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Health insurance office BES signs agreement with FKBO on social support

SABA/ST. EUSTATIUS - The “Wet Maatschappelijke Ondersteuning (Social Support Act, WMO) which is applicable in the European Netherlands, doesn’t exist on the BES Islands.

The Health Insurance Office BES (ZVK) however, considers it very important that facilities from this law also apply in the Caribbean Netherlands.

For this reason, an agreement with Fundashon Kuido pa Bista i Oido (FKBO) was adopted this week.

This includes agreements about four facilities for people who need social support: home cleaning, meal supply, a transport supply and small adjustments on houses.

Later on agreements will be adopted on Saba and St. Eustatius as well, in order to ensure this improvement of care and welfare. (RCN Caribbean Netherlands)

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Dutch Cabinet invests in infrastructure and poverty reduction in Caribbean Netherlands

SABA/ST. EUSTATIUS - The Cabinet has made an amount of EUR 30 million available to invest in Bonaire, Saba and St. Eustatius.

The cabinet submits the priority in improving the economic perspective in the Caribbean Netherlands, among others by strengthening the infrastructure and poverty reduction.

Minister Schouten writes this today in a letter also on behalf of Minister Ollongren (Interior and Kingdom Relations, BZK) and State Secretary Knops (Interior and Kingdom Relations, BZK) to the House of Representatives. 

In the coalition agreement it was agreed upon to invest in strengthening of the regions.

There are six regions defined: Caribbean Netherlands is one of these regions. Today the cabinet has decided that in total EUR 30 million are made available for the following projects:

-        building and renewing the port on Saba;

-        development of the agricultural sector on Saba;

-        contribution to sustainable fuel supply on Bonaire;

-        stimulating the social housing on Bonaire;

-        development of plans for agricultural development, and improving the slaughterhouse on Bonaire;

-        development of plans and stimulating employment services through a job center on Bonaire;

 -       improving the connection between education and the labor market;

 -       and addressing the erosion problems on St. Eustatius.

The investments, as mentioned earlier, will be made the moment that there is good governance and sound financial management. State Secretary Knops is in contact with the executive council of Bonaire about the improvements that are necessary and the way he can support them in this.

The State Secretary would like to come to a governmental agreement with the public entity of Bonaire, in which priority themes are covered and in which further concrete detailing is given to good governance.

The resources for the projects for Bonaire will be deployed as soon as this governmental agreement is ready, when there is agreement on good governance and financial management and the management plans for the projects are ready. (RCN Caribbean Netherlands)

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Understanding our Parliamentary Democracy. The nullifying of the political crises/dilemma

SINT MAARTEN - Knowledge is understanding – with the swearing in of the Council of Ministers on June 25, 2018, the ruling United Democrats/Sint Maarten Christian Party (UD/SMCP) coalition government found itself in a political dilemma with not having enough sitting MP’s in the Parliament to govern.

The 8 to 7 ruling coalition government resigned 2 of its sitting members of parliament and had them sworn in as ministers, leaving the coalition with a 6 to 7 minority support in the Parliament. Consequently, there were not enough MP’s to form a quorum to convene Parliament in order to review the credentials and approve and/ or appoint replacement parliamentarians.

Luckily, a degree of political sensitivity was displayed in our polity neutralizing the political dilemma as 1 of the 2 minority parties (the National Alliance) in Parliament afforded the governing coalition the necessary support/ attendance to form a quorum, review the credentials and approve and/ appoint the 2 replacement MP’s. The problem of an inability to allow MP’s to transform to Ministers while simultaneously ensuring the maintenance of power in Parliament is an institutional one.

Hence, it is a structural rather than a constitutional crisis. New laws cannot resolve the problem. The problem that emerged was not based on any (narrow) interpretation of the Constitution or law but a political dilemma where ensuring and maintaining the balance of power in Parliament was not explicitly and adequately (strategic politically) handled.

In politics we have to be mindful that political dilemmas come with consequences which in this case could have very well been a vote of no confidence in the UD/SMCP (1-week-old) coalition government. Without the unusual political sensitivity shown by the opposition bench in Parliament, the likelihood of new elections would not have been neutralized.

Talks that the political dilemma could have been avoided with a larger majority in Parliament is pointless. Having a large majority in parliament does not necessarily safeguard any government from political dilemmas that could result in finding themselves in a minority support position (in parliament). Granted, a larger majority in government/ parliament is always better which for the most part allows the governing party to better execute its governing program, pass legislation and withstand a vote of non-confidence.

Furthermore, as for the report that the Parliamentarians should turn to the courts to have or ensure that their credentials are reviewed, (thus allowing them to sit in Parliament) is problematic. It not only raises question of “separation of powers” but also the infringement of the judicial branch of government on the authority/ duties and responsibilities of the legislative branch.

It is the task of the courts to handle and resolve disputes. However, there were no disputes as to whether or not the credentials of the replacement parliamentarian would be reviewed – it was a political, procedural problem of the governing coalition not having enough sitting MP’s in the Parliament to form a quorum to convene Parliament, to review the credentials and approve and/ appoint their two replacement MP’S.

Alternatively, the ruling coalition Government could have been more politically conscious of the potential dilemma and first secure their balance of power (in Parliament). That is, not waiting until the eleventh hour where there would be a conflict of a minister simultaneously being a parliamentarian; in this case proceeding with the swearing in 5 of the 7 ministers.

As such maintaining the balance of power in Parliament and reviewing the credentials and approving the replacement parliamentarians would have been possible followed by the resignation of the parliamentarian that would be replaced and swearing in them as ministers. Political crises averted.

By Political Analyst, Julio R. Romney

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The big To-Do about failing Caribbean airlift

SINT MAARTEN/CARIBBEAN - In past three weeks, politicians and industry leaders at a number of summits in the Caribbean have expressed the urgent need for better air connections and more reasonable prices. Sorry folks. That’s an old hat to say the least. There may even be a skeleton in the closet.

In 2007, Ministers of Civil Aviation in the Caribbean and other tourism and travel officials drafted the ‘San Juan Accord’, which called for regional officials to put in place the policy framework that would make intra-Caribbean travel for airlines less expensive and more competitive in terms of attracting investment.

In 2012, at the annual Caribbean Hotel and Tourism Investment Conference, industry experts made it clear that the lack of airlift within the region represents a missed opportunity for Caribbean tourism, “There is no Caribbean government anywhere that can ignore the difficulties that face airlift in the region,” said the then Minister of Tourism of St.Kitts.

“What we are saying at the CTO (ed. Caribbean Tourism Organisation) is that all Caribbean governments need to create a forum that can really bring these issues to the table. It is my hope that over the next few months there will be certain opportunities that will be used.”

What was suggested in 2012 as hope for action ‘in the next few months’ takes six years and shows no results. The Director General and CEO of the Caribbean Hotel and Tourism Association (CHTA) at the time commented: “The problem is, we have not implemented what we ourselves agree needs to be done.” In other words, let’s just call it a lot of ‘um diddle diddle um diddle ay’ and no action.

As for industry organizations in 2018 warning for the impact of raising passenger taxes? At that same 2012 Conference, the then President of the CHTA said that he noticed new policies for taxing not only the private sector, but also our visitors directly, and that these masquerade under such names as airport improvement taxes, tourism enhancement fees, and airline passenger duty. He believed that increased taxation is regressive, resulting in less revenue for the hotel and attraction sector.

He urged governments to make a “serious effort” to review their taxation policies on the tourism industry and said: “It is now time to remove or reduce all excessive consumption taxes. Our industry is based on competitive pricing. Our visitors will simply choose other destinations.”

The alarm clock rang already in 2012, but apparently someone hit the ‘snooze button’. Snoozing before officially getting out of bed is a pretty standard practice. To give some background on the biology of sleep. About an hour before eyes actually open, the body begins to ‘reboot.’ The brain sends out signals to release hormones, the body temperature rises, and one enters into a lighter sleep in preparation for the wake-up. So, the current big ‘To-Do’ about passenger taxes may very well be considered no more than ‘the preparation for a wake-up’. Yet, snoozing six years could also be considered a coma and one may question whether there will be an actual rise-and-shine to remove or reduce taxes. After all, any Government will be very hesitant to give up a cash-cow.

At an industry conference in 2017, the tourism expert consultant and former Minister of Tourism and Aviation of the Bahamas, Vincent Vanderpool-Wallace called the implementation of the taxation ‘committing economic suicide without doing it’.

In July 2018, the Prime Minister of Barbados, reminded the attending Honourables at yet another summit that “The single domestic space for hassle intra-regional travel must be a place where we must start if we are serious about the single market and the single economy.

It must be the place if we want the buy-in of our citizens.” She stated that a single domestic space for hassle free travel pre-supposes a single domestic space for transportation and that the Region could do better with respect to moving people between island to island and country to country.

In 2015, the Secretary General of the Caribbean Tourism Organization (CTO) has urged regional authorities to institute an Open Skies policy. It would allow regional carriers to take unlimited flights to all CARICOM member states and encourage the growth of competition among carriers, elimination of secondary screening would encourage greater demand for intra-regional travel. He spoke at the airline route development forum, “World Routes” in Durban, South Africa.

Already in 2006 a study was done for the same CTO, called ‘Caribbean Air Transport Study’ as part of the Caribbean Regional Sustainable Tourism Development Program. The main objective of the study was to ‘assist the region in rationalizing international and intra-regional air transport as a means of ensuring the sustainable development of the tourism sector’, or ‘how to develop and maintain regional airlift capacity consistent with the sustainable development of the tourism sector’.

The study called for ‘Open Skies’ between the various countries in the region. Most of the governments signed bilateral agreements with the USA because they want US airlines and passengers to come and visit. But ‘Open Skies’ among the Caribbean territories themselves? Fifteen years of ZZZzzzz and snoring!

Recently in 2018 at an industry conference, the before mentioned Vincent Vanderpool-Wallace stated that the Caribbean itself is the major market for Caribbean airlift.

The Caribbean may not need any more studies and committees, and meetings of Honourables, calling upon others to do something where they failed themselves to take the initiative for action. A ‘Summit-and-Do’ should be organized, whereby is nailed who will take the first step, what will be done, and a date of completion is set. Wouldn’t that be an honourable initiative for Honourables to agree on and stick to? In the meantime, on and on it goes and where it ends no one knows.

By Cdr. Bud Slabbaert

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Benjamin & Parker Risk Auditors highlight difficulties for medical referrals in Colombia

SINT MAARTEN/COLOMBIA – Benjamin & Parker’s (B&P’s) Regional Director has been visiting Sint Maarten patients in Colombia when in Cali and has spoken too many that disclosed several inconveniences that they are confronted with after they are at the Colombian medical or housing premises, B&P said in a press statement on Wednesday.

“The problems they confront or may confront are as follows:

City panic (not used of being in a very big city)

Language barrier

Communication barrier (Doctors terminology in Spanish)

Food issues

Overstay without proper explanation

Nonexistence of psychological support during stay of patient

Clients is non-aware of medical condition progress (uncertainty)

Security issues (Easy target)

“Colombia is not the Dutch Caribbean and therefore behavior patterns must be adapted rapidly. In March 2018, after contemplating too many of these adversities our firm offered the SZV via email, a Health Compliance Officer Service, which up to now has not been answered.

“This email was second by an Auditor at the SZV that described the necessity of the service, which again remained unanswered. Our firm is aware of all these conditions, and it gets worse in Bogota.

“The management or Board of the SZV is not in Colombia to observe the organic conditions the patients have to deal with. It is the opinion of the firm that knowing rights does not mean that the patients has that right when it comes in the field, when dealing in a multimillion dollar Medical Enterprise and the poor safeguards to contain illegal practices is just next to non-existent.

“The basic objective is to improve the quality treatment and cost savings that in our opinion is not addressed appropriately by the authorized channels,” the B&P statement concludes.

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Rumer Summer Test Drive Event at Motorworld this Saturday

SINT MAARTEN (COLE BAY) - Motorworld will be hosting the “Rumer Summer” Test Drive event on this Saturday, July 14 from 9:00 AM – 1:00 PM at the showroom located in Cole Bay.

St. Maarten’s very own Mr. 3Peat Soca Monarch King Rumer will be the featured host for test drives, and will also showcase an entertaining performance of his major hits along with the new releases.   

The heat is on and the “Rumer Summer” Test Drive event is bringing on more heat, as it will feature the premiere of the all New Generation 2019 Hyundai Santa Fe, St. Maarten’s favorite SUV, with countless premium design features.

“The Santa Fe is an iconic model for Hyundai Motor Company, and the new TM Santa Fe will lead the pack in terms of design, technology and comfort,” says Tariq Amjad, Managing Director of Motorworld.

“We are excited to introduce this word-class model to the local market. We remain confident that customers will be satisfied, particularly considering the premium design features with safety of paramount importance, powerful on-/off-road performance, as well as the added benefit of peace of mind, with 5 years free warranty.” 

Motorworld invites everyone to come see, touch, and experience of the All New 2019 Hyundai Santa Fe at the showroom located on Welfare Road in Colebay, during the “Rumer Summer” Test Drive event on Saturday, July 14. This event provides an engaging and interactive way to introduce the All New 2019 Hyundai Santa Fe as a model that is in a class by itself; both safe and superior to enhance your driving experience. 

In addition, this provides the opportunity for customers to get a first-hand view of Motorworld’s Hot Summer Car Sale. Various automobile brands and models are available on sale, with major price discounts, along with the added benefit of 2 free monthly payments, as well as a free gift upon purchase.  

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Minister Giterson issues statement on traffic delays of July 10th

SINT MAARTEN (POND ISLAND) Minister of Public Housing, Spatial Planning, Environment & Infrastructure (Ministry VROMI), Miklos Giterson, issued an apology to the community on Tuesday morning, July 10th, following reports of severe traffic around the Philipsburg area related to final repairs and paving being made to a portion of the Juancho Yrausquin Boulevard. 

The traffic congestion was compounded due to the MSC SEASIDE cruise ship currently in port, leading to increased traffic to the Harbor.

The works, which started on Sunday, was originally scheduled to finish on Monday when no cruise ships were in port. However due to the impending storm those works were cancelled and resumed today.

“It’s obvious that there was an error made in planning and the ship schedules were unfortunately not taken into account.  Upon learning of the issue, I immediately ordered the road work to stop and to reopen the road,” Minister Giterson explained.

Roads will re-open at 12pm today to traffic in both directions.  Paving will now resume at 8pm this evening and continue overnight.  Minister Giterson once again apologizes for any inconveniences and delays caused and will continue to ensure that future road repairs take the cruise ship schedules into consideration.

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Young United Women book club launched

ST. MARTIN (MARIGOT) - Reading is universal, no matter what gender, age, or social setting. When we read, our minds open, but there are also today, a variety of genres directed specifically to young people.

It is through the dynamism and innovative minds of this generation that literature has been able to take a whole new meaning.

Seeing that the purpose of the United Women Book Club is to unite and bring together women who share and bond over the same mutual interest, the demand to have a Young Club soon came about.

A group of seven young women (Vanincia walters, Ravina Claudius, Carleen Griffith, Fabienne Chance, Shanice Powell, Jennifer Cocks, Latifa Parotte), from all walks of life got together and the group was formally created on July 8th, 2018.

These young women are motivated and ready to realized their prospective projects in the community.

Founder’s Words: This is like a dream come through to me. When I started the book club, I had a vision in mind, that The book club will go beyond simple reading and interpretation, this is also a community, a spere of empowerment and of positive impact.

Please follow us on our Facebook (Youngunitedwomenbookclub) email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Founder : Danielle Chance-Glasgow.

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CPS Advises: Ensure your Vaccination Status is Up-to-Date for Summer Vacation Travel Abroad

GREAT BAY, (DCOMM) – Considering circulated news about various infectious and vaccine preventable diseases internationally and regionally, citizens are requested to take preventive actions.

There have been international reports and information about the increase of measles and serogroup W invasive meningococcal disease (IMD).

It is advised to take precaution prior travel make sure you and your child vaccination status is up to date and during your vaccination adhere to preventive actions such as avoiding sick persons, properly washing hands, complying with cough etiquettes and food safety.

Meningococcal disease can refer to any illness caused by the type of bacteria called Neisseria meningitidis, also known as meningococcus [muh-ning-goh-KOK-us]. These illnesses are often severe and can be deadly. They include infections of the brain membrane and spinal cord (meningitis) and bloodstream infections (bacteremia or septicemia).

These bacteria spread through the exchange of respiratory and throat secretions like spit (e.g., by living in close quarters, kissing).

The meningococcal bacteria spread to other people by sharing respiratory and throat secretions (saliva or spit). Generally, it takes close (for example, coughing or kissing) or lengthy contact to spread these bacteria.

People can catch them through casual contact or by breathing air where someone with meningococcal disease has been. Those at increased risk of getting sick include: People who live with the patient; and anyone with direct contact with the patient’s oral secretions, such as a boyfriend or girlfriend.

Between epidemiological week (EW) 1 and EW 22 of 2018, 11 countries reported 1,685 confirmed cases of measles in the Region of the Americas. The Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) recommends that all travelers over 6-months-of-age who cannot show proof of vaccination or immunity, that they receive the measles and rubella vaccine, preferably the triple viral vaccine (measles, mumps and rubella - MMR), at least two weeks before traveling to areas where measles transmission has been documented.

Measles is caused by the measles virus (a paramyxovirus). Measles is spread through droplet transmission from the nose, throat, and mouth of someone who is infected with the virus.

These droplets are sprayed out when the infected person coughs or sneezes. Among unimmunized people exposed to the virus, over 90% will contract the disease. Measles is a highly contagious viral illness that is easily spread from person to person, especially in those without previous vaccination.

The infected person is highly contagious for four days before the rash appears until four days after the rash appears. The measles virus can remain in the air (and still be able to cause disease) for up to two hours after an infected person has left a room.

Anyone who has had measles is believed to be immune for life. People who have received two doses of vaccine after their first birthday have a 98% likelihood of being immune. Infants receive some immunity from their mother.

Unfortunately, this immunity is not complete, and infants are at increased risk for infection until they receive the vaccination at 12 to 15 months of age. People at high risk for measles include children less than 1 year of age (although they have some immunity passed from their mother, it is not 100% effective); people who have not received the proper vaccination series; people who received immunoglobulin at the time of measles vaccination; people immunized from 1963 until 1967 with an older ineffective killed measles vaccine.

The Collective Prevention Services (CPS), a department of the Ministry of Public Health, Social Development and Labour, is calling on families who plan to travel during the July and August summer school holidays to take preventive measures and to make sure their vaccinations are up to date for the entire family.

Maintain healthy habits, like getting plenty of rest and not having close contact with people who are sick.

Seek medical attention immediately if you or your child develops symptoms upon return from your summer holiday travels.

For more information call CPS at 542-3003, 542-3553, 542-1122 or 542-1222.

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The Rotary Club of St. Martin Sunrise purchases eye glasses for St. Dominic High student

SINT MAARTEN (PHILIPSBURG) - Annually, the Rotary Club of St. Martin Sunrise donates eye glasses to a number of students from various elementary and secondary schools.

Part of the funds to purchase the eyeglasses was made available through the Bert Miller Funds, a fund created in the name of the late Dr. Bert Miller from Nova Scotia.

Dr. Miller, an eye doctor by profession, who was a regular visitor of St. Maarten as a timeshare owner at Belair Beach Hotel. Sadly, Dr. Miller passed away during his last visit on St. Maarten in March of 2008.

At his memorial held on the island, his family, Belair Beach Hotel timeshare owners, and guests donated funds towards eye glasses for children in need, as they knew Dr. Miller would have wanted.

Annually Dr. Miller wife, Carol Miller donates funds to the club ensuring that the Bert Miller Glasses Fund Program continues. The club holds Fundraising events throughout the year to acquire the additional funds required in order to sustain the program.

Rotary Club of St. Martin Sunrise is very much honored to have been chosen to identify these children in need and to, therefore make the funds available to purchase the required eye glasses. The club donated more than eighteen eyeglasses over the years.

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