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Government of Sint Maarten express condolences on passing of Gordon “Butch” Stewart

SINT MAARTEN (POND ISLAND) - The Ministry of TEATT wishes to express its heartfelt condolences to the Stewart family and the wider Sandals Resorts and Beaches Resorts family on the passing of Gordon “Butch” Stewart OJ CD, founder of Sandals Resorts International.

“Butch Stewart was a pioneer and true innovator in the hotel industry and his passion for the Caribbean inspired many. When I lived in London it made me so proud each time I saw London black cabs draped in the Sandals logo,” stated Minister of TEATT Ludmila de Weever.

Minister de Weever has been in contact with Adam Stewart, the son of Gordon "Butch" Stewart to relay condolences on behalf of the Government of Sint Maarten.

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Community reminded to participate in COVID-19 Survey

SINT MAARTEN (GREAT BAY, DCOMM) – The Department of Communication (DCOMM) which falls under the Ministry of General Affairs, is reminding members of the community to take part in a questionnaire on COVID-19 knowledge, attitudes, and practices, which will be concluding shortly. More than 800 persons have participated so far.

All responses are confidential and anonymous. Your participation will help inform and serve Sint Maarten communities. You can participate by visiting the following link: https://bit.ly/34jRjsq

The information gathered will help improve and guide future COVID-19 communication strategies to help keep the Sint Maarten population healthy and safe.

The survey is a collaboration between the Collective Prevention Service (CPS) a department within the Ministry of Public Health, Social Development and Labour (Ministry VSA), Social Health Insurances (SZV) and DCOMM.

The collaborating entities would like to thank you for taking part in the survey.

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SMMC welcomes permanent Cardiologist Dr. Han Spierenburg to its team

SINT MAARTEN (CAY HILL) - St. Maarten Medical Center (SMMC) recently welcomed a new permanent Cardiologist Dr. Han Spierenburg to its Cardiology team. Dr. Spierenburg joins SMMC Cardiologist Dr. Emiko Bird-Lake bringing the number of permanent Cardiologists in-service to two.

Dr. Spierenburg received his education in Cardiology at the Sint Antonius Hospital in Nieuwegein, the Netherlands, after which he spent thirty (30) years working as a device Cardiologist, specializing in pacemakers and Implantable Cardioverter-Defibrillators (ICDs) at the Sint Franciscus Hospital in Schiedam/Rotterdam. During that period, he was active as chairman of the Medical Staff Board and later on of the Rijnmond Society of Cardiologists. As a member of the Quality Commission of the “Nederlandse Vereniging voor Cardiologie” (The Dutch Cardiology Association), he had the privilege of visiting many Cardiology Departments in hospitals across the Netherlands.

Upon reaching his pension age, he decided to defer his retirement and continue his professional career in the Dutch Caribbean. When asked about his reasons for choosing St. Maarten, Dr. Spierenburg replied “In the past I’ve visited Statia many times to combine teaching at the Medical School of St. Eustatius with one of my greatest hobbies: scuba diving. The climate, the adventure and the want for a new challenge brought us (my wife accompanied by our two dogs; a dachshund and a rottweiler) to the Friendly Island with the intention of becoming a resident and staying for a longer period”.

Since being in service at SMMC, Dr. Spierenburg has noted that primary prevention such as lifestyle advice (e.g, weight loss, physical activity and healthier eating) and noncompliance are challenging issues with Cardiology patients. Another challenge is off-island referrals for emergencies. “There is no ambulance to the Erasmus Medical Center at the end of the street for an urgent coronary intervention like I grew accustomed to in the Netherlands but instead patients here have to be air-lifted to Curacao or Colombia”.

“All in all, I have been welcomed by an enthusiastic team of competent healthcare professionals. Working closely with my colleague Dr. Emiko Bird-Lake, I intend to ensure care of our Cardiology patients and our pacemaker/ICD patients in particular. I am convinced of the fact that we are providing quality Cardiological medical care to our patients here on St. Maarten and the surrounding islands”, he concluded.

SMMC is proud to have Dr. Spierenburg in service and urges patients interested in a consultation to make an appointment by calling the Cardiology Department at: Tel: +(1-721) 543-1111 ext. 1304 or 1336. Appointments can be made from Monday - Friday between 8:00 am – 4:30 pm. SZV patients are requested to obtain a referral letter from their family doctor.

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IPKO January 2021 to be hosted virtually

SINT MAARTEN (PHILIPSBURG) - On January 6th and 7th, 2021 a delegation from the Parliament of Sint Maarten will participate virtually in the Interparliamentary Kingdom Consultations (IPKO), with Aruba as host country.

Delegations from the Parliaments of Curaçao, the Netherlands and Aruba will also be participating.

The IPKO will kick off on Wednesday at 9.00 hrs. with opening remarks by the Chairperson followed by a presentation from each country within the Kingdom concerning the state of affairs in said country, in a plenary session. This will be followed by discussions between the four parliamentary delegations on a number of topics in a series of sessions.

Session 1:

Exchange of information concerning the current situation of each country and the combating of COVID-19.

Session 2:

Short-term outlook: Restarting social and socio-economic life within the framework of the established Caribbean body for reform and development.

Session 3:

Medium/long term outlook: Restructuring to strengthen the resilience of the economy, administrative reform, ensuring sustainable public finances and the labor market.

The Interparliamentary consultations will conclude on Thursday, January 7, 2021 with a plenary feedback session at 11.00 hrs.

The Sint Maarten delegation partaking in the IPKO sessions will consist of the following members:

Mr. Rolando Brison President of Parliament, Delegation leader

Mr. William V. Marlin, Chairman Committee of Kingdom Affairs and Interparliamentary Relations

Mrs. Grisha S. Heyliger-Marten, Vice Chairlady Committee of Kingdom Affairs and Interparliamentary Relations

Mr. Claudius A. Buncamper

Mrs. Sarah A. Wescot-Williams

Ms. Melissa D. Gumbs

Mr. Christophe T. Emmanuel

The plenary sessions of the The Interparliamentary Kingdom Consultations (IPKO) can be viewed live via the following link: https://www.tweedekamer.nl/vergaderingen/livedebat/tilanuskamer

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Chris: Govt. and MP’s playing dangerous game with Dutch

SINT MAARTEN (PHILIPSBURG) - Members of Parliament (MPs) are playing a dangerous and irresponsible game with the lives of the people of St. Maarten by hinting that they intend to accept funds from the Dutch, but not support the law that supports the COHO and the country packages with reforms. So says Independent Member of Parliament (MP) Christophe Emmanuel who added that MP's are now stating that they have little to no information and are confused about what the Prime Minister signed with State Secretary Knops.

"When you listen to MP's supporting this government who have been in the media making comments and on the floor of Parliament, you can deduct in what direction they are heading. All of a sudden, tones have changed and there is this attitude of let’s take the money and run," Emmanuel said. "It is an irresponsible direction to take especially since this government has no other plan," he added. The MP was present during Tuesday's meeting of the Committee of Kingdom Affairs and Interparliamentary Relations (CKAIR) regarding the preparation for a virtual IPKO on January 6 and 7.

He used the opportunity to remind the public that he has been cautioning government for weeks not to sigh any agreement before it knows the details and before Parliament has had the opportunity to fully examine the COHO legislation and supporting reforms and country packages. “Today, we hear MPs in the media saying they will wait until the law gets to the floor of Parliament to have a real position. Then you have other MPs saying that at no time did Parliament agree with the content/context of the COHO. But they gave the PM permission to sign. Think about how backward this is. It’s a dangerous and irresponsible game,” MP Emmanuel said.

He said Minister of Finance Ardwell Irion and Minister of TEATT Ludmilla DeWeever have had months to come up with an economic plan for St. Maarten and to date nothing has been done. "So in the absence of that, we placed ourselves in this position due to the failure of this government to have a self-dependent plan. The Finance Minister doesn’t even have a budget for 2021 yet,” the MP said.  

The MP wasted no time in telling committee members who seemed confused about the content of a particular agenda topic, that "Knops is not coming to St. Maarten to sing kumbaya. He is coming with a technical team to execute what was signed for. That's it. There are already several aspects of the country packages already in execution. Parliament doesn't even know which. Government has given the organization specific instructions directly regarding the country packages. What are they? Parliament doesn't know and we are going into IPKO as blind as we were when MPs gave the PM their support to sign the agreement with Knops," MP Emmanuel said.

MP Emmanuel said MPs who are now confused about what the role of the COHO will be apparently are not aware of the full administrative control that they gave up. The principle of the agreement, he explained, is that the Netherlands will provide the countries with long-term financial assistance in exchange for the promise that they will implement a series of reforms and measures, controlled and supervised by the COHO, an independent body that answers to the State Secretary and the Dutch Council of Ministers. "It clearly and literally states in the COHO legislation that since Dutch taxpayer money is going into this, that is who will have the control," Emmanuel said.

He continued: If the COHO is of the opinion that a country is making insufficient effort to comply with the obligations imposed it may determine that stricter financial supervision will be instituted and/or financial support withdrawn. Throughout the legislation this is a recurring theme.

For example, administratively, the COHO can initiate its own economic projects. The COHO legislation states that for the realization of such a project, it may be necessary, for example, to issue a specific permit. In such a situation, however, the relevant government body is expected to cooperate to issue of a permit. Should this not be the case, the COHO may decide to suspend the granting of aid, in accordance with specific articles of the legislation. "So even if St. Maarten's Council of Ministers and civil service advises against, that can be over-ruled. And there is very little regard for Parliament in any decision making process. If MPs are confused now about administrative takeover, they are very late," MP Emmanuel said.

The MP concluded by asking, again, what is government’s position on decolinization since one of the conditions of the Dutch was for government to distance itself from this issue, which was initiated by National Alliance MP Solange Duncan and Alliance coalition faction leader Grisha Marten Heyliger of the UP party.

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Prime Minister Jacobs New Year’s Message

SINT MAARTEN (POND ISLAND) – The cabinet of the Minister of General Affairs released the New Year’s message of Prime Minister Silveria Jacobs on Wednesday evening. The address to the nation reads as follows: “We are now about to bid 2020 farewell, and for many, we are saying goodbye to a challenging year. Nevertheless, it has been another year of life, another year of love, and another year of laughter. With the utmost gratitude to the almighty God, I bid 2020 farewell, taking this time to address the people of St. Maarten, on behalf of the Council of Ministers, and wishing all our residents and visitors a Blessed and Happy 2021 filled with gratitude and faith for a brighter future.

“I am most grateful for another year with no significant natural devastation. We had our challenges as a nation, and the world faced their biggest challenge as of late; combating a global pandemic, COVID-19. With this challenge, St. Maarten now understands how to deal with COVID-19 compared to when we started our response measures back in March. This hurdle required much change and adjustment to the way we do things. However, we must continue to move forward, embracing our new normal safely and responsibly so that we may protect our most vulnerable.

“This year, I am proud to say that there has been more cohesiveness between the executive and legislative branches of government. In the interest of St. Maarten, we have put politics aside, and with the common goal of best will and prosperity for our island and its people, we have put our country’s needs first.

“For many, 2020 meant a loss of income from an economy that was on its way to recovery from the devastation of Hurricanes in 2017. Despite all these challenges, the government of St. Maarten continues to work with our Kingdom Partners for the betterment of our people and the sustainability of our nation’s economy.

“Our 2021 goals remain the same; a sustainable and self-sufficient economy, the strengthening of our financial institution, and meeting our Sustainable Development Goals. Taking into account the lessons learned from Hurricanes Irma and Maria, and the global pandemic, the government has noted the need for diversification of our economy and the need to stimulate entrepreneurship, especially amongst our young people.

“I’d like to acknowledge the different strides made by all our local artists this year, to put St. Maarten on the map all over the world. In many ways, our music, our art, our artistry remains a large part of who we are, and we love sharing that with the world. In doing so, I continue to encourage persons of all walks of life of the many opportunities COVID-19 has brought about for doing business in a new, futuristic, and even more, efficient way, not limited to 37 square miles but globally. Honestly, COVID-19 has given us the opportunity to find alternative means to create income, fully utilize the internet, and realize its full potential to do so.

“We are so grateful to all our front-liners who continue to selflessly ensure that St. Maarten remains safe and moves forward. These men and women in uniform include but are not limited to the Police Force, VKS, Customs, the Immigration Department, the Fire Department, the Ambulance Department, CPS, our nurses, doctors, teachers, sanitation and hygiene workers, and the many employees of our government-owned companies. Your continued dedication to service is invaluable to St. Maarten. Thank You!

“I humbly thank all of our hardworking civil servants who contribute every single day to our nation’s success. As such, I’d like to thank the Department of Communication for ensuring that St. Maarten and the world continue to be informed of the latest developments as well as the Collective Prevention Services for ensuring that we maintain our grip on our present COVID-19 situation locally. When we speak about capacity building, growth, and the future, we are talking about all the contributions of our government employees.

“A special thank you goes out to all our partners within the Dutch Kingdom for all their support this past year. We look forward to continued cooperation on all levels in the New Year. May 2021 bring us more opportunities to continue developing, defining, and fostering our partnership. There is still much space for growing and learning as partners. St. Maarten remains committed to our development by working with our strengths, overcoming our weaknesses, learning from our partnership, and maintaining our identity.

“As I conclude this address, I thank the people of St. Maarten for your faith, endurance, support, and belief in me as I continue to lead, together with our Council of Ministers with the support of our Parliament during these challenging times. Government’s major priority remains your safety and that of our most vulnerable while ensuring that our economy begins to stabilize and regain the pre-pandemic levels we were achieving post-Hurricane Irma.

“I once again wish all St. Maarten residents your families both at home and abroad, as well as our visitors a Blessed, Happy, and Prosperous New Year. God bless you, and God bless St. Maarten.”

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2020 ends on a positive note for Pointe Blanche prisoners

SINT MAARTEN (POND ISLAND) - On Wednesday December 30th, 2020 the Honorable Minister of Justice Anna E. Richardson, handed over three brand new computers to the staff and management of the Pointe Blanche prison.

The computers were received from SBIR (Stichting Beheer ICT Rechtshandhaving) who responded to the Minister’s call for the need for computers to support the rehabilitation program for prisoners and thus generously donated computers towards this end.

With these new computer’s prisoners will be able to follow online courses and other types of educational activities as part of their resocialization and rehabilitation process. Research has shown that recidivism rates go down when prisoners participate in educational programs while incarcerated and that prisons tend to become safer for prisoners and staff when education is more accessible.

The SBIR is the Curacao based intergovernmental Foundation that manages ICT in Law Enforcement and is based on the Collaboration Agreement ICT Law Enforcement Chain between Aruba, Curacao, St. Maarten and the Netherlands (for Bonaire, St. Eustatius and Saba). Through the SBIR, the four Kingdom countries closely cooperate on the various ICT aspects of law enforcement. St. Maarten is represented in the Supervisory Board of this non-profit ICT foundation by the department head of Judicial Affairs and deputy Secretary-General of the Ministry of Justice mr. drs. Vidjai Jusia.

In the coming year the SBIR will implement a new management operation system at the prison, which is based on the ICT system of the newly constructed prison in Bonaire. In the short term the SBIR will install the Foreigner Management System (FMS) for the Immigration and Border Protection services (IBP). The Border Management System (BMS) and the management operating system for the Police: ACTPOL, have already been implemented. The SBIR has also developed and implemented essential software products for the Public Prosecutor’s office and for the Joint Court of Justice and will also be doing this for the Court of Guardianship and St. Maarten’s Probation & Parole service (SJIS) .  

The Minister of Justice is extremely grateful for the donation by the SBIR and hopes that the Prison and the inmates make very good use of the computers. Minister Richardson indicated that once the FMS is rolled out, she intends to have an additional seven (7) computers transferred from IBP to the prison to be used for and by the prisoners.

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Port St. Maarten boost its commercial/operational pillars with young professionals

PORT ST. MAARTEN – Port St. Maarten continues to enhance its Commercial and Operational divisions by the promotion and hiring of young professionals within the Port Sint Maarten Group of Companies.

Lela Simmonds, a former student of St. Joseph primary school, attended the Milton Peters College (MPC) – HAVO before leaving the island to attend Yeats College. Simmonds also did one-year in Fashion and Branding at Amsterdam Fashion Institute (AMFI) - Hogeschool of Amsterdam. To round off her studies, Lela obtained her Bachelor’s in International Hospitality and Business Management from Euro College (Dutch International Management University – DIMU) in 2011.

Simmonds has been promoted to the position of Business Development and Marketing Manager, where she is tasked with the responsibility to increase the port’s business through various marketing and business relation avenues.

Craig Greene is a graduate of the Sint Maarten Vocational Training School and has a Mechanic and Maintenance/Welding Diploma. Currently, Greene is the assistant mechanic for Port St. Maarten’s specialized new generation Gottwald Cranes.

Greene’s employment with the port has given an added boost to the specialized Gottwald crane maintenance team, and he is aspiring to become a Gottwald crane engineer with the objective of keeping the cranes optimal and supporting the port’s overall operational excellence platform that is part and parcel of the training outpost activities.

Kontar Concincion, has been working at Port St. Maarten since 2014 as a Security Officer. In 2019 he received the Port Facility Security Officer (PFSO) training and was promoted in January as the PFSO. Concincion attended the Regional Education Center (ROC) of Amsterdam, where he received his level three degree in Marketing & Sales and received a level three degree in Security from ROC in Hoofdorp, the Netherlands.

The PFSO is required by the International Ship & Port Facility Security (ISPS) Code which is a statutory security regulation and certification of measures to enhance the security of ships and port facilities.

The certification is required when ports receive cargo ships with a gross tonnage of 500+ making international sea voyages; and ports catering to passenger ships on international voyages, thereby making Port St. Maarten ISPS compliant.

“Port St. Maarten Management is steadfast in ensuring that we continue to elevate and promote young professionals especially as the industry changes. Keen focus continues to be placed on business development and operations, the core in continuing to move Port St. Maarten forward and reaching greater heights, all the while hiring and promoting of locals to make this happen, therefore, making certain that our operational excellence platform is always at the forefront. We continue to persist in looking at trends within the market and ensuring that we stay abreast of all changing dynamics within this industry.

“We have been successful in this approach by looking out for young dynamic persons coming from local educational institutions who are willing and ready to continue to hone their skills and develop within the Port St. Maarten Group of Companies,” Port St. Maarten Management said on Tuesday.

Lela Simmonds pix

Lela Simmonds

Craig Greene

Craig Greene

Kontar Concincion

Kontar Concincion

 

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Woman stabbed on Front Street by ex-boyfriend after argument

SINT MAARTEN (PHILIPSBURG) – Members of the Detective Department are investigating the stabbing incident of a security guard that took place on Monday evening, December 28 around 6.00pm in the area of the Philipsburg Court House on Front Street.

When officers arrived on the scene, they found the woman with lacerations to her face, and injuries to her upper body.

The female victim was treated on the scene by first responders from the Ambulance service and transported to the St. Maarten Medical Center (SMMC) where the victim is in critical but stable condition.

The victim told the officers that she was ill treated with a knife by her ex-boyfriend after an argument.

The ex-boyfriend according to the victim resides on the French side of the island. The case is being further investigated by the detectives.

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DCOMM encourages community to participate in COVID-19 Survey

SINT MAARTEN (GREAT BAY, DCOMM) – The Department of Communication (DCOMM) which falls under the Ministry of General Affairs, is encouraging the community to take part in a questionnaire on COVID-19 knowledge, attitudes, and practices.

The information gathered will help improve and guide future COVID-19 communication strategies to help keep the Sint Maarten population healthy and safe.

All responses are confidential and anonymous. Your participation will help inform and serve Sint Maarten communities. You can participate by visiting the following link: https://bit.ly/34jRjsq

The survey is a collaboration between the Collective Prevention Service (CPS) a department within the Ministry of Public Health, Social Development and Labour (Ministry VSA), Social Health Insurances (SZV) and DCOMM.

The collaborating entities would like to thank you for taking part in the survey.

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