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Dominican Republic to Host the 2022 FCCA Cruise Conference

SINT MAARTEN/MIRAMAR, FLORIDA - Florida-Caribbean Cruise Association (FCCA) is pleased to announce that the Dominican Republic will host the 2022 FCCA Cruise Conference, the only official cruise conference representing the Caribbean, Mexico and Central and South America. Taking place in Santo Domingo from October 11-14, the event will feature a series of workshops, networking opportunities and meetings, including one-on-one meetings, with an expected 100 high-level executives from FCCA Member Lines, which represent more than 90 percent of global ocean cruising capacity. It will also allow the Dominican Republic to showcase its potential for increased benefits from cruise tourism and help the destination fulfill targeted objectives.

“We, along with our Member Line executives and partners around the regions, are ecstatic to return to the Dominican Republic for the 2022 FCCA Cruise Conference,” said Michele Paige, Chief Executive Officer, FCCA. “This return displays the long-standing relationship we have had with the destination and the ability to constantly grow together, which is truly what the event is all about, so this will be the perfect place and time to gather our partners to develop mutual understanding and success.”

“Hosting this meeting where conversations will be held to promote the development of the cruise industry, in addition to being an honor, gives us great satisfaction,” said the Dominican Republic Minister of Tourism, David Collado. “The communities will benefit from social and economic growth, assuring the investor's interest in each destination. That is development. The Dominican Republic is ready and prepared.”

All Conference participants will have access to workshops led by cruise executives and successful stakeholders concentrated on topics including developing all-encompassing and far-reaching plans, as well as expected workshops centered around the revamped FCCA Employment and FCCA Purchasing Committees focused on increasing local employment and sourcing opportunities – and participants’ needs will take center stage, with most workshops encouraging audience input.

Participants will also have opportunities to interact with the expected 100 cruise executives during a series of meetings – including a schedule of 15-minute one-on-one meetings where pre-registered delegates can select executives that can help launch business, as well as a Heads of Government Forum that will join Ministers of Tourism throughout the regions with Presidents and above from FCCA Member Lines – and networking functions throughout the event, including the celebration of FCCA’s 50th anniversary.

Additionally, the Dominican Republic will showcase some of the best to see, eat and hear in the destination for cruise guests, along with what its opportunities for growth that hosting the event can launch – something that the destination previously experienced.

The Dominican Republic hosted the FCCA Cruise Conference in 2010, and immediately following the event, Carnival Cruise Line announced the development of Amber Cove, the cruise port and destination development in Puerto Plata.

Numbers also tell the difference, with the Dominican Republic welcoming a 127 percent annual increase in passenger arrivals between 2009 and 2019, with a respective 477,773 and 1,082,451 passenger arrivals, according to data provided by FCCA Member Lines.

Those passenger arrivals represent clear economic benefits for the destination. In the 2008/2009 cruise year, cruise tourism generated $23.5 million of expenditures in the Dominican Republic, in addition to 788 jobs paying $3.1 million, per a Business Research & Economic Advisers study.

The 2018 study found that cruise tourism expenditures accounted for $134.7 million, along with 4,052 jobs paying $17.4 million, in the Dominican Republic for the 2017/2018 cruise year – a difference of $111.2 million in direct expenditures (not including indirect benefits such as supplies purchased by tour operators, restaurants and port authorities) and $14.3 million in employment wages.

These increases are staggering, but the Dominican Republic clearly has the potential and commitment for further growth, with the destination already breaking overall tourism records this year and displaying its resilience and recovery from COVID-19.

Just last year, Taino Bay in Puerto Plata started its operations – which represents more potential capacity and will be a must-see for the cruise executives attending the FCCA Cruise Conference – and Norwegian Cruise Line and the Dominican Republic government recently signed an agreement for homeport operations in La Roma beginning in 2023.

The government also has interest in working with the industry to develop a new cruise terminal in Samana, which will be facilitated during the event, and FCCA and the government are working together to increase demand for Sans Souci Terminal, which is part of the reason the event will be in Santo Domingo so cruise executives and attendees will have firsthand experiences of the offerings.

FCCA is also partnering with the Dominican Republic on new and revamped initiatives up to, during and after the event, including the FCCA Employment Program that will guide the destination and interested parties through the process to be hired on board, which is in demand and has historically high promotion opportunities; the FCCA Purchasing Program, which will link the destination and suppliers with cruise lines to enable the sourcing of local goods to be used on board; and a new initiative that aims to increase the already high percentage of cruisers that return to the destination as overnight guests. 

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ACM sets maximum rates for the distribution of electricity in the Caribbean Netherlands

SABA/SINT EUSTATIUS - The Netherlands Authority for Consumers and Markets [Autoriteit Consument en Markt] (ACM) has set maximum rates for the distribution of electricity in the Caribbean Netherlands. The rates are increasing significantly as of the 1st of July 2022 because fossil fuels are used to produce electricity and the prices of those fuels have risen substantially.

The ACM sets maximum rates for the production and distribution of electricity in the Caribbean Netherlands in December each year. If necessary the ACM adjusts the maximum rates per July 1st in order to take account of the changing fuel prices. Energy suppliers use these maximum rates as a basis for setting the prices which they charge residents and companies.

Subsidies

The increased fuel prices are having a significant impact on the energy bills of households on the BES islands. That is why the government has made subsidies available for 2022 to support people with the cost of living.

Bonaire

The maximum variable usage charges for Bonaire are increasing from 0.3260 USD/kWh to 0.4253 USD/kWh. The maximum ‘Pagabon’ (prepaid) rate is increasing from 0.5332 USD/kWh to 0.6325 USD/kWh. For the consumption of an average household on Bonaire this means an increase of about USD 25.00 per month.

St. Eustatius

The maximum variable usage charges for St. Eustatius are increasing from 0.3553 USD/kWh to 0.4306 USD/kWh. For the consumption of an average household on St. Eustatius this means an increase of about USD 19.00 per month.

Saba

The maximum variable usage charges for Saba are increasing from 0.4093 USD/kWh to 0.5195 USD/kWh. For the consumption of an average household on Saba this means an increase of about USD 28.00 per month.

More information

Residents who have questions about the setting of energy rates can obtain more information from the Netherlands Authority for Consumers and Markets (ACM). Information about the measures to support people with the cost of living can be found on the website of the National Office for the Caribbean Netherlands [Rijksdienst Caribisch Nederland].

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CBP BES supervises compliance with Personal data Protection Act BES

BONAIRE (KRALENDIJK) - The data protection authority BES is charged with monitoring and enforcement in relation to the processing of personal data protection (Act BES Wet Bescherming persoonsgegevens BES (Wbp BES) by the public and private sector in the Caribbean Netherlands.

Within the framework of its supervisory task the CBP BES conducted an audit at the Shared Service Organisation of the Caribbean Netherlands (SSO-CN). The reason for the audit was the processing of documents with personal data via the internal network of SSO CN (H drive) which has been made available to everyone who works at the National Office for the Caribbean Netherlands [Rijksdienst Caribisch Nederland].

The CBP BES discovered protection and security deficiencies in relation to certain digital files. The investigation focused on four aspects of personal data processing on the H drive, namely how carefully/properly is the personal data processed (Article 6 Wbp BES), what is the purpose of the processing (Article 7 Wbp BES), what are the grounds for the processing (Article 8 Wbp BES) and, lastly, how is the security of personal data guaranteed (Article 13 Wbp BES)?

The CBP BES assessed its findings against the standards laid down in the Personal Data Protection Act BES and concluded that these standards were not being complied with. The report, including recommendations, has been sent to the director of SSO CN. The SSO CN must implement suitable technical and organisational measures to ensure the adequate protection and security of personal data on the H drive. The CBP BES also recommended drawing up a protocol so that timely action can be taken in the event of a data leak.

The CBP BES is positive about the steps which SSO CN has already taken to ensure that personal data is processed as safely as possible on the H drive. According to the secretary of the CBP BES, Roëlla Pourier, "The actions are not only aimed at creating a safe and better protected platform, but also focus on a shared vision of the use of the H drive by government departments in the Caribbean Netherlands". The CBP BES is confident that the SSO CN will implement all the recommendations by the agreed deadline.

Following a lengthy phase during which it provided information and raised awareness, the CBP BES has now embarked on a supervision and enforcement phase. For more information on the processing of personal data and the tasks of the CBP BES, please consult the website: www.cbpbes.com.

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Cft: Fragile budget recovery Curaçao in 2022 and 2023. Expenditures have to be controlled

CURACAO (WILLEMSTAD) - As of the second half of 2021 the economy of Curaçao is showing considerable recovery. Curaçao should utilize this recovery period to get the budget structurally in order, thereby exercising control of the expenditures.

The Board of financial supervision (Cft) has urged this in its recent talks with the Curaçao government. Curaçao is decreasing its multi-year budget deficits in part on account of the progress made in tax collection, but the challenges remain substantial.

The significant inflation worldwide and continued disruptions in the supply chain could put pressure on the recovery. The process to bring government debt to an acceptable level remains a major challenge as well.

In addition, reforms need to be executed in order to safeguard the sustainability of the health and social security systems for the future. In spite of the fact that Curaçao is realizing higher tax benefits, expenditure control and reforms therefore remain of great importance.

For the current year the Central Bank of Curaçao and Sint Maarten estimates real economic growth of 5.2 percent. The IMF estimates an economic growth of 6.5 percent in 2022. Inflation is expected to rise to above 6 percent by 2022. In 2022-2023 the economy will be back to pre-corona levels.

Years of economic downturn and rising government debt have significantly deteriorated public finances. Curaçao's public debt now amounts to ANG 4.3 billion (84 percent of GDP). Curaçao is facing a major challenge to reduce government debt and bring it as soon as possible to a sustainable level.

A combination of the reforms from the National Package, a strict fiscal policy, tight budget discipline and the structural reduction of the expenditures of the public sector, health care and social security should ensure a decrease in government debt.

2022 and 2023 budget

Curaçao is working on a budget amendment that will reduce the deficit on the regular service to ANG 123 million (2.3 percent of GDP) by 2022 and by means of which surpluses will be realized as of 2023.

The surpluses as of 2023 are important since they can be utilized to start paying off the debt. Both the adjusted deficit of ANG 123 million for 2022 and the projected surplus of ANG 8 million (0.2 percent of GDP) in 2023 are still fragile.

Partly in view of the uncertain structural nature of the currently higher tax revenues and the challenges in health care and social security, expenditure control, including personnel costs (overtime) and goods and services will remain of great importance.

Curaçao has to limit as much as possible in time incidental measures that will lead to loss of income (such as the compensation of fuel prices) or take compensatory measures. Income-increasing measures, such as the introduction of the license fee for providers of hazard games, will also have to be taken expeditiously.

Curaçao can increase the economy’s growth potential by implementing sustainable reforms in the economy and in the government. Targeted investments, for example in infrastructure, and targeted reforms such as adjusting the permit system can make a significant contribution to sustainable economic growth. To this end Curaçao must also make full use of the opportunities that the National Package offers.

Tax

Curaçao has been successful in recovering tax arrears and increasing tax compliance in the past year. The budgeted multi-year recovery of public finances is therefore largely driven by higher tax revenues, which will have to be derived from a structural effect of the current tax compliance actions.

The Cft has called on Curaçao to safeguard these results for several years by further optimizing the tax authorities and the tax system.

Health care and social security

The Cft has once again emphasized that savings in the medical care and social security are necessary in order to guarantee the affordability and quality of the social system in the coming years.

Curaçao is paying an annual contribution of ANG 306 million to the social funds and is moreover obliged to supplement shortfalls in the swing fund (schommelfonds). In 2021, the government has decided on fifteen measures that will have to ensure a balanced swing fund in 2022 and 2023. Part of these measures have already been delayed, and as result thereof compensatory measures must be taken in the short term.

In that context, the Cft also pointed out that Curaçao has not yet realized the efficiency savings in healthcare, which it promised in 2018 in order to cover the higher operating costs of the Curaçao Medical Center.

Especially with regard to the limitation of over-the-counter medicines and the substitution of specific medicines for generic medicines, insufficient progress is being made. The Cft has asked Curaçao to introduce these measures as soon as possible.

Cft paid a visit to Curaçao from June 20th up to 22nd, 2022 and held conversations with the Governor, the Minister of Finance, the Minister of Social Development, Labor and Welfare, the Council of Ministers and the Parliamentary Finance Committee. The Cft also spoke with the management of the Social Insurance Bank (SVB).

Cft Voorzitter Raymond Gradus 20 juni 2022

Cft Chairman Raymond Gradus

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Support for parents affected by childcare benefit affair in CN gets underway

BONAIRE (KRALENDIJK) - As of Monday the 16th of May, support for affected parents in the Caribbean Netherlands (CN) got underway. Maaike Umbelino-van Sleen from the Belastingdienst Caribisch Nederland (BCN) coordinates and organizes the necessary support for affected parents on the BES islands.

On St. Eustatius and Saba, no one has yet been affected by the childcare benefit affair. On Bonaire, initial contact has been made with affected parents who require support.

What support is necessary and will be offered depends on the personal circumstances of the parent and the family. The basic idea is to offer the parents and the family a ‘fresh start’ and to ensure that they receive the right support to get their life back on track again after the impact of the childcare benefit affair.

Maaike Umbelino explains: ‘The affected parents I mentioned here are extremely resilient. To leave everything behind after a stressful situation in the Netherlands requires courage.

Coming from the Netherlands, it is not always easy to ensure that all family members feel at home and are able to build a new life with their family. It’s great to see that we can support parents in this situation.’

If you have been affected by the consequences of the childcare benefit, UHT asks that you forward your details to the support team for the Caribbean Netherlands.

If you give your consent, Maaike will get in touch with you to discuss how things are going with you and your family. If you have any questions for Maaike concerning support on the BES islands, you may also get in touch with her directly. If you want to know more, go to https://www.belastingdienst-cn.nl/onderwerpen/ondersteuning-gedupeerde-ouders-kinderopvangtoeslag

(RCN Caribbean Netherlands)

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STATIA TAKES ‘GIANT STEP’ TOWARDS ENVIRONMENTAL PRESERVATION

SINT EUSTATIUS (ORANJESTAD) – The tiny Caribbean island of St. Eustatius – known affectionately as Statia - has taken one giant step towards environmental preservation with a commitment to develop critical environmental protection rules.

In keeping with a central government mandate to protect the environment in Bonaire, St. Eustatius and Saba, known as the BES islands, the Public Entity St. Eustatius and the Ministry of Infrastructure and Water Management have signed a letter of intent to work together to effectively implement the environmental legislation, thus contributing to sustainable economic growth on the island.

“Today, we take one small step for the environment, one giant leap for Statia,” said Deputy Government Commissioner Claudia Toet, mirroring the words of the American astronaut, Neil Armstrong, when he landed on the moon in 1969.

“With the stroke of a pen we continue the journey to a true commitment to our environment, which is in keeping with our vision for a green Statia,” added the Deputy Government Commissioner, who signed on behalf of the Public Entity St. Eustatius. Director General of Environmental and International Affairs Roald Lapperre signed on behalf of the Ministry of Infrastructure and Water Management. The signing took place at the government administration building in the capital.

The decree from The Hague shall include legislation directing businesses to take the necessary steps to protect the environment in the three BES islands.

The Public Entity and the Ministry have concluded that careful implementation of the decree  - which is scheduled to take effect on 1 January 2023 - is important to protect the environment on St. Eustatius, an 8.1 square-mile island in the Caribbean Netherlands. Therefore, they have agreed on an implementation plan aimed at:

  1. supporting the development of defining environmental rules in an Island Ordinance to ensure that environmental goals are compatible with the local situation;
  2. ensuring capacity building within the relevant government departments;
  3. achieving a sustainable level of knowledge transfer on the main tasks required to implement the environmental legislation.

            They have also determined that the business community on Statia must be well informed about the environmental regulations and must be adequately prepared to comply with the rules.  

In this regard, the two sides have also signed a two-year cooperation agreement to establish a system to share information about the environmental legislation with local companies.

It will consist of an information desk and a web portal to provide easily accessible details and advice on the environmental regulations to the businesses.

The Ministry of Infrastructure and Water Management will contribute €50,000 towards the operational costs of the information system and will also contribute to the implementation plan agreed in the letter of intent.

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Girls in Aviation Day touches down in St. Maarten

SINT MAARTEN (PHILIPSBURG) - Women in Aviation International (WAI) Girls in Aviation Day is a new collaborative effort by WAI and Member of Parliament (MP) Ludmila De Weever. The initiative is one that focuses on exposing young girls to career opportunities available in the aviation field; one that is predominantly male-driven. The event was first hosted in 2015 and has remained annual; growing every year since its inception. St. Maarten is now added to the list of participating countries.  

MP De Weever wishes to extend a special thanks to Sabrina Charville of EDEIS at Grand Case Airport and her team. Connections for Girls in Aviation Day were made possible through drone pilots Aarti Baran and Bud Slabbaert. The event was organized in collaboration with Ludmilla Cuzenard and Florian Vigneaux of HeliRiviera, Kelly Murphy, Kathryn Creedy, Alison Chambers and Kristina Tervo of Women in Aviation International; and was facilitated through Dutch Tours N.V., air traffic controllers, Sophie Rismay Peterson and Cassidy Walker, and St. Barth Executive. 

There were many participants from the Sint Maarten Tourism Office as well as staff from the Princess Julianna International Airport (PJIA) who enjoyed the activities enough to interact with the young girls and manned some of the booths. However, the entire experience could not have been as successful without the enthusiastic participation of the students who attended and the staff from Dr. Martin Luther King School. 

“I really enjoyed the day. As a young woman in aviation, I think it’s so important to show little girls what’s possible for them, and I hope they can do this again next year, on a larger scale.” said Jovanka De Randamie, Non Aeronautical Business Officer at PJIA. 

“I was first introduced to the Women in Aviation International a few years back, and ever since I have been excited to see this come to fruition. To see young girls excited about potential opportunities for successful careers in aviation, it illuminates a space in our economy where otherwise seen as inaccessible.” said MP De Weever.

About Women in Aviation International

Women in Aviation International (WAI) is a nonprofit organization dedicated to the encouragement and advancement of women in all aviation and aerospace career fields and interests. The diverse membership includes astronauts, pilots, maintenance technicians, engineers, air traffic controllers, business owners, educators, journalists, flight attendants, high school and university students, air show performers, airport managers, and many others.

At WAI, they strive to encourage, empower, and educate all those whose interests, lives, and work involve aviation and aerospace without regard to race, ethnicity, gender identity, age, sexual orientation, physical or mental abilities, or point of view. They know with certainty that a shared passion for aviation transcends any differences.

AVIATIOIN MP LDW FRPG GIA 277

MP Ludmila de Weever (left)

AVIATION IN A DISC SESSION

AVIATION OSPREYS

AVIATION GROUP OF GIRLS

 

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Minister Richardson urges visitors to respect immigration laws

SINT MAARTEN (PHILIPSBURG) - On Friday, June 17th, 2022, the Court of First Instance rendered its decision denying a request to suspend the decision of the Honorable Minister of Justice Anna E. Richardson regarding the detention and deportation of a woman of Venezuelan nationality who has been residing on St. Maarten illegally for the past three years.

The woman's Attorney Mr. Remco Stomp, in his petition to Court claimed that the situation in Venezuela is inhumane and that his client has pressing interest in remaining on St. Maarten with her two children that are also residing illegally on St. Maarten and attending school. Although the woman's Attorney claimed that the woman has a partner on French St. Martin with property on the Dutch St. Martin who was willing to act as her guarantor, the Court agreed with the Minister's Attorney Ms. Cindy Marica that the detention and deportation order of the Minister were justified in the interest of public order and in respect of the Immigration laws and policy of St. Maarten. 

The Minister of Justice must be allowed to execute her authority to detain and deport persons that are illegally staying on St. Maarten, especially those persons as the woman who have failed to make any efforts to regulate her legal residency on St. Maarten and by doing so, blatantly disrespected the immigration laws on St. Maarten. The woman never requested a residence permit for herself or her children during the time she has been residing illegally on St. Maarten and allegedly has been working on both the French and Dutch sides of the island.

The Attorney on behalf of Minister Richardson argued that her detention is extended due to her own fault, as she has been refusing to cooperate with the immigration officials by taking a PCR test in order to be deported to Venezuela. Allowing the woman, who is also suspected of a crime for which she is summoned by the Criminal Court later this year, to stay on St. Maarten, would create a dangerous precedent for persons who reside on            St. Maarten illegally, which St. Maarten could not afford. The Court agreed with the arguments on behalf of the Minister of Justice and denied the request to suspend the detention and deportation of this woman to Venezuela. 

Minister Richardson stated, “All visitors are urged to respect the immigration laws of St. Maarten. If you plan on residing on the island, you must apply for a residence permit at the Immigration and Border Protection Services. First time applicants should not be on St. Maarten during the processing of their application.”

IBP Logo

 

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Victims of sexual crimes urged to file report with Police

SINT MAARTEN (PHILIPSBURG) - Sexual abuse is a very traumatic experience and is often an under-reported crime, especially when the victim is a minor, one of the most vulnerable groups in the community. Victims of sexual crimes are, therefore, encouraged, by justice authorities to report such crimes to the Police. The Police Force of Sint Maarten KPSM and the Prosecutor’s Office OM are committed to the continued investigation and prosecution of suspects of such criminal acts.

The call for victims of sexual crimes for report these is again renewed by the justice authorities, in particular due to the “Pandora” case heard in the Court of First Instance in Philipsburg on June 16, 2022. In that case, a man and woman stand trial for repeatedly raping and assaulting four young girls.

Sexual abuse and sexual crimes at the level this case has brought to light raise concerns about other instances that may have gone unreported. Victims of sexual crimes are reminded by authorities that their situation will be handled with due care. The detectives and others involved are trained and committed to assist anyone who needs to file a report.

The Prosecutor’s Office, together with KPSM, will continue to invest in investigating reports of sexual crimes and taking these to court with sufficient supporting evidence. Anyone who may have experienced sexual abuse is strongly urged to report this to police.

The OM understands that there can be fear about reporting an abuser, but the “Pandora” case has shown that just one person speaking up can bring about action. In this case, a victim confided in a trusted person, a teacher, who took steps to address the complaint. If you witnessed or experienced any of this or similar abuse, reach out to the police as soon as possible.

No incident of sexual abuse should go unreported or unaddressed. Anyone can make a report about suspected sexual abuse if they have reason to believe someone is or has been in danger. Confiding in a trusted person – a teacher, a counsellor, a school nurse - is also encouraged by authorities. Those in trusted positions are also reminded to take the required acts to assist victims.  

Do you have a report to make or would like to speak to someone about what you have witnessed and/or experienced? Contact KPSM Youth and Morals Department via telephone number +1 721 549 1117.

For more information about what to expect when you report a case of sexual abuse, view this video via link: https://fb.watch/dIkZMW3xDR/ or find it pinned to the Facebook pages of KPSM and the Prosecutor’s Office.   

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Businessman Revan says: Election Day should be a National Holiday

SINT MAARTEN (PHILIPSBURG) - Businessman and radio host Khalil Revan strongly believes that the day of the Parliamentary Election, commonly called “Election Day”, must be a National Holiday to protect the dignity and integrity of the country’s election process.

He contends that by making the day a National Holiday, it ensures that every eligible citizen gets a fair and equal opportunity to vote and participate in the electoral process without undesired influence, prohibition, reservation, or discrimination.

“Far too often we have heard the cries of workers on election day that their employer inhibits their voting times and opportunities. Many times, workers are not given the full 4 hours to vote or even participate in the election process.

“Because the law stipulates that all employees must have at least 4 hours to vote, employers insist that the employees voting time be scheduled at the end of the work day. Consequently, many workers are left standing in long lines between the hours of 5pm and 8pm in order to vote. Because of this many are too tired from work and not able to stand in the lines to vote so they abstain from voting. This is a direct infringement on all employees’ right to vote,” Revan said.

He added that it is also a well-known fact that many employers misuse their position of power and influence to direct or instruct employees where to cast their vote. There are even cases, Revan continued, in which doctors use their position to persuade their patients to vote in a certain manner or for a particular party or candidate.

Revan said that abuse of power by employers and professionals with vulnerable clients is a direct attack on the democratic principle of one man one vote and the principle to vote one’s conscience. “This influence of power on the voters by the elite power broker of our society on election day tends to have a major impact on the outcome of the election for parliament. This is a major taint on our democratic process and rights,” he said.  

Additionally, he explained that On October 10, 2010 St. Maarten became a constituent state of the Kingdom of the Netherlands. The Constitution of St. Maarten enshrines the laws which details the fundamental inalienable rights of each citizen of St. Maarten and describes how the constituent state of St. Maarten is to be governed.

As such, the new status within the Kingdom of the Netherlands, by way of the Constitution of St. Maarten, embedded the statutory authority to develop and pass legislation pertaining to the governing of St. Maarten in the body of the Parliament of St. Maarten. The constitution also details that the Parliament of St. Maarten is elected by the citizens of St. Maarten as detailed in the Electoral Law.

“This makes St. Maarten a representative parliamentary system. The Constitution of St. Maarten states ‘declaring the belief in the principle of democracy, the rule of law, the principle of the segregation of powers, the dignity and value of the individual, the entitlement of all persons to fundamental rights and freedom’. Of these fundamental rights is the enfranchisement and thereby, the participation of all eligible citizens as is detailed in the Article 2 of the Electoral Law which states ‘Members of Parliament are elected directly by persons who, on the thirtieth day prior to that of the submission of nominations referred to in Article 21, are residents of Sint Maarten, hold Dutch nationality and on the date of the election, have reached the age of 18.’

Article 16 of the Constitution of St. Maarten in addressing the principle right to equality for all citizens states ‘Everyone in Sint Maarten shall be treated equally in equivalent circumstances. Discrimination on grounds of religion, belief, political persuasion, race, color of skin, sex, language, national or social origins, membership of a national minority, wealth, birth or and any other ground whatsoever is prohibited.’

Therefore, Revan stressed that every eligible citizen of St. Maarten with the right to vote should have an equal and equitable opportunity vote and participate in the electoral process without prohibition, reservation, and or discrimination as every other working or non-working citizen of St. Maarten.

“Many citizens as part of their belief and commitment to the democratic process volunteer their time to partake and assist in the Election Day process. Many of these persons are candidates on a political list, political party members, volunteers at the polling stations, and many others volunteers. Many of these committed citizens are forced to take a vacation day off from work to be able to give their service to the country,” the he said.

“This penalty of a loss of a vacation day is unreasonable and unfair to ask a citizen of this country to bear, in order that they are able to assist in the most important decision-making process for St. Maarten. Volunteering one’s time to ensure free and fair election in St Maarten should not come at a penalty to the volunteer. On the contrary, the right of each and every citizen to partake in the democratic process equally without penalty should be protected,” Revan concluded.

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