made it clear to State Secretary Knops that while Sint Maarten has shown understanding for the sentiments of the Netherlands when negative utterances are made against them politically, they seem to not understand that this insistence on things being done their way every time there is a dispute in exchange for needed liquidity support during this time of crisis also adds more fuel to the thoughts and feelings by the Dutch Caribbean islands that we are not treated equitably in the Kingdom. As such, Prime Minister Jacobs encouraged State Secretary Knops to keep that in mind as well as both parties seek to improve relations based on mutual understanding and trust.

In an informal follow-up meeting held today, between State Secretary Knops and the Chair of Parliament Rolando Brison, the Chair of Parliament joined the conversation and was able to convey the intentions of the petition submitted to the United Nations rapporteur. State Secretary Knops is expecting to receive such in writing and once this letter is deemed satisfactory to State Secretary Knops and his colleagues who have been mandated by the RMR to decide such, Sint Maarten may then be allowed to proceed with the trajectory of the COHO Law, the established country package agreements and further liquidity support.

Prime Minister Jacobs stated, “I look forward to hearing the reaction of those mandated to decide on behalf of the RMR, however, I earnestly believe the more the Government of the Netherlands insists on this statement from the Parliament of Sint Maarten, the more they give further indication that the democratic deficit is being used against us as smaller countries within the Kingdom. State Secretary Knops has expressed the need to proceed and continue repairing the relationship between the Netherlands and Sint Maarten. However, we will await the verdict based upon Parliament’s explanation which is outside of their purview as their expressions do not weigh in the trajectory of the COHO Law at this time.”

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Prime Minister Jacobs travels abroad due to family reasons

SINT MAARTEN (POND ISLAND) - Prime Minister Silveria Jacobs is travelling for unavoidable family related matters today, Tuesday, March 30, 2021. Deputy Prime Minister Egbert Doran will assume responsibility along with the Council of Ministers during her absence.

Prime Minister Jacobs stated, “Though I find it difficult to leave at this time, as we are facing some challenges, there will be continuity of government and I trust in the Deputy Prime Minister and the Council of Ministers to be able to handle all necessary ongoing matters.”

Prime Minister Jacobs will remain available virtually and she will keep in close contact with the Council of Ministers, the Parliament of St. Maarten as well as other stakeholders in the ongoing discussions for the realization of further liquidity support and the continuation of the negotiations to lead to an improved entity that will monitor the reforms and programs.

“I ask the people of St. Maarten to remain positive, steadfast and strong as we stand together for a stronger St. Maarten,” concluded Prime Minister Jacobs.

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IBP ISSUES STERN WARNING TO PERSONS SUBMITTING FRAUDULENT DOCUMENTS

SINT MAARTEN (PHILIPSBURG) - The Immigration and Border Protection Services (IBP) is hereby informing the public that we are working closely with the Prosecutors office to curb the act of submitting fraudulent documents with the intent to obtain residency permits.

Recently, an incident occurred whereby the spouse of an applicant requesting a residence permit submitted forged documents on behalf of her employer.

Article 24 of the National Ordinance of Admittance and Expulsions (LTU) states that, anyone who deliberately provides incorrect (false/falsified) information for himself or for another person to obtain certain conditions attached thereto or to prevent the withdrawal of the authorization for admission will be punished with imprisonment not exceeding one year or a fine of no more than one thousand guilders.

Based on this act the residence permit request was denied, as the applicant did not meet the legal requirements for him to obtain his residence permit. Consequently, the residence permit of the applicant’s spouse was revoked.

Article 14 sub f of the LTU states that the permit for a residence (temporary) permit can be withdrawn by or on behalf of the Minister by reasonable decision if the person concerned does not meet one of more of the conditions attached to his/her residence permit.

IBP wishes to inform the public of their zero tolerance for the submission of fraudulent documents, which is a violation and a criminal act based on Article 2: 184 of Criminal Law. Anyone who falsely prepares or falsifies a document intended to be evidenced of any fact, with a view to using it as genuine and unadulterated or for having it used by others, is guilty of forgery, punishable by imprisonment not exceeding six years or a fine of the fifth category.

It is with this notice that all applicants are hereby forewarned and should ensure that all documents are genuine, valid and in accordance with the legal requirements.

Pursuant to Article 9 section 1 sub (a) of the LTU, the Immigration Department has to maintain public order and ensure that the safety and security of all residents is legally maintained.

The IBP Department would also like to inform the public that all migration regulations are being strictly enforced according to the law.

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Local businesses support the COVID-19 vaccination program

SINT MAARTEN (GREAT BAY, (DCOMM) – Both Domino's Pizza and Movida Bar & Grill have provided the vaccination team at the Belair Community Center with a delicious lunch in the last two weeks. Additionally, the Belair Community Center has made the facility available for the COVID-19 vaccination campaign.

The Vaccination Management Team (VMT) and the vaccination team at the Belair Community Center would like to publicly express their gratitude for this kind gesture and support!  

The Belair Community Center as a vaccination location has been a great addition to the vaccination campaign, as it provides the opportunity to significantly scale up the administering of vaccines. To reach herd immunity (70% of the population vaccinated), the possibility of scaling up is very important in fighting this virus.

The Belair Community Center is very well equipped, with plenty of parking space; a shaded area where persons can stand out of the sun; it’s a central location across the road from the Sint Maarten Medical Center (SMMC); and is very spacious inside the building. The VMT is therefore incredibly grateful, that this location was offered, to be utilized as a vaccination administering location.   

“Domino’s is always there to help however we can in a time of need and crisis. We are honored to show appreciation for those helping with recovery. In this case, it is those helping with prevention by facilitating the vaccination process. Pizza seems so inconsequential compared to their daily efforts. I am happy to be there for the vaccination team with great pizzas for them to enjoy. We encourage everyone to do their part by registering for the vaccination. It’s going to be our best and safest way out of this mess,” said John Caputo, from the St. Maarten Domino’s franchise.

Anish Chugani, of Movida Bar & Grill, said: ''With this promotion, we would like to boost the morale of the front-line workers as a kind gesture. It is not an easy job, being in a very serious and high-pressured environment, so we thought we can bring some smiles in the middle of the day.'' Movida was the first new restaurant opened Post COVID-19 in October 2020, and has a variety of dishes, and is operated by Avantika Thai Kitchen & Lounge & Astra Steak & Seafood in Simpson Bay.

Almost 11.500 persons have currently registered for the COVID-19 vaccine. However, the VMT encourages everyone who hasn't registered to do so, as it is essential to prevent another outbreak like we're currently seeing on the sister islands of Curacao and Bonaire.

Curacao reported a record number of 2234 active cases on Saturday and has gone back into lockdown due to the more contagious UK variant, which has also been found on Sint Maarten. 

Members of the community are reminded to register for the COVID-19 vaccine. 

Registration can be done via the online registration form which is available in English, Spanish, and Creole, and can be found via this link: https://forms.sintmaartengov.org/form.aspx?v=OGtn05kNmb

Both Cole Bay and Dutch Quarter Community Helpdesks are currently equipped to provide information and can assist with registration on the spot. They are open from 8:30 AM to 12:30 PM on Monday to Friday.  You must bring a form of identification when you visit the helpdesk.

Lastly, the paper-based “COVID Vaccine Registration Form” can be picked up at several locations, including CPS at the Vineyard Office Park Building, the Division of Labor Affairs at the Simpson Bay Public Service Center in Simpson Bay, doctors’ offices, the Government Administration Building, and select pharmacies.

Organizations who wish to inform their staff about the Covid-19 vaccine and vaccination program via an information session can send an email to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

If you have a friend, parent, neighbor, or relative that may need assistance with registration, transportation, or emotional support, please do your part. If you need help with the registration process, your appointment, or wish for more information about the vaccination campaign, you can also call CPS at 914 or email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Sint Maarten protected together. 

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