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Rotary Sunset Launches Little Free Library

SINT MAARTEN (SIMPSON BAY) - On Saturday 26th September 2020, the Rotary Club of St. Martin Sunset launched its fourth Little Free Library on the island at the Allen C. Halley Community Center in Simpson Bay in the presence of the center’s Director, Brigitte Halley, as well as members and guests of the club.

The concept of the Little Free Library was initially introduced in 2009 by Rotarian Todd Bol of Hudson, Wisconsin and the idea quickly spread throughout thousands of communities in the United States, with the goal of creating awareness on the importance of literacy.

This newly installed Little Free Library is not new to the island of St. Martin, as Rotary Sunset introduced the first Little Free Library on the Marigot Waterfront in December of 2018 and throughout the years have installed Little Free Libraries at the Raoul Illidge Sports Complex in Cay Hill, the University of St. Martin and now it’s fourth at the Simpson Bay Allen C. Halley Community Center. The objective of the little free library is mainly to encourage more reading and to promote literacy throughout our communities.

“Rotary advocates basic education and literacy and with an initiative such as this, it is very beneficial to promote reading, especially in the communities. It is the club’s hope that the community of Simpson Bay appreciates this gesture and will utilize the box effectively. Anyone in the nearby communities of Cole Bay, Cay Bay, Pelican and even as far as the Mullet Bay area can stop to take a book and leave a book. Multilingual books and various gestures can be found and are accepted in the Little Free Library . Heartfelt gratitude is extended to Mr. Martin Canzius of Canzius Designs N.V. for constructing the Little Free Library and Mr. Larry Yankey for affixing the signs,” President of the Rotary Club of St. Martin Sunset, Elisia Lake stated.

The Rotary Club of St. Martin Sunset would like to encourage the general public to visit any of the four little libraries on the island, as we continue to promote the importance of reading. The club has partnered with Rotary and Rotaract clubs in neighboring islands such as Virgin Gorda and Turks and Caicos and installed 2 Little Free Libraries. A Little Free Library is also in the process of being installed in Anguilla of which Rotary Sunset is ecstatic about. Community members are urged to donate books they are no longer using, to either of the club’s little libraries or any member of the Rotary Club of St. Martin Sunset. For persons interested in sponsoring a Little Free Library, please feel free to contact the club via This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or call +1 721 587 4193

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Beyond Kultura Translates Sequel into English for Windward Island Kids

SINT MAARTEN (PHILIPSBURG) – Beyond Kultura Events Foundation has taken an important first step toward publication of a new Caribbean-based reader for English speakers: the translation into English of a 210-page sequel to Zonnesproetjes-Tropisch Nestje (Freckle Bunch/Tropical Shelter) Written by local author Loekie Morales, the English sequel is written for readers age seven and up.

While the Dutch version was sponsored by Morales and BKE, the English translation and proofreading costs were sponsored by Prins Bernhard Cultural Fund Caribbean. Its aim is to encourage English speakers to read Caribbean-based stories to enhance their reading skills.

PBCF supported the translation of Zonnesproetjes to Freckle Bunch by Barbara van de Woude and the translation of Tropisch Nestje to Tropical Shelter by Riet-Sint Straatman. In addition, the Fund supported the proofreading of both books by native English speaker Marianne Tefft.

For the writing of the special two-in-one sequel of 40 short stories, Morales recalls her childhood in Curaçao, where she was raised in a family with lots of children. After the death of her young mother, Morales and her siblings were sent to local boarding homes, where their lives changed substantially.

With completion of the sequel’s translation, BKE is seeking funds from local entities to support the printing of Freckle Bunch/Tropical Shelter for Windward Islands kids.

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COCI, Ministries VSA & TEATT Collaborate in COVID-19 Mitigation Policies

SINT MAARTEN (PHILIPSBURG) – In an effort to continue informing the general public and especially the business community as well as to curb the miscommunication between employers and employees as it pertain to the protocols related to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Chamber of Commerce and Industry has collaborated with the Ministry of Public Health, Social Development and Labour (Ministry VSA) and the Ministry of Tourism, Economic Affairs, Transport & Telecommunications (Ministry TEATT) to once again present the protocols to the business community and the general public.

In particular, Collective Prevention Services (CPS) identified a gap in information as it pertains to COVID policies surrounding employees returning to work. This concern was brought forward and COCI felt the need to collaborate with both ministries to address this. As a result, a flyer was developed with the aim of providing clarity in a simple and straightforward manner.

The flyer, which addresses amongst others, the misconception that it is mandatory for employees who have been in contact with a COVID-19 patient to present a negative COVID-19 test before returning to their place of employment, which, within the protocols established by Collective Prevention Service (CPS) Ministry VSA, is not mandatory.

On the contrary, once an employee has been identified via contact tracing efforts as having had contact with a COVID-19 person, they are to be quarantined for a minimum of fourteen days from the date of last contact, during which time they will be monitored by CPS. If after this period, they do not exhibit COVID-19 symptoms, they should then be allowed to return to work.

CPS’ testing strategy is to test persons who display signs and symptoms consistent with COVID-19 with the aim of finding active cases and prompt source and contact tracing.

The flyer will form part of the ongoing COVID-19 awareness campaign and will be published in the media and distributed to the business community to display in their establishments.

The Sint Maarten Chamber of Commerce and Industry would like to take this opportunity to again remind and advise the business community that adherence to the COVID-19 protocol should be adopted as much as possible, since the survival of your business also depends on the health of your employees and customers.

The Ministry of VSA, through CPS will continue to inform the community on vigilance and implore on the community to be aware of the protocols and safety measures to assist in achieving a COVID-19 free society.

The Ministry of TEATT will continue inspection in an efficient manner, so as to ensure the protocols and measures are adhered to by civil society.

The Sint Maarten Chamber of Commerce and Industry is asking business owners/ operators who would like this information to be displayed in your place of business to contact COCI to reserve these flyers and posters.

COCI remains committed to assist where needed in the fight against COVID-19.

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Small businesses receive financial assistance through the ESP

SINT MAARTEN (PHILIPSBURG) - Entrepreneurs Lesley and Shirly Bruce of Kenny’s Car Rental & Management N.V. and Stephane Habichdobinger of Procontech are all smiles as the first small business owners to receive direct financial assistance of the Enterprise Support Project (ESP).

Both had applied via Qredits and on Wednesday, September 29th were acknowledged in the presence of Minister of Finance Irion Ardwell, Minister of Tourism, Economic Affairs, Transport and Telecommunications Ludmila de Weever and NRPB Director Claret Connor.

Each business opted for the project’s Assets and Repair package and will only have to repay 35 percent of the total amount received. Start-ups and existing businesses with a monthly income of less than one hundred thousand guilders may pick from one of three packages offered and apply for a combination of loans and grants of up to 150 thousand US Dollars.

Both Qredits and Windward Islands Bank are processing several applications and welcome additional entrepreneurs to apply as well. The project is funded through the St. Maarten Trust Fund, which is financed by the Netherlands, managed by the World Bank and implemented by the National Recovery Program Bureau on behalf of the Government of Sint Maarten.

More information on the Enterprise Support Project can be found at www.nrpbsxm.org/esp

PHOTO A ESP

Minister of Finance, Ardwell Irion, Stephane Habichdobinger of Procontech, Minister of TEATT, Ludmila de Weever and Director of the NRPB Claret Connor

 

 

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Government of Sint Maarten in full support of the reconstruction projects

SINT MAARTEN (POND ISLAND) - The Council of Ministers refutes the claim that St. Maarten opposes reconstruction as published by Koninkrijks.nu in its article on Friday September 25. The article was based on a letter from State Secretary Knops to the second chamber. The Government of St. Maarten considers this statement incorrect and misleading to the people of St. Maarten and the world at large.

While dealing with a worldwide COVID-19 pandemic and its consequences, the Government of St. Maarten is doing everything possible to ensure that the recovery of St. Maarten remains a top priority in the best interest of our residents. The Government of the Netherlands is fully aware of concerns about the establishment agreement as well as the bottlenecks that St. Maarten would encounter with its recovery in regard to the projects, project execution and implementation as this was an imposed procedure on St. Maarten. It is clear, that these mechanisms used to manage emergency funds was not the best choice by the Dutch Government.

A known challenge for which technical support has been offered to us is the amendments to our tax legislation. The department of Foreign Relations has updated the Council of Ministers that the technical assistance requested regarding the establishment agreement for a World Bank Office on St. Maarten, is currently ongoing. Both Ministries of General Affairs and Finance are working diligently to finalize the implementing legislation on fiscal privileges and immunities in order to fulfill the legal obligations of the establishment agreement. As such, the department of Fiscal Affairs is being assisted by the Ministry of Finance of the Netherlands to draft implementation legislation for fiscal privileges for officials of International Organizations established in St. Maarten.

Additionally, the Ministry of Justice is currently providing a temporary solution for consultants and international companies providing services to the NRPB whereby NRPB is being considered as an extension of the Government of St. Maarten. Using this approach, the required permits can then be processed in a timely manner once the necessary documentation is submitted.

Prime Minister Silveria Jacobs stated, “In a quarterly meeting on Wednesday, September 9, I met with the steering committee whereby the members expressed their contentment with the commitment of the Government of St. Maarten and looked forward to the decrease in COVID-19 cases, in order to finally attend its first meeting on the island. It should be noted that the Government of St. Maarten remains committed to the execution of the Trust Fund projects under implementation and those under preparation. We have identified several focal points within each Ministry and as such representatives of these Ministries are consistently working together and cooperating with the project teams of the NRPB to ensure the execution and implementation of the much-needed projects.”

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GRACITA: TIME TO RE- ESTABLISH LUCRATIVE OFF-SHORE BUSINESS

SINT MAARTEN (PHILIPSBURG) – Leader of the Progressive Peoples Alliance (PPA) Gracita Arrindell said on Monday in a media statement: “The Dutch Parliament supported the establishment of new ‘Caribbean Reform’ entity including the conditions set by PM Mr. Mark Rutte Cabinet III for short term and temporary liquidity support for the governments of Aruba, Curacao, Sint Maarten. This ‘one shoe-size fits all’ proposal from Holland was countered by arguments and counter-proposals by the respective governments in the Caribbean. The result is a stalemate. In the interim, the impasse is an opportunity for government to take a hard look inwards for alternative means of income where there is already an infrastructure in place. Such a source of income can be the offshore market, the yachting industry and private aircraft registry.

“The the offshore business was once a lucrative income source for islands especially Curacao. It subsequently relocated to other countries including Holland, Switzerland and some (British)) islands in the Caribbean. While there are new and more stringent regulations that govern the offshore sector, it remains a good way of generating income for governments. Holland continues to attract new offshore companies. This is especially true after ‘Brexit’. The Governments of Sint Maarten, Aruba and Curacao can benefit from considering a joint approach and taking a closer look at re- establishing a beachhead in this industry, in spite of the fact that some investors are moving out their shares. Case in point; According to a recent ‘Bloomberg’ article written early September by Mr. Benjamin Stupples, Curacao suffered a financial blow in the offshore sector, after multi-billionaire Mr. Anthony Bamford chairman of excavator machine giant JCB took all his shares in the company from a Curacao holding company to Switzerland”.

Arrindell ponders; “How do we move forward? Answer; Holland has one Representation with offices in Sint Maarten, Aruba and Curacao. All three islands have their own Minister Plenipotentiary in The Hague. These offices must be more than just the link between the European and Caribbean based countries. The representatives must continuously ‘walk the corridors of power’ with a plan that includes the revival of the off- shore industry. “Lobbying for investments” through trade missions is well-known foreign and economic relations policy practiced in The Hague for centuries. Sint Maarten, Curacao, Aruba can revive the offshore sector within a short time. The off- shore infrastructure ‘footprints’ are still present on the above -mentioned islands and all three islands have previous experience and a deep well of expertise operating in this sector. ”

Gracita continues and states; since funds are scares for everyone it is critically important that the islands pool their resources and jointly make a case to their Dutch counterparts at the ministries of Economic Affairs for their support and expertise in re- establishing the offshore industry in Sint Maarten, Aruba, Curacao. The Caribbean governments must get together to attract the best tax lawyers in or outside- of the Kingdom with one mission only: re-establishing the lucrative offshore business on all three islands.

There’s enough ‘clean’ money in the world to support a healthy industry and attract capital back to our islands.

What is possible for Switzerland and the Netherlands should be possible here as well under the new international tax rules and other regulations that govern this business. The Central Banks of Curacao and Sint Maarten and of Aruba can offer a guiding hand and play a transparent role in this process.”

Gracita says: “additionally, Sint Maarten must set out a regulations to attract the yachting and private jet sector back to our shores. We are geographically well located and have a beautiful island to market. Other islands are rolling out the ‘red carpet’ to attract quality tourism instead of blindly promoting mass tourism with all the negative consequences we have had the chance to experience over the past three decades. This will not happen overnight and will require expert advice. The kind of tourist we seek to bring in will not tolerate dirty streets and scattered litter. Nor will they be attracted to cheap store -fronts, hawking cheap trinkets. We must face our crime problems head on and deliver a trouble and worry free vacation for our visitors. Our population can only benefit from a safer island where families can stop worrying about their children and criminals can take their nefarious business elsewhere. This new attitude can only improve our quality of life and bring back prosperity. It will not happen by itself- it will only happen if we all pitch in and do our part. There are no more high or low season to count on thanks to the Covid- pandemic and its related effects on our economies. Experts are predicting this will last at least for another three years. We are in dire need of decisive and inclusive leadership to get our island moving in the right direction.”

Arrindell concludes: “ with the right frame of mind and desire to work together to achieve a common goal, we can flourish once again. However, achieving this goal requires the input of elected and appointed officials who have the background, integrity, determination and skills to get the job done. The old way of doing business no longer works and will not work ever again. It’s equally important that citizens no longer accept the ‘laissez- faire’ - way of doing business of past that has left our country’s coffers empty today. Our city center is a ‘ghost town’ at night and many of our citizens including our pensioners are left poor and destitute. They are also prisoners in their homes, afraid or unable to venture out. We can do better.”

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Sonesta Ocean Point Resort Introduces the Azul Experience.

SINT MAARTEN (MAHO BAY) ­– For a limited time only now through December 23rd, Sonesta Ocean Point invites local Sint Maarten residents to take part in its new, dining series at its signature fine dining restaurant, Azul.

The Azul Restaurant sits at the edge of the cliff overlooking stunning Maho Bay, boasting impressive architecture allowing for sweeping views of the sea, and of course, our destination’s famous aircraft landings. Featuring sleek, contemporary design with whitewashed walls and cerulean blue accents, the captivating ambience reflects the Mediterranean-themed menu that presents a creative interpretation of authentic specialties including seasonal ingredients, fresh vegetables, and grilled selections.

Priced at $45 per person for lunch and $60 for dinner, the introductory prix fixe menu features inspiring dishes from Azul’s daily, changing menu and includes up to five courses including appetizer, salad, soup, entrée and dessert, and house wine and standard brand drinks, inclusive of two alcoholic drinks per person (dinner includes three alcoholic drinks per person), as well as flat or sparkling water. Additional food and beverage items are available at an added cost, as well as bottled selections from the restaurant’s international wine list.

Complimentary covered parking in the Maho garage is included. As is standard with the resort’s PureCare sanitization protocols, temperature checks will be performed at security, masks are required and all procedures must be adhered to as per government regulations.

Lunch reservations are accepted from 12noon to 2pm and dinner reservations are accepted 6pm to 8pm.

To make reservations, please call 546-6222 or visit mahogroup.com/the-azul-experience. Reservations close at 5pm the day before. For groups larger than six persons, please email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. Sonesta Ocean Point is an adults-only resort adjacent to the family-focused Sonesta Maho Beach Resort, Casino & Spa.

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32-Year Old Man Shot after Altercation and is Critical but in Stable Condition

SINT MAARTEN (MIDDLE REGION) - The Sint Maarten Police Force KPSM had a busy start this Monday morning with a shooting that had taken place in the Middle Region area.

Central Dispatch directed the Police Patrols to the Middle Region Road close to Romeo’s Drive approximately 11.10 am, for a shooting that had taken place whereby a man was severely injured.

The victim, who sustained a gunshot wound to his upper body, was transported to the Sint Maarten Medical Center (SMMC) by private vehicle prior to the police’s arrival at the scene.

After conducting a brief investigation at the scene, it was concluded that the victim with the initials O.R.M., 32 years of age, had been injured after having an altercation with an unknown person on the Middle Region road.

The victim is in critical but stable condition at the Sint Marten Medical Center. Personnel of the detective department are currently gathering more information into what transpired before the shooting and will update the media as it becomes available.

The detectives investigating this case are asking anyone with information to contact the Sint Maarten Police Force at +1 721- 542 22 22 ext. 204 or 205 or the anonymous tip line on 9300 (free of charge). You can also visit the website at www.policesxm.sx to report crimes anonymous via the tip contact form. Or you can leave a Private Message via our Facebook page (Police Force of Sint Maarten - Korps Politie Sint Maarten) if you know or suspect something. (KPSM)

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SMCC - State Secretary Knops wants Dutch experts to evaluate the relief policies

SINT MAARTEN (PHILIPSBURG) - On Monday September 21st , Dutch State Secretary of Kingdom Relations Raymond Knops informed the Second Chamber of the Dutch Parliament, that he had charged some “independent experts” to start an evaluation of the policy regarding relief efforts on St Maarten, Saba and St Eustatius, after the Irma disaster, the Sint Maarten Consumers Coalition said in a statement.

“The review is aimed at providing as broad a picture as possible of the effectiveness and efficiency of expenditures already made for the reconstruction of the Windward Islands. It is also deemed necessary to outline the effectiveness and efficiency of the implementation structure set up for the reconstruction of St. Maarten, in theory and practice.

“Knops explained in the letter and we quote: “This policy review can, (…), be seen as an intermediate step, in which learning and identifying points for improvement are central,”. The evaluation also includes accountability for the choices made for activities and expenditures already incurred. A final evaluation of the policies related to the reconstruction of St. Maarten, Saba and Statia will take place after the completion of the reconstruction activities on December 31, 2025.

“The Kingdom of the Netherlands has participated in three major United Nations conferences on Disaster Risk Reduction! As you can deduct from the underlined scope of the evaluation in this article the State Secretary Knops does not evaluate how the Kingdom has prepared for disaster risks in St Maarten, Saba and St Eustatius. He only wants to evaluate how the relief money was spent after the Irma disaster! Let us compare for example the way in which the Netherlands after the disaster in 1953 the Dutch has addressed the disaster risk for another disaster. They have built the Delta Works, which is called “one of the seven wonders of the world” and they have reinforced the existing natural barriers against rising sea levels! What did the Dutch do on our islands to reduce the risks of disasters of hurricanes, tsunami’s, earth quakes or pandemics? Nothing!

“From the Daily Herald article of yesterday we quote: “The reconstruction of St. Maarten will be evaluated by a hired “external independent evaluator”, who will be supported by the core team, which has the World Bank’s trust and that of the stakeholders in St. Maarten. The Dutch government has appointed Ted Kliest as evaluator. A supervisory committee chaired by Sjef IJzermans monitors the quality and progress of the audit. The committee consists of representatives of the relevant ministries in the Netherlands. How “independent” are these Dutch evaluators?

“Why Knops did not ask the United Nations Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Disaster Risk Reduction Ms MIZUTORI Mami, to prepare a team of specialists to review: “how the Kingdom of the Netherlands has been reducing the risks of disaster and has responded to the disasters caused by hurricane Luis in September 1995, and hurricane Irma in September 2017”? At least the United Nations would have come up with a team of experts who do not wear “Dutch glasses”, and who could look more objective to preparations and response of the Kingdom in times of disasters in the Caribbean part of the Kingdom!

“If Knops does not ask the United Nations expert on disaster risk reduction to do such an evaluation, as Consumers Coalition we want to recommend the government of St Maarten to have the Kingdom government and the World Bank evaluated in their preparation and response to the natural disasters St Maarten has been going through.

“We also recommend Parliament to insist with our government to demand such a more objective evaluation of the disaster risk reduction we are entitled to!” the SMCC appeals in its statement.

dutch state secretary kingdom relations r w knops

Dutch State Secretary for Kingdom Relations Raymond Knops

 

 

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SMCC - Will the home repair planning of the NRPB achieve its 2025 goal?

SINT MAARTEN (PHILIPSBURG) - According to the website of the National Recovery Plan Bureau there were two types of home repair in execution: one for private home owners and one for social homes, the Sint Maarten Consumers Coalition (SMCC) recently pointed out in a statement.

“A pilot project to repair 14 homes of private homeowners started on July 4th, 2019 and a minor home repair on 26 private homes started on September 1st, 2019.

“According to the website the status of these projects today is that the projects are still “Active”. A second phase of private home repairs announced targets 100-120 homes. The status of this project is “Active” but no start date of the project is mentioned on the NRPB website.

“On the other hand, the status of the social home repair project phase 1 is “completed”. This project targeted 109 homes of the Sint Maarten Housing Development Foundation. The status of a second phase home repair of 64 social homes is “under design”.

“In other words, we are now three years after Irma, until now a total of 313 – 333 homes the NRPB has targeted to repair: 140-160 homes of private home owners targeted of which most of them still “active” and “not completed”, and of 173 social homes targeted to be repaired, of which 109 are “completed” and 64 are still “under design”.

“In the World Bank Group report the total amount of structurally damaged housing units was estimated to be 70% to 80% of 19.500 housing units, which is 13.000 to 15.000 homes!

“We are now in 2020 and the Trust Fund moneys are available until 2025! In two years’ time only 333 homes have been targeted in home repair projects, when the other 12.667 to 14.667 structurally damaged homes will be build back better in our neighborhoods? The project bill boards are still up for quite some time, but not even the announcement or start of all these homes is presented!

“The director of NRPB was on a Public relations tour in all the talk shows on radio and tv, but at no time we could hear about the building back of homes for the 13.000 poor and needy households in St Maarten.

“The homes that we see being repaired are those from people with sufficient funds to repair their home. But poor and needy households lack those funds, they do not have the means to build back better and stronger.

333 homes in 2 years! On that pace in the coming 5 years only 833 homes can be build back better and stronger?

“The NRPB has to inform us on the plans to build back better the 13.000-15.000 homes structurally damaged housing units by hurricane Irma. We also appeal to the Prime Minister as well as the Minister of Public Housing, Spatial Planning and Environment to make public, how the 13.000 to 15.000 structurally damaged homes in the National Recovery and Resilience Plan will be build back better and stronger!” the SMCC said in its statement.

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