Soualiga Newsday Top Stories
Menu

Soualiga Newsday Top Stories (2472)

Minister Lee: VSA Facilitates Reconstruction Work Permits

SINT MAARTEN (POND ISLAND) - The Ministry of Public Health, Social Development & Labour (Ministry VSA), in the aftermath of Hurricanes Irma and Maria, have been undertaking several actions to ensure that local job seekers are included in job opportunities that arise as a result of the current reconstruction process of the country.

The Division Labor Affairs & Social Services has conducted a National Registration Drive to assess the immediate availability of skilled persons on the local labor market. The registration drive yielded mixed results, but by and large provided evidence that there are insufficient skilled laborers on the local labor market to address the demand for skills in several industries, primarily, the Construction industry.

“There are several programs in place that offer a combination of job-training and paid employment as part of the reconstruction projects within several industries institutions locally. Job seekers have the opportunity to learn new skills and join new trades. We have been working together with institutions such as the White & Yellow Cross, NIPA and have also sent several persons abroad to Trinidad for training.

“However, this is not enough as larger reconstruction projects requiring for example, skilled construction personnel, electricians etc. The local market alone may not be able to meet these needs. The Ministry encourages these employers to host registration drives and training programs, in order to make the extra effort to employ local laborers. We want to ensure that all is done to include our people.” – Minister Emil Lee

The ability to source qualified and certified laborers for the rebuilding of our major infrastructure is key to our recovery as a Nation. To this effect, the Ministry, under the auspices of the Division Labor Affairs & Social Services, has invoked of the National decree containing general measures on the employment of foreign labor AB 2013 nr 73 article 7 paragraph 3. This allows the Ministry to approve an employment permit on a one-time basis for projects related to the reconstruction.

“The idea is that we would be able to give one time permits for people that are participating on a project basis for the reconstruction of a particular project. This measure would not only be considered for construction workers but other trades as well. We believe that we are striking a balance between stimulating the recovery process while protecting our local labor market. We do not expect that persons will remain in the country once the project is complete, it is important that we protect our local labour market.” – Minister Emil Lee

This is being done on an exceptional term only, and the respective applicant (employer/business owner) must comply with the following requirements in order to facilitate the processing of the permits under these conditions:

  1. Valid labor registration
  2. Registration of the business on www.jobopportunity.sx (note that based on the position outline, the Ministry may opt to waive the 5 weeks hold for positions that are directly required within the reconstruction process)
  3. Completed Employment permit application form & overview of education
  4. Payment of all taxes of the business
  5. Payment of the applicable processing fee to the Government of Sint Maarten
  6. Statement of guarantee of housing for the non-nationals signed off by the registered owner of the business
  7. Copies passports of non-nationals tied to the project
  8. Copies of flight itinerary
  9. Copies of certificates, diplomas & qualifications 
  10. Certified English translations of the above point 9, by a legally registered translator, if document not in English
  11. The credentials of the legally registered translator
  12. Complete Project plans, mentioning duration of the project

“The Ministry has the option to waive the five week holding period for positions that are directly needed within the reconstruction process. We continue to stress that it is important for employers to try all avenues to recruit local workers, but we also want to work together towards ultimately stimulating the recovering economy.

“It is also important that the housing market is not distorted by incoming foreign workers. We already have a very limited housing capacity and we do not want to see unfair competition within the rental market which would have adverse effects for locals seeking affordable housing. This is an important topic of discussion that must continue when foreign workers are being brought in.” – Minister Emil Lee

Once all the documentation is submitted by the entity, the applicant, the Ministry will try to process the permits within a 10-day period. The ministry is very sensitive to the fact that if we do not respond quickly a timely give answers quickly that that would impact the supply of labor available for we construction process and so the ministry is committed to doing whatever we can to facilitate the process in an efficient manner for all. 

The Ministry will continue with the initiatives and programs already in place to train locals in the reconstruction trades to ensure that they can participate in our reconstruction economy. Persons are encouraged to apply online via www.jobopportunity.sx and attend the organized job fairs and get access to employers who are seeking local workers and those with residence permits.

Read more...

Bush fire brought under control. No injuries nor damage to buildings

MIDDLE REGION - On Wednesday May 23rd at approximately 10.45 a.m. the Emergency Dispatch received the first of several calls reporting a bush fire in the vicinity of Madrid road in Middle Region.

The callers also stated the fire was rapidly spreading in different directions due to the constantly changing wind direction. Police patrols along with the Fire Department immediately went into the area where the fire was reported.

On the scene the investigating officers realized that the fire had become quite large and that it was threatening homes and other buildings in the area. The fire had also spread into Garden of Eden in Dutch Quarter.

At one point fire seriously threatened the building where the antenna belonging to TELEM is situated at the top of the hill along with two fuel tanks.

The situation was constantly monitored by the Police Department from the air by the use of drones. Due to the good working cooperation with the Fire Department the fire was under control after approximately two hours.

However due to difficulty in reaching certain areas where the fire was burning it took a little bit more time to completely extinguish the fire. No buildings got damaged and no-one was injured by the fire.

The Police Department is sending out a message to the community with a stern warning not to light any fires or to burn any garbage because of the very dry season and high winds we are experiencing at this time.

These fires may accidentally get out of control, spread rapidly and cause unnecessary damage buildings, animals or even threaten the lives persons. (Sint Maarten Police Force)

Read more...

Nature Foundation Relaunches Save our Sharks Shark Conservation Project

SINT MAARTEN (COLE BAY) - The St Maarten Nature Foundation has restarted its shark conservation program as part of the DCNA Save Our Sharks project funded by the Dutch National Postcode Lottery.

The research is aimed at better understanding the life characteristics of sharks in St Maarten waters including population structure, abundance and migration.

The Foundation has had to suspend its shark research program due to the impacts of Hurricanes Irma and Maria.

With the relaunching of the Save our Shark Project for Sint Maarten the Nature Foundation aims to continue to conduct scientific research and monitoring into the shark population and changing perceptions about sharks through education and outreach programs.

“Because of books, movies and news reports sharks have gotten a bad reputation as mindless killers. This is very far from the truth. Although accidents do happen so do they with dogs for example, which kill about 100 times more people than sharks do a year.

“We have been working hard in terms of education, outreach and also science in this case to show the population that sharks are not mindless killers and are very important to the health of our oceans,” commented Tadzio Bervoets of the Sint Maarten Nature Foundation.

Sharks play a very important role in the oceans, on the reefs and taking care of healthy fish stocks. Sharks are at the top of the food chain in virtually every part of every ocean, also on St Maarten.

In that role, they keep populations of other fish healthy and in proper proportion for their ecosystem. Sharks are also very important to the tourism sector with many divers traveling to Sint Maarten in order to dive with sharks.

The Foundation will also host its Third Annual Sint Maarten Shark week starting on June 8th, with various activities being organized centered on educating the public on the important role sharks play in the ocean environment. The public can keep up to date on shark week activities through the Nature Foundation Facebook page.

Read more...

Sint Maarten attends UNICEF’s Workshop on Multiple Indicators Cluster Survey

SINT MAARTEN/BARBADOS - UNICEF conducted a workshop on the Multiple Indicators Cluster Survey (MICS) from May 8th- 16th in Barbados.  The workshop on the Multiple Indicators Cluster Survey (MICS), which explained the survey methodology extensively, is used for gathering, socio-economic and environmental data on women and children and for the Monitoring of some of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) around the world.

The MICS Survey Design Workshop was attended by country representatives that are planning or considering conducting a MICS or a household survey to collect social indicators in the near future.

The workshop was well attended by several governmental senior representatives of the Eastern Caribbean countries, like Anguilla, Antigua and Barbuda, British Virgin Islands, Dominica, Grenada, Montserrat, Saint Lucia, St. Kitts and Nevis, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, and Barbados.

There were also representatives from Trinidad and Tobago, Turks and Caicos Islands, Guyana and Suriname present. Sint Maarten was represented by Ms. Drs. Loekie Morales of the Department of the Interior and Kingdom Relations, Ms. Sabrina Jno-Baptiste of the Department of Statistics (STAT) and Mrs. Elmora Aventurin-Pantophlet of the Youth department.

Since 1995, UNICEF has supported the implementation of five rounds of Multiple Indicator Cluster Surveys around the globe, with close to 300 surveys conducted in more than 100 countries.

The MICS is becoming a key source of data on child protection, early childhood education, and a major source of data on child health, nutrition and MDGs. For this particular workshop, UNICEF has partnered with the OECS Commission and UN ECLAC.

The underlining objective of the training was to accelerate data collection, analysis and the usage, achieve stronger statistical capacity and increase data availability. It also provided an opportunity to understand the current data gaps in the region and the available tools and programs of support for sourcing statistics on key social SDG indicators.

UNICEF Netherlands invited Sint Maarten to participate and supported this capacity building program by funding the travel and accommodation costs of the Sint Maarten’s government representatives. Sint Maarten embraces the aim of the workshop and appreciates these efforts to support evidence based policy development and to advance the implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development for Sint Maarten.

The information in the program serves Sint Maarten with the development of surveys and in its way also to develop a Roadmap for SDGs implementation on Sint Maarten, and for effectively monitoring the national SDG agenda, mainly on children and women.

The Sint Maarten representatives will give presentations on the methodologies to the relevant Secretary Generals and Ministers and share the templates and other documentation with the relevant line ministries and departments, to stimulate evidence-based policy making.

Read more...

Minister Ferrier says Sint Maarten’s recovery for the people not the politicians

SINT MAARTEN (POND ISLAND) – Regarding the comments in the St. Maarten Daily Herald’s front page article of Friday May 18, 2018 headlined with: “Ferrier’s availability of funds remark surprises The Hague”, the Minister of Finance Ferrier in a press release on Sunday May 20, 2018 said that everything he said is a fact.

Unfortunately the article in a well-read Dutch Newspaper on May 16, 2018 that caused the “surprise” of The Hague, put a political spin on his expressions of frustration on behalf of the citizens of St. Maarten.

According to Minister Ferrier, these are the facts:
 
1 Of the money allocated by the Dutch Government to the Trust Fund, none has yet been accessed by the Interim Government headed by PM Leona Marlin. 

2 The only Dutch funds (cash, not services), that have reached Sint Maarten (the island) to date (May 18, 2018), are those sent DIRECTLY by the Dutch Government to various Non-Governmental Organizations (NGO’s). In addition, the 13 Million Euros donated by the very generous Dutch population, were given to the Red Cross for distribution on Sint Maarten through various programs. These programs are NOT under the guidance, or with involvement of the present Government.

3 Because of a lack of trust in the body politic on Sint Maarten, The Hague chose to use an intermediary, the World Bank. In essence, the World Bank stands between the Dutch and Philipsburg. As such, the Rutte Cabinet is accountable to the Dutch population, represented by the Second Chamber, for the use of the funds. This choice is understood, acknowledged and respected.

4 The World Bank, historically, in all its worldwide interventions, operates in accordance with strict rules, norms, procedures and protocols. These rules, procedures and protocols are also acknowledged and respected. Since January 15, 2018, the Government’s civil service apparatus has diligently worked on understanding and applying the World Bank rules. This is a process that, has and continues to, consume the attention of just about all our available local government expertise.


5 The dilemma is that the limited government expertise is simultaneously needed to do three things: a. Run the day-to-day Operations of the Government of Sint Maarten; b. Manage and guide the recovery of the country destroyed by Hurricane Irma; c. Learn on-the-job how to do item (b) while taking a crash course in learning and applying World Bank rules, norms, protocols and procedures;

6 Among the challenges that fall under point 5.a, includes the Minister of Finance having to deal with sharply reduced government income and greatly increased government expenditures.

7 What does lower income and higher expenditure mean? Pretty simple; LIVING ON A DAILY BASIS with the frustrations of not being able to come to the aid of many of our citizens fast enough. Back in October 2017, the Heyliger, Wescot-Williams, Brownbill majority in Parliament agreed with the conditions set by the Kingdom Government, that were necessary for the Dutch funds being made available.   

The conditions were establishing an Integrity Chamber and beefing up Border Control. Disagreement regarding these conditions were the cause of the fall of the previous Government which was replaced by an Interim Government, that unfortunately could not be sworn in prior to January 15th, 2018.

8 Since January, a National Recovery & Resiliency Plan had to be developed, and a Budget 2018 had to be prepared. These important items have to meet all manner of criteria, regulations and requirements.

9 Add to that: set-backs outside the control of the interim government, such as hacked computer systems and hazardous dump fires and the 2018 Hurricane season starting in two weeks.

When asked, Minister Ferrier added: “I chose to express the frustration of the reality on St. Maarten. Not for my own benefit, I have no political agenda. I am not staying on as Minister. My frustration is rooted in the lack of urgent help for some of our people who are still in desperate need. There is not a lack of will or commitment from St. Maarten.

“There is also not a lack of appreciation for the help that is on the way. However, a lot can be lost in translation when politics get involved. In Holland, political parties, already skeptical of St. Maarten are spinning the story to make political hay by grabbing hold of my comments.

“We all would be well served by remembering who this recovery is for. It is NOT for the politicians on either side of the ocean. It IS for the people without a roof over their head, or a job right here on St. Maarten. I live this reality everyday!” the Minister of Finance Michael Ferrier concluded.

Read more...

Frans: Ferrier admits UD misled people, still no hurricane funds

SINT MAARTEN (PHILIPSBURG) - Leader of the United St. Maarten (US) party MP Frans Richardson on Friday said Finance Minister Michael Ferrier's statement about the lack of funds from Holland as an admission that the United Democrats (UD) misled the people of St. Maarten for political purposes only and refused to stand up for them.

Richardson also added that the spin of the Dutch that St. Maarten’s progress thus far had “somehow to do with them”, is a false narrative. Credit, he says, should go fully to the people of St. Maarten.

As reported in The Daily Herald on Friday, Ferrier reportedly told the Telegraaf newspaper that having to comply with strict regulations of the World Bank, which manages the St. Maarten Reconstruction Trust Fund, for which the Dutch government has reserved 470 million euros (about US $ 580 million), is no easy task.

“We have our hands full to rebuild St. Maarten and at the same time we have to comply with the strict norms of the World Bank. We have to do everything with a small group of people. In the Netherlands they say: how come you are not ready yet, why don’t you make use of the funds? We have not been able to touch the money,” the Minister told De Telegraaf.

Richardson reminded that his party, the USP, explained over and over during the campaign that the picture the UD was painting about getting funds right away, was a false one, a lying one.

"We warned that by choosing the use the World Bank as a go-between for a supposedly equal partner in the Kingdom, would delay much needed funds for St. Maarten because St. Maarten in its cuurrent state would have major difficulties in meeting World Bank criteria," MP Richardson said.

He continued: "We warned that if the leaders of this country do not hold one head for its people to get the much talked about relief, another hurricane season would be upon us with no relief in sight. What did the UD say? They made it sound like they were the only people capable of securing the funds. Today the UD Finance Minister is throwing his hands up after criticizing the involvement of the World Bank in about two weeks ago on the floor of Parliament. Where are the funds today?"

MP Richardson said while the people of St. Maarten have not received financial relief, a few things have become clear. "Liquidity grants have become loans, the Integrity Chamber is coming out of the hurricane aid funds, we have to pay for extra police help, and only emergency funds have been made available. These are quite some accomplishments for the UD. In the meantime we are about to greet a new hurricane season," Richardson said.

The MP also noted that whenever Dutch politicians and other officials are on island, they travel with entire PR crews to make it look that St. Maarten's recovery after the hurricanes was due to Holland's intervention and help.

Richardson said on the contrary, the reconstruction of St. Maarten is due first and foremost to the hard work and resiliency of the people. He said credit goes to the banks who stepped up to offer grace periods for loans repayments and assistance at very low interest rates. Also, he added, to the various insurance companies who have made sure citizens get back on their feet.

"Let's give credit where credit is due, the reconstruction of St. Maarten and our recovery thus far is to the credit of the people of St. Maarten. The funds are still sitting at the World Bank. What you see on St. Maarten is the hard work and sweat of its people, business owners, volunteers and others. That is who should get the credit."

Read more...

LU’s students, staff secure 1.8 million in scholarships

SINT MAARTEN (CAY HILL) - The senior students (12th grade) of the Learning Unlimited Preparatory School (LU), under the guidance of the LUPS College Counseling Department, has earned more than US $1.81 million dollars in merit-aid scholarship offers from prestigious universities around the world.

LUPS’s Class of 2018, 27 graduating seniors in total, will attend colleges and universities from Vancouver to New York through Miami and across the ocean to London and Amsterdam. Several of the students received full 4 year scholarships.

A small sampling of university acceptances to date, include Georgetown University, New York University, Bentley University, Northeastern University, Fordham University, Boston University, George Washington University, Depaul University, Hofstra University, University of Miami, Clark University, Clarkson University, University of Toronto, University of British Columbia, Brock University, the University of Waterloo, Concordia University, De Montfort University, Reading University and King's College.

“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.”

He went on to lay high praise on LU’s College Counseling Department. “With the other accredited schools in our accrediting body, I believe we are at the top end of any of those schools. Considering we are a small school, on an island, what we do and what our students accomplish is very impressive in comparison. There is constant communication with students and parents. ” he said.

LU is accredited by the US Southern Association of Independent Schools (SAIS) and the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS). LU is a certified registered member school of SAIS, SACS/ AdvancED, NAIS, ISA. Universities and colleges throughout the world traditionally honor diplomas granted by both SAIS and SACS/ AdvancEd.

The schools College Counseling Department is headed by Mark Beland. By the time LU students reach the 12th Grade and during the course of the application period, from September through February of the senior year, each student works with Beland on various issues such as the implications of early decision/action, crafting of the student’s extracurricular resume, mock interview sessions, teachers’ recommendations, and financial aid investigation.

“Our College Counselor, English teachers, and administrators work with students across the course of the academic year as they complete and perfect their applications, essays, and letters of motivation. Throughout the school year, representatives of several of the colleges to which our students apply come to LUPS to meet and provide insights to our juniors and seniors,” Beland explained.

“The LU College Counseling program supports each senior throughout the admissions process and helps students identify and gain acceptance to the college or colleges which suit their academic, lifestyle, extracurricular interests, and financial circumstances. This demonstrates the comprehensive process, yet again, of the value of an American-accredited LU education,” he added.

Alcott added that the Class of 2018 will be more than prepared for their future endeavors, however, this didn't just happen overnight. There were many carefully planned segments and artfully executed sequences along the way. “This college exploration, application and acceptance season was no exception and was both an exciting and stressful time for the Class of 2018. Now, they have all received their acceptance letters, financial aid, and scholarships; they have made decisions that will potentially impact the rest of their lives. This was an exceptional group of students.”

“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. 

Read more...

SZV REMINDS OF MONTHLY PREMIUM DECLARATION AND PAYMENT DEADLINE

SINT MAARTEN (PHILIPSBURG) - Social & Health Insurances SZV is actively reminding companies of their obligations in accordance to the Federal Ordinance for Sickness and Accident Insurance.

One of those obligations being the monthly declaration and payment of ZV and OV premiums, due no later than the 15th of each month. Since recent, SZV has intensified its controls in conjunction with increasing awareness amongst employers of the obligations and procedures.

Employers are encouraged to make use of the 24/7 online declaration and payment option available via the Employer Portal. However, companies can still submit their declarations in person at the Employer desk and are reminded that cash payments are no longer accepted.

Not complying to the obligation of declaring and paying on time can result in the levying of assessments. 

The organization is proud to have been able to expand its services over the years, within the boundaries of the stipulated laws. The dedicated Employer Desk of SZV and online services offer employers in need of assistance with additional tools and information to meet their obligations.

SZV has been promoting its online services for over a year now, companies can submit their declarations online, on the website of SZV www.szv.sx via the Online Employer Portal. Online payment is encouraged by SZV; both of these options reduce the need to visit SZV offices and allow companies to be more efficient with their time.

Employers are being offered the ease of online contact and online service with the result of reduced waiting times and more importantly efficient and well documented processing and responses.

It is mandatory by law for all companies with one or more employees executing labor to register their company and their employees at SZV. You are considered an employer by SZV in the following cases: you are established on Sint Maarten, and you have employees executing labor for you on Sint Maarten, you are established on Sint Maarten, and your employees are executing labor for you outside of Sint Maarten (Dutch Caribbean).

A foreign company can also be categorized as an employer on Sint Maarten (Dutch Caribbean). An employer can be a natural person (such as an individual, called a sole proprietor), or a legal entity (such as a corporation, an N.V. or a B.V.) An overview of the general Employer obligations is available on SZV’s website www.szv.sx.

More information about Employer obligations, declaration and payment of ZV and OV premiums can be found on the website www.szv.sx and at the Employer service desk, which is located in Building 1, Level 1. Contacting SZV is possible via the website, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., Facebook or by calling 546-6782.

Read more...

Minister Lee: Our Nurses, our voice to lead

SINT MAARTEN (POND ISLAND) - In honor of International Nurses Day, which is celebrated globally on May 12th, “I would like to share this message. The theme for Nurses Day is: A voice to lead, a theme that I can resonate with and would like to promote within our health care sector,” Minister of Public Health Emil Lee said on Friday in a press statement from his Cabinet.

“I would like to recognize our nurses for their commitment to protecting, promoting, and improving health care for all in our country.

“Registered nurses form the largest of health care professions. I cannot begin to explain the influence and impact of our nurses in our Public Health strategies. In various sectors, industries and departments our nurses are active and vocal in policy development and implementation.

“I would like to see that recognition of our nurses be promoted as widely as possible. I am proud to say that the work of our nurses on Sint Maarten and our local nurses abroad is impactful and influential on a regional and international scale.

“Our nurses are active in improving access to health care, educating our community members, addressing poverty and nutrition, clean energy, inequality, sustainability and innovation. Nurses, thank you for your service and dedication to your profession and those in need. Happy Nurses Day.”

Read more...

Department of Culture announces talent scholarship in Neville York’s name

SINT MAARTEN (POND ISLAND) - One year after the passing of the former head of Department of Culture has elapsed, the Department is still grappling with a heavy sense of loss.

We lost a gentle visionary who made immense strides toward the development of culture at home and abroad. Neville York, gentle virtuoso, a musician, scholar, philosopher and champion for the arts and culture, dedicated his life to this country.

Although the sense of loss is profound, the Department has decided to celebrate the gift of his birth and all that he personified by establishing an annual Talent Scholarship in Mr. York’s name.  On this the first anniversary of his passing, the Department of Culture is proud to announce the Neville York Talent Scholarship. 

Mr. York in his capacity as cultural icon was an erudite and expansive nurturer who had appreciation for culture, heritage and the arts in all its myriad dimensions of expression. The scholarship, interdisciplinary in nature encompasses all disciplines. 

The Neville York Talent Scholarship is geared towards a summer intensive or course in an institution of the applicant’s choice. Perspective candidates from a vast range of creative expressions are eligible to apply in pursuit of further training in their chosen discipline.

Department head Clara Reyes revealed that in speaking to Mr. York’s family, they expressed their appreciation to know that Neville York’s name would live on in the world and specifically in St. Maarten where he was not only a local musical genius, but a loving husband, brother, teacher and pusher of the craft.  Minister of Education, Culture, Youth and Sport Jorien Wuite added that she was very, very pleased with the choice that Neville’s former team made.

“Talent scholarships are what we sincerely fought for and realized on the budget. Neville has always been supportive of creative talent and this choice is therefore a very fitting action in honoring his memory”.

The Neville York Talent Scholarship recipient will be announced annually on his birthday May 1, as a living tribute to the quiet artist that truly embodied a giant in the legacy he left behind.

Read more...
Subscribe to this RSS feed

Soualiga Radio