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Geerlings signs ministerial decree to pay out an advance to members of the Police Force

SINT MAARTEN (POND ISLAND) – Caretaker Minister of Justice Hon. Perry Geerlings signed a ministerial decree to pay out an advance on an expected retroactive payment to a group of members of the Sint Maarten Police Force.

Minister of Finance Geerlings announced that based on a thorough examination of the situation at hand by the Ministry of Finance, the payment of an advance of a certain amount per person that might be entitled to the much-discussed retroactive payment over de last nine years has been processed.

“As stated before, the legal status of our policewomen and -men, is still not clear after almost 10 years. Neither are the function book and salary scales. There are still differences of opinion between parties involved, and in my opinion, these should be solved as soon as possible,” Caretaker Minister of Justice Hon. Perry Geerlings said on Monday.

“What is clear to me, however, is that a certain group within the Police Force will most probably be entitled to a retroactive payment in the end, in order to correct some things from the past.

“Based on the knowledge of today, I requested an opinion of my Department of Finance on the subject. They worked very hard last week and came to the conclusion that most probably a certain group of the Police Force in the end will indeed be entitled to a certain compensation.

“Till today-Monday, we were busy at the Ministry of Finance to also include the Immigration officers in this agreement. Because they were also working above salary scale for the past years, so they also will be included in the advance payment agreement we have reached yesterday (Sunday) with the Unions.

“We, the Unions, the Ministry of Finance and myself as Minister of both Justice and Finance really worked hard on this achievement, an agreement which was long overdue. My sincere gratitude goes out to all involved in bringing some clarity in this matter.

“As the final arrangements are still to be worked out by the parties concerned and put into correct laws and regulations for once and for all, at the moment the final results are still unclear,” the honorable Minister added.

“But as we reserved already an amount from the sale of UTS shares for this purpose, and also members of Parliament expressed their feelings on this subject, I signed a ministerial decree to pay out an advance on a retroactive payment to a group of members of the Sint Maarten Police Force.

“It contains a net amount as an advance, because the situation should be legally cleared in a correct manner before final calculations can be made. At that moment the advance payment will be deducted from the official final payment via the salary system, as also taxes and social premiums are applicable.

“Not all women and men within the force will be entitled to a compensation however and it is because of this probability that also not everyone will be entitled to this advance. The Finance Department is in close contact with the unions and other involved parties to prevent mistakes as much as possible.

“I always stated that I’m of the opinion that the brave women and men of our Police Force must be paid as they deserve because of their role in safeguarding our lives in our beloved country.

“After almost 10 years of not delivering what is necessary in terms of laws and regulations, I decided to give their spirits hopefully a boost by at least paying an advance to those eligible especially with the Christmas and the yearend holiday season coming up soon. I express my gratitude to all women and men in the Police Force and wish you all a blessed Christmas holiday season,” Acting Minister of Justice Hon. Perry Geerlings said on Monday.

MinFIN Acting Minister of Justice Geerlings after the signing

Caretaker Minister of Justice Perry Geerlings (3rd from left) after the signing of an agreement with the Unions.

 

 

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MP Jacobs submits law amendment to Budget 2019 as last act of Parliament

SINT MAARTEN (PHILIPSBURG) - On Monday, November 18, 2019, Member of Parliament (MP) and Leader of the National Alliance (NA), Silveria Jacobs submitted a law amendment to the Budget 2019. It was her last act of Parliament before taking the oath as Prime Minister and Minister of General Affairs on Tuesday. 

In Budget 2019, cuts are made on after-school programs amongst other youth programs. The budget also reflected cuts on funds for Community centers and the Youth detention center. This did not sit well with MP Jacobs as she is a firm believer that the youth should be taken care of and offered facilities of a high caliber, in which they can grow and develop their academic skills. Because of this, MP Jacobs was prompted to bring forward a law amendment to the 2019 Budget law. 

MP Jacobs’ initiative law proposes changes to the regular service expenditure aimed at increasing funding for the implementation of Youth and Social programs.

She considers it very important that extra funds be made available to have the Community School program at the public schools, where the most vulnerable children and youth are located. As a result of this proposal, there will be more opportunities for these children to have a positive influence after school in a protected environment.

It is her desire that these changes be incorporated into Budget 2020 as well so that much-needed funds can continue to go towards youth-oriented programs and other vulnerable persons in our community who need it most. 

In closing, MP Jacobs extended a special thank you to Griffier Garrick Richardson for all of his assistance during the process.

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Chamber calls on Entrepreneurs to Register for November 21 Grow Your Business Workshop

SINT MAARTEN (PHILIPSBURG) – The St. Maarten Chamber of Commerce & Industry (COCI) is inviting members of the business community to register for its next “Grow Your Business with COCI Workshops set for Thursday, November 21.

The fourth workshop will be given by Adelena Chandler-Schaap and will be about Human Resources which are a key asset of any business operation. The workshop will take place at the COCI Conference Room from 7.00PM to 8.30PM.

Those interested in attending the workshop must register and pay a registration fee of US$20. Seating is limited and potential attendees need to register as soon as possible. You can register via email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or call 721-542-3590 for further information.

Each workshop will deal with one specific topic and the remaining topic. COCI will give a special gift to the participants that have attended the first five workshops up until the end of 2019.

The other workshops planned are December 12 Online Marketing, Member of Parliament Rolando Brison; January 30, 2020 Customer Service, Glen Yeung; February 20 Bureau of Intellectual Property (BIP), Vincentia Rosen Sandiford; and March 26 Financial Planning, Ahmed Bell.

The workshop product series is being organized in connection with COCI’s 40th anniversary marking the Chambers establishment this year 40-years ago.

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Traffic controls lead to two arrests

SINT MAARTEN (COLE BAY) - The police stopped and controlled a number of vehicles and issued fines during routine traffic controls held in various locations on the island over the weekend, police said in a statement on Monday.

During one of these controls in the area of Cole Bay on Saturday evening November 16th, 2019, the police stopped a suspicious white Hyundai H -100 truck which had on a P-number plate as opposed to the V- number plates which are typically issued for trucks.

The driver of the pick-up truck which contained the license plate H-100 was stopped and asked for the valid vehicle information.

By closer inspection of the vehicle and documentation, the police became aware that the vin-number of the vehicle was tampered with and all the documentation for the vehicle was falsified. 

The driver with the initials O. F. C. was arrested for being in possession of a stolen vehicle. He was brought to the police station and held for further questioning.  The pick-up truck was also confiscated for further investigation.    

During a control at a separate location, conducted on Saturday night at approximately 8.00 pm, the patrol stopped the driver of a car on Wellington road and asked him to provide valid documentation.

The man with the initials A.D. was handed over to the police after a driver’s license and identification card that later proved to be falsified. He was arrested and brought to the police station where he is being held pending further investigation. The driver’s license and ID card have been confiscated. (Sint Maarten Police Force) 

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CERTIFICATION OF HONOR for LOEKIE MORALES

SINT MAARTEN/CURACAO - Loekie Morales has received a certificate of honor, for ‘GREAT WORKS’ done for the communities of Sint Maarten and Curaçao from Adao Pereira, commander of THE PUBLIC HEALTH SERVICE COMMISSIONED CORPS, a humanitarian organization for the defense and protection of life in cooperation with thinkers – founders- builders of Brazil.

Morales has also received a plaque during this AWARD CEREMONY, because she is considered to be a thinker, founder and builder especially for those communities. She is a well-known author in the Dutch Caribbean, but also an environmentalist and a humanitarian. She helps other organizations and persons to achieve their goals.  With her programs via Beyond Kultura Events Foundation, she has managed to invent and organize storytelling and story reading programs for schools, community centers and children homes. Many adults were trained in her reading and storytelling programs for the youth. These adults have executed the reading and storytelling to thousands of children on Sint Maarten. Enhancing the youth’s vocabulary and broadening their world and vision, is one of the objectives of this program, next to getting fun in reading.

Thousands of books of the author were donated to schools in the Dutch Caribbean over the last 19 years. Zonnesproetjes, Tropisch Nestje, Papito and the Story Telling Tree, Bonte Boel, Mina Marina, The Magic Wedding Cake and Chella and the Weird Woman went to primary schools, while Overseas Bloodline and now La Sangre Llama were distributed among high schools. With the distribution of Mina Marina, a musical with same name has been conducted by Imbali, again subsidized back then in 2008 and 2009 by Beyond Writing Foundation.

Loekie Morales submitted many proposals to entities via BKE which has gotten subsidies for Literacy and Environmental projects. Every child of the primary schools on Sint Maarten could enjoy the musical of Mina Marina for free in the Philipsburg, Cultural and Community Center between 2008 and 2009. With this musical they could learn how to respect our nature and keep ponds, ocean and all waters of our planet clean. Morales is also responsible for making documentaries like ‘10 years of Beyond Writing Foundation’, ‘The Caribbean Living Statues Festival’, ‘Overseas Bloodline comes to live’ and she is now busy making a documentary on ’50 years of Casa Manita’, an orphanage in Curaçao that is responsible for shaping the lives of thousands of women in Curaçao between 1969 and now.

Morales was responsible for producing the first Audio book on Sint Maarten (Overseas Bloodline). She was also the inventor of ‘The Caribbean Living Statues Festivals (CLSF)’ conducted between 2011 and 2015 in Sint Maarten. This is a price winning festival of performing arts, where a culmination takes place of creative thinking and performing, in combining the several Arts forms with the culture and history of country Sint Maarten. The CLSF is a one of a kind in the Caribbean and happened on Sint Maarten. BKE has published a book with the first two editions of the Caribbean Living Statues Festival.

Loekie Morales: “I am most honored and happy with this recognition. It motivates me more, to keep on doing what is best for the communities I am part of.”

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Police seeks community assistance to locate suspect in armed robberies

SINT MAARTEN (PHILIPSBURG) - In connection with the ongoing investigation into two supermarket armed robberies which took place on September 11th, 2019 at Chinese supermarkets, the police department is again requesting cooperation from the community to help locate a suspect in this investigation, the police announced in a statement on Sunday.

The first robbery took place on Cannegieter Street at approximately 11.30 am. The two suspects entered the establishment, and under threat of a knife robbed the cashier of the cash.

After committing their act, the suspects ran away in an unknown direction.

Later in the day, about 12.30 pm, the police patrol was sent to A.Th. Illidge road for a robbery that took place at another Chinese supermarket.

One of the robbers had a mask over his face and was armed with a knife. After robbing the cashier, both suspects ran in the direction of Madame Estate.

The Special Unit Robbery (SUR) is requesting any information from persons who may have seen or recognize the suspect in the photo, connected to this investigation to share this information with the investigating Detectives.

It is only with the help of the community that together we can solve many of these cases, the police said on Sunday.

The detectives can be contacted via phone at 542-2222 ext 203 204 205, the anonymous tip line # 9300 or persons with information can also send a private message via the Police Facebook Page- Police Force of Sint Maarten - Korps Politie Sint Maarten or website https://www.policesxm.sx/ 24/7. (Sint Maarten Police Force)

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MP Brison, Mercelina, elected leader, deputy leader at UP party congress

SINT MAARTEN (PHILIPSBURG) - Member of Parliament Rolando Brison was officially elected leader of the United People (UP) party at a party congress held on Saturday at the Simpson Bay Resort. Member of Parliament Dr. Luc Mercelina was elected as Deputy Leader of the party and a new party board was voted in for the next two years.

Long time party president Silvia Meyers was once again appointed as President of the Board. She will be joined on the board by Gina Illidge, Claudia Lista, Michael Granger and Alfred Harley. The positions on the board will be determined at the very next board meeting.

In his address to the gathering Brison said what St. Maarten needs is an evolution of politics. "It has to evolve where we are not afraid to work with each other in the benefit of the people and where the level of governing continues to elevate," he said. Referring to the new faces and members of UP, MP Brison said. "What I see before us is the new tide of politics, but on the foundation built by Theo Heyliger and the stalwarts of the UP party," he said.

He went on to speak about the bond he and Heyliger has cultivated over the years, from an intern in Heyliger's office as Commissioner of Tourism to working together as MP's. He said as  a teenager, after spending time with Heyliger, he knew immediately that he wanted "to be like Theo." "I respect Theo Heyliger immensely and I am grateful and honored that he sees in me similar passion, vision and ability to lead," Brison said.

MP Brison said the UP represents exactly what St. Maarten wants and the commitment of all candidates will anchored in their love for their country. "We will have confidence in our nation's ability to govern itself autonomously, we will champion true justice for all citizens, we will unleash the true economic potential of our country and most importantly, we will show compassion and empathy for our fellow St. Maarteners."

Deputy Leader of the UP Dr. Luc Mercelina said the party's ideology is based on unity and inclusiveness, Integrity, Respect, Representation of our core Values, Norms, Morals and Ethics, Open communication and open approach. Playing on the party's "Stand UP" slogan, he asked all present to commit to the following 7 points:

  1. Stand up for the reconstruction of the airport.
  2. Stand up for the construction of the new hospital.
  3. Stand up for the construction of Social and affordable houses and facilitate roof repair.
  4. Stand up for the construction of a new prison where the Human Rights are respected.
  5. Stand up for the cleaning up of the island.
  6. Stand up to combat poverty.
  7. Stand up for more autonomy for our Country. 

MP Brison specifically told the candidates present to view the snap elections of January 9 as a sprint. “We are doing this because we love our country and its people and we believe St. Maarten deserves better. We will run this campaign as a team and should the people of St. Maarten affords us the privilege of governing, we will forge a bright future for our home that includes everyone and leaves no one behind,” Brison said. 

UP Board

The new board of the UP party along with the leader MP Rolando Brison (left) and Deputy Leader MP Dr. Luc Mercelina (right)

 

 

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GAC Submits Report on ‘Efficient Collection of Government Claims’

SINT MAARTEN (PHILIPSBURG) - The General Audit Chamber (GAC) submitted its report entitled “Efficient collection of Government claims” to Parliament today. The report addresses findings and conclusions resulting from an audit of the collection efficiency of Government receivables.

Based on their findings, the General Audit Chamber concludes that Government’s claims are not being collected efficiently. The amount in outstanding revenue is unknown because the account receivable administration (the bookkeeping) is seriously contaminated, and it is not possible to realistically estimate the size of the uncollected claims.

The cause is primarily found in outdated automated systems, databases that are not linked, and the enormous case load carried by the collection agents. This has led to the Receiver’s Office being unable to devote sufficient time to its core task: collecting money.

The Tax Transformation Plan of the Minister of Finance provides for the elimination of these bottlenecks. At the time of the audit, the plan was not publicly available.

The General Audit Chamber believes that a number of ‘quick wins’ are possible. For example, linking databases of the Census and/or the Chamber of Commerce. In the opinion of the General Audit Chamber, these quick wins do not have to cost a lot of money nor take much time but can improve the efficiency of the work of the collecting agent and bailiffs; consequently, leading to a more efficient claim collection and, ultimately, increasing Government revenue.

The report is published in both English and Dutch and is available on the website of the General Audit Chamber (www.arsxm.org).

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International Men’s Day 2019 sparks Man-2-Man discussion

SINT MAARTEN (PHILIPSBURG) - Tuesday November 19 marks the day when the nation shall pause and join men around the world as they celebrate International’s Men’s Day under the theme “Making a Difference for Men and Boys”.

International Men’s Day, though not on the Global and National policy agenda of observed days it is a day that has been celebrated some thirty years.  It was inaugurated back in February 1992 by a Thomas Oaster (Wikipedia). On November 19th, 1999 a University of the West Indies Trinidad & Tobago History lecturer by the name of Dr. Jerome Teelucksingh resuscitated the movement.

The date November 19th was chosen in honor of his father’s birthday. The purpose of this celebration is to shed light on issues affecting men such as: male suicides, men’s health,  promote gender equality, promote and improve gender relations, highlight male role models and celebrate the achievements of men and boys, in particular, as it relates to men’s contribution in the areas of child care, family and marriage.

Presently, International Men’s Day is celebrated and observed in approximately 80 countries including some of our Caribbean countries. In the region celebrations are done in Saint Kitts & Nevis, Antigua & Barbuda, Trinidad & Tobago, Jamaica and Haiti just to mention a few. Most recently, our next door neighbors Sint Eustatius observed International Men’s Day in 2018 with a gala event.

This year for the Department of Community Development, Family and Humanitarian Affairs, Ministry of Public Health, Social Development and Labor, primarily, the Family Unit, took up the mantel to bring awareness to the community about the existence of an International Men’s Day. The observance/awareness will take the form a Man-2-Man discussion. This discussion will be streamed live via the Governments Facebook page on Tuesday November 19th from 7:30 – 9:30 pm. The hope of this observation is to revive a discussion that started within our Community some years ago by some male pioneers. Most recently, Sint Maarten has been faced with the issue of male suicides be it alleged or confirmed, the rise in men being diagnosed with or succumbing to prostate cancer and much more.  It is important that these types of discussions take place, not just the discussions for discussing sake but discussions that can lead to possible interventions and policy development.  

On behalf of Community Development, Family and Humanitarian Affairs we wish all men and boys on Sint Maarten a Happy International Men’s Day. Be that man or boy who will make the difference within your home, school and community. Happy International Men’s Day!

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St. Maarten Academy PSVE Hosts Successful Open House

SINT MAARTEN (CUL DE SAC) - The St. Maarten Academy P.S.V.E campus hosted its Open House on November 7th, 2019 from 8:00am - 12:30 pm. There was a total of 11 schools which participated with extremely positive feedback. In addition to more than 300 students, welcomed by a medley of songs on steel pan by student Tyler Percival, six grade teachers and parents spent the school day at the school’s facilities, listening to and participating in interactive presentations and exhibitions at some 14 learning stations.

Guided by the bell, attendees experienced interactive tours of the campus, ushered by students who served as the school’s ambassadors. Teachers and students from the various departments in the school showcased and promoted their respective content areas.

During the interactive tours, the school’s business department showcased two of their locally created business concepts, “Slushy Joe’s”, which sells frozen fruity drinks and “Abigail’s Flavored Popcorn”. These two business ventures received rave reviews as the samples they shared throughout the day were enjoyed. The two businesses were developed and managed by the business students and mentored by business and care teachers. The St. Maarten Academy PSVE, encourages the entrepreneurial spirit with its “Create your own product” initiative.

The attendees were very impressed with the presentations, the day’s organization and the programs being offered at the institution of learning. One parent stated that “they have been to other open houses in the past but have never experienced anything like what they experienced at this event.” A primary school teacher stated that “with all the negative news about the school in the media”, they never knew the school had so much to offer students. A former student, who visited in her role as parent, stated that the school upgraded tremendously in comparison to the time she attended the high school.

The coordinator of the event, Mr. Travis McQuilkin stated that it was important for the primary school students to understand and experience how it felt like to be at St. Maarten Academy P.S.V.E for a day, in which we call the “6 graders high school simulation day”. Therefore, we made arrangements for the students to spend the entire day going from class to class. In addition, the sixth graders got an insight into how lessons are given in the classes.

The principal of the school, Mrs. Lavern Nelson considers the event to be a great success since its objective was achieved. She stated that the objective of the Open House was to highlight the business campus’ core subjects and curriculum to the 6th graders, their parents and the general public. The intention, she said was for the group 8 students to experience the high school routine, by moving from learning station to learning station guided by the bell. She was very pleased with her entire staff for a job well done. “Open House was totally a team effort engaging our school board, our staff and our students. This was also a collaborative venture between the business community (Telem, Motor World and SZV) and the school. The partnership symbolizes a great working relationship between the school and the business community, as internship within the business community is a key component of the school's educational program.

The principal expressed gratitude to the school board, under the leadership of Mr. Roland Duncan, the business community specifically Telem, Motor World and SZV for donating keep sakes for all attendees, school managers, teachers and students of all primary schools that participated, the school’s students who served as ambassadors, Mr. Travis McQuilkin for coordinating and our very hard working staff for making our open house a success.

The vocational sector of the St. Maarten Academy was founded in October 1999. The school functions under the auspices of the Foundation for Academic and Vocational Education (FAVE), its School Board. The students in the first two years (Form 1 and Form 2) follow the Basic Secondary Education Program (BSE or BAVO), which offers 14 subjects. Since August 14th, 2018 the school received approval from the Honorable Minister of Education Mr. Wycliffe S. Smith to participate in the pilot of the CCSLC at the BSE level.

After BSE, students flow into PSVE or VSBO at Form 3 for a two-year program which ends with sitting an external examination at the end of Form 4. The sector program offered at St. Maarten Academy is Economy with specialization in “Administration and Commerce.” The two streams available are: Praktische Basisgerichte Leerweg (PBL) and Praktische Kadergerichte Leerweg (PKL) - Practical Basic Level (PBL) and Practical (PKL).

Parents, students wanting to enroll at our school can call 548-4821, or visit the school's Facebook page for more details.

ACAD INS1

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