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CAft: Aruba has accomplished the CAft recommendations for the 2018 budget; Important to shortly draw up a new legal standards framework aimed at sustainable finance

ARUBA – With the purpose to speedily reach the path towards sustainable public finance, the Board of financial supervisoion for Aruba (CAft) has made three recommendations.

During its visit the CAft observed that these recommendations have sufficiently been carried out. For now this gives the CAft sufficient trust. Considering the worrisome state the public finance is in, the CAft has again referred to the necessity to attain as soon as possible a new legal standards framework.

In order to accomplish a sustainable improvement of the public finance and a decrease of the debt position, it is required to obtain as soon as possible a surplus on the budget.

Recommendations sufficiently accomplished

In anticipation of agreements between Aruba and the Netherlands on a legal standards framework for 2018-2021, the CAft has made three recommendations in June in response to the adopted budget.

Firstly, it is recommended that the financing deficit in 2018 be lower than the deficit in 2017. In recent weeks, Aruba has provided information and with that has indicated that the non-tax revenues of 17,5 million guilders from Refineria di Aruba (RdA) are sufficiently realistic.

An amount of 9.9 million guilders has already been transferred in 2018. In addition, it is recommended that the multi-year personnel costs should show a downward trend. With regard to staff expenses, Aruba has presented a personnel plan in which it is aimed to reduce the nominal multi-year staff costs.

For 2018, measures will be taken to reduce staff costs by 12 million guilders. Herewith  the request of the CAft to not raise the personnel costs compared with 2017 is also met. It is however important that Parliament adopts the related budget amendment as quickly as possible.

Finally, the CAft recommended that the maximum debt ratio of 90% GDP should not be exceeded. Aruba has promised that it will not take out more (short-term) loans in 2018 and 2019 than necessary, as a result of which the debt ratio will remain below 90% GDP.

New standards framework

The CAft has already concluded that the deficit compensation over 2017 cannot be realized in 2018 as prescribed by the National Ordinance Aruba for temporary financial supervision (LAft), and that the LAft norm of a surplus of 0.5% GDP for 2018 is therefore out of reach.

In order to arrive at a path towards sustainable public finances within the foreseeable future, a new legal standards framework is needed. Talks about this subject between Aruba and the Netherlands are ongoing, yet the CAft has once again insisted on a legal standards framework for 2018-2021 and, as soon as possible, a surplus on the budget, so that the steps on the path towards sustainable public finances can be made.

Last visit Board members Sybilla Dekker and Robert Croes

Apart from discussing the results of the first quarter, this visit was also marked by the departure of the Board members Sybilla Dekker (member upon the proposal of the Netherlands) and Robert Croes (member upon the proposal of Aruba).

Both departing members have been involved, as from the start of the CAft on August 1st,  2015 and both membes look back on a increasingly improving cooperation with Aruba. Sybilla Dekker about her period at the CAft: "By maintaining a steady conversation with each other, Aruba and the CAft have been able to take the necessary steps in the further development of financial supervision for the benefit of sustainable public finances".

Robert Croes confirms this and adds: "It was an honor to be able to be a member of the Board upon the proposal of my country. I have always acted in good faith".

Work visits CAft

As usually during the visits of the Board to Aruba, meetings were held with the Governor, the Minister of Finance, the Council of Ministers and the Parliamentary Committee of Finance, Economic Affairs and Government Organization.

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Mediation of conflicts: particularly important after Irma

SINT MAARTEN (POND ISLAND) - Hurricane Irma’s destructive force and aftermath led to the closure of many businesses and consequently the regrettable dismissal of many of our citizens.

The tensions that this causes, lead to conflicts and legal court procedures. Mediation as a method of Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) can be a powerful instrument to avoid escalation of these conflicts.

Therefore, at the request of the Ministry of Public Health, Social Development and Labor (VSA) and with the financial support of the Dutch Recovery Fund for Sint Maarten, VNG International organized a “Mediation Week” that took place from Monday May 28th until Friday June 1st on Sint Maarten. 

From Monday May 28th until Thursday May 31st, a group of 21 trainees was offered a mediation skills training. Furthermore, in order to raise awareness for mediation on a broad scale in Sint Maarten (legal) society, the first Mediation Congress was organized on Friday June 1st. Participants to the congress were civil servants, attorneys at law, union representatives, representatives of employers and many more.

Open dialogue to solve conflicts

Minister Lee of VSA strongly believes that conflicts should first be addressed through open dialogue, rather than through legal court procedures. “When parties in conflict are encouraged to listen to each other and start understanding each other’s positions, they are much more inclined to come up with their own solutions.

A positive result of a solution that is mutually agreed upon, compared to a solution imposed by a third authority, such as a judge, is that the relationship between the parties improves and tensions will reduce”, Minister Lee stated.

Mediation as a method of ADR is gaining widespread acceptance in various countries among both the general public and the legal profession. Through mediation, an open dialogue between the parties in conflict is facilitated by an independent, objective and impartial third party.

Minister Lee: “In the labor field on Sint Maarten, this role is fulfilled by the Government Mediator. But also other civil servants who are dealing with conflicts, such as the complaint officers working for the Department of Labor Affairs and Social Services, benefit from the mediation skills training because it teaches them to address a labor problem effectively.” Or as one of the trainees stated after the training: “It [the training] is beneficial to all as it lays the information that a mediator has to have in order to resolve conflicts amicably. The techniques can be applied at work and in our daily lives.”

Future mediation activities

Besides VSA, also the Department of Legal Affairs and Legislation of the Ministry of General Affairs was invited to attend the training.

Jennifer Pawirodihardjo-Fer, head of the Department: “In our function as ‘legal advisor’ to all the ministries within our Government, I believe that it is important for our advisors to gain insight in alternative methods of conflict resolution apart from the classic one that we know: litigation.

“The training has made us understand that we can look at conflicts in different ways and that ‘the law’ is not the only source for a successful solution. At the end of the day, when two parties fight each other, it is all about communication. For the near future, we hope to get the resources to train more government employees.”

For more information please contact VNG International: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.; +31703738401

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Outgoing Minister of Finance Ferries gives Overview of State of Affairs

SINT MAARTEN (POND ISLAND) – Outgoing Minister of Finance Michael Ferrier on Wednesday gave an overview of the state of affairs of the nation since he took up the position mid-January 2018 until now.

“In January 2018, at my very first press briefing as Minister of Finance, I opened by asking the question “How do we together get Sint Maarten going again?”

“That the task was going to be challenging at best. The team put together by MP’s Heyliger, Wescot-Williams and Brownbill to govern the battered country had their work cut out for them in what was then already known would be a relatively short term in office.

“I had said from the onset that I was not interested in being more than a pinch hitter and therefore did not take part in the February 26th, 2018 election. And so here I stand at this last weekly press briefing of the 1st Leona Romeo-Marlin Cabinet, in which I proudly served as Minister of Finance. I take the opportunity to 1. Give account for what I have done; 2. Make suggestions for items that still need attention; 3. Express my appreciation for the support and assistance I have received.

“And while this is goodbye as Minister, I have a feeling that wanted or not wanted, asked or not asked, invited or not, I will on occasion provide my two-cents as citizen Mike Ferrier, when I think it is warranted.

“So, I ask your patience, as this may be a little more long winded than usual, but I believe it is the right way to close my tenure.

“Back at the start of this assignment, we knew that it was going to be quite a job after Irma, with hardly any money in the coffers and very little trust, if any, from our Kingdom partner Holland, who in the meantime back in November had offered the generous amount of 550 million Euros to help us out of the Post Irma mess, albeit with conditions.

“My marching orders were to get as much of those 550 million pledged Euros as possible in the form of a grant (a gift) rather than a loan. Fast forward to April 16, 2018, we were able to get a firm commitment for 470 of the 550 million or 85% of the total in the form of a grant. But I am getting ahead of myself. Back in January, Government was facing a financial crisis and unfortunately still does. Getting to actually SPEND the 470 Million Euros to bring relief to our people in dire straits, would be a whole other story.

“First order of business was to get much needed liquidity support to keep government operational. By February 26th, State Secretary Knops and I were able to sign the first 50 Million Guilder liquidity support loan documents that provided St. Maarten with a 0% interest, 30-year loan, with no payments due for the first 5 years. That arrangement gave Sint Maarten some financial breeding space.

“From the onset, we expressed our desire to develop practical solutions in order to tackle the multiple overarching, cross-ministries’ challenges. Having been able to watch our predecessors function as if there were 7 different governments instead of 1 government with 7 different ministries, we made a commitment to not make that same mistake and I am proud to say that in hind sight, the Leona Marlin Cabinet 1 succeeded to almost always deliver on that commitment.

“From the onset we also realized that a lack of trust in the body politic of SXM by the Dutch Government needed reversing, if not, at least greatly improving. The return of mutual respect needed to be sought and massaged. I believe on this front we are well on our way, overlooking a few hiccups.

“On Tuesday February 6, 2018, the Ministry of Finance of the Government of Sint Maarten organized a Round Table Conference “Sustainable Financial Government,” with the Netherlands, the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the Committee for Financial Supervision of Curacao and Sint Maarten Cft.

“The goal of this conference was to get all parties together and to have an open dialogue on the way forward to a financial sustainable St. Maarten and also how to achieve progress in bringing relief in the short term to our people.

“This last goal unfortunately is still a work in progress. From January to now a tremendous amount of people-hours has gone into learning the rules of engagement on all levels and personally I am convinced that we are now closer to that pot of gold at the end of the rainbow than we have ever been.

“Working together in the Council of Ministers to solve practical problems to ease the pain of our people, in spite of the acute lack of sufficient funds, has been truly inspiring. My respect goes out to the many hardworking civil servants I have come to know throughout the organization and at the same time it is my hope that the others will step up to the plate and realize that being able to serve the public is a privilege.

“The budget 2018, was the big item on our TO-DO list, and it took our experts quite some doing to prepare it, and then for us to defend it in Parliament and to the Cft, given that it is not a balanced budget. Just like 2017, our reality is that of more expenditure than income. Thank goodness because of this amazing half of an island’s resilience, our deficit is lower than first feared, but the reality is we still have serious financial challenges. But this really is not rocket science.... the faster we get the economy humming, the less dependent on outside help we will be.

“We need our airport back, we need our hotel rooms back, we need inexpensive loans to be made available to keep the doors open of proven businesses with good track records, now in dire straits because of the post Irma slowed down economy. We need to start a top-of-the-mind-destination-awareness campaign, letting the rest of the world know that we are well on our way back, so that come this Christmas Season except for some scars, it will be like it never even happened.

“To this end in an effort to seek additional funding besides the Dutch/World Bank Trust Fund, we are working with the Central Bank and have requested the Cft to give their advice on our idea to float a bond to on short notice help fund the above mentioned very short-term goals.

“In the past 5 months we have been able to work on cost-cutting measures and I am thrilled to say that in yesterday’s Council of Ministers meeting we passed a 33-item list of these cost cutting measures of which 4 of them are subject to our Parliamentarians approval, which I am sure we will undoubtedly get. I am also pleased to finally be able to share the list of measures with you, with the footnote that many of the legally regulated items, will require a voluntary sign off by all those affected, but who want to do their bit of contributing to SXM’s solution, rather than to its continued problems.

“We have also made great strides in advancing the efforts to improve our tax administration and collection system. These preparatory actions are needed if we are to maximize the scarce financial resources at our disposal. I have my successors commitment to keep on this vital track.

“To improve our income, we have been working on every front. The pension reforms for government workers, is back on the front burner. Government built up significant arrears to APS in the last years. Part of the problem is that the pension system is no longer feasible in this modern day and age, where people live longer and want to work longer.

“Also, investments don’t return what they used to and costs are skyrocketing. As such, the pension fund has been working on reforms together with government. These reforms are also required by the Cft. The pension system is now scheduled to go into effect at the start of 2019. The benefit to the bottom line of government, especially in these tough financial times, is significant. With the changes, government will be able to meet the financial obligations and eliminate financial arrears. This is good for the pension fund and ultimately for the future retirees.

“I have also taken good note of underperforming areas of income to government. One of these is that which has to get to Governments coffers through the Bureau Telecom & Post, the so called BTP. Reports about the BTP show that the institution should and can contribute more to government.

“The concession and spectrum fees are collected on behalf of and should be transferred to government after deduction of reasonable operational costs. In the last years BTP has not contributed anywhere near what government expects. The inefficiency and lack of legal compliance at BTP needs to change, so government can receive its fair share. To this end, we have prepared recommendations for measures to be taken at BTP and these will be made available to the minister of TEATT, who by law is the responsible Minister.

“I believe that the first order of business is accountability. BTP needs to give proper account for its operation and ensure that the income due to government is transferred to government in a timely manner. I had hoped to see these measures through to implementation but am convinced that this initiative will be continued. The need for funds certainly isn’t going away soon, and government needs to maximize revenues.

“While heading the Ministry of Finance, efforts in getting our financial statements in order were promoted and pushed. When we entered office, the financial statement for 2016 had not been prepared. It is late. The ministry is now working on getting this statement completed and sent to the auditors and parliament.

“Speaking of which, the backlog in handling the financial statements of previous years, is also underway. The General Audit Chamber, the Cft and others have made it clear that this is not a positive trend. If the schedule developed at the ministry is followed, we can get this done before the end of the year.

“Key for all of us to understand is that practical solutions can always be found. But will and desire has to be part of the solution.

“I want to also take the time to address the issue of the government-owned companies. These are strategic companies, that have been placed at a distance from the government organization but remain the assets of government.

“Putting them at a distance to avoid conflicts of interest is good, however, these companies, ultimately have to serve the broader interest of this community, this country.

“The people charged with managing and overseeing these entities have great authority, but also great responsibility. Just as ministers are responsible for the financial management and policy achievement of their respective ministries, so too are managing directors and supervisory board members responsible for the operational and strategic wellbeing of the company they serve. When something goes wrong at a ministry, Parliament can call a minister to give account.

“Ministers can be sent home, with a motion of non-confidence.

“We have experienced government and parliament being sent packing for lack mismanagement and incompetence.

“Right now, we are experiencing the consequence of not doing the right thing or taking action when we know something is wrong.

“It should not be so that the public prosecutor has to go into an NV to uncover problems that have been subject of rumors for years.

“We should be very concerned about companies taking on debt to unsustainable levels. These are our assets, and while they are limited liability entities, the failure of any one of them, could be catastrophic to all of us.

“Ministers are appointed as shareholder representatives for companies and other government entities and should be very vigilant of what has happened in the past, and what is planned for the future. Bad management should not be rewarded. Incompetence should not be ignored and breaking the law should be investigated and punished.

“We are about to get started with the reconstruction of St. Maarten almost 10 months after IRMA. The requirements, rules, procedures and bureaucracy has been hard for me to understand, but I realize that it is mostly a self-imposed burden. Successive governments have let things slide. The attitude has not gone unnoticed from the partners on the other side of the ocean.

“We wanted autonomy. But with that comes responsibility and unfortunately, we were not prepared for the worst-case scenario.

“The help we have been offered comes at a price. I say, unless we have an alternative, let’s pay it gladly, but use the resources carefully to build a better country that will be better able to stand on its own feet.

“On a personal note: I leave today with a bitter sweet feeling.

“It was never my intention to stay on long. That was something I stated from the start. But I had hoped to achieve much more. Where I would have wanted to run with the ball, many times I had to walk, stand still and sometimes even backtrack... that was the frustrating part.

“Nevertheless, I believe a lot got done. There’s a budget 2018, another is being prepared, the financial statements are in process and backlogs are being worked away. Liquidity was arranged we kept the lights on and services flowing.

“Plans have been prepared and some are in execution.

“Most importantly, communication with stakeholders internally and externally is established. This was not a one man/one woman job.... it took a team to achieve. I want to take time to thank the wonderful people in our Cabinet, Jakira Bruinhard, Velma Windeveldt, Shadyra Francisca, Jaap van Duinkerken and Martin Hassink. I want to thank the two coffee room ladies Thelma and Mrs. Brown Girlie for all the bush tea they brought for me every single day, the ladies that I would meet every morning cleaning my office, all the professionals in the Ministry of Finance and throughout the government organization, as well as all others from inside and outside government who believed no challenge was too big and who I could always call on for help, guidance and advise.

“And lest you think I forgot you, a word of appreciation to the media. You got the message out, you kept me sharp.

“I consider myself lucky to have been given the opportunity to contribute in this way to St. Maarten and to have been able to do something that makes it hard to say goodbye. So instead of goodbye, I say “we gon’ catch-up.”

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A new Caribbean Airlift Alliance is in formation in the region

SINT MAARTEN/CARIBBEAN - This was announced at last week’s Caribbean Aviation Meetup in the Bahamas. The announcement was made by Rob Ceravolo, CEO of Tropic Ocean Airways and Cdr. Bud Slabbaert, the Chairman of the Caribbean Aviation Meetup, during the debriefing session of the conference.

The attendees of the session unanimously agreed and offered their active support. The third person in the decision making was Vincent Verderpool-Wallace, former Minister of Tourism of the Bahamas and former CEO of the Caribbean Tourism Organisation, who is a strong and well-respected advocate for changes in Caribbean airlift and tourism matters.

The Alliance in its current infant stage is a gathering of highly qualified professionals with industrial support that aims for improving airlift and progress in air transportation in the Caribbean.

The Caribbean Airlift Alliance will be non-governmental, non-partisan and impartial. The Alliance should not be considered a new contender entering a boxing ring. Although the Alliance is a response to many airlift dilemmas in the Caribbean region, the emphasis will be on providing information, education, and furthering understanding among all stakeholders in airlift matters and eventually finding solutions.

Although governments and their authorities may be seen as stakeholders, most of the governments in the region have been not part of solutions.  

The Caribbean picture is that tourism represents upto 85% of the revenue of the islands territories. Governments may exercise the powers given to them by their constituencies.  However, they should realize that such power means relative little in a more global perspective.

The vacationers and passengers abroad have the full power to decide which destinations they prefer to visit and subsequently contribute to those economies. There are many choices and options within the region but also beyond. The airlines are in full power to decide what destinations they want to fly to. Those decisions are very much related to the passenger demand.

They will always aim for a payload of 85%. So, what does political power mean when the guests and transportation operators needed for a healthy economy are preferring different destinations. The power of the governments may result in increased competition. Guess, who will be the winners with growing numbers of visitors and improved economy results?

The Alliance will appreciate the cooperation of any government. But the highly qualified professionals of the Alliance have the command over the necessary expertise and knowledge in the various fields related to airlift.

Professionals are not typically prepared to spin their wheels. Therefore, governments and their agencies cooperating with the Alliance will experience the benefits of cooperation and getting positive results. The governments that will remain reserved are more or less on their own and may have chosen for isolation.

“The Caribbean picture is that tourism represents up to 85% of the revenue of the islands territories. Governments may exercise the powers given to them by their constituencies.  However, they should realize that such power means relative little in a more global perspective.

The vacationers and passengers abroad have the full power to decide which destinations they prefer to visit. There are many choices and options. The airlines are in full power to decide what destinations they want to fly to. Those decisions are very much related to the passenger demand.

So, what does political power mean when the guests needed for a healthy economy are preferring different destinations. The power of the governments may result in increased competition. Guess, who will be the winners with growing numbers of visitors and improved economy results?

The Alliance is not a typical industry organization that represent the interest of a particular membership base. Unfortunately, one must conclude that in many cases, the Caribbean is a stepchild when an organization represents, the Americas….. and the Caribbean, in small lettering as a must to be put somewhere. It is clear were the emphasis is, and logically little attention can be given to a region 20-30 relatively territories with many complex dilemmas.

The culture within the Alliance may be different from other originations.  An activity may not start with setting up a committee trying to work from top to bottom. The Alliance will encourage individual initiatives by their professionals based on their expertise and knowledge.

They will then receive the necessary support to move ahead. Thus, more a bottom to top perspective. The Alliance may create a Task Force on demand. Such request may come from a government or a private interest group. However, such Task Force will not be created for debating but rather have a clear objective and a plan of action. It may be a new different approach that is very much needed in the Caribbean region.

CUTLINE: The Honorable Dionisio D'Aguilar, Minister of Tourism and Aviation of the Bahamas welcoming the attendees and making his presentation.

cambah02

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Queen Máxima resumes public duties, speaks of ‘dear, sick’ sister

SINT MAARTEN/THE NETHERLANDS – Queen Máxima has spoken for the first time about the death of her younger sister Inés, who committed suicide earlier this month.

Queen Máxima, who was visibly emotional, took time after her visit to the new proton cancer clinic in Groningen to make the short statement. It was her first public appearance since the death two weeks ago.

The queen said how pleased she was to visit the centre, which gave hope to people with cancer. ‘My dear little, clever sister Inés was sick,’ the queen said. ‘She could not find happiness and she could not be cured. Our only comfort is that she has now, finally found peace.’

The letters and support from people ‘really helped’, the queen said, before going on to thank everyone who had shown respect for the family’s privacy at such a difficult time. (DutchNews)

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WORLD REFUGEE DAY ON JUNE 20

SINT MAARTEN (POND ISLAND) – The United Nations' (UN) World Refugee Day is observed on June 20 each year. This event honors the courage, strength and determination of women, men and children who are forced to flee their homeland under threat of persecution, conflict and violence. 

In some countries, it is a day when activists protest against using former prisons to detain migrants and asylum seekers while visiting them in detention to offer moral support.

Some communities dedicate an entire week that includes World Refugee Day to encourage people to think about the lives of refugees and the human right to a secure place that one can see as “home”. 

A refugee is a displaced person who has been forced to cross national boundaries and who cannot return home safely. Such a person is seeking a form of protection and may be called an asylum seeker until granted refugee status by the contracting country. Most of the times those people are of special humanitarian concern.

A recurring item on TV news are scenes of refugees fleeing their home countries en route to more secure destination. Some countries slams their doors to refugees, other countries embrace newcomers as assets to their economies and cultural diversity.

The shores of Sint Maarten may not yet have been the target for large groups of refugees, as with, for instance Curaçao and Aruba, where authorities have to deal with an influx of refugees from their neighboring country Venezuela, from which refugees are clandestinely arriving by sea.

The Dutch government has offered technical support to Aruba and Curaçao to help them deal with the flow of migrants from the crisis-hitting Venezuela. The Dutch government has also emphasized that Aruba and Curaçao concern two autonomous countries within the kingdom and that these areas have their own responsibilities to solve the refugees and migration issues.

In Sint Maarten, immigration authorities would deal with refugees, once they reach our country. It is not uncommon that some refugees are opting to stay on illegally, while others choose to cross the border to the northern side, Saint Martin, and apply for asylum.

According to figures released by the sous-prefecture on the French part of Sint Maarten, last April, some 345 asylum requests were received in 2016. This was 300 more than in 2015. Of these more than 78 percent were asylum seekers from Venezuela. 

Caribbean Migration

The Second Meeting of the Caribbean Migration Consultations (CMC) - Refugee Protection was hosted by the Government of the Commonwealth in The Bahamas from 4-6 December 2017.

This was done with the logistical and technical support of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR). The meeting concluded with a 2017 report on Caribbean migration recommending that all member countries pass legislation on refugee protection.

The report was compiled after a meeting on the topic and ideas were presented for study visits, from one country to another, to see how other jurisdictions address the same issues.

From the group chaired by The Bahamas, priorities were given, included the need for local training and sensitization support across governments to process and treat refugees in a humane manner, and for capacity building for officials.

Contingency planning for natural disasters was also discussed. Individual countries identified either developing legislation or acceding to relevant conventions as priorities, including the conventions on statelessness, and looking more closely at potential statelessness within their borders.

National Development Relevance

Movement of people, most often through migration, is a significant part of global integration.

Yet Sint Maarten (Dutch side) is not alone where it concerns reliable statistics on migration, which are difficult to collect and are often incomplete, creating a challenge for exact figures on refugees entering Sint Maarten.

Special attention from countries is needed to ensure that these vulnerable people will not be left behind when the 2030 Agenda is implemented. This entails efforts to ensure the right to health for both, displaced populations and for people who are transgressing national borders in their often dangerous and desperate search for security.

In 2016, 193 countries signed the New York Declaration for Refugees and Migrants, which emphasizes education as a critical component of the international response to the global refugee crisis. This is instrumental to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), particularly SDG 4 for quality education.

Sint Maarten has embraced the 2030 Agenda with its Sustainable Development Goals as part of country’s development agenda. SDGs 8, decent work and Economic Growth and SDG 16, Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions are dealing with issues related to refugees and migration as a wider perspective thereof.

The government of Sint Maarten advocates working in partnership (MDG 17) with non-governmental institutions, the private sector and stakeholders abroad to contribute to a better world for its citizens and visitors on Sint Maarten.

Interested persons can reach out to The Department of The Interior and Kingdom Relations (BAK), program manager for SDGs Drs. Loekie Morales on 5271223 to know more about how to work together to realize the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development on Sint Maarten.

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Celebrity Choreographer and Creative Director Luam Keflezgy arrives for Art Saves Lives’ Audition and Placement screening

SINT MAARTEN (PHILIPSBURG) - Luam Keflezgy, one of ASL’s most popular Teaching artists will return this weekend June 23rd for Art Saves Lives’ placement screening for the organization’s Summer Intensive.

The screening event will be held at the Philipsburg Cultural and Community Center on Saturday June 23rd 2018 at 11 am. Students who have not yet registered are encouraged to arrive at 10:45am in order to pre-register.

Registration is open at www.eventbrite.com (search for Art Saves Lives 2018). The Audition and Placement event is made possible by the following sponsors: Mrs. Charlotte Forester, Buttermoon Villa, Mrs. Yolande Donaldson, Mr. & Mrs. Larry and Conni Weismann, Holland House Hotel and Philipsburg Cultural Center.

Luam is a celebrated and much sought-after celebrity choreographer and creative director with artists and projects such as Alicia Keys, Beyoncé, Nike, Rihanna, Kelly Rowland, Robin Thicke, Britney Spears, Kanye, Reebok, Janelle Monae, X Factor, American Idol, America’s Got Talent and more.

She has obtained cult popularity among the dance community all over the world with her classes and passion for spreading inspiration.

“Luam is looking forward to hosting the audition and placement screening for the first time this year, after teaching our Hip-Hop class each Summer”, stated Ari Sutton ASL Project Manager. Art Saves Lives is currently raising funds for their sixth Summer Intensive which will be held from June 9th-13th at the John Larmonie Center and Great Bay Sports Auditorium.

This year in light of what the island has endured and overcome ASL is offering the program free of charge for the first 100 students who register online. Business and persons wanting to donate funds to cover the costs of registration for these students and support this initiative or encouraged to contact the organization at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or 721-526-8590.

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CPS Men’s Health 2018: Living a healthier and more active lives

GREAT BAY, (DCOMM) – The lack of physical activity is seen as a health threat. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), around the world, not enough people are active; one in four adults and four out of five adolescents are not getting enough exercise.

Some of the consequences of inactivity are overweight or obesity. Physical activity is good for health and can prevent heart disease, cancer and diabetes.

Sint Maarten’s calendar of health observances is to promote in particular local or global health issues and encourage the male population – men’s health - to be proactive and consult their physicians before onset of disease.

The Collective Prevention Services (CPS), a department with the Ministry of Public Health, Social Development & Labour, would like to see all men and boy’s healthy and recommends that we collectively strive to have a health community with the aforementioned group practicing healthy lifestyles and take preventive actions to be and remain healthy. This message is part of the department’s annual calendar of observances.

CPS would like to see men and boys live healthier lives, and is calling on all fathers’ and boys to consult their physician to determine their risk factors.

Some risk factors are tobacco use: using tobacco is one of the most damaging lifestyle choices. WHO has estimated that tobacco use is currently responsible for 16% of all deaths in adults over 30 in the WHO European Region, with many of these deaths occurring prematurely.

Excessive salt consumption is another high risk: excessive salt consumption is strongly associated with the development of cardiovascular diseases. By eating less salt and staying within the limits of the recommended maximum – 5 grams a day – you can protect your health and significantly reduce the risk of developing noncommunicable diseases (NCDs).

Thirdly, physical inactivity: physical activity is a vital part of a healthy lifestyle, and the absence of it can lead to serious consequences.

By taking action and reaching the recommended minimum of physical activity per week – 150 minutes of moderate and/or 75 minutes of vigorous physical activity – you can protect your health, enhance your well-being and considerably reduce the risk of developing different associated conditions.

Get educated about your health and your risk of inherit health condition, and the diseases that can affect you; get screened and tested to be sure you are healthy; make annual visits to the doctor; eat healthier; and be more active and monitor your health.

CPS encourages Sint Maarten men and boys to make healthy choices, live a healthy lifestyle and be active.

Persons seeking additional information should contact their family physician or CPS at telephone numbers: 542-1570 or 542-1222.

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St. Maarten Tourist Bureau in search of photographers and videographers

GREAT BAY, (DCOMM) – The St. Maarten Tourist Bureau (STB) is searching for qualified and professional photographers and videographers that can capture the true essence of St. Maarten, its people and its culture in a creative and unique manner.

The photos and videos should also capture the experimental aspect of vacationing on St. Maarten as much as possible tapping into the emotional aspect of the viewer.

“The tourism industry is ever evolving and the times of hiring large expensive companies to come down to the islands and do photography and videography also has changed.

“We have great local talent that can capture the true essence of our beautiful St. Maarten/St. Martin," says Interim Head of Tourism May-Ling Chun.

All interested persons should contact Wendy Doran York at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or call tel. 549-0200.

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EDUCATION COMMITTEE CHAIR MP JACOBS GETS UPDATE FROM AUC

SINT MAARTEN (CUPECOY) - On Thursday June 14, 2018 representatives of the American University of the Caribbean (AUC) met with Member of Parliament (MP) Silveria E. Jacobs, Chair of Committee Education, Culture, Youth and Sports Affairs (CECYSA), in an introductory meeting to update on the current status of medical facility post Hurricanes Irma and Maria. The discussion was also aimed at broadening the relationships with its partners here on the island of St. Maarten.

Dr. Heidi Chumley, Executive Dean of AUC introduced her delegation which consisted of the newly appointed President of AUC, Dr. Cathy Boden-Holland, Eric P. Mitchell, Director Government Relations for parent company ADATLEM Global Education, formerly DeVry Inc., as well as known Sr. Administrator Campus Operations Hazarie Ramoutar.

Dr. Chumley further updated the CECYSA Chairlady on the progress with the return eighty percent of students to the local campus from the UK where they had relocated after the passage of the hurricanes had destroyed most of the living accommodations of students and professors.

The graduation ceremony for the class of 2018 did take place in Florida in conjunction with their sister school, however the class from the St. Maarten Campus still felt a touch of home, as AUC organized for the Generation New Status drum band under the leadership of Youmay Dormoy to travel and perform at the graduation in Florida.

Dr. Boden-Holland expressed great pleasure at being in St. Maarten, and awe at the performance of our youth musicians in the US. She further stated that the recovery of St. Maarten was phenomenal and surprisingly ahead of most Caribbean islands.

Dr. Chumley informed of great plans which came about as a result of the storms, including collaborating with Harvard University upon their request to establish a Disaster Management Center of Excellence here on St. Maarten.

Another project is the establishment of a campus in the UK. These opportunities can be seen as a silver lining in the aftermath of hurricane Irma, where opportunities where presented and partnerships where strengthened. AUC is eager and very positive about the future as it concerns St. Maarten’s potential in the fields of science and education.

AUC has also expressed desire to partner with the University of St. Maarten in a mutually beneficial scenario where both institutions will greatly benefit from one another’s resources and affirm relationship building that will improve the current educational product.

AUC was approached by a disaster medicine group from Harvard to develop a Disaster Medicine framework, as St. Maarten has a lot to offer in the area educational and science development.

CECYSA Chair MP Jacobs further thanked AUC for the meeting request, as the information was very encouraging in the area of Education Tourism and possibilities for upgrading and supplementing opportunities for St. Maarten to grow. She further thanked AUC for their exemplary work and many projects that are executed whereby the impact is felt throughout the community.

MP Jacobs closed by informing AUC representatives that they would be invited to update the Committee ECYSA in a formal committee meeting of Parliament after the summer break.

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