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ODM advises Coastal Residents & Businesses to have plans in place for potential flooding

SINT MAARTEN (GREAT BAY, (DCOMM) – The Office of Disaster Management (ODM) said on Thursday that five named storm systems have formed up to July 7th including the first hurricane, Elsa. Elsa passed through the Caribbean last week causing considerable damage to some islands.

On Thursday, the Colorado State University (CSU) Tropical Weather & Climate Research released its third Atlantic seasonal hurricane activity forecast and has increased its forecast slightly and they continue to forecast an above-average 2021 season.

CSU says that: “Elsa’s development and intensification into a hurricane in the tropical Atlantic also typically portends an active season. We anticipate an above-normal probability for major hurricanes making landfall along the continental United States coastline and in the Caribbean.”

ODM is strongly reiterating once again and reminding Sint Maarten residents and the business community that early preparation is key for personal and business resilience, and therefore everybody should have plans in place for early activation.

CSU forecast 20 named storms, of which nine are expected to become hurricanes and four of those Category 3+ major hurricanes.

Coastal residents living near beaches as well as businesses that are located along coastal areas, are advised to have plans in place for possible storm surge inundation in the event of a passing hurricane along the south coasts of the country.

The ODM says these plans should be in place year-round as a natural disaster can happen at any time. Families should take extra time to practice the plan. ODM urges families to use the opportunity now to review those plans to make sure you are ready!

Property damages that can be expected from hurricanes and coastal flooding is a threat to life.

Most coastal communities are vulnerable to one or more different kinds of flooding and related hazards: frequent flooding from storm surge and winds; and storm-caused erosion of cliffs and beaches.

Coastal areas of Sint Maarten are mostly found on the south side of the island: Beacon Hill, vicinity of the Princess Juliana International Airport; road connection to Beacon Hill, Simpson Bay beach, Pelican, and Philipsburg, the Great Bay beach (along the boardwalk), Point Blanche, and Guana Bay.

In the event of a passing hurricane, homeowners should secure their possessions to upper levels of the structure. If you decide not to stay in your home, you should make the necessary arrangements about where you and/or your family would stay to ride out the storm/hurricane.

One should not wait until the last moment to evacuate their home; this should be done before the hurricane arrives, a minimum of 24 hours prior to the arrival of the storm system.

First responders won’t be able to go out during hurricane force winds to execute a rescue if you are trapped and inundated by storm surge. Rising storm waters can also flood coastal roads; therefore, you should leave 24-hours before.

The most important link in the chain of preparation and response for coastal flooding is you. Take the necessary measures to prepare your family and home early, ODM advises.

Here is a checklist if you have to leave your home before a hurricane strike due to anticipated high storm surge: turn off water and gas; have a radio and spare batteries; a first aid kit; flashlight; spare bedding; bottled water and tinned food; house keys; prescription medicine; cash and credit cards; mobile phone and spare clothing.

For general information about preparing prior to a storm/hurricane strike, visit the Government website: www.sintmaartengov.org/hurricane where you will be able to download your “Hurricane Season Readiness Guide’ and “Hurricane Tracking Chart.”

Listen to the Government Radio station – 107.9FM - for official information and news before, during and after a hurricane.

For official weather-related information, check out the website of the Meteorological Department of St. Maarten (MDS): www.meteosxm.com or visit their social media page Facebook.com/sxmweather/

Be prepared this hurricane season!

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First Transit Cruise Call of Celebrity Edge a Stepping Stone for Regular Port Calls

PORT ST. MAARTEN – Port St. Maarten management on Wednesday morning met with Celebrity Edge Captain Kate McCue at the gangway upon arrival of the cruise ship to destination St. Maarten, the first transit call to the country since the onset of the pandemic and presented a token of appreciation on behalf of the port and the St. Maarten Tourism Bureau.

Captain Kate was ecstatic when it was mentioned that coincidentally Celebrity Edge was the last commercial ship that visited the destination back in March 2020.

Port management in collaboration with the captain handed over port and destination merchandise from the St. Maarten Tourism Bureau to one of the first families to disembark. The family actually took the cruise to mourn the death of their recently passed son and saw the cruise as an outlet for the family.

The family booked a tour of the Island and were looking forward to enjoying the destination and what experiences it has to offer. The family said they visited the island many years ago and wanted to see how it has developed since then.

Celebrity Edge is currently sailing with more than 1500 guests and crew of which 95 per cent disembarked on Wednesday to enjoy the island. The guests on Wednesday were greeted to the vibrancy of steel pan performances by Ebony Orchestra and entertainment by Funtopia.

Port management said the aforementioned definitely added to an exciting atmosphere and it was amazing to see passengers once again dancing along to Caribbean music while preparing to embark on tours and other activities offered by taxi’s, tour companies, and other micro and small businesses on the island.

“This is a monumental point for us with the return of transit business however the situation globally still remains fluid and we are closely monitoring these developments in order to be able to take the appropriate action when needed.

“We are having ongoing discussions with different lines in terms of their onboard stringent protocols along with the protocols set forth by the destination. Cruise industry vessels departing U.S. cruise ports such as Miami and others are still operating under the Conditional Sail Order of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which is expected to be tailored down in the coming months.

“It’s paramount for us all to maintain close contact with our cruise industry partners as they go through the next transitional step out of the Sail Order. As a leading port in the region, we will continue having proactive dialogue with our international stakeholders along with the local authorities looking at the alignment moving ahead bridging the gap with the guidelines as business ramps up in a staggered and safe manner in the coming months,” Port St. Maarten Management said on Wednesday.

President of the Harbour Point Village at the Dr. A.C. Wathey Cruise & Cargo Facility Andi Siegers expressed gratitude on behalf of the tenants who were excited to receive the first transit cruise call passengers after 15 months suspension of business.

Siegers described the experience on a scale of 1 - 10 as a 10 because the passengers came off the vessel effortlessly and enjoyed the fact that they could wander, and it was overall a great experience for the guests and the tenants.

Tenants were thrilled having made their first sale in over a year and a half and are looking forward to receiving more cruise calls as we move forward as a destination.

The Dutch Taxi Association President Conrad Richardson said that the taxis are extremely happy that the passengers were allowed to flow freely through the Port to immerse themselves into the destination. 300+ passengers were ferried around the island on tours by 70 taxi drivers throughout the day.

Celebrity Edge has a gross tonnage of 130,818; is 1,004 feet long; beam of 128 feet and a draft of 28 feet; 15 decks.

Celebrity Edge Cruise Pax disembark

Cruise passengers disembark Celebrity Edge on Wednesday for a fun-filled day of exploring the island.

 

 

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VACCINATION CERTIFICATION NOW ALSO AVAILABLE ON STATIA

SINT EUSTATIUS (ORANJESTAD) - The Public Entity St. Eustatius introduces a Vaccination Certification. This consists of a letter and a QR code that is accepted in all European Union (EU) countries and also on Aruba, Curaçao and St. Maarten. Later on, the certificate may also be accepted more widely, for example in the USA. Everyone is recommended to get their COVID-19 vaccination certificate.

The certificate can be requested via email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or via WhatsApp +599-318-5146. The full name (as noted in the applicant’s passport), date of birth and also an email-address of the applicant must be provided. Within one week the Public Health Department will email the applicant the letter with the QR code. If the applicant has no email address, the request can be sent via WhatsApp. In this case, the QR code can be picked up at Public Health on the Cottage Road (on Mondays) during the week following your request

Current vaccination card

It is recommended that persons that were vaccinated, keep their current vaccination card. In most countries outside of the EU, the current vaccination card will still be proof of the COVID-19 vaccination. In addition, the card is required when a person uses the Electronic Health Authorization System (EHAS) to ask permission to enter Statia. Also, if there is a mistake in the system, the current vaccination card will allow the Public Health Department to still provide the applicant with a proof of COVID-19 vaccination.

The EU has agreed on requirements for a COVID-19 vaccination certificate that is valid from July 1st 2021. It is called DCC (Digital Corona Certificate). It is a uniform system that makes travelling easier. In the whole European Union, the same certificates will be used and accepted. Saba, St Eustatius and Bonaire have been working the previous weeks with the Ministry of Health, Welfare and Sports (VWS) in the Netherlands to be able to also provide persons who are vaccinated with a certification. (Statia GIS)

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Prime Ministers of the Dutch Kingdom hold first Ministerial Consultation

SINT MAARTEN (POND ISLAND) - On Monday, July 5th, a Ministerial Consultation was held with all four Prime Ministers of the Dutch Kingdom for the first time in the past years. The high-level meetings came about on request of St. Maarten as a result of the meetings recently held in The Hague. The intention is to foster positive relations within the kingdom based on understanding of each partner’s unique circumstances. Each Prime Minister gave updates concerning economic, political, financial and health developments within their respective countries and agreed to continue to meet on a quarterly basis.

Prime Minister Silveria Jacobs stated, “Though Prime Minister Rutte made it clear that the Ministerial Consultations held between the Caribbean countries with the State Secretary of Interior and Kingdom Relations will continue, this dialogue offers the opportunity for direct contact with colleague Prime Ministers in the Netherlands should the need arise for further escalation. St. Maarten will continue to do everything necessary to build stronger connections with all our Kingdom partners.”

The Prime Ministers will take turns hosting the quarterly consultations, with Aruba, Honorable Prime Minister Evelyn Wever-Croes scheduled to host the second Ministerial Consultation on October 4th, 2021. The subsequent consultations will be hosted by Prime Minister of St. Maarten, and Prime Minister of Curacao, Honorable Gilmar Pisas subsequently. All look forward to continued open communication and cooperation moving forward.

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STATIA INTRODUCES EHAS FOR TRAVELLERS ENTERING THE ISLAND

SINT EUSTATIUS (ORANJESTAD) - The Public Entity St. Eustatius introduces the Electronic Health Authorization System (EHAS) as of today, Wednesday, July 6th, 2021. This system must be used by all incoming travellers within 72 hours before arrival in Statia. The link to the EHAS form is available on the website on the COVID-19 page: Electronic Health Authorization System (EHAS) | COVID-19 | St. Eustatius (statiagovernment.com)

Registration via e-mail is not possible anymore as of Monday, July 12, 2021. From this day on, all Statians and visitors including tourists who want to enter Statia must use the EHAS-system and entering Statia is only possible after having received a pre-approval through the EHAS system.

The implementation of EHAS is a drastic change of the process to register for entry. A positive outcome of the introduction of EHAS is that it will be possible to pass St. Maarten with an EHAS approval from St. Eustatius. Another advantage of EHAS is that it is an easy and quick approval process with less work for the traveler.

Registration

For registering through EHAS, the applicant must upload the PCR-test result, have a passport ready if required, and the proof of vaccination if available. Pictures of these documents are allowed.

Only when the EHAS-form is completed, it can be submitted. Upon submitting the form, the applicant will receive a confirmation mail that permission to enter was requested. This is followed by an e-mail to the applicant with either a pre-approval or a motivated denial. It is expected that almost everyone will be approved to enter Statia. A decision will be made within 12 hours after submitting the form.

For very low risk countries the applicant will receive immediately approval. For all other countries a Public Health Officer will review the application and, based on the information provided, will approve or deny the request.

On Statia a last check will be done by the Public Health staff to check if the pre-approval is correct. If they conclude that information is not correct it can lead to stricter requirements for quarantine.

The airlines will be informed that only travelers with an EHAS pre-approval will be allowed to enter Statia. EHAS is already introduced on Saba and St. Maarten. (Statia GIS)

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Postponement filing Opbrengstbelasting (Profit Tax) annual accounts 2020

SABA/SINT EUSTATIUS - The final filing date for the Opbrengstbelasting (Profit Tax) annual accounts 2020 is September 30th, 2021. Due to the current circumstances, caused by the coronavirus, it is quite conceivable that companies and organisations shall not be able to do this before the said date.

Therefore, a postponement is granted automatically up to December 31st , 2021. Companies and institutions do not have to do anything for this.

They should not forget to file the annual accounts signed by the director, manager or authorised representative by December 31st . This prevents the imposition of a fine by the Belastingdienst (Tax Office).

For questions, please contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or tel. 715-8585.

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Cft has concerns about financial management Bonaire

BONAIRE (KRALENDIJK) - The Executive Council faces major challenges in the field of financial management and must take steps to formalize the land policy. The Board of Financial Supervision Bonaire, Sint Eustatius and Saba (Cft) has indicated this in discussions with the Executive Council. The Cft also advises Bonaire to make a spending plan for the reserves built up in recent years. 

There are positive reports about the expected recovery on Bonaire in the second half of this year. The number of corona infections is under control, partly as a result of a relatively high vaccination rate. The recovery of the tourism will lead to higher tax revenues for Bonaire. In the first quarter of 2021, tourism-related benefits were USD 0.5 million lower than budgeted. It is expected that these incomes, including tax revenues, will increase in the second half of 2021.

Bonaire is making insufficient progress in the area of ​​financial management. For the annual accounts of 2020 the auditor submitted a disclaimer of opinion on the 2020 annual accounts. An update of the financial management improvement plan is currently being carried out. Due to delays in the financial management improvement process, an unqualified audit opinion for 2021 no longer seems feasible. It is of great importance that Bonaire takes the necessary steps in improving its financial management and works towards an unqualified auditor's report before 2022. Now that two important positions have been filled - the Head of Finance and the Island Secretary - the Cft hopes that Bonaire will take the necessary steps to that effect.

When approving the budget, the Minister of the Ministry of the Interior and Kingdom Relations (BZK) amongst others set the condition that the public entity Bonaire quickly adopts the land policy. However, the framework memorandum for land policy has been at the Island Council for some time now. In the meantime, the deadlines of December 31st, 2020, and April 30th, 2021 respectively for adopting this policy have passed.

The Cft visited Bonaire on June 29th, 2021, and held discussions with the Executive Council, the Island Council, the acting Kingdom Representative and the program manager of the administrative agreement.

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FOUR CREW MEMBERS TESTED COVID-19 POSITIVE ON SHIP

SINT EUSTATIUS (ORANJESTAD) - On Sunday, July 4th, 2021, a captain of a ship arriving from Suriname informed the Public Health Department that there were four (4) crew members on board with possible COVID-19 symptoms.

These persons were put into isolation immediately and tested upon the ship's arrival. During the late-night hours, four (4) crew members tested positive for COVID-19.

Due to information relayed by the captain, the situation is contained and under control.

All other crew members are currently in quarantine and will be tested during the course of today, Monday, July 5th , 2021.

The crew is prohibited from disembarking the ship and at the moment only fully vaccinated Public Health Department employees are allowed to embark on the ship. The remaining results are expected later this evening, Monday, July 5th, 2021.

More information

More information will be provided this evening on Shedding Light at 7 PM. (Statia GIS)

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MP Emmanuel: I will not be deterred from holding government accountable

SINT MAARTEN (PHILIPSBURG) - Independent Member of Parliament Christophe Emmanuel said that the non-answers and unclear answers provided at the recent budget 2021 leaves plenty room for much more questioning in the weeks ahead and stressed that he will continue holding government accountable.

“I will not be deterred,” the MP said pointing to the fact that consistency in holding government accountable has led to a possible payment of vacation pay, the truth about the vendors along Pondfill, some clarity and truth about government’s financial position, legal basis or lack thereof outstanding police payments, massive over spending such as the Pretty Boy affair and blatant lies from a government foundation (SOG – Stichting Overheids Gebouwen) that will be dealt with in due time.      

“The budget debate was an unsatisfactory back and forth with the government about a budget that has clearly shown the government's dishonesty and lack of vision. It is an empty budget with no strategy, no direction and definitely no solutions for anything,” the MP said.

“This budget has provided many contradictory aspects and therefore many opportunities for follow-up on the many actions of this government. Amazingly there is nothing in the budget about how the deficit will be realistically tackled. It is amusing at this stage to talk about cost-cutting since this seems like a foreign concept to government with increases throughout the budget.”

The MP said he was not surprised at the answer he received when he asked the Prime Minister when St. Maarten will be in a better position financially to forgo requesting liquidity support. “The response I received is that the country expects to present a balanced budget in 2024 or 2025, if projections from the IMF holds true. I can interpret that to mean that we will be in a dependent state until 2025. I can also interpret that as a typical answer from a weak government that truly has no clue and no direction to even attempt to project leadership in answering what is essentially a leadership question,” he said.

MP Emmanuel said in the COVID era the realities of the local economy are glaring. Yet, he said, government has put forward the same proposals as we have seen year after year after year. He said although Parliament received a presentation of an economic recovery plan in late 202, government has not implemented this plan for the country at a time when competition in the region has already implemented their post-pandemic plans. The MP said there is no cohesion between any Ministry in terms of recovery and new policy. “The answers you got was either they will get back to us or a dance around information which was obviously thrown together at the last minute,” he said.

“This budget reflects the government's character of being guided by short-term politics rather than long-term vision. Our economy was already struggling coming into the corona crisis with slow growth, stagnant wages, declining productivity, business investment going backwards and rising debt. This budget leaves people behind and is filled with repackaged schemes and no central ideas.”

He continued: “More spending, more loans and liquidity support and maybe more taxes are not a prescription for economic growth. Workers, families, entrepreneurs and small businesses have to make tough choices each day when it comes to their budget. They don’t go out and spend outside of their means, or rack up huge bills and push them down the road for another generation. Challenging times call for leadership and tough choices and this budget fails our people on both counts.”

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Tender for affordable maritime connectivity Saba & St. Eustatius

SABA/STATIA - The Public Entities of Saba and St. Eustatius jointly issued a tender document on June 30, 2021, inviting licensed ferry operators to submit a proposal to provide regular, affordable maritime connectivity between Saba, St. Eustatius, and St. Maarten and between St. Eustatius and St. Kitts.

The Ministry of Infrastructure and Water Management (I&W) has granted a subsidy of 2 million euros for the first two years to realize a sustainable Public Service Obligation (PSO) agreement. The start of the ferry operation is scheduled before the end of this year at the latest.

The requirements for the schedule are that same-day travel will be provided, enabling one-day visits for shopping, commercial or family purposes for residents of Saba and Statia, as well as making it possible for so-called “day trippers” from St. Maarten to visit Saba and from Statia to St. Kitts.

The main purpose of this ferry service is to boost the travel opportunities to Saba and Statia which will aid the islands in their social and economic development. Improving the connectivity between the three Windward Islands is a very important issue for Statia and Saba, and has been high on the islands’ agenda. Especially during the COVID-19 pandemic, the decreased connectivity has severly affected the islands’ economies.

Various ferry operators already have mentioned their interest to subscribe to the tender. The tender is open for all ferry operators that meet the requirements. The selection criteria of the tender include the suitability of the vessel itself, the proposed schedule, a profit and loss P&L statement in relation to the proposed schedule, a tariff proposal and a vision on the long-term collaboration with the Public Entities Statia and Saba.

Interested operators can apply for the request for proposal through the email address This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. Interested operators can also apply for and additional information via this email address. Only legitimate operators (with a commercial license) may apply.

Saba Fort Bay Harbor

Saba, Fort Bay Harbour. (file photo)

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