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After 30-Years of Service WINAIR’s Captain Roger Hodge retires

SINT MAARTEN (SIMPSON BAY-AIRPORT ROAD) – After 30 years of service with WINAIR Captain Roger Hodge is retiring. Captain Hodge began his career with WINAIR in 1990 thru 2020, Rogers 30 years of service in our flight department, beginning as a first officer progressing thru the ranks quickly to become our most senior Captain.

His many accomplishments as a training instructor, check airman and most importantly sharing his knowledge thru tutoring and developing our junior pilots, providing the example of what it means to be a pilot. Captain Hodge, a pillar in the flight department, provided all our staff the example of how we can better work together for a common goal.

His passion, commitment and love of flying complimented his work. This resulted in him taking people under his wing, sharing his knowledge and skill resulting in many of us being better employees and people.

It is time now for Captain Hodge to enjoy a very well-deserved retirement, but knowing our Captain, he will always available and continue sharing his experiences with the younger generation, always inspiring people to develop themselves. We at WINAIR say thank you Roger for your years of dedicated service!

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Heyliger extends congratulations to St. Eustatius. Says: “Free and Fair elections allow democracy to reign”

SINT MAARTEN (PHILIPSBURG) — “Democracy at work,” were the words, Member of Parliament, the Honorable Grisha Heyliger-Marten used to describe her sentiments after hearing the results of the Island Council elections on St. Eustatius yesterday October 21, 2020.

She said, “Part of self-determination is the ability of a people to participate in free and fair elections where their elected officials can serve without fear of attack from forces within our external forces. The people who you elect as your leaders must be the people who lead you, or you risk seeing your vote lose its power.”

MP Heyliger-Marten who is Faction Leader in Parliament for the United People’s UP Party has extended a heartfelt congratulations to the people of St. Eustatius who she says are the real winners in the recently held elections.

“I want to congratulate every citizen of St. Eustatius for successfully exercising their right to vote in the recently held Island Council Elections. The right to vote should never be taken lightly as it represents the one tool; we the people have to protect ourselves against those who would seek to manipulate constitutional and international laws and norms. Your action signals to us all that there is still hope for a brighter tomorrow for all Dutch Caribbean Island people as we continue to lobby for true autonomy and equal treatment as partners within the Netherlands Kingdom.”

The Progressive Labor Party PLP won the majority three (3) seats while the DP won two (2) seats, leaving the United People Coalition on St. Eustatius with zero (0) seat. “The election results should not be taken lightly as it signals the real need of the people of the Caribbean Netherlands to move towards having more autonomy. The right to self-determination is not alien. I have been preaching since the start of my political career that this is the only way our people will truly reach their full potential.”

Starting with her campaign for the last Parliamentary elections, MP Heyliger-Marten has made finalizing the decolonization of the Dutch Caribbean islands her main objective for the coming four years. As such, she has proposed a Round Table Conference for July of 2021 for all governments within the Kingdom to “sign off” on the decolonization of the islands of the former Netherlands Antilles. This will result in a full measure of self-government based on the UN Charter, under which the Netherlands has the sacred trust to treat the interests of the islands as paramount.

This obligation, as laid down in article 73 of the UN Charter, has not been complied with by the Netherlands during the past seventy-five years, according to Heyliger-Marten. “

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Minister of TEATT De Weever unveils economic recovery plan

SINT MAARTEN (POND ISLAND) - The Minister of Tourism, Economic Affairs, Traffic and Telecommunication (TEATT) Ludmila de Weever unveiled her economic recovery plan yesterday to the Parliament of Sint Maarten. The plan is called “A Path to Economic Recovery & Sustainable Growth.” The Minister described it as deliberately practical and built on three broad pillars designed first to promote, restore, and protect tourism; secondly to create an attractive business climate through innovative fiscal reform to offer relief and encourage growth; and thirdly build real economic diversification based on Sint Maarten’s natural comparative advantages.

“Members of Parliament, through you I have addressed the people of Sint Maarten. We are dealing with an unprecedented crisis that requires unconventional responses which are included in this plan,” Minister de Weever said. “Our plan ensures that our people are at the center of benefitting from these unconventional but realistic responses.”

One of Minister De Weever’s unconventional responses to the crisis is an overhaul of the outdated tax system which burdens many businesses and local entrepreneurs and stifles investment and growth. Minister De Weever proposed abolishing profit and income tax and replacing it with a very small tax on financial transactions instead that would maintain revenues, broaden the tax base, and, most importantly, make Sint Maarten attractive to invest and do business in. The proposal would offer relief and encourage private sector led innovation.

“I would like to leave you with a quote from Ben Bernanke that I know will resonate with the members of our Parliament, my colleagues in government, and the viewing and listening public ‘during crises, people are distinguished by those who act and those who fear to act,’” Minister De Weever continued.

“We must act. We must act cohesively in the national interest. It will not work if we're not all in it together. I need parliament's support across all party lines in the interest of Sint Maarten and our people to see this plan through. The plan we presented here today represents many days, weeks and months of hard work deliberations and discussions from all who are affected by this pandemic. It is not a plan built on fantasy or false hope, but on real achievable objectives that will improve all our lives and our children's lives.”

“This darkness will not outlive us. This crisis will not outlast us. There will be a new dawn. There will be better times to come again. Let's come together as a people, as a community, and a nation and see this recovery through. Thank you and God bless Sint Maarten,” Minister De Weever concluded. Details of the plan will be made available to the public shortly.

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PJIAE AWARDS SUPERVISING ENGINEERING CONTRACT AND IS MOVING AHEAD WITH THE TERMINAL RECONSTRUCTION

SINT MAARTEN (SIMPSON BAY-AIRPORT ROAD) - Princess Juliana International Airport has announced that the contract management and technical supervision services for PJIAE’s Airport Terminal Reconstruction Project has been awarded to Royal HaskoningDHV, parent company of Netherlands Airport Consultants (NACO) who were the main Engineering Company for the current PJIAE Terminal completed in 2006. The scope of responsibilities will include the reviewing of the bill of quantities to ensure that the work is being executed efficiently. They will also manage the inspection process and quality assurance.

The Airport Terminal Reconstruction Project is an essential renovation project for the Princess Juliana International Airport Operating Company N.V. (PJIAE), which was severely damaged by hurricane Irma in 2017. The Reconstruction of the terminal will also include further major upgrades with fully automated border control, additional escalators at all gates for an improved passenger experience, upgraded check-in counters, relocated and more efficient car rental booths, and a strong focus on creating Sint Maarten’s visual, cultural and environmental characteristics ‘Sense of Place’ in the Terminal. The latter also includes the addition of retail / food and beverage spaces offering more opportunities for authentic local products.   

Brian Mingo, PJIAE CEO said; “I am excited with the progress the Reconstruction Project team made with the appointment of Royal HaskoningDHV. We are glad that Royal HaskoningDHV is the contract supervisor and main engineer. Their extensive and Caribbean experience in this field will be relied on to successfully reconstruct Sint Maarten’s “Airport of the Future.” We also indicated the importance for local employment and business opportunities to support Sint Maarten’s livelihood and employment in the construction sector. I am therefore pleased to understand that they already hired several local companies as part of the project.” 

Paul Govaerts, Director of Aviation at NACO, spoke about being awarded the contract: “Due to our long-time involvement in Princess Juliana International Airport, we have a good understanding and awareness of local circumstances and conditions which is why we endeavor to work with local partners on all our projects. For this project, we have teamed up with two local companies – ICE Independent Consulting Engineers N.V. and CECC Caribbean Engineering & Consultancy Company. In addition to expanding local involvement in the project, we have also ensured that knowledge of the new facility and regular expertise in all systems will be made available to PJIAE locally both during and after project completion. Together with our experience in similar projects around the world, we are certain that this joint team approach makes us uniquely qualified to assist PJIAE with the further development of the terminal building. The local supervisors are fully aware of local legislation, have good working relationships with the local authorities and have thorough, up to date knowledge of the existing airport facilities, all of which make them extremely valuable members of the team.”

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ARRINDELL: HIGH COUNCILS OF STATE & FIRST RESPONDERS CARRIED OUR DEMOCRACY

SINT MAARTEN (PHILIPSBURG) – Leader of the People’s Progressive Alliance (PPA) and first President of the Parliament of Sint Maarten at the birth of country status Gracita Arrindell, reflected on the past ten years and said in a statement on Monday that: “Ten years of constitutional reform arrived fast and furious. October 10, 2020.

“It’s been a tumultuous decade plagued by hurricanes, and a lack of political will power to acknowledge our mistakes and a commitment to do better. The end of a decade that culminated in a COVID- 19 pandemic that caught the world off –guard and brought Sint Maarten to its knees. No one expected this. It has become crystal clear we failed to learn from our mistakes while being an Island Territory under a former constitutional arrangement -the former Netherlands Antilles.

“We were granted a new constitutional status within the Kingdom of the Netherlands that would allow us more freedom by bringing the decision-making process taken closer to home and we squandered it. No need to fly to Willemstad by our then senators for meetings to ‘defend’ our island or bring back what we deserve from the Federal Governments coffers.

“During the last Federal elections held on January 27, 2006 the then Netherlands Antilles faced an estimated debit of over five Billion Antillean (Nafl 5 Billion) guilders. Sint Maarten debts were calculated as over five hundred million (Nafl. 500 million) including the debts at the time of government owned companies.

“We aspired to assume our own responsibilities and new tasks to execute policies, programs and projects that would enrich the quality of the lives of all our citizens. A new status that would enable the policy makers to look their constituents squarely in the eye and keep promises made of safer streets, affordable homes, less taxes, better jobs, modern education, strong economy, healthy environment.

“The new date (first January 2010, then later revised to October 2010) had many on Sint Maarten worried. Yet the willingness to put our shoulders under this new structure and create a better, stronger Sint Maarten prevailed. Our frontline public servants such as teachers and first responders, including police officers, firefighters, nurses went beyond their calls of duty in spite of the fact that for many it took a decade to have their new legal status finalized. After all, we are only sixteen square miles, easy to drive around or walk into the neighborhoods. Not too difficult to manage, right? Wrong.”

Arrindell states: “Instead of the above, after a shaky start on 10/10/10 we clearly lost our focus of working for ALL our people ALL the time instead of working part-time by most of our elected representatives over the past ten years. Not taking a leaf from the Antillean history pages especially in terms of creating a stable financial management for our governments had dire consequences. For example, the General Audit Chamber of the former Netherlands Antilles warned in its yearly reports of the unbalanced budgets, gross financial mismanagement and tardy submission of the financial reports and lack of approval by Parliament. Today our own General Audit Chamber sounds the same alarms as its predecessors.”

Gracita continues: “After ten years, we can state that the true ‘saviors’ of our young democracy are first and foremost the majority of people and businesses who suffered yet peacefully put up with lack of decisive and emphatic leadership while still giving consecutive governments a chance to govern. Secondly, after a decade our system of checks and balances put in place prior to 10/10/10 works to a great extent. The separation of powers between the legislative branch, (Parliament) and the executive branch (Council of Ministers) is a good example.

“The establishment of the high Councils of State: The Council of Advice, the General Audit Chamber, and Ombudsman office carried the day for our democracy. These women and men deserve much credit and respect for taking their responsibilities to the highest possible level. Their recommendations must not end up in the proverbial ‘backburner’ of Parliament. Rather the contents of these reports must be discussed, prioritized, approved and executed to the benefit of our constituents and businesses. The other institutions guarding as well as guiding this elaborate process of making this new status work include the Constitutional Court, Council for law enforcement, Electoral Council, Corporate Governance Council and other councils and chambers”.

Arrindell concludes: We cannot turn back the clock. After ten years we can safely conclude that the patience and good will of our citizens have run dry. Looking forward we must:

  1. substantially strengthen our economic and financial income base by working in close partnership with the private sector.
  2. lessen the tax burden by broadening its base and eliminate taxes that do not work. This is especially important for our elderly population.
  3. drastically improve education in all aspects
  4. deep- clean all our neighborhoods
  5. deliver affordable homes for our people we have been promising for so long
  6. have a diplomatic strategy to positively engage with our partners in the Dutch Kingdom.
  7. last but certainly not least, appoint a COVID -19 ‘Tzar’ plus a team to present a coherent Covid prevention, containment, and eradication policy for the next short and midterm until it is safe to live normally again.

“The time is here and now for the elected officials to deliver on its promises and for the people to prosper,” Arrindell concluded.

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Minister Irion Cancels 75 Million Guilder Bond as Discussions Underway with the Dutch

SINT MAARTEN (POND ISLAND) - The Minister of Finance Ardwell Irion announced that he has requested the Central Bank of Curacao and Sint Maarten (CBCS) to suspend (cancel) the auction (bond).

Sint Maarten is currently in discussions with the Netherlands regarding the refinancing of a loan, which is scheduled to mature on October 21st, 2020.

Sint Maarten has opted to accept the proposal of the Netherlands as outlined in their letter of October 16th, 2020, which will result in the postponement of the maturity date and the avoidance of a technical default.

During the coming four weeks, the Government of Sint Maarten will continue to work on the completion of the process to meet the conditions of the second tranche liquidity support, which can then lead to further discussions on the third tranche liquidity support as well as long-term solutions for expiring loans. 

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Dutch royals cancel Greek holiday after MPs condemn bad example

SINT MAARTEN/THE NETHERLANDS – King Willem-Alexander, queen Maxima and their three daughters are returning from their Greek autumn holiday after a matter of hours following a torrent of criticism in parliament and on social media.

‘We will end our holiday. We have seen the reactions and messages in the media,’ the couple said in a statement. ‘We don’t want there to be any doubt: it is crucial to follow the guidelines in order to get Covid-19 under control and discussion about our holiday is not contributing to that.’

The royals have a villa near the resort of Doroufi in the Peloponnese in southern Greece which they bought in 2012 and had left for a short break in the government jet on Friday afternoon.

The area is code yellow, which means there are no restrictions on travel. However, MPs are furious the royals left for a half-term break, given that prime minister Mark Rutte said on Tuesday people should travel as little as possible, including during the holidays.

The state information service issued a statement on Friday afternoon saying that Rutte was aware of the trip and that he has ministerial responsibility for the family. But heath minister and deputy prime minister Hugo de Jonge had not been briefed and was surprised by questions when asked about the trip by the press on Friday afternoon.

Criticism

MPs have been highly critical of the prime minister and the king. ‘The is was not a good example to the rest of the Dutch,’ said Labour MP Attje Keuken, who questioned why Rutte had allowed the trip to go ahead.

NOS royalty reporter Kysia Hekster said the king’s decision to abroad on holiday is an ‘enormous dent’ in his image as someone who unites the people. ‘He made a wrong judgement,’ she said.

Earlier in the epidemic the king and queen were at the centre of another coronavirus related row when they were pictured at a Greek restaurant, standing too close to the owner.

(DutchNews)

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Division Inspection approves inspection reports for several schools. Bussing needs being addressed

SINT MAARTEN (POND ISLAND) - The Minister of Education, Culture, Youth and Sport (MECYS) would hereby like to provide the general public with a further update regarding schools’ readiness to resume face to face instruction on upcoming Monday, October 19th, 2020, the cabinet of MECYS said in a statement on Friday evening.

“As per today, October 16th, 2020, the safety plans, and inspection reports of several other schools were approved by the Division of Inspection ECYS.   Additionally, schools have indicated bussing needs and we are working with bus operators to ensure that all students requiring transport to and from school are accommodated.

“The Minister is aware that all schools will not commence with Examination classes on October 19th, 2020 as several schools have made plans to start at a later date. All schools that have not yet met all the requirements and will be finalizing during the course of the next week, will inform parents when classes for their children will resume via their various student tracking systems and online platforms during the course of the next few days.

“The general public is reminded that prior to the reopening of school campuses, it is of utmost importance that all safety plans and facility inspections are approved. This requirement is in place in an effort to safeguard the health and safety of students, teachers and staff. As we work together to keep our community safe, we appreciate your understanding and cooperation.

“As parents and students of Examination classes make their final preparations over the next few days to ensure a safe return, parents are encouraged to ensure that their child is equipped with their mask, sanitizer, water, lunch and all of the required learning materials requested by their child’s school, as children will be encouraged to avoid sharing these objects. Parents are also encouraged to remind their children to adhere to new safety guidelines in the school setting that will be shared by their teachers and school management, as well as on the school buses by the school bus operators. On the bus, each student will be required to sanitize their hands upon entry and will be required to wear a mask and to sit in the designated areas. If the child will carpool to school, parents should ensure that there is agreement amongst the adults that every child in the carpool wear their mask for the entire trip.

“Prior to leaving for school on Monday, parents are encouraged to ensure that their child is well. Parents are also encouraged to speak to their child about the return to school and to address any concerns that they may have. Parents should review with their children proper hand hygiene at home, especially before and after eating, sneezing, coughing, and adjusting to wearing a mask. Parents should also remind their children that they should make washing their hands immediately when returning home a part of their routine and that they should inform an adult if they are not feeling well.

“The Minister would like to inform the general public that releases to provide additional tips and inform all concerned about the safe return to school will continue over the course of the next few weeks. The Minister of ECYS would also like to assure the general public, education professionals, parents and students that all stakeholders will continue to work together to realize the safe return to school campuses.”

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Prefecture declares a state of health emergency for Saint-Martin as of Saturday

SAINT-MARTIN (MARIGOT) - Due to the spread of the Covid-19 epidemic, a state of health emergency is declared from Saturday 17 October 2020 at 00:00 throughout the French side the Prefecture announced on Friday.

The Prefecture of St. Bartholomew and Saint-Martin invites all economic actors and citizens to take note of the following measures: meetings or activities of more than six (6) people on public roads or in places open to the public are prohibited - Private parties are prohibited in establishments receiving the public - in bars and restaurants, guests will be limited to six (6) per table and the names of guests must be registered - Rule of 4m2 per person in high-traffic areas - Strengthening telework in business and in government where possible - At home it is recommended to limit family or friendly meetings to up to six (6) people and to wear a mask on this occasion.

These measures are taken to deal with the resurgence of the epidemic in our territories. The Prefecture calls on the entire population to respect them and to be civil.

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US$30 Million Allocated for Preparing for a Sustainable & Resilient Financial Future

SINT MAARTEN (POND ISLAND) - The proposed First Public Finance, Social Insurance and Resilience Development Policy Operation is the first in a series of two operations that aim to support Sint Maarten’s comprehensive approach to a sustainable and resilient financial future. 

The Government of Sint Maarten and the Netherlands agreed that a part of the required budget support could be provided through a Bank-supervised programmatic Development Policy Operation (DPO). 

On January 25, 2019 Sint Maarten officially requested the preparation of a series of DPOs in a letter to members of the Trust Fund Steering Committee. US$30 million has since been allocated in the Trust Fund for this purpose.

The term DPO stands for Development Policy Operation and is tied to a number of actions government must complete to the satisfaction of the World Bank amongst other agreed upon areas.

The first set of actions were completed, followed by the compilation of the necessary accompanying documents. This was then communicated to the World Bank and St. Maarten awaits an initial response in order to proceed with the follow-up steps. The successful completion of these actions is expected to trigger the release of USD 15 million.

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