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CPS surveillance system continues to monitor for diphtheria. Free Vaccination Outreach this Saturday for 0-17-year olds

GREAT BAY, (DCOMM) – The Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) in a recent epidemiological alert to public health agencies in the Americas, gave an update with respect to diphtheria in the Americas.

PAHO reiterates to Member States the recommendation to continue their efforts to ensure vaccination coverage of over 95 per cent with the primary series of three doses and three booster doses. This vaccination series will provide protection throughout adolescence and adulthood (up to 39 years and possibly beyond).

In order for the country to maintain a high vaccination coverage, the Collective Prevention Services (CPS) is inviting parents and guardians to bring their child (ren) to the free Vaccination Community Outreach that will be taking place this Saturday, May 25. During this activity, the child (ren’s) vaccination status can be checked. Parents and guardians must bring along the child (ren’s) vaccination record/book.

The outreach is scheduled for Saturday, May 25 from 9.00am to 3.00pm. The outreach will take place at the Vineyard Office Park at W.G. Buncamper road #33, in Philipsburg.

Diphtheria is an infection caused by the bacterium Corynebacterium diphtheriae. Diphtheria causes a thick covering in the back of the throat. It can lead to difficulty breathing, heart failure, paralysis, and even death. Vaccines are recommended for infants, children, teens and adults to prevent diphtheria.

In 2018, three countries in the Region of the Americas – Colombia, Haiti, and the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela – reported confirmed diphtheria cases. In 2019, Haiti and Venezuela reported confirmed cases.

CPS, a department of the Ministry of Public Health, Social Development and Labour, has taken note of the PAHO alert which calls for continued efforts to maintain high vaccination coverage, and with the community’s assistance, this can be accomplished.

PAHO/World Health Organization (WHO) stresses that the populations at greatest risk are unvaccinated children under five (5) years of age, schoolchildren, healthcare workers, military service personnel, prisoner community, and persons who, due to the nature of their occupation, are in contact with a large number of persons on a daily basis.

PAHO advice for travelers, “Although travelers do not have a special risk of diphtheria infection, it is recommended that national authorities remind travelers going to areas with diphtheria outbreaks to be properly vaccinated in accordance with the national vaccination scheme established in each country prior to travel. If more than five years have passed since their last dose, a booster dose is recommended.”

PAHO/WHO recommends Member States strengthen their surveillance system for the early detection of suspected cases in order to initiate the timely treatment of cases and follow-up of contacts, and ensuring the supply of diphtheria antitoxin. Vaccination is key to prevent cases and outbreaks, and adequate clinical management reduces complications and mortality.

CPS surveillance system has been in the alert phase already for months for any suspected cases from the sub-Region and any country from Europe or the Americas where there is an outbreak of measles.

Now Diphtheria has been added to the list to be monitored and to report to the respective public health authorities; to secure timely intervention to mitigate possible increase of cases, to control, prevent the spread and to register relevant data.

Immunization averts an estimated two-three million deaths every year, protecting children from diphtheria, measles, pertussis (better known as whooping cough), pneumonia, polio, rotavirus diarrhea, rubella, tetanus and others.

For more information you can call: 542-3003 or 542-3553 or email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Protect your community. Do your part. #GetVax

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COCA-COLA “RECYCLE TO WIN” CAMPAIGN EXTENDED

SINT MAARTEN (CAY HILL) - Since March 9th, every Saturday, empty cans were brought to the Coca-Cola Recycling Station located at the Meadowlands B.V. facility on the Bush Road across from the Carrefour Supermarket. The plan was to end after Carnival, till the end of May, this has been extended to another month, to continue until the end of June 2019, CC1 said in a statement on Friday.

“As such throughout the Carnival Season and the months after Carnival 2019, hundreds of consumers redeemed their empty Coca-Cola cans for instant rewards from Coca-Cola brands, items include drawstring tote-bags and hardcover notebooks all emblazoned with the iconic Coca-Cola wave and logo.

“Additionally, when re-deeming your empties, consumers also had the choice to enter their raffle tickets to win Carnival Season Passes or a new iPhone XS Max from TELEM. 

“Huijting added “St. Maarten WINS as less waste is added to the islands growing landfill. The iPhone XS Max has been awarded to Ms. Soraida Eights, For the phone raffle alone we have collected over 10,000 empty cans.

“Also, we had winners that received their Carnival Season Passes and enjoyed their Carnival 50 years celebration this year, the winners were Dorisha Cangieter, Junedry Brown, Indiomar Blijden, Nichelle Leonora, Conrad Stapleton, Jasmine Royer, Jovanni Parotte, Kimberly Doran and Mark Ramsay.

“Meadowlands has collected so far 2600 pounds of aluminum that will be shipped off island, and will not reach our landfill, and we have given away over 100 Coca-Cola prizes. So, we decided that the importance for many customers/businesses requested to continue another month.

“The recycling station will be open from 10:00 AM through 5:00 PM every Saturday and rewards can be claimed on the spot!

“Huijting went on to say how important it is for businesses to promote and encourage all forms of recycling on the island, especially with the youth. “What they will learn today will form their habits tomorrow and keeping our island clean should be everybody’s business”.

CC1 St. Maarten is a leader in beverages, beers, wines and spirit distribution on St. Maarten and the surrounding islands. The main office and warehouse are located in Cay Hill, and CC1 is committed to be an exemplary corporate citizen of St. Maarten. 

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Be The Change Fd. Thanks Donors for their Support

SINT MAARTEN (PHILIPSBURG) - Local advocacy group and promoter of non-profit causes in St. Maarten, Be The Change Foundation annually executes their "Spotlight Project of The Month Program" whereby the organization highlights, features, and helps raise funds for a selected project each month. 

It's not an easy task for organizations to raise funds to support their causes, therefore donors to Be The Change play a strong role in supporting local initiatives by helping them execute their projects through monthly or annual donations starting from $1 with their crowdfunding program. 

Year to date, Be The Change has assisted with raising funds for three well-deserving and positive projects. The spotlight organizations for 2019 thus far include the St. Maarten Nature Foundation in February 2019 for their Awareness Campaign promoting the importance of limiting single-use plastic and styrofoam which raised a total of USD $760.00; Les Fruits de Mer Association in March were raising funds for their Citizens of Change Project aimed at highlighting the unsung citizens in our communities, which raised USD $850.00 and most recently the House of Nehesi Foundation during the month of April in support of publishing the "Off to Pageantry" children's book by first time author Nzinga Lake which raised USD $773.00.

Be The Change would like to thank all donors who have contributed to the projects mentioned above. The foundation looks forward to the community's continued support and is humbly requesting you to look out for the other remaining monthly 2019 projects. 

If you have any questions on how to donate to an upcoming project, please do not hesitate to contact us at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or visit our website www.bethechangesxm.com.

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Minister of TEATT, STB & KLM pleased with resumption of two weekly direct flights to destination

SINT MAARTEN (POND ISLAND) - Minister of Tourism, Economic Affairs, Transport & Telecommunication (TEATT), the Honourable Stuart Johnson welcomed the news of the daily direct service between Amsterdam Schiphol and St. Maarten that will commence this winter. "Through hard work and strategic planning and marketing we have been able to see marked increases in load factors coming out of St. Maarten which have contributed directly to KLM not having to stop in Curacao," said Johnson.

He lamented that for many years, the daily service between Europe and St. Maarten has been missing, and looks forward to being able to welcome this service. Today, air transport plays a leading role in helping families stay connected, allowing businesses to access products and services and aid vacationers in their exploration of the world. He said, "Filling the void with air service between Europe and St. Maarten seven days a week will provide more opportunities and benefits for all. I look forward to continued dialogue with our partners in KLM/Air France, as we work towards securing high load factors for the two weekly flights and build the market for sustainable daily service."

"As a destination that depends heavily on visitor arrivals, we stand ready to support efforts to stimulate the return of this service. This service will further amplify our message that St. Maarten is open for business," said Johnson.

“The relationship between Sint Maarten and KLM goes back a long way and always has been very important for KLM. KLM was deeply affected by the Hurricane that hit Sint Maarten and surrounding islands 1.5 years ago and has since then tried to keep the island connected to the Netherlands with a flight via Curacao. We are happy to be able to go back to 2 weekly direct flights on Fridays and Sundays starting Winter 2019 between Amsterdam and Sint Maarten and with our Partner Air France creating a daily connection. This step was only made because of the good work on Sint Maarten with great progress in reconstruction and making the island an even better place to experience your ideal holiday” - Daan Pijzel, Director Commercial Air France KLM Benelux

St. Maarten is a neighbour to some of the Caribbean's most pristine islands, Saba, Statia, St. Barts and Anguilla. The return of KLM's service comes at a time post-Irma when the SXM Airport can offer a wide variety of highly reliable connections to these destinations for day trips giving guests a chance to explore more islands in one vacation.

The St. Maarten Tourism Bureau (STB) carried out various co-operative marketing campaigns with KLM in the past in order to increase awareness of the destination and to stimulate sales. Besides this, a multi-media consumer marketing campaign was recently completed in the Netherlands and Belgium that provided the destination with much needed exposure. The European market is, and will remain a vital source market, since Europeans tend to travel mostly in the summer periods that will help combat seasonality.

“We are pleased to see the results of continuous communication and meetings with our airline partners. The return of two direct flights for St. Maarten will not only service our destination with better airfares, but also service the neighboring islands perfect for island hopping” “ Our objective will be to promote the destination not only as the two nation vacation, St. Maarten/St. Martin, but also promote the island hopping concept to Saba, St. Eustatius, Anguilla, St. Barth to name a few”. Says Interim Director of Tourism, May-Ling Chun.

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Minister Lee to seek World Bank funding for new MHF building

SINT MAARTEN (POND ISLAND) - The Ministry of VSA has been collaborating with the Mental Health Foundation (MHF) on solutions to obtain a new building. Minister of Public Health Emil Lee elaborated on plan of approach to address the safety and security concerns of the current building of the MHF.

With funding being one of the main challenges of the MHF, Minister Lee with the approval of the Council of Ministers submitted the multiannual plan of the MHF as a project for World Bank Funding. The project plan which includes a new building was submitted to the steering committee of the Recovery and Resilience Program Trust Fund for their eligibility review.

During the Council of Ministers press briefing on Wednesday, Minister Lee indicated that in both the 2018 – 2022 Governing Program and the Sint Maarten National Recovery and Resilience Plan, the need and importance of adequate mental health facilities for our residents is identified. The MHF has proposed a multi-annual plan for a new building to the Ministry of VSA.

The plan is a phased approach for a new building and expanding of mental health care by the MHF. Some examples of new care services included in the plan are guided living facilities and a social workplace. A forensic care facility is also very much needed and included in the plan. Presently, psychiatric patients with a criminal record are released because the law states that they cannot be detained in a prison environment.

“At this point, the current building of the MHF is simply not in the best condition to offer optimal care to patients. Post-Irma, the foundation has seen a surge of clientele, which it cannot adequately accommodate.”

The Ministry of VSA has received approval by the Council of Ministers to submit the multi-annual building plan of the MHF to the steering committee of the Recovery and Resilience Program Trust Fund. The services of the Turning Point Foundation will also be included in the plans. At this stage, submitting the plan to the steering committee entails that the committee will review the plan to see if it is eligible to be submitted to qualify for funding from the Recovery and Resilience Program Trust Fund. The Trust Fund is administered by the World Bank. In closing, Minister Lee stated: “I am positive about this project and confident that together with the MHF we will be able to get the support needed to meet our goal of a new building and improved mental health services.”

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CPS: For Children to Grow Up Healthy, Less Sit and More Play

GREAT BAY, (DCOMM) – The World Health Organization (WHO) has released new guidelines on physical activity, sedentary behaviour and sleep for children under five years of age, the Collective Prevention Services (CPS), a department within the Ministry of Public Health, Social Development and Labour, said on Tuesday.

The WHO says that children under five must spend less time sitting watching screens or restrained in prams and seats; get better quality sleep and have more time for active play if they are to grow up healthy.

“The new guidelines on physical activity, sedentary behaviour and sleep for children under 5 years of age were developed by a WHO panel of experts. They assessed the effects on young children of inadequate sleep, and time spent sitting watching screens or restrained in chairs and prams. They also reviewed evidence around the benefits of increased activity levels.

“Failure to meet current physical activity recommendations is responsible for more than 5 million deaths globally each year across all age groups.  Currently, over 23% of adults and 80% of adolescents are not sufficiently physically active. If healthy physical activity, sedentary behaviour and sleep habits are established early in life, this helps shape habits through childhood, adolescence and into adulthood.

“The pattern of overall 24-hour activity is key: replacing prolonged restrained or sedentary screen time with more active play, while making sure young children get enough good-quality sleep. Quality sedentary time spent in interactive non-screen-based activities with a caregiver, such as reading, storytelling, singing and puzzles, is very important for child development.

“The important interactions between physical activity, sedentary behaviour and adequate sleep time, and their impact on physical and mental health and wellbeing, were recognized by the Commission on Ending Childhood Obesity, which called for clear guidance on physical activity, sedentary behaviour and sleep in young children.

“Applying the recommendations in these guidelines during the first five years of life will contribute to children’s motor and cognitive development and lifelong health,” the WHO pointed out.

CPS encourages parents and guardians to take into consideration these WHO guidelines which would benefit their child’s health development in the long-term.

WHO recommendations at a glance: Infants (less than 1 year) should:

Be physically active several times a day in a variety of ways, particularly through interactive floor-based play; more is better. For those not yet mobile, this includes at least 30 minutes in prone position (tummy time) spread throughout the day while awake.

Not be restrained for more than 1 hour at a time (e.g. prams/strollers, highchairs, or strapped on a caregiver’s back). Screen time is not recommended. When sedentary, engaging in reading and storytelling with a caregiver is encouraged. 

Have 14–17h (0–3 months of age) or 12–16h (4–11 months of age) of good quality sleep, including naps.

Children 1-2 years of age should:

Spend at least 180 minutes in a variety of types of physical activities at any intensity, including moderate-to-vigorous-intensity physical activity, spread throughout the day; more is better.

Not be restrained for more than 1 hour at a time (e.g., prams/strollers, highchairs, or strapped on a caregiver’s back) or sit for extended periods of time. For 1-year-olds, sedentary screen time (such as watching TV or videos, playing computer games) is not recommended. For those aged 2 years, sedentary screen time should be no more than 1 hour; less is better. When sedentary, engaging in reading and storytelling with a caregiver is encouraged.

Have 11-14 hours of good quality sleep, including naps, with regular sleep and wake-up times.

Children 3-4 years of age should:

Spend at least 180 minutes in a variety of types of physical activities at any intensity, of which at least 60 minutes is moderate- to vigorous intensity physical activity, spread throughout the day; more is better.

Not be restrained for more than 1 hour at a time (e.g., prams/strollers) or sit for extended periods of time. Sedentary screen time should be no more than 1 hour; less is better. When sedentary, engaging in reading and storytelling with a caregiver is encouraged.

Have 10–13h of good quality sleep, which may include a nap, with regular sleep and wake-up times.

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LU’s seniors continue to excel, accepted to top universities

SINT MAARTEN (CAY HILL) - The seniors of the Learning Unlimited Preparatory School's (LUPS) Class of 2019 fielded outstanding results for the school year and have accumulated over US $2 million in merit aid with their acceptance at top colleges and universities the world over, many with full scholarships.

LU’s students have accepted college placements in the United States, Canada, England, Holland, France, Switzerland, and Australia. The prestigious institutions of higher learning they will be attending in the fall include Georgia Tech, Emory University, Northeastern University, The University of Massachusetts at Amherst, Loyola University Chicago, Drexel University, Erasmus University, The University of Amsterdam, The University of Groningen, The University of Toronto, to name but a few.

“At LUPS our students are very fortunate to have the high standards and expectations that we require of them to qualify for an LU diploma and post-secondary success. Our students have access to the kind of academic rigor required for elite collegiate environments through our in-house AP program (AP Lang and Comp, AP Bio, AP Stats, AP Calculus AB, AP Computer Science, etc.) and this is reflected on their transcripts, enabling them access to top 100 schools and to qualify for incredibly competitive programs worldwide,” said Mark Beland, Dean of Academics at LU.

He also explained that high school students are required to take "five solids" annually (Math, English, Science, Social Studies and a Foreign Language), along with two electives, LUPS students finish grade 12 with more credits in core subjects than many of their peers internationally.

Additionally, LU’s elective options, augmented through its online partners, allow students to complete courses not readily available in a small school environment and to subsequently tailor their course selection toward specific post-secondary faculties with courses such as AP Mandarin, Digital Media Principles, Principles of Business, Marketing & Finance, Early Childhood Education, and even Hotel Restaurant Management.

“The college counseling process here at LU entails us working with them really for their entire career with us,” said Daunesh Alcott, LU’s Principal. “The key focus is on their high school years because all of those credits start in grade 9 and go to a permanent transfer, it stays with them for life. So we tell our students what they do in 9th grade is as important as what they do in 12th grade in terms of their grades. They need to maintain that. With what our senior students have earned this year, once again the value of an LU education proves itself as it has been doing for years. We are very proud of that fact and very proud of the students, our teachers and staff,” Alcott concluded.

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MID ISLE ROTARIANS RECOGNISED AT DISTRICT CONFERENCE

SINT MAARTEN (PHILIPSBURG) - At the recently concluded Rotary District 7020 45th PETS Training and District conference and Assembly 2018-2019 in Kingston, Jamaica, The Rotary Club of St. Maarten-Mid Isle and its Rotarians were recognized for their work and ‘Service Above Self’ during the Rotary year 2018-2019, a press release from the Club said on Sunday.

“It was a proud moment for all the clubs in our area when it was announced that Louis Wever was ratified as District Governor Nominee Designate and will be The District Governor for District 7020 in the Rotary year 2021-2022.  DGND Louis also received a special award for being an outstanding Rotarian in District 7020.

“Foundation Chair David Antrobus received a District Service Award for promoting the Rotary Foundation and   its goal of world understanding and peace. The Foundation is the charitable arm of Rotary.

“There were four possible awards that each club could have received at the conference this year. Mid Isle received all four: The District Governor’s Award in the Platinum category,  The Zone 34 Public Image Citation – this was for Enhancing the public image and awareness of Rotary  to the public in various ways, The Club of the Month (COTM) in gold category  – this was for reporting consistently each month on what projects the club had done for the Rotary Focus for that month, and a Certificate of Appreciation ‘For Sharing Your Love for Rotary by Empowering our Young Generation: this certificate of appreciation was for our work with the youth in our EarlyAct and Interact Clubs. 

“President Denise Antrobus, District Governor Nominee Designate Louis Wever, Rotary Foundation chair David Antrobus, and President Elect Aernout Kraaijeveld were all recognized by the district as Paul Harris Society Members and were pinned with their chevrons by Rotary International Vice President, John Matthews.  Paul Harris Society members bring positive change to communities around the world. In any given year, less than 3 percent of Rotary Foundation donors contribute at the Paul Harris Society level or above, yet their contributions represent approximately 35 percent of all annual giving.

“As Rotary Foundation grants and activities are largely funded by Annual Fund contributions, Paul Harris Society members help determine how many individuals, families and communities Rotary can impact each year. Globally, more than 20,000 people are members of the society, which was established in 2013. These dedicated donors share a desire to give substantially and empower Rotary clubs to change lives in their community and around the world.”

The Rotary Club of St. Maarten-Mid Isle meets Tuesdays' at 7pm at Pineapple Pete in Simpson Bay. For more information please contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or visit their Facebook page Rotary Club of St. Maarten-Mid Isle.

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NA: Current Government ‘wasting time’ on a sustainable solution for Dump

SINT MAARTEN (PHILIPSBURG) - It is no secret that the situation at the landfill has been a health hazard for St. Maarten and its citizens for many years, the National Alliance (NA) Parliamentary Faction Office said on Sunday in a press statement.

“Since June 8th, 2017, former Minister of VROMI, Christophe Emmanuel, signed a Memorandum of Understanding with EnviroGreen Energy Inc. in regards to the construction of a waste-to-energy facility. This was done in an effort to attain a much needed environmentally-friendly solution for the landfill situation, which in the end would be beneficial to St. Maarten and all stakeholders involved.

“Based on this agreement, EnviroGreen would produce minimum 9.3 Megawatt of electricity and GEBE would pay $0.26 per Kilowatt to EnviroGreen. EnviroGreen also agreed to finish the project in about 2 years and remove 100,000 tons of waste from the landfill per year. Remediation and mining were also a part of the agreement. However, with the change of Government at the beginning of the year 2018, this initiative was taken off the table by the sitting Minister of VROMI- Miklos Giterson.

“The Committee of Public Housing, Spatial Planning, Environment and Infrastructure of Parliament, met with the representatives of EnviroGreen on Thursday, May 16th 2019 to once again discuss future plans for the waste-to-energy initiative. Member of Parliament Christophe Emmanuel stated in an interview after the meeting that “the Government must have now realized that there is no other solution, so they brought back the initiative to the table”.

“During the meeting, MP Emmanuel expressed that he is happy to see the initiative brought forward again because he still believes that out of all the proposals that were received, EnviroGreen stands out at the top and has the best proposals. However, Emmanuel stated that he is disappointed in the fact that the remediation of the landfill is not a part of the current agreement. This came after finding out during EnviroGreen’s presentation that the new agreement would entail only waste removal for $0.18 instead of $0.26 for waste removal and remediation, as was agreed upon in the 2017 MOU.

“The MP explained that GEBE produces electricity for about $0.14, but with the addition of the fuel clause, it goes up to about $0.30. He went on by saying that the $0.26 that was agreed upon in the 2017 MOU, would then still be cheaper and would also include remediation of the landfill, which has been his main sticking point as that is very critical.

“Member of Parliament Egbert Doran stated that when looking at the commitments of EnviroGreen to the project, he believes that MP Emmanuel, in his former capacity as Minister of VROMI, was ‘on to something’. Commitments like ‘provide $70 million dollars to fully finance the project, waste management, divert 120,000+ tons per year of waste from the landfill, energy production etc.’, are very beneficial to St. Maarten according to MP Doran.

“The MP questioned “What more do we need?” and “How can we as a Parliament go against anything that is beneficial to the people of St. Maarten?”. During the meeting MP Doran read a letter from the Minister of VROMI which he described as basically stating that the change in government is what caused the agreement with EnviroGreen to be terminated. He considered this simply ‘wasting time’. Doran went on to read a Draft Motion of December 16th, 2016 that called on Government to prioritize declaring a solid waste disposal management and the establishing of a solid waste management authority of both public and private representation to guide the processes necessary to achieve this.

“The motion was passed unanimously by 14 Members of Parliament about two and a half years ago. Doran stated that MP Emmanuel, who was one of the Members of Parliament to vote for this motion, later went on to become a Minister and sought solutions for the problem which he found to be the project of EnviroGreen. However, this initiative was shut down because of politics according to MP Doran. Doran stated that if Parliament is serious about finding a solution for the people of St. Maarten and making it a reality, they should ‘pull up their socks’ and get things done instead of immaturely playing politics.

“Member of Parliament Ardwell Irion disagreed when another Member of Parliament of the coalition mentioned that it isn’t a good idea to depend on French St. Maarten or other neighboring islands to produce the necessary waste to keep the waste-to-energy plant afloat. MP Irion stated that he believes that if it makes sense financially, it is highly likely that the neighboring islands will agree to ship their waste to the island in order for the plant to produce energy.

“Irion stated that he believes that this should be looked into immediately, before the islands make agreements elsewhere, as many other islands have waste issues and may be also looking into similar solutions.

Besides that, Member of Parliament of the coalition, no other MP’s could find any fault with EnviroGreen’s waste-to-energy presentation. This gives even more credence to the NA faction’s sentiments that the deal was a good one to begin with.

“According to Member of Parliament Silveria Jacobs, it is very disheartening that Government “dragged their feet” on this initiative as it has been in the pipeline for almost two years and could’ve been (almost) a reality today. MP Jacobs stated that the funds that would have been made available through this initiative, could have gone towards the subsidizing of our schools or many other things that are of utmost importance in society right now.

“Jacobs questioned the reality of the remediation of the landfill being taken out of the agreement in exchange for the new Power Purchase Agreement of 18 cents per kwh. “I am flabbergasted that Government could remove such and rely on the World Bank to finance the remediation of the dump and continue to pay for Dump Management even after the waste-to-energy plant is being constructed. It is unbelievable that a government supposedly intent on fixing the waste challenges, smoking and burning dump and other negative actions surrounding it, while under serious financial challenges would choose to leave out an option that would be most cost effective for St. Maarten and which would have been nearing completion by now and seeing the start of the remediation of the garbage hills disrupting the lives of St. Maarten people”.

“The Members of Parliament of the National Alliance want answers from the Minister of VROMI to justify this choice by government and wants to know what exactly the World Bank executed project will entail. The faction would also like to know what it will cost St. Maarten now and in the long run on a yearly basis to maintain the dumpsite once the WTE is established.

“Ultimately, the faction is eager to see progress in this area as it has been plaguing society for far too long and is only getting worse every day. They call on the Government, especially the Minister of VROMI to prioritize this situation so that the people of St. Maarten can get some much-needed relief,” the NA Parliamentary Faction Office press release concludes.

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Minister Johnson Congratulates Telecommunication Workers in a digital transforming world

SINT MAARTEN (POND ISLAND) - “Bridging the Standardization Gap,” is the theme for World Telecommunication and Information Society Day (WTISD) 2019. The International Telecommunication Union (ITU) says international standards enable digital transformation on a global scale.

Minister of Tourism, Economic Affairs, Transport and Telecommunications (Ministry TEATT) Hon. Stuart Johnson, extends congratulations to all telecommunication-sector workers throughout the country on the occasion of World Telecommunication and Information Society Day (WTISD), which will be internationally observed on Friday, May 17.

The ITU states that societies are entering an era of massive digital transformation. “ITU international standards aim to ensure that the benefits of this digital transformation are realized on a global scale.

“As industries and technologies converge and new technologies such as artificial intelligence, the Internet of Things and 5G emerge, we see increasing need for common technical standards," said Houlin Zhao, ITU Secretary-General. “I applaud the many thousands of experts who contribute to ITU standards work, day in, day out. These men and women are at the heart of today's digital transformation."

“According to the ITU, more than half of the global population is online. For country Sint Maarten, we need to continue to improve our telecommunication and information technology sectors in order to keep pace with global trends and developments.

“Emerging technologies such as 5G will play a transforming role as the global digital economy continues to grow. We have to make sure that we are at the forefront where local broadband development is concerned or suffer the consequence of being left behind.

“Once again, congratulations to all the workers in the telecommunication and information communication technology sector on your day on May 17,” Hon. Minister Stuart Johnson said on Thursday.

“International standards provide the technical foundations of global markets. They create efficiencies enjoyed by all market players, efficiencies and economies of scale that ultimately result in lower costs to producers and lower prices to consumers.​​

“ITU standards are rarely perceived by users but vital in enabling the interconnection and interoperability of the digital solutions delivered by hundreds of thousands of companies around the world. The development and approval of ITU standards by consensus among private and public entities helps to ensure the buy-in of all stakeholders, increasing the likelihood that these standards will be implemented worldwide.

“ITU offers all stakeholders equal opportunity to access, shape, implement and benefit ​from ITU international standards. The inclusivity of the ITU standardization platform is supported by ITU's Bridging the Standardization Gap (BSG) programme. This programme assists developing countries in increasing their capacity to participate in the development and implementation of international standards. Advising on national and regional standardization structures, and empowering experts to improve their expertise in standards development, the BSG programme plays a key role in ensuring that ITU standards meet the needs of all of the world's regions.

“International standards are making an important contribution to the pursuit of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), from smart energy, intelligent transport, smart agriculture, e-health, digital financial inclusion to smart cities.

“A few examples of ITU standards in action: ​​​Digital health​: ITU and WHO (World Health Organization) have launched an international standard and associated toolkit to prevent music players from causing 'sound-induced hearing loss', the world's leading cause of preventable hearing loss. ITU and WHO are also working in collaboration to ensure that artificial intelligence fulfils its potential to strengthen health services and systems for universal health coverage.

“​Digital financi​al inclusion: financial services via mobile phones and other technologies show great potential to give people with no traditional bank account the ability to save, make payments and access credit and insurance. Governments can ensure that social security payments reach their intended recipients, and help merchants accepting digital payments to gain access to lines of credit. ITU mobile communication and next-generation authentication standards enable trusted digital financial services.

Smart cities and communities: more than 50 cities worldwide are using 'key performance indicators for smart sustainable cities' based on ITU standards. Smart cities rely on technologies such as 5G and the Internet of Things to enhance energy efficiency and waste management, improve housing and health care, optimize traffic flow and safety, detect air quality, alert police of crimes occurring on the streets and improve water and sanitation systems.​”

May 17th marks the anniversary of the signing of the first International Telegraph Convention in 1865 and the creation of the United Nations International Telecommunication Union (ITU).

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