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Sint Maarten Economy Real Growth Down by 8.4% in 2017

SINT MAARTEN (PHILIPSBURG) - The Department of Statistics estimates that in 2017 real Gross Domestic Product (GDP) growth dropped by 8.4%. This decrease is not surprising given the anticipated negative impact of hurricane Irma on the economy of St. Maarten.

GDP in current prices decreased from ANG 1,919 million to ANG 1,815 million in 2017. Whereas, real GDP decreased from ANG 1,765 million in 2016 to ANG 1,616 million in 2017.

Values for real GDP are adjusted for inflation to remove the impact of changes in price levels, providing a more accurate figure of economic growth. The largest gross value-added declines in current prices were recorded for the industries ‘financial intermediation’ and ‘transport, storage and communication’, which decreased by 35% and 13%, respectively.

In contrast, the ‘health and social work’ and ‘other community, social and personal services activities’ industries recorded the largest gains in gross value added namely 37% and 29%, respectively.

Other major industries such as ‘trade’ and ‘hotels and restaurants’ also saw a drop in gross value added of 9% each. When looking at the GDP by expenditure in constant prices, there was a decrease in both exports and imports of 23% and 12% respectively.

However, there was an increase in both final consumption expenditure and capital formation. Overall, final consumption expenditure increased by 4.3% in which the household component (household final consumption expenditure) increased by 3% and the general government final consumption expenditure increased by 11%.

Lastly, gross capital formation increased from ANG 242 million in 2016 2 to ANG 268 million in 2017, an increase of 11%. Please note that these are preliminary figures and are subject to revision once the ongoing National Accounts Survey is complete.

This survey seeks to capture final data for the years 2016 and 2017 based on the final financial statements amongst the business sector.

Final estimates for 2016, 2017 and estimates for 2018 will be published in the second quarter of 2019.


SMMC to hosts a World Bank Project Launch series

SINT MAARTEN (CAY HILL) - SMMC is hosting a “Project Launch” with a series of workshops which are conducted by World Bank representatives from October 15 – 17. The workshops are aimed at providing guidance in the execution of the projects that will be accomplished using the grant funds.

SMMC is the recipient of a USD 25 million grant for the St. Maarten Hospital Resiliency and Preparedness project, which will contribute to the critical rehabilitation of the existing hospital and construction of a new and larger facility, more resilient to climate shocks.

The grant agreement is in effect and SMMC is entering in the execution phase of the St. Maarten Hospital Resiliency and Preparedness Project. With the workshops SMMC will be receiving information and hands-on training on how to navigate the World Bank processes efficiently.

During the opening meeting of the Project Launch, Minister Emil Lee stated: “The commencement of the St Maarten Hospital resiliency and preparedness project as marked by the commencement of the work to reinforce the current hospital roof makes this project a model project for St Maarten’s recovery process.  

Through the team effort of the Health Tripartite (VSA, SMMC and SZV) together with the assistance of the World Bank task team leaders, we have secured the funding for the hospital resilience project.  

As important as the funding itself, the timing of the funding is equally critical.  By financing the project from the first tranche, this saves the project lots of money in planning and efficiency. Step by step, we are delivering affordable quality healthcare, close to home!”

General Director of SMMC, Kees Klarenbeek stated: “SMMC is now in the execution phase of the project. With the support from our World Bank team we are confident we will effectively comply with the World Bank procedures in order to receive the funds for the different project items within a reasonable timeframe.

“The people of St. Maarten will be provided with access to a broader range of healthcare services on the island in a safer and more resilient facility, better prepared to deliver health services in case of another disaster. Hereby SMMC would like to thank the Dutch Government for making the Trust Fund possible. Also, our gratitude goes towards the excellent cooperation between Ministry of VSA, World Bank, SZV and the entire SMMC team” Klarenbeek concluded.

Chris Johnson, head of the Dutch Representation Office stated: “A new hospital and improved healthcare is crucial to Sint Maarten. The St. Maarten Hospital Resiliency and Preparedness Project serves as a great example of the type of projects that can be made possible with financing from the Trust Fund."

Carolyn Shelton, Task Team Leader and Senior Operations Officer for the World Bank stated: “We’re very pleased with the pace of detailed, technical project preparation and that the project is moving forward with implementation. This project will not only focus on a new building but will also improve the quality and scope of health services for the population of St. Maarten”.

Last week, Trust Fund Steering Committee members Marcel Gumbs and Frans Weekers accompanied by Netherlands Ministry of the Interior and Kingdom Relations Reconstruction Program Director Hans van der Stelt, were updated on the progress and plans for St. Maarten’s new general hospital and were pleased with the project.


Minister Johnson receives Maximum Price List 2018 Hurricane items Booklet

SINT MAARTEN (GREAT BAY, DCOMM) – The Head of the Inspectorate of Tourism, Economic Affairs, Traffic and Telecommunications (TEATT) Lucien Wilson, recently presented Minister of TEATT Stuart Johnson, with a copy of the “Maximum Price List 2018 Hurricane Items Booklet.”

The booklet contains a list of hurricane season related items whose price are regulated by ministerial regulation titled “Regeling prijsvaststelling in verband met uitzonderingstoestanden 2018”/ Ministerial Regulation on Price Determination related to a state of emergency 2018, came into force on August 22, 2018.

Booklets will be printed and distributed to the public containing a list of the regulated items and the maximum price at which they may be sold by retailers to assist the public when making purchases.

The objective of the aforementioned ministerial regulation is to set preventive measures for price gouging of movable goods (water, groceries, batteries, construction materials, etc.) which are needed during a state of emergency (for example a hurricane).

This regulation is in force until November 30, 2018. Willful violations of the regulation may include criminal prosecution and a fine of up to NAƒ10.000,-

The Inspectorate of TEATT already publicized back in September making aware that all hardware stores, supermarkets and suppliers of construction material are informed of the existence of this regulation and their obligation to comply with the established maximum prices once a state of emergency has been declared.


Rotary Club of St. Martin Sunset reads at schools

SINT MAARTEN (PHILIPSBURG) – In recognition of Rotary’s Basic Education and Literacy Month, observed during the month of September, members of the Rotary Club of St. Martin Sunset volunteered to read to the students at various schools on both Dutch and French side of the island, in efforts to promote education and literacy, one of Rotary’s key area of focus.

The campaign was carried out throughout the month of September, whereby members visited the schools and read for 20-30 minutes. As a club with the motto, “Service above Self” we thought it to be vital to be examples and encourage students to read more often in and outside of the classroom.

The students were appreciative and excited about the reading sessions. As a club, we would like to encourage the general population to join in, do their part, by reading to their child or children, and volunteer at the schools, when possible.

The club would like to thank friends of the Rotary Club of St. Martin Sunset Paula Gordon and Trent Webster for volunteering through the club to read at the schools as well as the school boards, schools, managements and teachers for allowing the members to volunteer.


Prime Minister Romeo Marlin encourages youth to enter essay contest

SINT MAARTEN (POND ISLAND) - On Thursday, October 25th, Prime Minister of Sint Maarten, Leona Romeo-Marlin will be hosting the Caribbean OCT’s Resilience Summit on Sint Maarten, which will be attended by political leaders of the Caribbean Overseas Countries and Territories (OCTs) as well as high level representatives of the European Commission, Regional Organizations and invited guests.

The Summit is being held to commemorate the signing of a financing agreement between the Caribbean OCTs and the European Commission and will be the start of a Program on Resilience, Sustainable Energy and Marine Biodiversity in our region.

The Summit evolves around the topics Unite, Prepare and Adapt, which will be presented by knowledgeable speakers and followed by panel discussions with experts in field such as Regional Cooperation, Climate Change, Disaster Preparedness and Resilience.

These topics will focus on the future of the Caribbean region. A future in which our youth will have a key role. Therefore, we invite pre-exam students to share their vision on Resilience with us in the form of an essay.

Prime Minister Romeo Marlin believes in our youth and is convinced that this is where innovative solutions can start. Therefore, the Prime Minister is eager to receive the input of our youth on how we, as a unified Caribbean, can strengthen our future in relation to the effects of climate change.

By participating in this writing contest, the winner will be granted the opportunity to be part of the OCT Resilience Summit on October 25th. The winner will participate as a panel member on the topic “Adapt”.

The winner will also have an opportunity to share their ideas with important stakeholders such as all Governments of the Caribbean OCTs, the European Commission and regional organizations.

Persons who enter the essay contest will be judged by Prime Minister of Sint Maarten, Leona Romeo-Marlin, and Jolita Butkeviciene, the Director of the Directorate General for Development Coordination Latin America and the Caribbean at the European Commission.

The rules and guidelines of the essay contest are available on Facebook/Caribbean OCT's Resilience Summit & Facebook/SXMGOV.

Prime Minister Romeo Marlin encourages the youth of Sint Maarten to share their vision on a Resilient Caribbean by entering this writing contest and becoming a positive contributor to the resilient development of the Caribbean! We are counting on you, our future!


St. Maarten Lion’s Club reflects on World Sight Day October 11th

SINT MAARTEN (PHILIPSBURG) - World Sight Day, observed annually on the second Thursday of October, is a global event meant to draw attention on blindness and vision impairment.

It was originally initiated by the Sight First Campaign of Lions Club International in 2000. It has since been integrated into VISION 2020 and is coordinated by IAPB in cooperation with the World Health Organization.

The theme for World Sight Day on October 11th, 2018 is “Eye Care Everywhere” and the President of the St. Maarten Lions Club, Lion Carmen Lake is proud that the club could have contributed heavily to Sight Awareness during the first half of 2018.

Club President Lion Carmen said: “The focus of our big Sight Project from May 14th through 18th, 2018 was to test the eyes of all or most public-school children on St Maarten at the Belair Community Center and those who needed glasses received free glasses right away or glasses shipped a few weeks later and delivered to each school.

Our club hosted 17 doctors, nurses and technicians from Volunteer Optometric Services to Humanity (VOSH) from all over the US and Alaska, who paid their own tickets to volunteer their time for a week on St. Maarten.

Lion President Carmen continued:” With the generous sponsorship of US$ 24.000 from Hollywood Casino last December, the club paid for hotel, transportation and meals for the entire visiting group. The rest of money for the project came from various fundraisers during the year such as the Lion Wally Havertong Christmas Bingo and the Father's Day Car Raffle.

“The VOSH team were assisted by students from NIPA as well. Additional expenses incurred by our club included renting the Belair Community Center and providing bus transportation to and from school for each student. We really could not pull off that big Sight Project without the support from all of them along with the Immediate Past President Lion Alison and his Board, the Lions Sight Committee and all members of the St. Maarten Lions Club who volunteered for the entire week”.

The 2017-2018 Sight Committee Chairman Lion Lion Davey Woods who spearheaded the project with a team of 8 very active Lion members was very satisfied with the support from all Lions, VOSH and NIPA volunteers during the project.

Lion Davey said:” Unfortunately we did not get test all the school children, although we gave them every opportunity for an entire week to be tested. Some parents and children just did not cooperate and it’s a pity that it just might be one of them that really needed glasses to help them with their education. The support for the project by the Ministry of Public Health, Social Development & Labor and also the Ministry of Education, Culture, Youth & Sports was also tremendous and the project received visits by His Excellency Governor Eugene Holiday, Honorable Prime Minister Leona Marlin-Romeo, then Minister of Education Jorien Wuite and Honorable Chairlady of Parliament Sarah Wescot-Williams who were all impressed with the project and volunteers that helped”.

The St. Maarten Lions Club along with VOSH and helped by NIPA students tested 2795 students and adults over 5 days at the Belair Community Center. 2549 school children were tested along with 246 teachers, Lion members, NIPA volunteers and a few parents who personally brought their children.

479 children received glasses right away and 198 glasses was paid for and FedExed to St. Maarten by VOSH 3 weeks later. A grand total of 677 free glasses were given out to primary school children over May, June and July 2018. The final sets of glasses were delivered before the school term ended at the beginning of July.

Each child that got tested also received a pair of sunglasses that was shipped in advance by VOSH. The teachers, Lion members, NIPA volunteers and a few parents who needed glasses were given prescriptions which they could take to the local Optometrist for new glasses. On the last day, after the project at the Belair Community Center was completed, 3 school children that were hospitalized got tested by the VOSH team and Lions Club members at the St. Maarten Medical Center.

There were nine referrals with severe issues to the local Ophthalmologist of which 7 were primary school children. The St. Maarten Lions Club paid for the initial visit for all seven children and Sight Committee members accompanied them and their parents to the Ophthalmology Center of Dr. Jean-Paul Cals on French St. Martin. The reasons for those referrals were exotropia, cataracts, amblyopia, keratosis, reduced vision, glaucoma and other health concerns.

The St. Maarten Lions Club is very thankful that it could assist 677 children with free glasses on St. Maarten as most had problems astigmatism and myope or nearsightedness. As part of Lions Club International the club prides itself on being able to assist in eliminating preventable blindness and improving sight awareness.

It was Helen Keller back in 1925, who challenged Lions to be “knights of the blind in the crusade against blindness” and today blindness and its challenges are preventable thanks to the hard work and community service clubs and its members such as the St. Maarten Lions Club.

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Dr. Robert Palozej, OD from Connecticut, USA checks the eyes of a primary school child at the Lions Sight Project at the Belair Community in May 2018.



SINT MAARTEN (POND ISLAND) – Today, Wednesday, October 10 the Minister of Finance, Perry Geerlings, presented the Financial Recovery Plan. The Financial Recovery Plan (hereafter: FRP) translates the financial part of the Governing Program 2018-2022, Building a Sustainable Sint Maarten.

It describes the how, when and with whom the necessary steps towards financial resilience will be taken in the governing period from 2018 until 2022. These steps will form the basis for achieving all other initiatives in the Governing Program (including the National Recovery & Resilience Plan).

During the Council of Ministers press briefing, the Minister of Finance gave a brief overview of the financial history since 10-10-2010 and the challenges Sint Maarten faced in the past eight years with the hurricanes Irma and Maria as a very dark chapter in the recent past.  

The Minister: “Since rebuilding our nation needs to be first and foremost the responsibility of Sint Maarten itself, our Governing Program reflects the enormous task at hand to rebuild our country and our economy, next to operating in a normal day-to-day business of running our government. On this symbolic day, as promised to you, the people of Sint Maarten, I am presenting the Financial Recovery Plan.”

The Minister stated that the financial position of our Government is very critical. The risks that we face if we look at the financial state of the country are: 

  • Severe budget / liquidity shortages for our government; 
  • Worsening public financial management; U
  • nfunded social security, pension plans; 
  • Social, economic and political instability

Two trajectories of the FRP

The FRP is built around two trajectories. The first one entails the Government putting their house in order. The plan details organizational measures to be taken to increase the efficiency of governmental departments, such as improvement of our Public Financial Management, public service levels and restructuring of the Tax Administration.

Simultaneously the second trajectory will be executed and entails agreeing with the Netherlands on changes in the current financial framework and seeking of approval of loans and grants. If necessary, additional avenues will be explored through international or regional bodies.

Geerlings: “In the volatile political climate in Sint Maarten, my analysis of the current financial dependency might easily be mistaken for submission. This is not the case. Our partners carry a responsibility to thread swiftly and carefully given the current climate in Sint Maarten. We will constantly remind them that time is of the essence.”

The complete Financial Recovery Plan can be downloaded at:


USM promotes a healthier and more sustainable St. Maarten on Thursday

SINT MAARTEN (POND ISLAND) - On Thursday, October 11, 2018 at 6:30 pm, the University of St Martin (USM) will host its second public seminar with a focus on health and sustainability.

The free seminar will consist of three 20-minute presentations followed by a Q&A period where the public will get a chance to participate in an open dialogue. The speakers for the evening will be Ms. Rose Rumnit – a Highly Qualified Detox Specialist and Liver Cancer Survivor, Ms. Maria Henry - Section Head General Health Care at Collective Prevention Services (CPS), and Dr. Golden Jackson - Assistant Dean for Service-Learning and Community Affairs at the American University of the Caribbean (AUC).

In addition to an engaging discussion, attendees will be given the opportunity to receive information on pertinent health conditions and practices on St Maarten. “Awareness plays an important role in promoting a healthy country.

Thus, we found it necessary to invite health-related NGOs to participate in the upcoming seminar”– said Dr. Rolinda Carter, Blood Research Scientist and Dean of Academics at USM, in written statements to the press on Wednesday.

Invited organisations include Positive Foundation (Breast Cancer Awareness), St. Maarten Sickle Cell Foundation (Sickle Cell Awareness), Kelaha Projects (Cervical Cancer Awareness), and the Diabetes Foundation of St. Maarten (Diabetes Awareness).

During her presentation, Ms. Rumnit will use her life experiences and the knowledge that she gained through many years of research to outline different therapies she applied with the help of Traditional Healing Professionals.

Ms. Henry will discuss current and future projects that CPS is undertaking to prevent and eliminate diseases on St Maarten. Finally, Dr. Jackson will speak on AUC initiatives in support of health sustainability. The host and moderator of the night will be Ms. Keoma La Hamer - Public Communication Associate at United Nations Development Programme, and founder of The KeLaHa Projects.

Present to give an introduction on the topic and its relevant UN Sustainable Development Goal (SDG 3: good health and wellbeing) will be Ms. Joy Arnell, Secretary General of the Ministry of Public Health, Social Development and Labor.

“The USM Seminar Series was born out of efforts to shape future academic programs, as well as to service the community, government and public policy,” stated Dr. Carter, who was mandated to develop the natural sciences at the university.

“This is a great opportunity for government, academia and civil society to think about the future of health sustainability for the country and our region.”

The seminar will also be streamed live on Cani TV Facebook page.

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Minister Smith Welcomes Baseball Champs Home

SINT MAARTEN (SIMPSON BAY) - The St. Maarten 16 and under Baseball Team returned home as Champions from the Royal Kingdom Games in Aruba to an honorary welcome by the Minister of Education, Culture, Youth, and Sport, the Honourable Wycliffe Smith on Saturday afternoon.

As the coaches, management and players exited the Conviasa aircraft, Minister Smith congratulated each person on a job well done. The team won their first three games against the Netherlands, Bonaire, and Curacao, before rainy conditions caused the final game against Aruba to be cancelled.

The twelve-player team comprised of Darlinson Tavarez Diaz, Julian Peterson, Mark Perez Figuereo, Yensi Morales, Roiny Telemaco Marte, Miguel Marryshaw Herrera, Freesje Hughes, Jhondel Peralta, Isael Vasquez Contreras, Mawali King, Eldon Morgan and captain, Anderson James.

Led by the President/Founder of the Sint Maarten Baseball Academy Foundation and national coach, Anthony Rombley, the team was accompanied by team manager, Yamal Thomas, their coaches René Leveret and Edmund Williams, as well as the Secretary of the foundation, Agnes de Polo.

In the annual tournament hosted by the Ministry of Justice of the Netherlands, Sint Maarten scored 15-0 against the Netherlands, 14-0 against Bonaire, and 3-1 against Curacao.

When the final game against host, Aruba, was cancelled due to the field becoming too wet for play, the organisers for the games assessed Sint Maarten as the team with the leading scores, most disciplined and over-all top performance.

As a result, the Sint Maarten Baseball Team was awarded the 2018 trophy for the Kingdom Games.

According to Minister Smith, “We are proud of our athletes and how well this team represented Sint Maarten in Aruba. Our youth are exceptional, and with the right support, there is no limit on what they can accomplish.

“We must encourage them, their coaches and the organisations that are dedicated to improving sports on our island because Sports matter.”

The Sint Maarten Baseball Academy engages youth from the different elementary and high schools, regardless of their experience with the sport.

The Academy aims to train and develop the recruits into top players who are capable of representing Sint Maarten on the regional and international level. Another recruitment drive will be conducted shortly.


COCI Ready to Facilitate B2B Partnerships in the Reconstruction of Sint Maarten

SINT MAARTEN (PHILIPSBURG) – The St. Maarten Chamber of Commerce & Industry (COCI) took part in the Sint Maarten Reconstruction Information Session that took place in The Hague, the Netherlands on September 28. COCI was represented at the information session by Anastacio Baker, Louis Bute and Bertaux Fleming.

The Information Session was organized by the Netherlands Enterprise Agency (NEA) of the Government of the Netherlands and the Netherlands in Business.

The objective of the trip to the Netherlands was to get the message across that Sint Maarten is open for business; that the Sint Maarten business community must benefit from the rebuilding of the country via the multi-million dollar Dutch-provided fund managed by the World Bank; and to build a strong bridge between the private sector of Sint Maarten and that of the Netherlands due to the opportunities which are endless when we look at the knowledge exchange capabilities, according to COCI Executive Director Anastacio Baker.

Baker added that there was a lot of interests in the reconstruction of country Sint Maarten.

“There was a great turnout by the Dutch business community at the information session. From the one-on-one discussions that we had, there are great opportunities on the horizon to form business to business (B2B) partnerships with our local business community.

“The Dutch business community are ready and willing to work with us. They have the technology and best practice expertise on their end, and our local business community has the local-know-how and experience and it would be a win-win partnership for both to work together in building back better,” COCI Executive Director Baker said on Monday.

The Information Session was opened by Dutch State Secretary of Kingdom Relations Raymond Knops. Sint Maarten’s Minister Plenipotentiary Jorien Wuite in The Hague also spoke at the event.

“I was pleased with the statement made by State Secretary Knops. He made it clear that we are a Kingdom of four partners, and if one partner is down, then the others must heed the call to help.

“As COCI, Louis Bute, Bertaux Fleming and myself, championed the interests of Sint Maarten at the information session. We cannot afford to get bogged down in very tedious studies. Sint Maarten is already open for business.

“Due to the resilience of the Sint Maarten people and local business community, we were able to open six weeks after the hurricane with the resumption of commercial air traffic in October 2017 and the cruise ships in December 2017.

“I foresee the local private sector continuing to take the lead and with the business acumen of the Dutch business sector in collaboration and partnership with local businesses, this approach will facilitate an easy process of rebuilding the country back better in a sustainable manner for a better future of the Sint Maarten people, and to further strengthen our economy.

“Minister Plenipotentiary Wuite set the tone during the information session when she made the remark about the interests shown by the Dutch business sector being a true reminder of the strong ties that we have within the Kingdom.

“Our private sector is the engine of the national economy and COCI is here to facilitate partnerships between our business communities within the Kingdom,” Baker added in a COCI press statement on Monday.

Baker said in order to prepare optimally for the new business opportunities related to the release of the reconstruction funds, it partly involves partnering with a Dutch company, therefore COCI urges all local businesses to do an overall self-assessment to ensure that they are in good standing with various government and semi-government entities, and to join forces where possible to take advantage of current business opportunities.

Some of the preparations in order to prepare for partnership include: Checking liability policies; Meeting with the bank to determine the financial position and means of the company in the case of equipment purchase, additional payroll, operational costs, etc.; Update the company’s information, and/or register at the SZV, Labor Office, COCI, and Tax Department.

Some additional preps are: Update the company’s website or any social media profile(s); Profile the company: products and/or services, experience, staff, references, résumé, past partnerships, etc.; Start looking for partnerships and sign a project-based Memorandum of Understanding (MoU).

“No business is too small or too big to do business to explore new opportunities,” COCI Executive Director Anastacio Baker concludes.

COCI Info Meeting in NED Baker Presentation

COCI Executive Director Anastacio Baker (center) giving a presentation to the Dutch business community who attended the information session about the reconstruction of Sint Maarten.

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