Soualiga Newsday Features

Soualiga Newsday Features (1062)

The Dutch should be investing more in their economy, says IMF

SINT MAARTEN/THE NETHERLANDS – The Netherlands should invest more in itself in order to sustain growth in the longer term and take advantage of the healthy government finances, according to a new report on the Dutch economy by the International Monetary Fund.

At a briefing following the report’s presentation, IMF economist Thomas Dorsey suggested an extra impulse of 0.5% of GDP in the form of tax cuts and extra spending on education and innovation.

‘The buffers are growing quickly,’ Dorsey is quoted as saying by the Financieele Dagblad. ‘At the current pace the Dutch national debt will quickly fall from 57% now to 42% in 2023… Even with extra government stimulation of 0.5% a year, the Netherlands would still retain a substantial safety margin.’

In particular, the Netherlands should bring in policy ‘aimed at reducing dualism in the labour market and supporting wage growth,’ the IMF report said, referring to the rise in self-employment in the Netherlands.

Furthermore, the ‘rapid increases in house prices’ and high levels of mortgage debt ‘reflect structural weakness in the Dutch housing market’. The IMF again said that the maximum amount people can borrow should be reduced below 100% of the value of the property.

This, it says, remains high by international standards and a cut would reduce household financial vulnerabilities. (DutchNews)


Minister Wuite seeks alternative for insuring properties

POND ISLAND – Minister of Education Jorien Wuite says she is exploring the possibility of having a separate insurance for properties that fall under its ministry which would expedite the future processing of insurance claims in the event of another major hurricane.

Minister Wuite said on Wednesday during the Council of Ministers (COM) press briefing that government properties have been covered for years under one insurance policy.

The minister will begin talks to seek alternative options that would lead to a quicker resolution in the interest of safety and repair of schools or sports facilities and other institutions such as cultural entities.


Economic control inspectorate personnel receive food handler's training

POND ISLAND - The Minister of Tourism, Economic Affairs, Traffic & Telecommunications, Cornelius de Weever recently handed out certificates to the Economic Control Inspectorate Department’s participants who completed the “Food Handlers” course with Mr. Somersall.

Below is a list of the participants.

-        Sulaica Davelaar (Section Head Economic Control)

-        Leo Brooks (act. Section Head Casino Control)

-        Mervyn Butcher

-        Miguel Blijden

-        Alex Euson

-        Franklin Mariana

-        Gregory Wilson

-        Perry Hook

-        Suzette Kramers

-        Carmen van Henningen

-        Reiner, Philip van Delden

-        Allan Tearr

-        Claudia Proctor

-        Alessandra Priest

-        Franklyn Cuffy

-        Kyle Elstak            

-        Meachjael Richardson


Fewer people are claiming welfare benefits, first drop since 2008

SINT MAARTEN/THE NETHERLANDS – The number of people claiming welfare benefits (bijstand) fell for the first time in almost 10 years last year, the national statistics office CBS said on Wednesday.

In total, there were 3,500 fewer people claiming bijstand at the end of last year, taking the total to 514,000.

However, the reduction was confined to people in the 27 to 45 age group and there was ‘clear growth’ in the number of claimants over the age of 45, the CBS said.

The last time the number of welfare benefits claims fell was in 2008, before the impact of the economic crisis was fully felt on the jobs market. (DutchNews)


SXM Airport featured in Routes News Magazine

SINT MAARTEN (SIMPSON BAY) - The Princess Juliana International Airport, SXM, will be featured prominently in Routes News, one of the most reputable publications in Aviation. Editor, Ed Robertson interviewed Michel Hyman, Chief Operations Officer (COO) and Michael Lake, Director of the Finance Division while both were attending the 11th Annual Routes Americas conference in Quito, Ecuador.

The title of the magazine feature is “Three Questions for.” Hyman explained that the purpose of being at the Routes Americas was to let the aviation community know that St. Maarten and its associated hub partners were opened for leisure and business travel.

He further stressed that the theme for the reconstruction of the terminal building, is “Rebuilding bigger and better,” and gave additional insight into the proposed US Pre-Clearance, which will allow passengers on US-bound flights to be pre-cleared effortlessly at SXM Airport.

This is forecast to bring some additional 1 million passengers to SXM Airport The Routes News Editor was especially impressed by the fact that SXM Airport was operational again by October 10, 2017, a little over a month after the catastrophic hurricane Irma struck on September 6, 2017.

Director of the Finance division, Michael Lake took the rare opportunity to announce that a temporary air-conditioned Departure Pavilion opened recently, offering both food and beverage and retail concessions and a more comfortable experience for departing passengers.

Lake also added that the Arrival Pavilion will be opened shortly. Routes News was also given an update on the demolition of the interior of the Terminal Building, the reconstruction plan and the construction of a modern Fixed Based Operations (FBO) facility.

Routes Americas serves as the central network event whereby international senior airline decision makers build high-value relationships with some of the most influential aviation professionals across the region.

Routes News is produced by industry experts TTG Media on behalf of UBM and features a digital edition on and More than 7,000 copies of Routes News are published six times a year and mailed to specific individuals involved in route development worldwide.

It also reflects the mix of airlines, airports, tourism authorities and local government organizations involved in route development. Routes News is focused on conducting much more media coverage on the Caribbean, and they are set to produce a Caribbean guide in the near future.

This meshes well with the PJIA vision to boost additional communication efforts on its progress trajectory and growth to the world.


Councils told to take more steps to cut air pollution

SINT MAARTEN/THE NETHERLANDS – Campaigners have urged local councils to restrict the use of wood-burning stoves and older vehicles to improve air quality.

The lung charity Longfonds said many Dutch towns and cities still exceeded European limits for nitrogen dioxide despite the introduction of measures such as ‘environmental zones’ where lorries and high-polluting diesel cars are banned.

The organisation said road traffic produced 13% of all nitrogen dioxide in the air, while wood burning was responsible for a further 10%.

It said local parties should get together after next month’s municipal elections and agree a set of tighter restrictions aimed at reducing people’s exposure to the gas.

Research has found that around 12,000 people a year die prematurely as a result of poor air quality. (DutchNews)


Anti-poverty Activist Jessurun says 94% of households need at least 2222 USD a month to survive!

PHILIPSBURG - Anti-Poverty Activist Raymond Jessurun in a press statement on Sunday says 94 per cent of households in the country need approximately US$2222 to cover their monthly expenses.

“Not 75% of the households in Sint Maarten but at least 94% of the households in Sint Maarten cannot survive monthly and live in poverty with a household income of less than 4000 ANG or 2222 USD a month.

“The percentage of households in poverty has increased in five years after Sint Maarten became a country in the Kingdom of the Netherlands with 19%. It went up from 75% in 2010 to 94% in 2015.

“The anti-Poverty Platform concluded this based on the results of the Household Budget Survey (HBS) reported by the Department of Statistics of the Government of Sint Maarten. On Page 32 of the Full Report on the Household budget Survey.

“The Sint Maarten Anti-Poverty Platform has been addressing her concerns about the poverty in Sint Maarten for the last five years to all political authorities in Sint Maarten and in the Kingdom at no avail. "We were even contradicted and criticized in Parliament by Parliamentarians from the coalition and from the opposition for using the poverty conclusion from the Transparency International report.

“Consequently what have they done to eradicate poverty in Sint Maarten? No one should be kept in poverty, as this is a violation of a fundamental human right to equality and social justice in the State the Kingdom of the Netherlands as well as violation of the right to an adequate standard of living for oneself and for one’s family!!"

“Based on the census data from 2010 Transparency International concluded in its Integrity report on Sint Maarten that 75% of the households in Sint Maarten could not survive with an income of less than 4000 ANG of USD 2222 a month!

“The Anti-Poverty Platform has asked the parliamentarians and the government to adopt legislation to increase the social pensions, the minimum wage, the social allowances. 

“Before the elections of two years ago all political parties have been asked to sign the Declaration of Eradication of Poverty that they have drafted for the politicians, but none of the 9 political parties participating at that time wanted to commit.

“This time when co-coordinator of the platform Alberto Bute was asked to come on the list of the Sint Maarten Christian Party (SMCP) the party had to comply with one condition: committing to eradicate poverty in the coming Parliamentary and governing period and by signing the Declaration on the Eradication of Poverty. The Sint Maarten Christian Party is the only party that publicly signed the Eradication of Poverty Declaration! The Platform has been supporting Alberto Bute as the candidate in the bottom of the SMCP slate in his quest to become the voice of the poor and the needy in Parliament.” 

Alberto Bute: "I thank the Sint Maarten Christian Party for committing to a cause that we have been championing for so many years now. Since the inception of the SUNFED addressing poverty was one of our main focuses. With the votes of the electorate to get us to be the voice in parliament we can continue our struggle on the floor of parliament, presenting draft amendments to existing legislation which is limiting the people to get an income which is sufficient not to be in poverty."

“Last week Wednesday the co-coordinators of the Anti-Poverty Platform Alberto Bute and drs Raymond Jessurun held a public manifestation in front of the governor's palace. A new letter was delivered to the Governor of Sint Maarten his Excellency drs Eugene Holiday, the highest representative of the Kingdom government in Sint Maarten,” Jessurun disclosed. 

According to Jessurun: "Exactly one year ago on February 21 2017 we had a meeting with the governor requesting him to join the UN Office of the High Commissioner Campaign to Stand Up for the human rights of the People of Caribbean Origen in the Kingdom. We people from Caribbean Origen are all being discriminated in the Kingdom of the Netherlands. He was the one that in his New Year’s speech asked us all to work together to improve living conditions and the wellbeing of the people. Now we want to continue the dialogue with the governor representing the Kingdom government and being the formal head of the government of Sint Maarten." 

“The governor in the letter of the anti-poverty platform was reminded of the objectives of the World Day on Social Justice agreed upon by all States including the Kingdom of the Netherlands, which day was to be observed annually by all States on February 20. These objectives are Social Justice, equality and equity which are not provided to people of Sint Maarten. Neither the Kingdom government neither the government of Sint Maarten has observed this day. 

“The platform partners of the Windward Islands of Chamber Unions spoke out on this day on the social injustices that especially immigrant workers in our society have to experience.

Jessurun: "There are no unemployment benefits as in the European side of the Kingdom. No benefits for private sector workers when they out of a job, whereas civil servants and the ministers that lose their job when governments fall get unemployment benefits. The social protection floors in the Kingdom are much much lower in the Caribbean countries and territories of the Kingdom of the Netherlands. Maximum Social allowances and social pensions are way lower than the ones in the Netherlands. 

“The 2014 research done by the Dutch national budget information institute (NIBUD) in BONAIRE has showed that because of higher cost of living in the Caribbean part of the Kingdom household income should at least be 2222 USD a month not to be in poverty. "No problem for the politicians who make a salary of 10.000 a 11.000 USD a month, but for 94% of the Household families  they are not even getting 1/5th of the politicians salary to maintain their families!

“The household budget survey of 2015 for Sint Maarten concluded that the average gross monthly income per person is ANG 3461 or USD 1923. With most of the seniors only having to survive with an average old age pension of 550 ANG or 300 USD month, when the income distribution will become more equitable? At least three jobs with a minimum wage are needed for a household to make this average wage. No wonder some parents have to work two or more jobs to make the ends meet every month! How a one parent household can reach an average income of USD 1923?

“The anti-poverty platform suspects that not 94% but a much higher percentage of households will be in poverty after hurricane Irma and María has put so many workers and families without income out of a job and after what is even more noticeable the jacking up of the prices increasing the cost of living!

“So far none of the politicians have been serious and willing to address this social injustice! Should we vote for them again, were they have not even committed to eradicate the poverty the coming four years?" The platform encourages all persons to consider this social injustice and vote for those who have committed to come with legislation and policies which will leave no one in poverty! The anti-poverty platform awaits the results of the election to see if they will get a permanent voice in parliament!” Anti-Poverty Activist Raymond Jessurun concludes.


EPIC announces it can now offer the BirdSleuth Caribbean educational program

SINT MAARTEN (PHILIPSBURG) - Developed by Cornell Lab of Ornithology, BirdSleuth is an inquiry-based science curriculum that focuses around birds to engage students in scientific study and real data collection.

Environmental Protection in the Caribbean (EPIC) Foundation is excited to announce that it can now offer the BirdSleuth Caribbean educational program.

This program follows a bird’s entire life circle and their relation and dependence on other plants and animals in their environment. The overall goal is to develop a strong conservation ethic in young people and promote commitment to environmental stewardship by increasing their knowledge and interest in birds, nature, science and creating the awareness that we can make a difference in our immediate environment.

Taught by St. Maarten’s local bird enthusiast, Binkie van Es, the program is given on a once-weekly basis for eight weeks. The classes range from 90-120 minutes and are taught both in the classroom and outdoors.

The program is designed for ages 9 to 13 but can be adapted for younger or older students. The program is free of charge and EPIC will provide all the associated educational materials.

Join the BirdSleuth program for a fun and interactive way to learn about our environment!

To learn more about the BirdSleuth Caribbean educational program, or to start it in your school, please contact Kippy Gilders at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or call +1 (721) 524-4420.

PHOTO CUTLINE: Students doing one of the BirdSleuth classroom based activities (photo by Binkie van Es)

Students doing one of the BirdSleuth classroom based activities photo by Binkie van Es


EPIC recruiting volunteers for tree planting and Sentry Hill path making event this Saturday

SINT MAARTEN (CUL DE SAC) - This coming Saturday, February 24th, EPIC invites volunteers to their restoration site at Sentry Hill for a tree-planting and path-making session.

The restoration site has been cleared of all invasive plant species, replacing them with native trees. With this action, EPIC aims to restore natural habitats for endemic species and increase St Maarten’s biodiversity.

EPIC promotes community involvement in environmental restoration efforts, therefore, a natural trail is being created within the site. During this event volunteers will have the opportunity to help build the trail and plant a native tree of their own.

If you enjoy gardening, would like to know more about St. Maarten’s native ecosystems and want to plant your own tree, then join the EPIC team this Saturday!

Drinks and snacks will be provided, just make sure to bring strong shoes, a hat and sun cream. The event will take place from 8 am until 10 am.

Meeting point: car park entering by the second entrance of Rainforest Adventures located between the main entrance and the Emilio Wilson estate.

For more information send an email to: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or call: +1721 523-4443.


Amsterdam remembers Johan Cruijff by renaming Stadionplein in his honour

SINT MAARTEN/THE NETHERLANDS – Amsterdam’s Stadionplein is to be renamed after footballer Johan Cruijff, the city council announced on Wednesday.

The Olympic stadium on the Stadionplein was the scene of some of Cruijff’s triumphs with football club Ajax in the early 1970s – in particular, victory in the Intercontinental Cup in 1972.

‘Johan had a lot of connections to [the Stadionplein] and often came there,’ the city said in a statement. ‘He was there for matches but also for his own institute and foundation which had their offices there.

And the Cruijff family lived nearby.’ It is, the council said, ‘a suitable place to honour this extraordinary Amsterdammer.’ The Amsterdam Arena stadium will also carry Cruijff’s name but the change has not been approved officially.

Johan Cruijff died on March 24 2016, at the age of 68. (DutchNews)

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