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SZV INFORMS FULL HOUSE ON EMPLOYER OBLIGATIONS FOR CONSTRUCTION SECTOR

SINT MAARTEN (PHILIPSBURG) - Social & Health Insurances SZV hosted well over 100 guests at its offices on Tuesday (April 17th) evening for the first of a series of ‘Employer Obligations’ information sessions as part of the SZV compliance awareness campaign launched earlier this month.

The information session was specifically for the construction sector and guests included employers, main contractors, sub-contractors, administrative personnel, lawyers and accountants.

General SZV employer obligations were highlighted such as registration, mutations, declaration and payment. SZV however paid special focus to the explanation of the ‘chain of liability’ law. SZV stressed the importance of companies understanding their obligations and the liability risks of non-compliance to the SZV laws.

“With the post-Irma status of the country, there is an undeniable spike in the construction sector, which is a logical result; however, this spike is not reflected in the administration of SZV. The compliance awareness campaign is not only for the construction sector, but for all employers in all sectors, new and old.

“SZV will be intensifying its controls, and supplement to this, the awareness campaign offers employers the opportunity to gain the necessary information to better understand and adhere to the stipulated procedures. It is also a welcomed opportunity for employers to connect with SZV and come to solutions for those facing difficulties in complying with their obligations,” SZV Management said on Thursday.

The session lasted for an additional hour, ending at 9pm, as guests posed relatable questions regarding the registration requirements of their employees, procedures for mutations and responded critically to the explanation of the ‘chain of liability’ law.

Many sought to better understand how to improve their contracts and negotiations, due to the risk of additional liability to SZV. Representatives of SZV confirmed during the session that a specific follow-up session solely on the topic of the ‘chain of liability’ law would take place in the month of May.

Contractors will also be contacted directly by SZV to schedule individual support sessions with account managers. Those interested were able to schedule their appointments with the SZV Employer Desk directly after the session.

The session was a welcomed opportunity to highlight the Employer Desk services, which was launched last year, including the new online services such as the Online Employer Portal. The portal enables online declaration and payment of SZV premiums.

In addition to online declaration and payment, many employers present expressed the need for online submission of mutations as well. SZV was pleased to announce that this request is well known and currently being worked on. The option to submit mutations online is expected to go into pilot phase later this year within Online Employer Portal, which is accessible via the website of SZV www.szv.sx.

Follow-up workshop sessions for Employers will commence in the month of May and focus on the topics of: Chain of Liability law, Submitting mutations, Declaration of Premiums and Online Employer Portal access and use.

Interested persons will have to register for participation, as these sessions will be hands-on, hosted in small-groups or on an individual basis. SZV encourages attendance of Managing Directors to these sessions as well, as the administrative responsibility and thus liability ultimately falls on these persons. Registration will be possible via the website of SZV and dates will communicated in May.

The presentation slides of Tuesday’s session are now available on the website www.szv.sx. Video footage of the session will be made available on SZV’s YouTube channel on a later date.

Additional requested information such as wage limits and premiums, employer premium payment percentages, declaration forms and requirement lists are also available on the website.

Questions or contact with the Employer Desk can be made via +1721 546-6782, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., www.szv.sx or SZV’s Facebook Page: SZV Social & Health Insurances.

CUTLINE: Guest taking notes during SZV Employer information session. 

LDX SZV 16

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BirdsCaribbean Questions Export of Endangered Dominican Parrots

SINT MAARTEN/DOMINCA - The bird conservation group BirdsCaribbean released a statement questioning the export of rare parrots from Dominica to Germany. BirdsCaribbean also joined over a dozen international groups asking the United Nations to investigate the export and help return the parrots to their native island.

In March of this year, twelve wild parrots of two rare species were exported to Germany. They were taken from an aviary where they were recovering after Hurricane Maria hit Dominica in September 2017. Both species, the Sisserou and the Jaco, are found only in Dominica. The Sisserou is Dominica’s national bird and it appears on Dominica’s flag. The exports shocked bird experts on Dominica and around the world. 

“We are alarmed by this and we hope to bring these birds back to Dominica,” said BirdsCaribbean Executive Director Lisa Sorenson. “We also want to prevent the future trafficking of rare birds under the pretense of conservation.”

The group that took the parrots, Association for the Conservation of Threatened Parrots, claimed it was an emergency measure to start a captive breeding program in the wake of Hurricane Maria. Bird experts questioned this reason and the legal basis for the export.

On their website, BirdsCaribbean describes the many problems with the export. Captive breeding programs can help some rare species, but it seems unlikely in this case. Post-Maria, both kinds of parrots are recovering in the wild on Dominica. The aviary birds taken were healthy and expected to be ready for release back into the wild soon.

The number of parrots taken, including just 2 Sisserou parrots, is too few to start a breeding program. This raises questions about the scientific merit of the actions and if there are plans for capturing and exporting more birds in the future. 

The parrots had the care they needed in local facilities on Dominica. It is better to help parrots in their home country with help from outside as needed. Local authorities and the people of Dominica are the ultimate stewards of these species and should be empowered as such.

BirdsCaribbean and others have questions about the legality of the export. Usually, many experts take part in the decision to start a captive breeding program and there are strict rules for the trade of endangered species. This export was a surprise to all. It is also unclear if proper permits were obtained to export the parrots.

The full statement by BirdsCaribbean is on BirdsCaribbean.org

CUTLINE: Rescued and rehabilitated Jaco parrots at the aviary in Dominica. (Photo by Stephen Durand)

Jaco

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Minister of Justice De Weever says measures forthcoming to combat robberies and barkers

SINT MAARTEN (POND ISLAND) – Minister of Justice Cornelius de Weever on Monday met with Chief Police Commissioner Carl John regarding armed robberies and barker harassment.

The Minister of Justice was informed during the meeting that a strategy is in place and will be carried out by the police officers as they execute their daily duties to protect and to serve the community of Sint Maarten.

Some of the measures include increased police surveillance in the Simpson Bay area as well as preventative searches throughout the country. This will be an ongoing operation by the Police Force.

“The recent armed robberies are very concerning, and it has the undivided attention of the Police Force. Community support is very much key as well.

“If you know something, call the Police and inform them. Help the Police to protect you and our community. Fighting crime is a responsibility of the entire community.

“With respect to barkers, action will be taken to protect our livelihood which is tourism. Safety and security of cruise passengers are essential for the cruise passenger experience while visiting a destination.

“The safety and security of our visiting guest is priority number one, and cannot be taken for granted. Our law enforcement officials will do all they can according to the laws of the land where infringements are found,” Minister of Justice Cornelius de Weever said on Tuesday.

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Armed robbery of another restaurant in the Simpson Bay Area

SIMPSON BAY - The Special Unit is presently investigating an armed robbery which took place on Tuesday April 17th at approximately 1.30 a.m. at Marty’s Gyros on Welfare road close to Kim Sha Beach.

Two men dressed in dark clothing and their face covered, one of which armed with a handgun stormed into the establishment coming from the rear of the building. The armed suspect threatened several customers that were in the establishment at the time with his firearm, at the same time allowing the second suspect to rob at least four victims of their personal belongings.

After committing this act the suspects fled the scene via the rear of the building, the same way the entered. Nothing was stolen from the establishment. No one was injured during the robbery. (Sint Maarten Police Force)

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Minister of Tourism De Weever Welcomes the Return of United Airlines

SINT MAARTEN (POND ISLAND) – Acting Minister of Tourism, Economic Affairs, Transportation and Telecommunications (Ministry TEATT) Cornelius de Weever, welcomes the return of United Airlines to the destination.

United Airlines returned on Saturday, April 14 to Princess Juliana International Airport.  The airline will provide once a week airlift out of Newark, New Jersey.

“The return of United Airlines once again demonstrates that the country is slowly moving forward and the destination is open for business.

“Even though it’s a once weekly flight, it still translates into additional airlift to the destination.  This should further influence airfares as well to the destination.

“United Airlines shows that they are committed to the destination and over time we expect additional flights to be added as the country slowly returns to pre-Irma level.  Every new partial resort opening further strengthens our national economy. 

“Airlines are looking at how fast our hotel infrastructure re-opens and this results in additional airlift. We have a number of partial resort openings taking place in the coming weeks and months. These re-openings will lead to employment opportunities and places for our visitors to stay and enjoy the ‘Friendly Island,’ Acting Minister of Tourism Cornelius de Weever said on Monday.

United Airlines and United Express operate approximately 4,500 flights a day to 338 airports across five continents. In 2017, United and United Express operated more than 1.6 million flights carrying more than 148 million customers.

United has the world's most comprehensive route network, including U.S. mainland hubs in Chicago, Denver, Houston, Los Angeles, Newark/New York, San Francisco and Washington, D.C., according to the airline.

United operates 744 mainline aircraft and the airline's United Express carriers operate 518 regional aircraft. The airline is a founding member of Star Alliance, which provides service to 191 countries via 28 member airlines. 

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The Netherlands and World Bank sign US$ 580 million Sint Maarten Trust Fund Agreement

SINT MAARTEN/WASHINGTON DC – Prime Minister Leona Romeo-Marlin and Finance Minister Michael Ferrier were on hand Monday, April 16th in Washington DC to witness the signing of the Trust Fund Agreement between the Netherlands and the World Bank. 

The Trust Fund, which would make 470 million euro (US $580 million) available for the continued recovery of Sint Maarten was signed by State Secretary for the Interior and Kingdom Affairs of the Netherlands, Raymond Knops, and World Bank Chief Executive Officer Kristalina Georgieva.

During a press moment after the signing Prime Minister Romeo-Marlin, in addition to thanking the Netherlands and World Bank representatives, thanked Sint Maarten’s Minister of Finance for his contribution and tireless efforts to reach this juncture.

She also acknowledged that the signing was an important step and that Sint Maarten looked forward to working with the World Bank and the Netherlands in speeding up recovery efforts.

Prime Minister Romeo-Marlin added, “I want to express my sincere gratitude to the people of Sint Maarten and ask you for your continued patience displayed during this process.

“As your Prime Minister, I too feel the pain, suffering and frustration of not having a roof over your head, being unemployed and not knowing where the next meal will come from. With the securing of the Trust Fund we are one step closer to initiating the planned projects that will take care of you the people and continuing to stimulate the economy of Sint Maarten.”

With the official signing of the agreement, 128 million US dollars has been set aside so that work can begin on three emergency projects identified as needing urgent priority in preparation for the peak of the next hurricane season.

These projects will concentrate on recovery and disaster preparedness and the rehabilitation of water and electricity utilities, debris removal especially concentrating on the newly created landfill and the Simpson Bay Lagoon as well as the continuation of the hospitality training and cash for work programs.  

Future projects will continue to be selected based on the needs identified in the National Recovery and Resiliency Plan and will be chosen upon agreement by an appointed Steering Committee consisting of one member from Sint Maarten, the Netherlands and the World Bank.

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COCI: Trinidad & Tobago invites business participation in Inward Buyer’s Mission

SINT MAARTEN (PHILIPSBURG) - ExporTT Limited, the National Export Facilitation Organisation of Trinidad and Tobago is hosting an Inward Buyer’s Mission in Trinidad & Tobago this summer, July 5th & 6th, 2018 at the Centre of Excellence in Macoya, Tunapuna, the St. Maarten Chamber of Commerce & Industry (COCI) announced on Monday.

“There will be well matched B2B meetings with Exporters from various sectors, as well as the opportunity to engage a wide cross section of local and foreign Exhibitors on the exhibition floor,” the COCI press release pointed out.

“This offer is targeting businesses listed below:

  • Food & Beverage
  • Printing & Packaging
  • Construction
  • Animation
  • Household & Industrial cleaning products

“As a benefit to international & regional buyers can access (1 buyer per company):

  • 50% Airfare cost
  • Local Transportation
  • Hotel Accommodation

“Don’t miss out on this unique opportunity to explore possibilities in Trinidad and Tobago, the Caribbean’s most dynamic market and financial services capital of the region,” the COCI press statement concludes.

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TELEM & SIMPSON BAY RESORTS PARTNER WITH VLF’s LEADERSHIP SUMMIT

SINT MAARTEN (BELAIR) - For the sixth year, Victorious Living Foundation (VLF) will host Leadercast, the world’s largest one-day leadership conference, broadcast LIVE from Atlanta and simulcast to hundreds of locations around the world.

For the third time Telem is partnering with VLF to provide streaming for this transformational conference that has impacted hundreds of lives on St. Maarten and thousands globally.

For the first time, The Simpson Bay Resorts have come on board as a major partner as they recognize the tremendous value of VLF’s Leadership Summit to their managers, employees and the community.

Leadership authority and bestselling author John Maxwell is often quoted as saying, “Everything rises and falls on leadership;” therefore Victorious Living thanks and applauds both Telem and Simpson Bay Resorts’ leadership for having the foresight to support VLF’s Leadership Summit which transforms lives.

The theme of this year’s conference is, “Lead Yourself.” On May 4th, the Leadercast Live stage will highlight leaders who explain the power and importance of leading yourself first so you can lead others well.

Leadercast Live will allow attendees and viewers to improve their own personal leadership journey with tips for self-evaluation and self-growth. Top leadership experts will inspire attendees who hail from Statia, Anguilla, St. Maarten and at hundreds of other simulcast locations in more than 20 countries. Among the leadership experts speaking this year are:

  • o Mae Jemison - NASA Astronaut, Engineer & Physician  
  • o Ian Cron - Bestselling Author, Psychotherapist, Enneagram teacher and Speaker
  • o Andy Stanley -  Leadership Author & Communicator
  • o Jim Loehr - Co-founder of the Human Performance Institute
  • o Jen Bricker - Acrobat, Aerialist, Author & Speaker
  • o Michael Hyatt -  Author, Speaker and CEO of Michael Hyatt & Company
  • o Carey Lohrenz - The First Female F-14 Pilot, Speaker & Trainer

Leadercast 2018 has been approved for continuing education credits by Society for Human Resource Management; The HR Certification Institute; Alabama State Nurses Association; and Georgia College, Georgia’s Public Liberal Arts University.

Therefore attendees can apply for credits through the Leadercast Journey App that will be provided. Each participant also receives a certificate of participation from Leadercast. This is a great opportunity for high school and college students not to miss.

Attendees will also be inspired by The National Institute of Arts (NIA) who will dare them to dream.

VLF’s Leadership Summit continues on May 5th with the global visibility catalyst, Ann De Vere from Hollywood California who will help leaders to showcase the value they bring to the market place.

Jasmine Payne, integrated marketing consultant, will assist employees and employers to better marry their personal and corporate brands to create a dynamic service brand that leaves customers satisfied while increasing the businesses’ bottom line.

Nelson Els, certified John Maxwell Coach will share on John Maxwell’s Invaluable Laws of Growth and Dr. Francis Cotton and Roy Cotton Jr. will help leaders to identify their leadership style through the DISC assessment, the world’s #1 behavioural profiling tool.

From these powerful sessions, attendees will leave equipped to fulfill their dreams and visions.

VLF’s Leadership Summit ends with VLF’s  Leader Worth Following Awards and Symposium where local visionary leaders will be recognized and a local panel of leaders will interact with the audience on “where we envision St. Maarten in the next five or ten years, and what it will take to make this a reality.”

For more information and to register, visit www.victoriouslivingfoundation.com or e-mail: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or call 1-721-524-8731 while space lasts.

CUTLINE: Leadercast Victorious Living attendees engaged in Visioning 2020.

LeadercastVictoriousLivingSXM attendees engaged in Visioning 2020 2 iside1

Leadercast 2017 Victorious LivingSXM Group Shot inside2

CUTLINE: Leadercast 2017 Victorious Living Group Shot.

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Civil Registry & Receivers office to open on Saturday from 9am –12 pm

SINT MAARTEN (POND ISLAND) - On Friday afternoon at approximately at 1:45 pm, all occupants including civil servants and visitors were asked to evacuate the Government Administration Building due to part of the landfill on Pond Island being on fire.

An evacuation of the Government Administration Building was executed as a precautionary measure to safeguard all persons.

The Government of Sint Maarten is hereby informing the public of the following, the Civil Registry and Receivers Office in Philipsburg only will be open on Saturday from 9 am to 12 pm to serve clients that were unable to complete their transactions when the evacuation was executed.

As the Fire Department, Ministry of VROMI and the contractor responsible for managing the landfill are take the necessary measures to extinguish the fire, the Soualiga Road will be closed off at the entrance of the landfill (halfway) to the intersection at Arch Road.

Additionally the University of Sint Maarten will remain open for classes on Friday afternoon and the planned events at the Carnival Village will continue as scheduled.

The Fire Department, is advising all persons living downwind from the landfill fire, to close windows and doors, especially persons and children who have a respiratory challenge such as asthma or shortness of breath.

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AIRPORT SECURITY EMPLOYEES COURT CASE A GOOD EXAMPLE OF ADVISORY SERVICES FROM LABOR AFFAIRS IN LABOR DISPUTES

SINT MAARTEN (POND ISLAND) - Minister of Public Health, Social Development and Labor (VSA), Emil Lee extends congratulations to the nine former airport security officers; employees of Princess Juliana International Airport (PJIA) who were recently successful in contesting their dismissal in summary proceedings in the Court of First Instance.

The process undergone by the former employees is a good example of the use of advisory support and legal aid assistance opportunities offered by the Ministry in addressing disputes between employers and employees. 

The role of the Ministry is to provide advisory support to employers and employees on their rights and the labor laws, mediation services for conflict resolution outside of court, and legal assistance to help those that do not have the financial means to obtain a lawyer if they feel their rights have been abused. 

From October 2016 to March 2017 a total of 28 legal aid requests for labor disputes were granted. When comparing that number with the number of granted legal aid requests for the time period following hurricane Irma, Jose, and Maria ( Oct 2017 to March 2018) this number has quadrupled with a total of 123 legal aid requests granted for labor disputes from . 

“These are very challenging times, and it is hard. I have people coming to me daily, on a regular basis that say that they feel that their rights have been trampled on, that their employers are not treating them well. There is clearly a dispute, and I am asked if I can come in and intervene. As much as I would love to, it is unfortunately not the role of the minister to get involved in individual disputes.

“It is the role of the Ministry of course, to create a harmonious working environment and to support both employers and employees. This case is a good example of what the correct process is. And it’s a good example of the role of the Ministry as we look forward to trying to bring our workforce back online and get our economy re-started.” – Emil Lee

The Ministry wants to promote a healthy working relationship between employers and employees. The recommendation is always mediation, dialogue and compromise. These are difficult times for everybody and the recommendation has always been for people to cooperate, talk to each other and find a solution together. That has always been the most amicable way, and is in many cases the most economically beneficial way. 

“Although it’s taken a bit of time, that’s exactly what has happened in this case. We’ve tried to mediate the relationship, if that didn’t work, there was always the freedom to go to court. Government facilitated that by giving the ‘weaker’ side of the dispute the legal and financial resources to defend their rights and in this case their rights were upheld in the court of law.” – Emil Lee 

In the event that there is a dispute that cannot be resolved through dialogue and communications, there is always the legal avenue. Government can provide the legal and financial resources for employees who cannot afford it, to contract a lawyer and have them defend their legal rights.

“I would like to thank in particular the Department of Labor Affairs, department head Mrs. Peggy-Ann Dros-Richardson and staff. Staff has been dealing with their own personal recovery issues in the midst of these very stressful times but regardless I think the Ministry has been doing an excellent job and I congratulate them.” – Emil Lee

Persons seeking information pertaining to labor disputes can contact the Department of Labor Affairs and Social Services via email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., tel: +1 721 520 5279, or visit the offices at the Bew Government Administration Building located on Pond Island, Philipsburg.

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