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SEA: the Prime Minister should address the Nation on the COHO

SINT MAARTEN (PHILIPSBURG) – The Soualiga Employers Association (SEA) does understand and agrees that there is a need for socio-economic reforms for our country's growth and economic prosperity.

Even though the reforms presented under the COHO (in Dutch: Caraibisch orgaan voor hervorming en ontwikkeling) may provide such, the SEA believes that due to the lack of consultation with civil society and the fast-tracking of its implementation which has undoubtedly bypassed legal instruments, established policies and key institutions has created a void in the understanding, confidence, and guarantee of the COHO in itself.

SEA’s perspective is that the desired growth and prosperity of our households, businesses, and the country, in general, have been compromised due to the lack of consultation, information, proper dialogue, and even the current setup and conditions of the COHO.

As it relates to the conditions, clarity is needed as to whether the financing of these reforms would be covered by the government of St. Maarten on its own or through loans and grants provided by the Netherlands. If it is through the government on its own, then given its current financial position, this further cement SEA's call for a guarantee on the fruition of the COHO.

Furthermore, our position as St. Maarten given our demographics and recent economic turbulence due to natural disasters and otherwise should also be taken into consideration in drafting the reforms and conditions thereof.

It would be rather imperative that before any formalization of the entity, the above-mentioned phases, processes, and conditions should be relooked and considered, thereby creating a level of confidence and acceptance. SEA’s core aim in this plight is to ensure that our people and businesses are positively impacted.

Given the current developments and status of the draft COHO, SEA, therefore, is calling on our prime minister to address the Nation and explain what we are really looking at in layman's terms. Our people, our business sector, labor sector, and households need to know.

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2022 Coors Run is Back May 8. Register Online

SINT MAARTEN (SIMPSON BAY) - The 2022 Coors Light Run is back but now we are doing miles instead of kilometers, the organizers of the event said on Wednesday. A new venue, new courses and a new distance, the MILE RUN will guarantee to make this a day for everyone on Sunday May 8!

Sign up online at: online registration FACEBOOK OR Trisport in Simpson Bay.
Registration Fee: $20 for the 11mile, $15 for the 6mile and $10 for the 3mile.
Runners under 15 years of age - $10. Pick up your race numbers at Tri-Sport in Simpson Bay until Saturday 7th May 5:00pm.

Routes:
All runners will START in front of the Country Club Gym at Port de Plaisance Resort in Cole Bay. Head out of the resort and turn left, crossing the border and run along Bellevue Road towards Marigot. Both the 3 and 6 Mile Runners will turn around the Home ‘n Tool Roundabout on Bellevue before returning to the Causeway.

The 3-Mile runners will return to the start at Port de Plaisance, following the same route they used to start while the 6-Mile Runners will turn right at the causeway and continue straight along the Airport Road towards the Princess Juliana Airport, where they will turn just after the car rentals and come back to the Country Club gym crossing the causeway.

The 11-Mile runners will turn left at the Home ‘n Tool roundabout, into Lowtown (St. James) before turning left at the Marina Royale intersection, and then left again at the next intersection, towards Sandy Ground. Run through Nettle Bay, then Terres Basses, Cupecoy, Mullet Bay, Airport Road, causeway and back to the start at Port de Plaisance.

Waterstops will be located after 1.5mile.

The event is being supported by premium sponsors Coorslight & Baker Tilly. Other sponsors: 
Country Club Port de Plaisance
PDG Supplies
Imagen Graphics
Ballerina Jewelers
Lexwell Attorneys
Exofor
Holland house hotel
Pyratzsxm
Principle Accounting & Consulting Services BV
CIRExpress

Prizes by:
Quiksilver 
Sportfit
Trisport 
FLOW Boutique
Nectar

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Prime Minister Jacobs work visit to EarthX 2022 a success for St. Maarten

SINT MAARTEN (PHILIPSBURG) - The Honorable Prime Minister and Minister of General Affairs Silveria E. Jacobs attended EarthX 2022 Forum in Dallas, Texas from April 20 until April 23, for a working visit, profiling St. Maarten on an international level. The trip, dubbed a success for St. Maarten, served as a means to cultivate relationships and form partnerships to advance advocates, investors, accelerators, and researchers on sustainable environmental activities. The EarthX Forum is the world's largest annual environmental forum aimed at showcasing initiatives, research, innovations, policies, and corporate practices serving the environment. The series of conferences further seeks to connect world leaders with innovative international and local organizations/ideas, committed to sustainability and making the world a better place.

The event kicked off on April 20, with a series of panel discussions, presentations, and interviews. Prime Minister Jacobs opened the first session with a speech on women leadership in the sustainable fashion movement. The fashion event emphasized the environmental impacts of “fast fashion,” provided information about alternative materials, and highlighted the importance of women leading the charge in the sustainable fashion world.  

E-Capital  

On April 21, Prime Minister Jacobs participated in a session with Nicholas J. Davis, CEO of GridMarket, whereby they discussed the St. Maarten–GridMarket–Island Resilience Partnership engagement and the opportunity to invest in the National Energy Transitions of Small Island Developing States (SIDS). It is through the partnership with GridMarket that St. Maarten is now exploring and securing the transition to renewable and sustainable energy. This will allow St. Maarten to receive support in developing an energy roadmap aligned with the new global roadmap issued last September by the United Nations (UN) which seeks to achieve a radical transformation of energy access and transition by 2030, while at the same time contributing to net zero emissions by 2050. 

As SIDS, we are part of the smallest and most remote states in the world. We are a diverse group of islands differing in population, size, and development opportunities. Yet, we share common challenges and vulnerabilities that often prevent us from being able to invest in resilient and sustainable development, particularly as it pertains to renewable energy. With the global challenges of climate change, it is pivotal that we strengthen the relationship between and amongst our sister islands as well as the outermost regions such as islands in the Pacific Ocean as the challenges they face today, will be the challenges we face tomorrow. EarthX offers the platform for partnership engagement as it stimulates and facilitates discussions between investors and SIDS leaders. Therefore, prospects for tangible investments are fostered by attending such illustrious events. 

Youth Summit  

Following the E-Capital discussion, Prime Minister Jacobs was given the opportunity to address a gathering of youth at the Youngo Summit, a partnership for the goals (SDG 17). This summit was focused on launching the Preparing the Youth to become Negotiators for the Goals, an initiative launched on April 22. “As an educator by profession, I have long been captivated by the youth’s willingness to peel back the layers to examine, critique, and question norms. This is their strength! Often unhindered by tradition and full of optimism, this willingness to dissect combined with fresh ideas means youth are often well-equipped to address the ever-changing and multidimensional issues that form our common agenda,” Prime Minister Jacobs stated as she addressed the gathering. 

“The Kingdom of the Netherlands has a voice in the global climate crisis discussions, and SIDS must be empowered to highlight our issues at these stages as well. As the only Caribbean island in attendance, I am proud to have been invited to promote St. Maarten on such a world stage and be able to bring awareness to the challenges we face,” she continued. 

Prime Minister Jacobs expressed the need for us as SIDS to make use of our lessons learned, and to bring awareness to support our plight in the fight against climate change, among other SDGs. “Creating spheres for collaboration between next-generation leadership and island leaders offers a very nuanced and dynamic approach, particularly in the use of social media and immersive technology, to raise awareness and bring about innovative solutions to tomorrow’s challenges,” she stated. 

Her participation in the summit culminated in an activity introducing the concept of a reciprocity ring. Designed to foster skills in stakeholder building and negotiation, participants sat in a circle posing clear requests, accompanied by a timeline. Fellow group members then indicated their ability to assist or offered guidance or suggestions to achieve the request. Prime Minister Jacobs expressed her enjoyment of the activity as an empowering tool for supporting youth engagement and promised to connect the organization with youth leaders and change-makers from Sint Maarten. 

Earth Day  

On April 22, Earth Day, as the only Caribbean island represented, Prime Minister Jacobs had the privilege of delivering the Island Resilience Partnership keynote address. The Island Resilience Forum brings island leaders from all around the world together, not only to discuss solutions to the UN SDGs but also to develop partnerships to achieve these goals. In attendance this year, were the Ambassadors of various Pacific Islands (Tonga, Tuvalu, Samoa, Kiribati) and the ambassadors to the Solomon Islands. They all spoke of their challenges with climate change, whether it be the loss of islands due to the rise in sea level, the adverse effects of overfishing and trawling, to other natural disasters. Islands share one commonality, though small, they are greatly impacted by the effects of climate change.  

In her keynote address, Prime Minister Jacobs highlighted the importance of securing our utility sectors, based on our history with Hurricanes Luis in 1995 and Irma in 2017. They revealed energy vulnerabilities such as having our sole energy plant in a low-lying coastal area while damage to overhead cabling required a large-scale recovery effort to restore power in specific areas.  Additionally, “the COVID-19 pandemic revealed social, economic and financial vulnerabilities. It resulted in the loss of employment, and a rise in the cost of living since St. Maarten is heavily dependent on imported goods and services, which experienced significant disruption in the supply chains. Our response to this so-called “new normal” has been to redouble our efforts for sustainable national development,” Prime Minister Jacobs mentioned. 

Energy, in this regard, is seen as one of the main drivers that affect the cost of living. It affects transportation costs, food prices, healthcare expenses, and, of course, utility costs. Needless to say, energy also affects our environment. The fluctuating world prices of petroleum constitute an enormous financial burden on the people and their quality of life.  

UN Family Offices for Sustainable Development (FOSD)

Prime Minister Jacobs was invited to speak on the role of private investment in achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) on April 22. Organized by the UN Family Offices for Sustainable Development (FOSD), the program is managed by PVBLIC Foundation & the UN Office for Partnership. FOSD brings together small groups of global family offices, privately-held companies that handle investment management for a family of means, committed to advancing the completion of the SDGs to create greater impact via collaboration with UN agencies and with each other. In her address, Prime Minister Jacobs spoke on the importance and opportunities of investing capital in parts of the world that are on the front line of the climate crisis. 

UN SDG Media Summit  

On April 23, Prime Minister Jacobs held a dynamic talk at the UN SDG Media Summit under the theme Fostering Leadership, wherein she highlighted the youth of St. Maarten building awareness of the UN SDG goals, as well as their view on the approach to achieve them. The UN SDG goals video featuring St. Maarten students expressing their knowledge, awareness, and ideas about the SDS including Climate through the arts, received a resounding commendation from the audience. One audience member stated, “the video brought me to tears.”  

The Media Summit exchanged ideas as it seeks to ensure the best use of media is used to bring more awareness of climate change in particular, and the SDGs in general to the general public to increase participation in the achievement of the goals. The clear conclusion was to ensure the messenger is relatable, conscious of its audience, representative of all of humanity, and that all possible and variety of media forms should be used with messaging being repeated often. 

BlockChain  

Based on the overall impact of Prime Minister Jacobs’ addresses throughout the week, the moderator of the Blockchain Impact Finance Summit requested that she close off the summit on April 23. During this session, Prime Minister Jacobs highlighted the importance of technology and innovation in supporting emerging economies around the world, especially for us as SIDS. “Our Minister of Finance, being a millennial himself, is a proponent of the emerging blockchain innovation, and has been trying to educate us as a Council of Ministers and Parliament of the proponents and the adverse effect it can have on our economy, as we work to diversify our one pillar economy,” said Prime Minister Jacobs. “It’s their world, they were born to it, we’re the immigrants,” Prime Minister Jacobs mentioned referring to the age of information and the forward-thinking innovators we call our youth. 

With this in mind, St. Maarten has established a public-private partnership utilizing artificial intelligence to accelerate our national energy transition. “As countries (not only SIDS), focus should be on the emerging technologies, as this can help us in achieving SDG goals 1 eradicating people in poverty and 2, ending world hunger. Combining these innovations to achieve SDG 1&2, with the partnership for the goals SDG 17 is observed as a more viable option for SIDS to achieve and sustain our populations for continued financial and economic resilience beyond 2030,” stated Prime Minister Jacobs. 

We must consider the environmental impact of the new technologies being developed to support economies, otherwise, we may achieve development goals - but they will not be sustainable. It is therefore imperative that we work together to achieve the UN SDGs by 2030, to ensure the phase after 2030; our evaluation phase, where we begin to give back to the earth what we’ve taken. 

Conclusion 

A high-level gala was organized on the last day, to celebrate partnerships and thank this year’s participants. The EarthX 2022 Forum was a huge success for St. Maarten as the island was heavily featured on the international stage for 4 consecutive days. The feedback received was very encouraging lending to potential prospects for investment, creating new partnerships, and most importantly may accelerate our goal for renewable forms of energy in St. Maarten way before the 2030 goal! “Funding possibilities exist and I am committed to finding them for St. Maarten. I would like to thank my team for their support, making it possible for St. Maarten to be represented throughout all discussion sessions,” stated Prime Minister Jacobs. 

Next steps 

In the coming months, St. Maarten will continue building on the foundation laid at the EarthX 2022 Forum, having already scheduled meetings and follow-up plans with several key stakeholders. Using this momentum, I encourage all local stakeholders to also do their part in St. Maarten. 

By the end of 2022, and early on in 2023, a roadmap with GridMarket will be established, paving the transition to renewable energy prospects. “On behalf of the Government of St. Maarten, I’d like to thank EarthX founder Tramell Crowe, EarthX organizers, GridMarket’s entire team, Nick, Peter, Matt, and Jillian for all their hard work and dedication in ensuring the goal of St. Maarten, Partnerships for the goals were achieved,” concluded Prime Minister Jacobs. 

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Successful Tripartite Meeting

SINT MAARTEN (PHILIPSBURG) - Delegations from the Parliaments of Curaçao, Aruba and Sint Maarten met today, Tuesday, May 3, 2022, for a Tripartite discussion.

The goal of today’s meeting was to prepare for the Interparliamentary Kingdom Consultation as well as to discuss topics of mutual interest. Among the topics were, discussion on a proposal for a Dispute Regulation; current relations within the Kingdom, bottlenecks, and proposals for improvement; discussion on the proposal for the Caribbean Reform and Development Agency (COHO); Presentation by a delegation of the Island Council of Sint Eustatius regarding the matter of democracy, or the lack thereof, in Sint Eustatius and by extension the kingdom and restoring the regular democratic order in Sint Eustatius; and discussion on the petition submitted on behalf of the Parliament of Sint Maarten to the UN Special Rapporteur on Racism.

The meeting was deemed to have been very successful.

After the deliberations, Members of the delegations of Aruba, Curacao, and Sint Maarten along with Members of the Parliament of Sint Maarten who were present as observers, posed for a group photograph.

The Interparliamentary Kingdom Consultations (IPKO) will commence tomorrow, Wednesday, May 4, 2022; at 10.05 hrs. with the opening and welcome address by the Chairlady of Parliament of Sint Maarten, Mrs. Grisha Heyliger-Marten and a short speech and presentation by each delegation leader.

The Interparliamentary Kingdom Consultations (IPKO) sessions can be followed live via Parliament’s Website: www.sxmparliament.org ; and Parliament’s YouTube channel: sxmparliament

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Sint Maarten Library acknowledges Memorial and Liberation Day to Pass on Freedom

SINT MAARTEN (PHILIPSBURG) - Memorial Day on May 4th, and Liberation Day on May 5th are national days to recognize the importance of peace. Today it is 77 years ago that World War II ended in the Netherlands. More than ever, it is essential to know what a world of war means and how destructive it can be.

Daily, social media confront us with the cruel images of the invasion of Russia into Ukraine. Innocent children, women, and men are slaughtered in their houses, on the road, and even when they try to escape the war. Millions are trying to find a safe place in neighboring countries.

In preparation for Memorial and Liberation Day, the Sint Maarten Library distributed 500 copies of the ‘Caribbean Think Book’ to most primary school students of the 7th grade. The book, published by the National Committee May 4 and 5, commemorates what happened during World War II in Europe and the rest of the world.

The text is full of facts, personal stories, and background information. The book is written interactively and consists of cartoons, pictures, games, and checklists. The book also explains the role of the Caribbean by raising money, sending clothes, delivering fuel, and even participating in the war on the front lines or in the resistance. A teacher manual is added to the book to encourage and assist the teachers.

From a different perspective, the experiences of Sint Maarten Mr. Lionel Romney, during World War II are also described in the book with the title ‘An Afro-Caribbean in the Nazi-era – from Papiamentu to German’ by Mary L. Romney Schaab. By chance, this Afro-Caribbean sailer got trapped in the war and even ended in the concentration camp Mauthausen.

The story illustrates that a war might be far away, but you can get involved in it all of a sudden against your will.

The ‘Think Book’ ends with ‘ Pass on Freedom’. Let us remember the millions of people who died, were murdered, executed, gassed, or gave their lives in the battlefields. Let us be vigilant that something like this will never happen again. Maybe on May 9th, which is erroneously Russia’s Victory Day of World War II, they will declare their withdrawal from the Ukraine and pass on freedom.

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PFP proposes COHO alternative ahead of IPKO

SINT MAARTEN (PHILIPSBURG) – Ahead of this week’s Kingdom Inter-Parliamentary Consultation (IPKO), Party for Progress (PFP) Members of Parliament (MPs) Melissa Gumbs and Raeyhon Peterson have outlined an alternative to the Caribbean Body for Reform and Development (COHO) in a position paper sent to the Parliaments of Sint Maarten, Aruba, Curaçao, and the Netherlands.

Although some Sint Maarten MPs have critiqued the COHO and its accompanying draft Kingdom Consensus Law, PFP wanted to go beyond mere criticism and thus set about creating an alternative that can be debated by the Parliaments of the four countries in the Dutch Kingdom. The PFP MPs believe that a new World Bank agreement is this viable alternative, as it would sufficiently balance the needs of the Netherlands (sound financial management of Dutch taxpayer money) and those of the Dutch Caribbean countries (maintaining autonomy).

“I cannot support the COHO in its current form, as I believe it puts too much authority and unilateral decision-making into the hands of the Minister of Internal Affairs & Kingdom Relations (BZK), at the expense of the Governments and peoples of the Dutch Caribbean countries,” explained MP Gumbs. “At the same time, this does not mean that we can put our heads in the sand and pretend as if the COHO’s conditions will magically disappear. There will be conditions whenever we take money from another party, as anyone with a personal mortgage knows all too well. We have to face the harsh reality of global geopolitics. Loans from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) would also come with conditions that infringe on our autonomy, whether we are part of the Kingdom or not. The question is not whether there should be conditions, but rather if these conditions are reasonable, fair, and made in good faith.”

Questioning whether the COHO is reasonable and fair was the starting point of PFP’s analysis.

“We can conclude that the powers that the draft COHO law grants to the Minister of BZK and the Committee for Financial Supervision (CFT) are unacceptable. This is especially evident when we consider how it strips authority from Parliament - the representative body of the very people that the COHO claims to be helping. From our perspective, to diminish the capacity of the people’s representative body will not improve good governance, Kingdom relations, or our ability to manage the country’s affairs. Additionally, it is still unclear if the COHO, at the end of its lifespan, will improve each country’s capacity to absorb external shocks, such as extreme weather events brought on by climate change, global recessions, or another pandemic,” said MP Peterson.

COHO’s problems

Firstly, the draft COHO law seeks to establish the COHO in The Hague, which would make it a Dutch entity operating under Dutch law, instead of a local entity operating under local law.

“What does it mean to have a Dutch law be applicable for an entity that is operating in Country Sint Maarten? It means that Sint Maarten will not have a voice. It is a blatant disregard for our autonomy, as outlined in the Kingdom Charter,” explained MP Gumbs. “For example, Article 21 gives the Minister of BZK the authority to make policy to determine the way in which the COHO is to perform its tasks. We, as Country St. Maarten, do not have any say in this, even though it will affect us directly. Article 22 gives the Minister of BZK the authority to reverse a decision made by the COHO. In theory, this gives the Minister of BZK the final say when it comes to the tasks that the COHO has to perform.”

Additionally, Article 6 gives the Minister of BZK the ability to give the COHO an “instruction”

about its agenda after consulting the Minister of General Affairs. However, this does not require the Sint Maarten Minister of General Affairs to agree with the instruction. More glaringly, the draft COHO law does not have a dispute regulation, which means that the Sint Maarten Government cannot appeal the decisions made.

“This means that the Minister of General Affairs cannot stop an instruction, and he or she would essentially only be informed of it. On paper, this Article is meant to protect St. Maarten if the COHO acts outside the agreements set forth between the islands and the Netherlands. But this Article is a double-edged sword. In our opinion, it will be used against Country St. Maarten - a loophole or ‘vangnet’ so that the Netherlands can swiftly change the execution agenda without any repercussions,” added MP Peterson.

“No amount has been allocated to the COHO, in terms of what each country can expect as liquidity support for structural reforms. The draft law also expands the role of the CFT. As it stands, the CFT will assess the reform action plans to determine if they are in line with the country’s budget. Allowing the CFT to suddenly test the budget’s policies, and not just the numbers, is the responsibility of Parliament and negates Parliament’s budgetary right,” notes MP Gumbs.

A different path 

Instead of the COHO, the PFP MPs envision an agreement between the Netherlands, the World Bank, and the Dutch Caribbean countries to establish a new “Trust Fund”. Guiding this new Trust Fund would be a five-member Steering Committee, with one member each representing the World Bank, the Netherlands, Sint Maarten, Curaçao, and Aruba.

According to PFP, the respective Governments should set qualification criteria for their appointed representative. This will ensure that Steering Committee members will be appointed on merit, rather than political favoritism. The PFP MPs also suggest that Sint Maarten’s member on the post-Hurricane Irma Trust Fund Steering Committee be excluded from selection.

The new Steering Committee as a whole (all five individuals) would provide quarterly updates on project budgets and deliverables across the three Caribbean countries. However, within the larger Steering Committee, there should also exist three sub-Committees, consisting of the representatives of the World Bank, the Netherlands, and the respective country.

The country-specific Steering Committee would be responsible for assessing and approving the reform projects specific to that country’s country package, and then allocating and disbursing the required funds to the respective Country Government. Decisions should be made unanimously, as PFP believes that this will diminish the democratic deficit that is present in the current COHO structure. It will also remove the overarching power of the BZK Minister.

“Sint Maarten, through the execution of the St. Maarten Trust Fund, has developed a relationship with the World Bank. Through this Trust Fund, the World Bank oversaw the financial management of the post-Hurricane Irma funds. However, the planning, execution, and management of the projects are done by the National Recovery Program Bureau (NRPB) on behalf of the Government of Sint Maarten. The precedence has therefore been set within the Kingdom for Dutch taxpayer funds to be managed by the World Bank,” said MP Peterson.

“The Steering Committee structure distributes decision-making power to each of the parties involved, thereby guaranteeing the autonomy of the islands and ensuring our full involvement. Besides, the COHO’s entire structure, even down to the number of persons on the board, is essentially a recycled version of the current post-Hurricane Irma Trust Fund Steering Committee anyway,” noted MP Gumbs.

The PFP MPs anticipate that some Sint Maarten and Dutch MPs would object to a new Trust Fund, especially because Sint Maarten’s recovery efforts after Hurricane Irma have been slow. However, MPs Gumbs and Peterson point out that Sint Maarten’s capacity to implement World Bank projects has grown in the last five years. Additionally, they argue that the World Bank, given its strict, bureaucratic procedures, is probably not the best vehicle for short-term relief projects. Instead, it is better suited for long-term reform initiatives, such as those outlined in the country packages.

COHO amendments 

If a new Trust Fund cannot be established, PFP’s position paper also outlines necessary amendments to the draft COHO law that they hope will be supported by the Parliaments of the four countries of the Dutch Kingdom.

PFP wants a dispute regulation inserted into the draft COHO law, as well as a provision stating that the entity must be established in each of the Dutch Caribbean countries. The MPs will seek to remove the Articles that give the CFT more oversight into the budgetary process, as well as those that empower the Minister of BZK to unilaterally instruct the COHO.

However, these amendments still do not go far enough. The PFP MPs also want to insert an Article that enables some of the loans to be converted into grants if certain conditions and/or reform deadlines are met.

PFP also wants to see the 12.5% cuts to the remuneration packages of civil servants be eliminated by the end of 2022.

“To generate ownership and buy-in to the basic goals of the COHO, we firmly believe that the existing 12.5% cuts should be removed, which will restore full benefits to civil servants. Our cost of living has increased substantially, and we know that this is a phenomenon the Dutch Government recognizes, considering recent reports of food and fuel prices in the Netherlands. While this inflation trend was started by the COVID-19 pandemic, the current conflict between Russia and Ukraine has made it worse," said MP Peterson.

Finally, PFP considers it necessary to include provisions for the training of local human resources.

“The intention of the COHO should not be to lock the three Dutch Caribbean countries into a never-ending dependency cycle of importing European Dutch technocrats. We believe the COHO should present an opportunity to strengthen local capacity across Government, Government-owned companies, and the High Councils of State,” said MP Gumbs. “Existing public servants and eligible professionals should receive high-level training in project management, crisis management, project writing, procurement, as well as in other areas identified as critical in previous assessments. Additionally, a ‘match-maker’ program should be offered to our students and young professionals at home and abroad, with incentives for them to fill the critical or soon-to-be-critical vacancies.”

The PFP MPs look forward to discussing the position paper with their counterparts during the upcoming IPKO, which will be held in Sint Maarten from May 4-6.

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Government to Observe National Remembrance Day on Wednesday

SINT MAARTEN (GREAT BAY, (DCOMM) – On Wednesday, May 4, the Government of Sint Maarten will recognize National Remembrance Day, (“Dodenherdenkingsdag”) similar to the other countries within the Dutch Kingdom.

During this National Commemoration Day, all Dutch victims – civilians and soldiers – who have been killed or murdered in the Kingdom of the Netherlands or anywhere else in the world in war situations or during peace-keeping operations since the outbreak of the Second World War are commemorated.

Between 1940 and 1945 more than 260.000 victims in the Kingdom of the Netherlands died, among which as many as 160 Antilleans (more new names are being discovered). Most perished in the sea in the Caribbean region but also in Europe.

This year, the solemn commemoration ceremony will be threefold. The ceremony will commence at 5:00 p.m. (arrival of guests no later than 4:30 p.m.) at the New Testament Baptist Church in Philipsburg.

This part of the program includes an invocation by Pastor Nanton, readings by the winners of the 2021 Governor’s Youth Award for Excellence, Jaime Lynch, and Faith Peterson, who will be reading on behalf of the late Gerard van Veen and Elsje Bosch, who each personally experienced the effects of World War II.

A segment of their personal life story will be shared. The importance of knowing your history is shared by the Director of the Philipsburg Jubilee Library, Glenderlin Holiday.

On a yearly basis the ‘Caribbean Think Book for 4 and 5 May’ is shared by the Philipsburg Jubilee Library with all the schools on the island.

The National Committee for 4 and 5 May developed this special book for students of group 7 in the Caribbean to learn about the themes of commemorating and celebrating, freedom and democracy.

The Commander of the Marines, Arie Noordam, will share some of his personal experiences throughout his combat years at the Marines.

Individuals ranging from the preteens to our elderly will be reflecting on the meaning and significance of freedom through word or poetry.

One of these poets includes Ray Angel Boasman, winner of the Governor’s Youth Award for Excellence of the year 2020. The ceremony at the church to which the general public is invited is followed by a silent procession to the Captain Hodge Wharf.

At the War Memorial Monument on the Wharf, the official wreath-laying ceremony by His Excellency the Governor, the President of Parliament Hon. Grisha Heyliger Marten, and the Prime Minister Hon. Silveria Jacobs, will take place.

This is followed by two minutes of silence just before 6:00 p.m. Special and invited guests will also receive an opportunity to lay a single flower at the Memorial Monument, which carries the names of the World War II victims primarily born on Sint Maarten.

Tefari Prevoo Francisco, winner of the Governor’s Youth Award for Excellence, will play the Dutch Anthem ‘the Wilhelmus’ and the Sint Maarten Song.

Business owners are reminded to fly their flags half-mast on May 4. Each citizen is encouraged to honor the silent procession from the Baptist Church via the Parliament Building to the Captain Hodge Wharf and the two minutes of silence around 6:00 p.m.

There will be limited access to the Captain Hodge Wharf during the solemn ceremony. The public is invited to attend taking COVID-19 protocols in consideration.

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Emmanuel: Media contributed to overreaching government

SINT MAARTEN (PHILIPSBURG) - Independent Member of Parliament Christophe Emmanuel on Wednesday described the government’s intended media policy as its latest attempt to lie, hide and control information to the public, but stressed that the local media has to acknowledge that it played a role in creating the monster it now faces.

“What the government is trying to do is not surprising at all. This government is untrustworthy, dishonest, condescending and inconsistent to say the least. I have said over and over that it cannot be trusted,” the MP said. However, he continued, “Over the past two years the media of St. Maarten have allowed the government’s behavior to fester by not holding them accountable and, in some cases, ignoring issues in the community altogether.”

Emmanuel said he does not believe in silencing or censoring the media or implementing a flawed policy that would infringe on the basic rights of the press. He said what the Prime Minister and her cabinet is attempting is a knee-jerk reaction to what they perceive to be a threat to their web of lies and hidden agendas.

“When people tend to get too close to factual information, this government has a known reputation of throwing up all sorts of road-blocks and outright lying to cover up their actions. The intended media policy is an expansion of these obstacles meant to further isolate the business of the people, from the people,” MP Emmanuel said, adding that the government and its extra-long toes and ultra-thin skin has never been able to handle or accept critique and pertinent questions, as has been proven in Parliament on numerous occasions.  

It is in that context, the MP stressed, that the media has failed St. Maarten. He explained that members of the media have sat through press briefings accepting and publishing “ridiculous” stories and lies from the current Ministers. He said the media, especially through its Editorials and online opinion, exhibits too much of an “all’s well that ends well” attitude, failing to push accountability or only doing so for certain individuals.  

“The media created a Council of Ministers that became used to skating through press briefings with no accountability. The media allowed the COM to insult them with snide, condescending remarks. This continued for so long, the COM developed zero respect for this push-over media. So once the COM felt like their fluffy press briefings were being threatened by a media core that they do not respect or perhaps recognize, they initiated a disrespectful policy. There is no way the COM would have gone that route if they respected the media or, more importantly, if the media core of St. Maarten had respected themselves and their profession and fulfilled their role in the community,” MP Emmanuel said.  

To be taken seriously, the MP said, the media has to acknowledge that with the power it has, comes great responsibility towards the society and the people/issues it reports on. He added that self-accountability is severely lacking in media circles. “The media here rarely admits when it gets something wrong, especially when it’s reporting contributes to the tarnishing of people’s names,” the MP said.

“A totally impartial media is probably is not possible, but, it is essential to maintain journalistic standards and objectivity. Stories from the court for example, usually tell the prosecutor’s side in great detail, not the defendant. Opposition members of Parliament have their presentations watered down to a paragraph if they are mentioned at all. Media agendas are glaring and therefore lead to no analysis of positions contrary to that agenda, issues are not explained or are often trivialized or sensationalized and we only get cut-and-paste propaganda that the government sends out. I could name many issues that the media have simply not followed-up on or in some cases completely ignored. Media responsibility to the public and to itself is lacking,” MP Emmanuel said.

The MP concluded by re-asserting that the government is going too far in trying to muzzle/censor the media with its new policy. He said developing a media policy in general is not a “bad thing” but such policies must be cohesively developed. “The media is protesting now, and that’s all fine and well, but the media created this monster and it now has to call a spade a spade when it sees it and hold this government accountable for all the lies and deceit it perpetrates on the public on a daily basis.”

The MP also said that a press association or regulatory commission that upholds journalistic standards, allows individuals/organisations redress for unfair treatment and tackles abusive media is also very important. “Police your profession, it is flawed,” he said.

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EPIC to conduct litter data collection project

SINT MAARTEN (PHILIPSBURG) - “Why do we litter? – Sint Maarten” is a new project Environmental Protection in the Caribbean (EPIC) will be executing during 2022. The project includes over a dozen neighborhood cleanup events and will focus on collecting data on the littering habits of Sint Maarten residents.

“The aim of this project is to collect insights, opinions, and ideas from various litter-affected neighborhoods. With this data we aim to formulate sustainable and actionable follow-up steps toward preventing litter on our island,” explain project coordinators Riddhi Samtani and Laura Bijnsdorp.

In addition, several students will assist in the execution of this project and be trained as ‘EPIC ambassadors’. The selected students will receive workshops on environmental topics, data collection, and attend a first aid course.

Future announcements about this project, student applications, and cleanup dates will be posted on EPIC’s Facebook page: www.facebook.com/epicislands. Project coordinators can be reached at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. for enquiries and collaborations.

EPIC Sint Maarten is an independent non-profit founded in 2007 with the mission of protecting the Sint Maarten environment through research and community-based action. This project, “Why do you litter – Sint Maarten” is funded by the Government of the Netherlands under the Sint Maarten Trustfund, implemented by Resources for Community Resilience (R4CR), administered by VNGI, and overseen by The World Bank. For more information about EPIC’s work visit: www.epicislands.org

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Detectives arrest 10 suspects for various offenses

SINT MAARTEN (PHILIPSBURG) - Ten suspects were arrested for various offences over the past week by detectives of the Vice, and Juvenile and Morals Departments of the Police Force of Sint Maarten KPSM.

The suspects are detained for the following offences: assault, relational (domestic) violence, possession of a fake driver's license, assault with a weapon, threat with a weapon, and robbery.

In the interest of the investigations all 10 suspects are to remain in custody pending further investigation.

Department of Juvenile and Morals has opened investigations into several cases, including crimes reportedly committed by juveniles over the last week. A school fight at a secondary school is among the cases.

Three suspects were also questioned in relation to alleged sexual offences and possession of narcotics. These investigations are ongoing. (KPSM)

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