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Soualiga News Today (4376)

Four house searches conducted in Madame Estate

SINT MAARTEN (MADAME ESTATE) - One man was arrested and four houses in Madame Estate were searched by the Major Crimes Squad on Friday morning. The police actions were in connection with ongoing investigations into trafficking of narcotics and firearms.

A quantity of drugs, firearms, and data carriers were confiscated in the searches.

The investigations continue and similar actions will be taken by the police when required. (KPSM)


Minister Lawrence visits local brewery. Aims to promote local production

SINT MAARTEN (POND ISLAND) – A moment of curiosity captured Giovanni Johnson, who went from a delivery driver at SXM beer to now being in the final steps of becoming the first local brewmaster for SXM beer. Giovanni shared his story; “One day, I stopped behind the brewery and saw the brewmaster standing on a platform throwing something inside a big stainless-steel barrel. A stomach teasing aroma, with a smell like when you pour a warm cup of milk onto cereal or cornflakes. When this aroma filled the air, I asked, what he was doing, he replied, using the brewer’s term, “I’m mashing in”, which in other words means to extract starch and sugars from grain that will be your potential beer wort. My curiosity was sparked, I went home and learned all I could about the beer making process”.

Co-founder Scott Brockie took quick notice of Giovanni’s passion for brew making and encouraged him to keep paying attention to the process and to learn. With deep belief, Scott shared, “You will be the next brewmaster”. Since opening SXM beer, Scott had dreamt of having a local person as the brewmaster, as the SXM beer slogan says, “My Island My Beer”. There’s a sense of pride among the SXM brewery team, as Giovanni is in the final stages of becoming the first brewmaster for the company. Co-founders Scott Brockie and Pascal de Lacaze, saw the potential in Giovanni, built his confidence and believed he could do the job. “What I will enjoy when I become a brewmaster, is being able to pass on the knowledge and experience to others in St.Maarten”. Stated Giovanni.

SXM brewery also provides tours, adding a layer of personal connection to the product, guests will use their five senses in this hands-on experience, and the storytelling element is heightened by having Giovanni connect his personal love for what he does and how the company was started. Visitors will also learn about the beer making process, for example, it takes eight glasses of water to make one glass of beer.

Business sectors will require ongoing support, stated Minister Lawrence who is optimistic to see growth in the economic sector. He spoke of an initiative to provide cost savings for business owners who locally produce what they sell. The Local Produce Product Initiative, will aim to provide incentives, for example, water and electricity cost, to all business owners who locally manufacture and produce in St. Maarten, a similar model could follow other sectors.

Scott Brockie, was asked his thoughts on this initiative, his response was;

“We are St. Maarten’s largest brewery with over 8,500 square feet. When making beer we are using water, malted grains, hops and yeast. But the number one ingredient is water. Most people think it takes 1 L of water to make 1 L of beer. This is not the case.

It takes 7 to 8L to make 1 L of beer. It also takes a mass amount of energy to run all the equipment in the factory. We feel that in order for local producers in SXM to be competitive with other imported brands we should receive reduced and competitive electricity and water rates. We are hopeful that in cooperation with our government we can make this happen. I know the government of St Maarten wants entrepreneurial investment on the island in the manufacturing sector so that products can be locally consumed or exported off the island. We are a good example of this diversification. We at SXM Beer not only want this for ourselves but for other companies producing products on the island. We feel that reduced rates could be a good initiative for more manufacturing businesses to want to invest on the island”.

The Minister wants to promote and encourage locals to use their creative talents and produce locally, he would like to see businesses to not only remain here but to invest and see new business opportunities. Minister Lawrence would like to thank MP Grisha Heyliger-Marten, who made the connection to SXM brewery.

MinTEATT RL Sxm Beer

L to R: Co-founder Scott Brockie, Honorable Minister Lawrence, Giovanni Johnson.


Minister Richardson pays a visit to Dutch State Secretary Knops

SINT MAARTEN/THE NETHERLANDS - The main items on the agenda of the meeting between Minister Richardson and State Secretary Knops on Thursday September 23, 2021 were the status of the discussions with the United Nations Office for Project Services (UNOPS) in connection with building a new prison, the Plan of Approach for the Pointe Blanche prison, measure H.11 of the Country package for Sint Maarten which concerns the further strengthening of Sint Maarten’s border control agencies with assistance of the Royal Netherlands Marechaussee, and the status of the Function Book for KPSM. Accompanying Minister Richardson to the meeting with State Secretary Knops was Minister Plenipotentiary Rene Violenus.

Minister Richardson and State Secretary Knops agreed on the way forward in the discussions with UNOPS and affirmed their commitment to finalizing the process. Both are dedicated to have the realization of a new prison soonest and have agreed that within the coming weeks, important milestones must be achieved. Further discussions, regarding a clear timeline towards this end will take place on a technical level.

Discussing the first days of her work visit to the Netherlands, Minister Richardson shared with the State Secretary that her visit has already provided much needed insight into how prisons function in the Netherlands and how Sint Maarten’s detention facilities compare to these institutions. The opportunity offered to see Dutch prisons, has now more than ever strengthened Minister Richardson’s resolve to have a new prison facility built on Sint Maarten.

Minister Richardson further shared with State Secretary Knops her great appreciatio for the enthusiasm that she received from the prions directors and their support staff and their willingness to assist Sint Maarten with the challenges to its prison system. As a result, Minister Richardson expressed to State Secretary Knops that she truly wishes to build on the opportunity presented, to further realize collaborative efforts between the Netherlands and Sint Maarten, and will be contacting the State Secretary and his colleagues within short to discuss ways on how to proceed in the short term.

The Plan of Approach for the Pointe Blanche prison was written at the end 2017 by persons from the Dutch Custodial Institutions Agency (DJI), who came to Sint Maarten from the Netherlands after hurricanes Irma and Maria severely damaged the prison. Although written several years ago, due to circumstances the recommendations of that plan have not yet been implemented.

To implement the recommendations of the Plan of Approach, the Ministry of Justice in collaboration with the Ministry of Interior and Kingdom Relations embarked on a search for a program manager to lead the execution of the plan. Mr. Robert Kievitsbosch was appointed as program manager for the Pointe Blanche prison and arrived on Sint Maarten on August 1, 2021. Minister Richardson informed State Secretary Knops that Mr. Kievitsbosch has hit the ground running and has been instrumental in ensuring that the Minister sees various versions of penitentiary institutions in the Netherlands. Minister Richardson has now been exposed to various styles of operations that have great rehabilitation programs, skill development and various levels of safety, security and specialist care offered to clients.

Mr. Kievitsbosch was requested by Minister Richardson to continue to connect with his network in the judicial chain to forge partnerships and explore the willingness to assist Sint Maarten with its efforts to improve both the detention facility of the Point Blanche Prison and the Miss. Lalie Center.

Minister Richardson informed State Secretary Knops that to ensure that measure H.11 of the Country Package is executed as agreed upon, former Lt. Governor and former Minister of Justice Dennis L. Richardson has been appointed to lead the process and development of the plan of approach connected to the measure H.11, which will outline how Sint Maarten’s border control agencies with the assistance of the Royal Netherlands Marechaussee, will be further strengthened. Under the guidance of Mr. Richardson, the heads of the relevant departments meet regularly to establish the plan of approach. The group is supported with technical assistance to produce the first draft of the plan of approach.

This draft will provide a framework of the scope of areas that, once finalized, will be managed by a policy for the actions the authorized border authorities will have to act and execute their work on in the effort to better protect and manage migration activities, visitors, shipments that enter and exit Sint Maarten etc.

Measure H.11 can be considered a continuation of the border strengthening project (Onderlinge Regeling Versterking Grenstoezicht Sint Maarten) that came into effect in 2018. That project with the financial and technical assistance from the Netherlands saw to it that Sint Maarten’s border protections agencies such as Immigration, Customs and the Coastguard received the necessary resources and capacity building to improve their operations.

The final topic discussed with State Secretary Knops, was the Function Book for KPSM. Minister Richardson advised State Secretary Knops that the Function Book for the Ministry of Justice contains the functions books for all the departments that fall within the Ministry of Justice including KPSM. The advice from the Council of Advice on the draft Function Book was recently received by the Ministry of Justice. The recommendations have been studied and many of them have already been incorporated in the updated version of the Function Books. Minister Richardson expects the Function Books to be finalized within the coming weeks and assured State Secretary Knops that she will keep him informed.


MP Buncamper presents Questions on a Number of Issues

SINT MAARTEN (PHILIPSBURG) - During the public meeting of parliament on Thursday, Member of Parliament (MP) Claudius Buncamper stated in his notification remarks that he believes that a harsh tone has already been set for this meeting regarding the disrespectful letter of the Minister of VROMI to the Ombudsman, a high council of this country, the MP said in his notes on Thursday in the House of Parliament.

The MP continues in his presentation in the General Assembly Chamber: “The remarks directed to the ombudsman about her personal life have absolutely no bearing to the questions that were posed. Those type of remarks were totally out of context when addressing any high council in this country.

“They were basically sexist. I once told a person on this floor not to “whine like a woman” and I took the high road and apologized the same afternoon publicly as I meant no disrespect to the woman of the country. I hope that you use the opportunity given here today to you to also take that high road and apologize to the Ombudsman.  

“During his turn to question the Minister of VROMI, Egbert Doran, the MP posed the following questions regarding the Vineyard Heights land issues.

  1. What should we conclude of the letter of the Ombudsman regarding the state of affairs regarding the lands at Vineyard Heights?
  2. Why are lots now given out seeing there is no infrastructure in place?
  3. Does government have the necessary funds for the infrastructure? If not those persons who have received a parcel of land are unable to utilize it, and are therefore not obliged to pay the cannon.
  4. How does the government plan to finance the Vine yard heights project of apartments, that will be for sale and rent? Who will manage this project from start to finish?
  5. What’s the role of SOG in the Vineyard Heights project, taking the accumulated debts incurred in the Festival Village into account and the condition of the other buildings they presently manage?
  6. Am I to understand from the minister’s remarks made on various radio talk shows, that former Minister of VROMI, Mr. Angel Meyers committed illegal/wrongful acts when he gave out the 54 parcels of land? If yes, what illegal acts did the former minister commit?
  7. When did the court grant government full ownership of the land in questions?
  8. Would any minister at that point in time have been able to grant said land to the 54 recipients while following proper procedures?
  9. Why is it that no other minister after former Minister Meyers attempted to grant the parcels of land in question to anyone else? Is it because there was no infrastructure in place at the time? And granted them the land would be a deceitful act, as those persons would not be unable utilize the land?
  10. What procedures were used to determine who were eligible to receive a parcel of land in Vineyard heights? Can parliament be provided a copy of the criteria?
  11. Have any legal actions started against government by any of the 54 persons who were duped by this government, as it appears that continuity in government does not exists? What is your position on continuity in government, Minister, and how is it applied in this particular case?
  12. The Ombudsman stated that the standard of legal certainty (opgewekte vertrouwen) is essential in any state of law; it requires legitimate expectations to be honored by the government. Minister, do you agree with and thus support this statement?
  13. Minister, do you believe that the 54 recipients of the property at Vineyard Heights could have been under a reasonable belief that after the court case they would be get back their parcel of land as was agreed upon by the previous government? Would you, Minister, as a resident unaware of the details of how the process works, have the same belief?
  14. Minister, when I saw the documents that were on the Facebook page of the journalist Mr. Ralph Cantave regarding the bidding process and the internal granting advice, and the headline that read “Questionable Bidding Process”, it was clear that something did not go right with the bid. So allow me pose the following questions so that you can clarify for all of us;
  1. Why was the decision taken to have an invitation bid instead of a public bid? Was this an emergency?
  2. Why was the tender not granted to the Access NV that complied with the tender request to submit a price?
  3. Why was the company Atys Architecture allowed to come back a few months later to submit a price which is totally not in accordance with the bidding procedure?
  4. Atys Architecture explained to a journalist that the works should under normal circumstances cost about 15-20K dollars. Why did the ministry accept an underbid cost of NAF 3.000,=?
  5. Minister, when I look at the advice, there is only one signature signing on behalf of the department. Is this a normal procedure in the ministry? If so, please explain how the checks and balances is done?
  6. Minister, the article of the journalist Ralph Cantave states that the Atys group spokesman said that he did it for this special price because the head of VROMI told him he would be part of the project in the future? How fair is this towards the others involved? Please explain the meaning of “he will be part of the project in the future?"
  7. Why would the tender be stopped, and a new tender made as per the process regulation if government did not accept Access NV’s offer?
  1. The Ombudsman zorgbrief stated that a tender for the infrastructure will be going out. A) Who will be handling the tender for the infrastructure? B) How much is the internal cost for the infrastructure? C) Does government have the funds for this infrastructure? Or will the SOG or Government take a loan to cover the costs? D) Who will guarantee the loan and what effects will this have on our already high borrowing ratio? E) Is the 20 million dollars reserved by the Steering Committee to be used for the Vineyard Heights projects instead of the Belvedere homes?
  2. Why is there a notice in the media informing those persons who had a signed deed and/or papers for the Over the Bank project to bring them in before November 2021? Why wasn’t this done before granting the lots to tohere persons?
  3. When will the finalization of the lands for Denicio Wyatt be finalized?
  4. The Rain Forest project was granted over350 thousand square meters of land. I have the following questions;
  1. What is the status of the property at Rain Forest that was to be returned to the government?
  2. Has Rain Forest paid up its outstanding cannon?
  3. Will that land be put to “eventually good” use like various forms of agriculture? 19. Will the lands that were used by Shipyard now be cleared up and turned over once for all?”

Minister of Justice meets Mayors of Municipalities, Public Prosecutor & District Chief of Police

SINT MAARTEN/THE NETHERLANDS - On Wednesday, September 22nd, 2021, the Honorable Minister of Justice Anna E. Richardson along with her support staff met with the Mayor of Leiden Henri Lenferink, the District Chief of Police Marieke Bosch, and the Public Prosecutor Fleur Simonis. The meeting was arranged for Minister Richardson to gain an understanding of how the "triangle" meeting also known as the "driehoeksoverleg", functions in the Netherlands.

In Leiden, the ‘triangle meeting’ is held once a month to discuss issues that are impacting the municipality. In Sint Maarten, the meetings were agreed to be held quarterly. One of the positive aspects of Minister Richardson’s work visit to the Netherlands is gaining more insight in the way certain structures are intended to function and how beneficial these meetings can be once utilized in the correct structure and manner.

During the meeting mayor Lenferink stated to which Minister Richardson agreed that: "Safety and security is all about collaboration with all organizations involved that contribute to a positive result".

Mayor Lenferink explained that the triangle operates from a safety plan which is developed and agreed upon by majors of cities who also hold meetings with stakeholders in the community. This sort of systematic approach differs from that of Sint Maarten as those discussions are mostly based on the topics that have been placed on the agenda for that meeting and are then discussed amongst the Minister of Justice, the Prosecutor and the Chief of Police.

Though it is recognized that our structures differ due to geographical size, Minister Richardson believes that adapting an approach with a safety plan as the point of departure and applying it in Sint Maarten can contribute positively to the current situation.

Thereafter Minister Richardson met with the Mayor of Leidschendam-Voorburg, Mr. Jules Bijles, where they discussed public safety and security matters.

Mayor Bijles explained the structures and procedures of his organization and gave a presentation that specifically delved into the assistance of the municipality community officers. The Municipality Community Officers can be seen equivalent to Sint Maarten’s Community Police Officers (CPO). These are ‘BAVPOL’ers’ and take on minor offences and tasks such as supervising public areas, offering fines and so on.

Recognizing the plus of the CPOs, Minister Richardson sees a great opportunity to increase the number of this division with the aim to outfit our schools and school districts for heightened law enforcement presence and quicker action. “We recognize strategies used by those who wish to continue with negative behavior such as assaulting other students and more. As such, efforts will be made to heighten and tighten every area possible,” stated Minister Richardson

Upon Minister Richardson’s return, this will be one of the prioritized agenda points that will be discussed with the Chief of Police, Public Prosecutor, Minister of Education, Culture, Youth and Sports, schools boards and other stakeholders as a plan of action to protect our students, faculty, staff and communities.

Finally, Minister Richardson’s evening ended with a dinner hosted by members of the Progress Committee namely Mr. Nico Schoof and Mr. Michel Marijnen. The latter also invited the Mayor drs. Elizabeth Spies of Alphen aan de Rijn to the dinner, giving Minister Richardson an opportunity to dialogue with a third Mayor with over seven years in service.

In conclusion, Minister Richardson experienced a full day of interaction with persons who have a vast amount of knowledge and experience when it comes to managing safety and security in their communities, working with the relevant authorities tasked to do so and who passionately hold interest to make a positive difference in the communities as Ministers Richardson also aims to do.


MP Peterson: Fair procedures for granting long-lease land need to be put in place to prevent abuse and nepotism

SINT MAARTEN (PHILIPSBURG) - The brewing controversy surrounding the granting of long-lease rights in the area known as Vineyard Heights has shed light on the government’s systemic lack of procedures, transparency and accountability.

This is the view of Party for Progress (PFP) Member of Parliament (MP) Raeyhon Peterson, who is renewing his call for fair policies and procedures to be put in place to prevent abuse by political authorities in the issuance of government-owned land parcels.

“From the very beginning, in 2016, the granting of parcels in the area was done in a way that was not in line with good governing practices. After all, a former-VROMI Minister received a negative internal memo concerning this issuance, but still proceeded with issuing Ministerial Decrees to the 54 awardees,” said MP Peterson on Tuesday. “Now, these awardees have been largely replaced by 25 others, in a process initiated by the current VROMI Minister that also leaves many unanswered questions about its objectivity and fairness.”

While MP Peterson believes that the development of an objective and consistent policy is one of the solutions to address discrepancies in granting long-lease land, he also acknowledges that the VROMI Minister has too far-reaching powers, which enables them to ignore negative advice and issue parcels indiscriminately.

“Some politicians feel that the Minister title comes with the right to have the final say when it comes to giving out long-lease land. I completely disagree with that sentiment. I think that it should be an objective process that the Department of Domain Affairs should be ultimately responsible for, and not left to the personal choices of individual ministers,” said MP Peterson.

However, the most disheartening aspect of the Vineyard Heights controversy is the dozens of innocent victims who expended considerable resources and who now might not receive the long-lease parcels that were promised to them, continued MP Peterson.

“I am here for these victims. The citizens who requested land beforehand through the regular procedures, who were ready to build and who were looking forward to progressing with their goals and developing a life on this island,” said MP Peterson. “At the end of the day, it is the human element that should be central in this whole discussion, and how it has negatively affected individuals, their families and their livelihoods.”

For MP Peterson, there must be accountability for these procedural wrongs, and it needs to be holistic. “The issues surrounding long-lease land cannot be totally blamed on any one Minister, but an unclear process that is systematically disproportionate and ad-hoc, one which gives too much authority in the hands of ministers with no checks and balances to their power. If we decide to hold the current minister responsible for this fiasco, we also need to hold the former politicians responsible for starting the process incorrectly in the first place.”


Police Patrols around St. Peters & South Reward School Districts

SINT MAARTEN (ST. PETERS) - The Police Force of St. Maarten KPSM has begun implementing an action plan based on the ministerial decree, issued by the Minister of Justice, to reduce the fights and other illegal acts committed in and around the schools especially in St. Peters and South Reward.  

To tackle these types of behaviors and lay a foundation to reduce incidents, KPSM recently put together a team of officers to carrying out actions around the schools.

These operations have yielded the following positive results. In the last few days, police have been patrolling the school district in the morning and afternoon. Since then, it is noticeable that fight in and around school have decreased significantly. It is further noticeable that the disorderly behavior happening has also greatly declined in and around schools.

Other actions will be undertaken by KPSM to further safeguard everyone in the affected areas. (KPSM)


Prostate Cancer screening, COVID-19 vaccination pop-up and health check corner at SMMC

SINT MAARTEN (CAY HILL) - On Saturday, September 25th, 2021, St. Maarten Medical Center (SMMC) will resume its annual prostate cancer screenings in collaboration with the Positive Foundation and the Elektralytes Foundation. From 9:00am to 3:00pm, attendees have the opportunity to be screened for prostate cancer by SMMC’s Urologists.

In addition to prostate cancer screenings for men, SMMC will offer blood pressure and glucose monitoring for men and women and CPS and the Ministry of VSA will host a COVID-19 vaccination pop-up at SMMC. Healthcare professionals will also be on hand to provide information and answer any questions about the COVID-19 vaccine.

To avoid long lines and allow for proper social distancing, pre-registering for the prostate cancer screening is strongly encouraged. Men over the age of 45 who have not had a Prostate-Specific Antigen (PSA) test within the last two years are asked to email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. with their name, date of birth and phone number to register. In light of the pandemic, only a limited number of walk-ins will be facilitated.

To ensure the safety of all attendees and volunteers, SMMC’s universal masking policy remains in effect and will be enforced. Persons making use of the prostate cancer screenings and the health checks will also be subjected to a temperature check and SMMC’s COVID-19 questionnaire.

SMMC kindly asks that persons who are experiencing flu-like symptoms such as fever, chills, headaches, difficulty breathing, fatigue, muscle or body aches, loss of taste or smell, sore throat, congestion or runny nose, vomiting and diarrhea avoid attending the event but encourage them to make an appointment once they are no longer experiencing symptoms.

Prostate cancer screening is available year-round at SMMC’s Urology Department and appointments can be made by calling + 1 (721) 543-1111 extension 1378, 1379 or 1307.

SMMC also plans to resume their annual Breast Cancer screenings in October which will also feature a COVID-19 vaccination pop-up and a health check corner.


MP Peterson questions Minister Doran about reported long-lease land grants in Vineyard Heights

SINT MAARTEN (PHILIPSBURG) – With recent media reports indicating that 25 persons have been granted long-lease land in the so-called Vineyard Heights area of Over The Bank, Party for Progress (PFP) Member of Parliament (MP) Raeyhon Peterson submitted questions to Minister of Public Housing, Spatial Planning, Environment and Infrastructure (VROMI) Egbert J. Doran on Wednesday to seek clarity about the developments.

According to the reports, approximately 50 persons were awarded parcels of long-lease land in the area in 2016, and received draft Ministerial Decrees from the VROMI Ministry that advised them to approach the Kadaster’s Office for certificates of admeasurement. Now this group may never receive their promised long-lease land, as the reports show that the majority of the 25 recently issued land grants were not part of the original 50.

This issue has been on MP Peterson’s radar for some time, with him posing questions to Minister Doran in Parliament meetings in June 2021. At the time, Minister Doran said that the process of issuing long-lease land to the original group was discontinued because “proper procedures” were not followed, specifically that then-VROMI Minister Angel Meyers had incorrectly issued the long-lease grants when the area was being contested in a court case.

“We inquired for legal advice, which we received from Landsadvocaat Gibson and Associates, where it indicated that, for instance, once you apply at a certain period in time and the time elapses [then it becomes null and void],” said Minister Doran in the Parliament meeting in June. “Based on that decree, it expired. So therefore, we could not continue and the process was discontinued with those applicants.”

For MP Peterson, this response was insufficient, prompting him to ask on Wednesday if the original group was considered in the process of issuing new long-lease rights in the area.

“Can it then be stated that the Ministry of VROMI provided the previous applicants with a ‘grace period’ to contact the Ministry? If not, then did the Ministry reach out on its own to the 50 persons who also received the same document from Government with the intention to issue a parcel of land to them in long-lease? If so, what were the responses received?” added MP Peterson in his list of submitted questions to Minister Doran.

“For someone to receive a Ministerial Decree in hand and formally start the process of securing their land grant, all done with excitement at the prospect of a brighter future, only to now be ignored and passed over, is a discriminatory blow that no one should have to endure at the hands of their own government,” said MP Peterson. “This original group trusted the government to keep its word and the government failed horribly in doing so.”

Based on his experience as acting Head of Domain Affairs, MP Peterson is acutely aware that some requests for long-lease land have been on hold since the 1990s.

“The general assumption would be that older requests would be honoured above more recent, that is, the first come/first served principle. How many of the persons who recently received draft decrees were on the long-lease request registry prior to December 2019? Referring again to the advice received from Landsadvocaat Gibson, how did the Landsadvocaat advise that issuance of these parcels be handled?” asked MP Peterson to Minister Doran.

Similarly, MP Peterson also knows that parcels of long-lease land cannot be issued if infrastructure is not in place in the area. “Issuing land before there is infrastructure in place has caused the Ministry of VROMI legal issues in the past, ironically also in this exact area of Over The Bank. In light of this, has infrastructure finally been put in place in the area prior to issuing parcels?” questioned MP Peterson.

“While Minister Doran indicated that proper procedures were not followed in 2016, the way this situation has developed it is becoming clear that, as the VROMI Minister, he has also not created consistent procedures or followed through with fair decision-making,” said MP Peterson. “Lack of policy has been a classic excuse used by past VROMI Ministers but the ironic thing is that they themselves have to create it.”

MP Peterson is not the only local authority figure who has reservations about the recent granting of long-lease land in the area known as Vineyard Heights. Last week, Sint Maarten Ombudsman Gwendolien Mossel also expressed grave concerns and posed several questions to Minister Doran on the issue.

“I look forward to receiving answers to my questions and seeing the answers to the Ombudsman’s queries. I urge Minister Doran to reconsider this trajectory, which is sure to be detrimental to the interests of these concerned citizens as well as the government,” concluded MP Peterson. “The original group who were issued long-lease rights in 2016 deserve to have a fair outcome at the end of this affair, being treated with respect, dignity and equality.”


SCDF meets with new tourism Minister to discuss Carnival 2022

SINT MAARTEN (POND ISLAND) - The St. Maarten Carnival Development Foundation (SCDF) met with Minister of Tourism Roger Lawrence on Wednesday to present him with the foundation’s COVID-19 safety plan for Carnival 2022 and discuss several aspects of Carnival for which they would like to build a stronger relationship with regards to the tourism sector.

The foundation is continuing with its preparations for Carnival 2022 and thought it was vital to meet with the new Minister to exchange ideas and discuss the future of the festival. “We were happy to get the opportunity to meet with Minister Lawrence since Carnival falls under his Ministry. It was an open and positive discussion upon which we will build going forward,” SCDF President Alston Lourens said.

Along with the COVID-19 safety plan, the foundation also presented the Minister with its marketing plans, an outline of how Carnival and Tourism compliments each other, the Carnival 2022 budget and the financials from the last Carnival year (2019). The foundation is also looking forward to meeting with the Minister again together with the St. Maarten Tourism Bureau.    

Lourens said he was happy to note that Minister Lawrence fully grasps Carnival on a socio-economic level as well. “Carnival generates business opportunities for singers, song writers, choreographers, costume builders and designers, makeup artists and musicians, to name a few. Even more importantly Carnival has driven the growth and development of micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs), many of which are skills-based services. What is often overlooked is the economic significance of Carnival to the economy, businesses and regular people who depend on the festival. This recognition is needed in order that this valuable and unique facet of the St. Maarten’s culture can reach its full potential,” Lourens said.

He added that the SCDF will be making several major announcements in the coming days including the launch of the Carnival 2022 schedule and releasing the COVID-19 safety plan to the public.

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