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K1 DIRECT calls for preparation for the 2020 hurricane season

SINT MAARTEN (PHILIPSBURG) - As the region enters the 2020 hurricane season, K1 DIRECT (K1 Britannia Foundation’s Disaster & Crisis Team) has started to make preparations to assist not only the Dutch Caribbean, but also islands in the region, during the wake of a disaster.

In the last several months, K1 DIRECT has expanded its capacity by enhancing its supplies, operational capabilities, regional and international partnerships as well as the qualifications of the volunteer team.

Most recently, K1 DIRECT has been involved in coordinating the packaging and distribution of food packages during the COVID-19 crisis, which has further developed and given the team the experience and immediate preparedness needed for any future disasters.

K1 DIRECT has been actively engaging in disaster preparedness since the team’s conception in 2017. Its members are trained in crisis management, emergency medicine, registration in emergencies, data collection, information management, psychosocial support, organization and distribution of relief goods, shelter management, and emergency logistics.

K1 DIRECT is also equipped with the logistics, supplies, and regional partnerships needed to be effective in immediate relief.

K1 DIRECT Program Manager, Priya Thirumur stated, “The team’s first priority is to the island of St. Maarten, in which K1 DIRECT has maintained dialogue with St. Maarten Government Emergency Support Function 7 (ESF7).

These dialogues outline the team’s pre-determined roles within shelter management, first response, and distribution management on the island. This partnership was an outcome of the experiences of Hurricane Irma, but also through COVID-19 which continued to build the foundation of a strong partnership, and set clear criteria of processes and procedures for disaster management.”

Over the years, the disaster team has dynamically played a role in the relief efforts of Hurricane Irma, St Maarten (September 2017), Hurricane Maria, Dominica (October 2017) and Hurricane Dorian, Bahamas (September 2019).

K1 DIRECT Program Manager, Alan Schet states, “The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration expects an above-normal Atlantic hurricane season amid the global pandemic and although we are hoping that we do not endure any disasters, we must be prepared and K1 DIRECT has been making necessary steps of preparedness via training and expansion of the team, over the years.”

K1 DIRECT has undergone extensive trainings in disaster management including disaster management training with the UNDAC (United Nations Disaster Assessment & Coordination) amongst many others in CPR, First Aid, Emergency Medical Response, Logistics and more. K1 DIRECT has also established a branch in Curacao which supports the St. Maarten team in regional disaster relief, and also have been given relevant trainings over the last two years.

For more information on how you can be join or support K1 DIRECT, please visit their website www.k1britanniafoundation.org, send an email to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or visit their Facebook www.facebook.com/k1sxm.

K1 Photo 2 Group photo during UNDAC training site visit at PJIA

Group photo during UNDAC training site visit at PJIA Airport.

 

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MP Duncan questions Government on the economic impact of monies leaving the country and requests advice from SER

SINT MAARTEN (PHILIPSBURG) – National Alliance (MP) Member of Parliament Solange Ludmila Duncan recently sent separate letters to the Minister of General Affairs and the Minister of Finance in connection with monies leaving St. Maarten via money transfer agencies.

“Over the last few weeks there has been much discussion on the types of measures that will need to be taken in order to minimize the economic recession and the major losses in public funds. COVID-19 has forced us to finally evaluate new avenues in which to generate income for the Government and new taxes may play a critical role in the country’s recovery and future development.” noted the MP in her in her letter to the respective Ministers.

Via the Minister of Finance, the MP requested data from the Central Bank of Curacao and Sint Maarten (CBCS) on the total amount of remittances leaving the monetary union via money transfer agencies like Western Union and MoneyGram over the last 5 years and any license or other fees that these agencies must pay to the CBCS and Government.

“Countries within the region like the British Virgin Islands are implementing new taxes on foreign remittances. I believe that we should look at how the country can benefit from all the money that leaves our economy but also think about our own diaspora and developing the same sort of relationship.

“St. Maarteners around the world can help us without having to move back; whether through money transfers to family members, providing technical assistance or advice. We’ve never made a concerted effort in developing the kind of diaspora that would push this country forward. I believe the time is now,” added the MP.

The MP has asked the Minister of General Affairs to solicit advice and a report from the Social Economic Council (SER) on her behalf on the socio-economic impact of foreign remittances as well as the possible introduction of a tax on said monies.

“Research by the SER on the above-mentioned will be of much value to Government and Parliament as we work on further developing this country. I look forward to receiving the Ministers’ cooperation and working with Government on new income generating measures for St. Maarten,” concluded the MP.

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Deadline extended to apply for Business Payroll Support & Lockdown Payroll Support

SINT MAARTEN (PHILIPSBURG) - The new deadline for employers to apply for the second cycle of Business Payroll Support or Lockdown Payroll Support is Friday June 5, 2020. The deadline has been extended to allow more employers the opportunity to apply for the stimulus payroll support.

The original deadline was May 31, 2020. Up until May 30 at approx. 6:30pm, a total of 672 employers have applied for the stimulus payroll support, 77 less than the previous month. Employers experiencing a minimum of 20% decline in revenue due to the COVID-19 pandemic, can apply for the support, which would assist in the payroll of their employees and prevent layoffs.  

The online application form can be found in the SZV Employer Portal. Employers who do not yet have an account can request an account via www.szv.sx. Employers who have already applied for stimulus payroll support can log-in to the SZV Employer Portal to check the status of their application, get detailed specification of approval or denial, view payment specifications and send/receive messages to/from the review team directly within the portal. Denied applications can be appealed by submitting an objection letter by e-mail to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Documents needed to get access to the Employer Portal include a recent chamber of commerce excerpt and a valid Sint Maarten I.D. or passport. New users of the SZV Employer Portal can review the online user manual or demonstration videos available on www.szv.sx.

To apply for Business Payroll Support or Lockdown Payroll Support you submit your ZV/OV declarations and Tax declaration form via the portal.

Questions and inquiries can be e-mailed to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..  Reminders to use the Employer Portal optimally are: preferably, use a PC or laptop, use Chrome or Edge internet browsers to access the portal, not Safari. Check spam and junk e-mail folders to avoid missing e-mail confirmations. Documents can be submitted as scan PDF’s, JPEG’s or original pictures taken from a mobile phone.

Attention: There is one online application form and you must select which payroll support plan you are applying for: Business Payroll Support or Lockdown Payroll Support.

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Good news for the financial sector as APC Bank N.V. acquires PSB Bank N.V.

SINT MAARTEN/CURACAO - The Central Bank of Curaçao and Sint Maarten (CBCS) has approvingly noted the signing of the purchase agreement with which the acquisition of PSB Bank N.V. by APC Bank N.V. is now a fact.

The CBCS had been following the negotiations closely and has given the necessary approvals for the acquisition. Through this acquisition, PSB Bank N.V. will now be in compliance with all the applicable financial requirements, meaning that its solvency and liquidity are in order.

APC Bank N.V. is an independent subsidiary of APC Fonds. This acquisition contributes to the consolidation and thus to the further strengthening of the financial sector.

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Information process elections St. Eustatius to resume

SINT EUSTATIUS (ORANJESTAD) - Effective June 2020 the Executive Council of the Public Entity St. Eustatius will resume the awareness and education programme in the run up to the elections of the Island Council.

This will take place in close collaboration with the Ministry of the Interior and Kingdom Relations, Association of Dutch Municipalities (VNG) and the Dutch Institute for Multi-party Democracy (NIMD). Due COVID 19 this will be mainly a digital process that comprises different modules.

The kick-off of the programme took place on February 20th with speakers of the VNG, NIMD and the Electoral Council. There were more parts envisioned, such as a series of public relations sessions and walk-in meeting for persons interested in the local politics. Duet o the corona pandemic the programme has experienced delay.

In the third week of June the first module “Constitutional relations; sharing and applying the knowledge” will be organized. The objective of this module is to share basic information about among others the constitutional relations, the role and responsibilities of the Island Council, the Executive Council and the Island Governor and how these relate to the civil service. Information regarding a more specific date, time and format will follow.

There is also now the opportunity to schedule one-on-one sessions with representatives of the NIVM and the VNG. This will take place in module 2. For this you can contact Maaike van der Werf of the NIMD (This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.). The one –on one sessions are also digital.

In the third module personal experiences and ‘best practices’ of former politicians in the region will be shared.

Further in the programme there will be modules specifically intended for civil servants, schools, potential candidates and followed by the elected council members. More information will follow regarding the exact date, time and format of these different modules.

Persons, who presently have questions about the possibilities of local politics or who would like to make known their wishes and needs for module 1 or the remainder of the process, are invited to send an email to Andre de Jeu (This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.) and Maaike van der Werf (This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.).

Within the Public Entity of St. Eustatius a projectteam has been formed with three main tasks; preparation, education & training and awareness. For education & training Militza Maduro-Cornell is the contact person (This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.). (Statia GIS)

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Office of Disaster Management calls for Hurricane Season Preparations

GREAT BAY, Sint Maarten (DCOMM) – An above-normal 2020 Atlantic hurricane season has been forecasted by the U.S. National Oceanographic Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Climate Prediction Center with up to 19-named storms, of which 10 could become hurricanes, and of those, six could become major hurricanes of Category 3 or more.

An average hurricane season produces 12 named storms, of which six become hurricanes, and three of those major hurricanes.

Fire Chief/National Disaster Coordinator Clive Richardson is calling on residents and the business community to start preparing for the hurricane season.

“Our national disaster management system commenced preparations earlier this month. This includes all 10 Emergency Support Functions (ESFs) and other relevant agencies, who have been working diligently to create a sound disaster risk management plan that is currently in the execution phase in order to save lives and minimize damage from hurricanes,” Richardson said on Tuesday.

The Office of Disaster Management (ODM) calls on residents to review the content of their Disaster Kit and to start restocking it with the essentials that are necessary to ride out the hurricane season.

Every household’s Disaster Kit should be able to support members of the household for a minimum of seven days after the hurricane has passed.

The Disaster Kit should contain non-perishable food, water and medicine (fill prescriptions before the storm); non-electric can opener; first-aid kit; extra cash (ATM machines and credit cards won’t work if there is no electricity); a battery powered radio and flashlights as well as extra batteries; make sure cell phones are all charged prior to the arrival of the hurricane; fill up your car/truck with gas; check if your home and automobile insurance are up to date; put ID cards, passports and driver’s license, insurance papers in a waterproof bag along with other important documents.

If you are a parent with an infant or young child (ren), you also need to have essential items as part of your disaster supply kit: baby formula; diapers; bottles; powdered milk; medications; moist towels; and diaper rash ointment.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, a number of Government mandated measures are in place in order to protect public health. The aforementioned must also be taken into consideration for hurricane season preparations.

Your Disaster Kit must also include hand sanitizer, a soap bar or liquid soap; two cloth face coverings for each person; disinfecting wipes, or general household cleaning supplies to disinfect surfaces.

Preparations for the Atlantic hurricane season should be done in a timely manner to avoid the rush. Your Disaster Kit should be completed by the end of June and the latest before the end of July. Hurricane season preparations have to be in place before the start of the peak of the season (mid-August – mid-October).

Use the quiet period of the season which is from early June to the end of July to trim back tree branches from your home; cut all dead or weak branches on any trees on your property; clean-up your yard and put away items that could blow away during the passing of a hurricane; check your roof and storm shutters to make sure they are secure and the latter are working.

For those whose homes are not yet storm/hurricane ready, you should make alternative housing arrangements to stay at family or friends.

Remember, it only takes one to make it a bad hurricane season. Be Prepared as its your responsibility!

The 2020 hurricane season ends November 30.

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Positive Foundation Receives Donation of USD $16,000 from CIBC FirstCaribbean’s Walk for the Cure

SINT MAARTEN (CUPECOY) - Year eight indeed shaped up to be a great one for the region’s largest cancer fundraiser across the English and Dutch Caribbean – CIBC FirstCaribbean’s Walk for the Cure. 

Partnership with the Positive Foundation and Adtalem Global Education on St. Maarten heightened the awareness, raising a grand total of USD $16,000 for the benefit of the Positive Foundation.  

The donation supports the foundation’s endeavors which are geared towards stimulating, educating and activating the consciousness of the community on aspects of self-responsibility towards overall health improvement, and in particular, towards breast cancer. Since its inauguration in 1998, the Foundation has organized month-long breast cancer campaigns every October.  

The campaigns include public service announcements, free clinical breast examination screens, demonstration sessions on breast self-examination and the distribution of educational literature. Activities also include their popular Pink, Phit, Phabulous walk/run which, last October was joined with the bank’s Walk for the Cure, making for St. Maarten’s largest walk. 

The Positive Foundation broadened its scope as of recent, by also joining in the awareness of prostate cancer. Last September, Michael Ferrier, prostate cancer survivor, was the first to share his story as part of the Hour of Hope series (stories by cancer survivors, patients and caregivers) launched by CIBC FirstCaribbean in collaboration with the Positive and the Elektralytes Foundations. 

The interactive and intimate sessions, were held throughout September, (prostate cancer awareness month), and into October (breast cancer awareness month), as part of the bank’s 2019 Walk for the Cure activities and commitment to the cause.  

Such events are made possible through the innovative and unswerving efforts of the bank’s Walk Managers and in-house planning committees. This, together with the efforts of regional partners such as Adtalem Global Education, that joined as a regional sponsor last year, have propelled the fundraising from a modest USD$30 000 at the inception of the walk eight years to over USD$2.2 million over the past eight years. 

Adtalem Global Education operates three higher education institutions in the region. The group took part in the walks in St. Maarten, Barbados and St. Kitts, where its campuses are located. 

CIBC FirstCaribbean was enthusiastic in welcoming them as one of its regional sponsors, given their established track record of engaging with communities where their campuses are located and impacting them for the better. Adtalem is a mission-driven, leading workforce solutions provider and the parent company of Ross University School of Medicine in Barbados, American University of the Caribbean School of Medicine in St. Maarten and Ross University School of Veterinary Medicine in St Kitts. 

Plans for Walk for the Cure 2020 have already started and with the impact of Covid-19 across the region, the walk may take a different format this year. 

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IMA donates non-perishable and dry goods for food baskets

GREAT BAY, Sint Maarten (DCOMM) – The Indian Merchants Association (IMA) has donated 150 food packages for the most vulnerable in society and plans to donate an additional 100.

The Department of Community Development, Family & Humanitarian Affairs, which falls under the Ministry of Public Health, Social Development and Labour (Ministry VSA), is very pleased with the donations that have been coming in to help the less fortunate during the COVID-19 crisis, and expresses its gratitude to the Indian business community.

On May 16 IMA started with distributing 50 food packages. The IMA collected and donated an additional 100 over the past weekend.

IMA plans to collaborate with Community Councils to donate a further 100 food packages.

Persons are reminded, those needing assistance should fill in the digital Social Impact Assessment Form by going to the following link for the digital registration system: http://onlineservices.sintmaartengov.org/covid19/SIAForm.aspx

The Social Impact Assessment Form is available on the Government Website for download on smart phones, desktops, or laptops. The forms can also be filled in online and submitted for processing.

There are several sections on the form that needs to be filled in such as Section 1 “Personal data,” Section 2 “Financial/Employment data,” and Section 3 “Basic Needs Assessment.”

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Fire department issues fire warning due to dry spell

GREAT BAY, Sint Maarten (DCOMM) – The Fire Department which falls under the Ministry of General Affairs, is calling on the community to be very conscious by not throwing out lighted cigarettes or matches that could result in bush fires in fire prone areas due to the dry spell that the island is currently experiencing.

Persons, who would like to burn bush or garbage in a built-up area, or on a hillside for agricultural activities, are requested to refrain from doing so, and contact the Fire Department for advice.

The inappropriate use of fire can endanger lives, property and the environment in these dry weather conditions that the country is currently experiencing.

Fires can get out of control by spreading rapidly at high speeds quickly threatening lives and property.

A person can help by reducing bush fire hazards by acting responsibly and following the aforementioned advice from the national Fire Department.

Those seeking information can contact the Fire Department at 542-1215, 542-1217, 542-6001 or in case of an emergency 919.

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CPS strengthens COVID-19 Campaign as its Enters Final Weekend

GREAT BAY, Sint Maarten (DCOMM) – The Collective Prevention Services (CPS), has strengthened its cadre of Community Awareness Volunteers (CAV) with representatives from AMI, the Red Cross, WIEMS, students from AUC, the fire departments from the Airport and the Government as it winds down its district outreach campaign.

This is the final weekend where CPS staff and CAV will be heading into the districts of Fort Willem and St. Peters.

Members of the community in the aforementioned are reminded, to come out and talk with CPS and CAV once they hear that they are in the neighbourhood. Volunteers are identified by the badges that they wear.

CPS reminds everyone to maintain two meters (6-feet) social distancing from other persons, practice good respiratory etiquettes, wash your hands frequently and clean often touched surfaces.

CPS, a department from the Sint Maarten Ministry of Public Health, Social Development and Labour (Ministry VSA), has during the past weeks been visiting various community districts as part of its COVID-19 Community Outreach Campaign, to reach out to communities and provide valuable accurate information and at the same time collect data from those residents who have flu-like symptoms.

CPS reminds the public: Do not wait to call your physician if you have flu-like symptoms; if you do not have a General Practitioner or cannot reach your physician: Call CPS at 914 without delay and; do not go to the Emergency Room of the St. Maarten Medical Center (SMMC) but call first when you are sick.

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