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Sint Maarten chairs Caribbean Regional Ministerial Meeting in Brussels

SINT MAARTEN/BELGUIM - Sint Maarten has been the Regional Authorizing Officer (RAO) since 2015 for the Caribbean Overseas Countries and Territories. As Prime Minister, the Honorable Leona Romeo-Marlin chaired a meeting for this Programme in which next to Sint Maarten 11 other Caribbean islands participate.

The name of the program reveals its focus: “Caribbean OCT’s Sustainable Energy, Coastal Management and Resilience”. The objective of this last of in total four regional preparation meetings was to finalize the programming phase by committing on a ministerial level to the priorities and budget allocations.

Main topic discussed on a technical level was the so called “Caribbean Catastrophe Risk Insurance Facility”, or CCRIF. Countries insured via CCRIFF received financial support to respond to the damage and the needs of people within days after last season’s hurricanes Irma and Maria.

The proven success of this insurance system and the expectations that the future will bring more major hurricanes to Caribbean shores resulted in including this facility in the regional programme.

Participants in the meeting were also introduced to Expertise France, the agency that will facilitate the implementation of the programme.

During the Ministerial meeting a presentation was made on the 11th EDF Caribbean Regional Programme by Civil Servant from the department of the interior and kingdom relations Olivia Lake.

During this presentation ministers were informed on what to expect from the program: Support will be given to the islands including Sint Maarten to start or further transition from fossil fuels to sustainable energy sources like solar and wind energy.

Management of costal zones will help build resilience to future storms and possible tsunamis while offering a valuable breeding ground for sea life. This is in direct support of the fishing and recreational industries while also preserving precious marine bio diversity.    

The presentation was followed by a signing ceremony with some of the leaders of the Caribbean Islands. The remaining participating islands are expected to sign the programming document in the coming days.

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St. Maarten Heineken Regatta Receives Overwhelming Support from its Sponsors

SINT MAARTEN (SIMPSON BAY) - With the 38th St. Maarten Heineken Regatta kicking off in less than 10 days, the Regatta Organizers took a moment to recognize all long-standing partners and welcome those new to the event, at a Sponsor Party last week for their ongoing and immense support.

Now more than ever, the importance of the St. Maarten Heineken Regatta for the economy of St Maarten becomes evident as thousands of sailors and visitors will arrive on the island next week to celebrate the 38th edition of the annual event and to provide the island with the economic boost it so badly needs after Hurricane Irma.

The overwhelming support of local and international sponsors is of extreme importance and highly appreciated by Regatta Organizers.

Within two weeks post-Hurricane Irma, the St. Maarten Heineken Regatta was the first major Regatta in the Caribbean to announce its continuity. Michelle van der Werff, Regatta Director explains: “We had no confirmation as to the support available, but one thing was certain; the Regatta had to take place.

“Even after Hurricane Luis the Regatta wasn’t canceled, after all these years, we could not discontinue this important event. The Regatta is a world class island event and after all the devastation done, it was more important than ever to bring back the sailors and visitors that come here year after year, to give the Island a boost.

“We are very fortunate with all the support we receive from both our local- and international partners. We were prepared to scale down, but with the overwhelming support we’re able to put on a full show!”

The on-shore events of the 38th St. Maarten Heineken Regatta will be presented by its longstanding Title Sponsor Heineken, who has an exciting line-up in place for the evening Concerts from March 1- 4. Long time sponsors UTS and Shipwreck Shops will add to the event with their wide range of products.

UTS is making 4G services available to sailors, as well as high speed internet and of course Shipwreck Shops will provide all the official Regatta Gear at the newly introduced and fully catered Regatta Village at Port de Plaisance, ensuring that every visitor can take a souvenir home.

Port St. Maarten’s continued support may be less obvious, but evenly important, as their logistic and operational support is of great value to the event.

The St. Maarten Tourist Office is joining forces to showcase St. Maarten and the St. Maarten Heineken Regatta in all its glory. “The St. Maarten Heineken Regatta’s sole purpose is to create an international sailing and music event that highlights the island of Sint Maarten and attracts visitors to the many hotels, restaurants and cultural highlights that this dual nation has to offer.

“Being able to receive recognition from our Government and being able to work together on marketing the island, is absolutely fantastic and highly appreciated!” adds, Van der Werff.

In the Presenting Sponsorship Category, familiar names like Fiji Water, Gill North America, Windward Islands Bank, Sol Petroleum, La Sucriere Bakery, Carib Web Services and Sunsail take care of the continuity of this world-class event.

Some sponsors suffered severe damages themselves, but still made every effort to keep supporting the Regatta, looking at the long term benefits of the event for the island.

Regatta Organizers are extremely excited to welcome a new Partner to the Regatta Family: Fun Miles. With Fun Miles onboard, Regatta visitors can enjoy the Saturday and Sunday night concert by using their Fun Miles to pay for the Event tickets.

Fun Miles can also be used to buy event tokens at the Regatta venue. Regatta visitors can be on the lookout for some more “fun” elements this new Partner will bring to the Event, with some fantastic activations and prizes to win. Fact is, Fun Miles will ensure that the Event’s motto ‘Serious Fun’ is lived up to.

Other valued sponsors to the Event are Sea Hawk, Windward Roads, Xerox Obersi Group and the official Regatta Radio Station Island92. All sponsors are unique and each play a vital role in the execution of the Event.

Finally van der Werff adds “We always say that it takes the entire island to throw a party this big, as many other businesses and organizations get involved and support the event.

“And let’s not forget about all the hundreds of volunteers who donate their time ensuring that everyone receives a warm welcome and the event runs smoothly. This year we need to thank everyone for going above and beyond, as this saying is more true now than ever before. We are looking forward to some Serious Fun!”

The St. Maarten Heineken Regatta is organized and owned by the St. Maarten Yacht Club Regatta Foundation It’s a nonprofit organization, promoting the destination of St. Maarten and sailing in the Caribbean waters surrounding the tropical island.

For more information about becoming a sponsor of the St. Maarten Heineken Regatta, contact the Regatta Office at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or +1721 544 2079, or go to the Event’s website www.heinekenregatta.com

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Posters of TelCell Breakthrough Talent Search winners do the talking

POND ISLAND - TelCell Breakthough winner, Manukiell Edwards, addresses scores of his schoolmates each morning as they pass through the front gate of the Sundial School in Philipsburg – and just for good measure, he does the same at the St. Dominic School in South Reward each morning also.

The greeting is not a physical one, but comes in the form of a poster message that Manukiell delivers to his peers, courtesy of the TelCell Breakthrough Telent Search organizers.

Each year the Breakthrough team rewards the talent search winners with a series of posters featuring all the winners with a positive message aimed at St. Maarten youths. Posted a various strategic locations around the island where young people congregate such as the Philipsburg Jubilee Library, they are most prominent at the entrance of a number of the island’s secondary schools.

In the latest Sundial school poster unveiled Friday, Manukiell advises his classmates to (here), while at the St. Dominic School his message reminds us that “a man without education is like a building without foundation.”

“I have a double responsibility this year because I have also been voted President of the Student body at Sundial so I feel very proud to present these messages to our St. Maarten youth,” said Mnukiell. He says he’s looking forward to taking part in other activities with the other TelCell Breakthrough winners in the coming weeks and months, including work on a music video and lots of studio recording sessions. 

Also Friday, another TelCell Breakthrough 2017 winner, Temaia Dennis, assisted in the unveiling of a new sponsor for the Philipsburg Jubilee Library poster, graced this year by follow Breakthrough winner, (name here).

“A lot of young people visit the Library every day and I urge them to read the message on (name) poster and take inspiration from it,” said Temaia.

TelCell Chief Commercial Officer (CCO) Mr. Brian Mingo, thanked the youngsters for turning out for Friday’s unveiling and for assisting in TelCell Breakthrough’s mission to bring positive and uplifting messages to St. Maarten youth.

“You people today face many challenges as they navigate through a very important stage of their lives, making it equally important for them to identify with other young people like them who are doing positive and exciting things that are not only uplifting, but fun too,” said Mr. Mingo.

The CCO also thanked the TelCell Breakthrough team who continue to put all their efforts into the island’s youth with all they do with organizing, staging and promoting of the TelCell Breakthrough event each year.

PHOTO CUTLINE: TelCell Breakthrough Winners Manukiell Edwards and Temaia Dennis point to a poster of dance category winner Jeremiah David delivering his own message to visitors to the Philipsburg Jubilee Library.

 TELCELL BLACK RED SHIRT

 

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ROTARY HAS HEART DONATES TO COME HOT MEAL PROGRAM

SINT MAARTEN (PHILIPSBURG) - The project known as ‘Rotary Has Heart’ used Valentine’s Day, February 14, 2018, as the signature date for the project, Rotary Club of St. Maarten-Mid Isle announced on Tuesday.

“Rotary Clubs were asked to engage in a hunger project to ‘Make a Difference’ on or around Valentine’s Day in their communities.

“This was first and foremost an effort to put food on an empty plate, to fill an empty stomach, to bring a ray of hope to the hungry. It was a chance for Rotarians to show thousands of communities throughout our districts what Rotarians can do when we focus on ‘Making a Difference’. 

“The Rotary Club of St. Maarten-Mid Isle donated their fines collected in a three week period to the project. The club decided to help the ‘Community Outreach Mentorship and Empowerment International Center (COME).  

“After the passing of Hurricane Irma the COME center embarked on a project to provide breakfast and lunch for persons in our community who are in need of a hot meal on a daily basis.

“They currently feed approximately 75 persons daily. COME provided us with their required shopping list which we purchased and delivered to the center. 

“67,500 Rotarians in as many as approximately 1,600 clubs collectively made a difference for thousands of families in hundreds of communities with the project 'Rotary Has Heart,'” Rotary Club of St. Maarten-Mid Isle said in a statement on Tuesday. 

The Rotary Club of St. Maarten-Mid Isle presently meets Tuesdays at 7pm at Pineapple Pete in Simpson Bay.

For more information please contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or visit the clubs Facebook page.

RotaryHasHeartLogo

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Prosecutor’s Office and National Police of Sint Maarten on the alert for vote fraud

SINT MAARTEN (PHILIPSBURG) - On Monday, February 26, 2018 the citizens of St. Maarten will go to the polls to elect a new parliament. The different political parties contesting the elections will try to obtain as many votes as possible to be represented in the new parliament.

Participating in the elections is an important acquired right that in some parts of the world does not come automatically. Free and fair elections where the vote is cast anonymously, form the basis of the democratic rule of law.

The importance of this is anchored in the Constitution and in international treaties. A voter has the right to cast his vote without being influenced and to keep this decision to himself.

“An example that elections do not always proceed in a fair manner is the buying or selling of votes, be it for cash or other personal favors/promises. Contrary to electoral promises to the population as a whole, promises to individual citizens are not allowed.

“Bribery in suffrage is punishable under Article 2:44 of the Penal Code of Sint Maarten (previously article 132 of the Penal Code of the Netherlands Antilles). Recently the penalization has been increased to imprisonment of two years. It is also possible that a person convicted of bribery can be deprived of certain rights. This may include that a convicted person may no longer vote or that he may not stand for election.

“To prove this offense it is sufficient that parties agree on not voting or voting in a particular way by accepting a gift or a promise. It is as if people (verbally) reach an agreement. Both the person making the gift or promise as the one who accepts the offer are punishable. That afterwards the gift or promise is not redeemed or that the actual voting occurs differently than agreed upon, does not matter.

“An attempted bribe is also punishable by the law of Sint Maarten. This is the case when a gift or promise is offered, but the other party does not wish to cooperate.

“Both the completed offense as the attempt thereto must be based on an individual 'favoring' of the voter or his representative. It is needless to say that “campaign material” such as pens, buttons, t-shirts etc. with the logo of a political party are not considered as commitments to any individuals.

“Around every election however, the Prosecutor’s Office of Sint Maarten receives indications that voters are bribed to cast their vote for a particular party or person. This affects the free and fair conduct of the elections.

The Prosecutor’s Office (OM) Sint Maarten and the National Police of Sint Maarten (Landsrecherche Sint Maarten) will therefore be extra vigilant during the period until the elections for indications of bribery and the buying of votes and will investigate these in accordance with the law,” the OM said in a press statement on Monday.

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Red Cross extends school feeding program to hurricane-affected children

SINT MAARTEN (SIMPSON BAY) - With many families continuing to struggle financially following Hurricane Irma, the Netherlands Red Cross, through its St. Maarten branch, is extending its school feeding program until the end of May 2018.

“We recognize that many parents are still finding it a challenge to secure full-time work following the damage to local businesses by Hurricane Irma,” says Michiel Jurgens, project coordinator for the Netherlands Red Cross. “As a result, their ability to provide nutritious and healthy meals for their children may be compromised. By extending our school feeding program, we hope to ease some of the strain they may be feeling.”

The program provides breakfasts and hot lunches for approximately 4,000 primary school students in 18 schools. A new breakfast menu has been developed which includes more fresh fruits for the students. This follows the implementation of a new 20-day lunch menu, which was revised to better meet local tastes.

Meal preparation begins daily at 5 a.m. when the first of 28 local Red Cross staff walk through the kitchen door at Sundial School. Since it started in October 2017, more than 438,000 meals have been prepared and then delivered from this kitchen.

“Many of our kitchen staff are graduates of Sundial School’s hospitality program. Receiving a steady and reliable income allows them to better support their families and helps spur the economy,” says Jurgens. “It’s just one of the many spinoff benefits of the program.”

The school feeding program is in collaboration with the Ministry of Education, Culture, Youth & Sports and is one of the early recovery projects financed from the Dutch Recovery Fund for St. Maarten, under the auspices of the Ministry of the Interior and Kingdom Relations.

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Minister Wuite meets with APS regarding teacher benefits

SINT MAARTEN (POND ISLAND) - On Friday February 9th Minister of Education, Culture, Youth and Sport Jorien Wuite met with representatives of the General Pension Fund (APS). The meeting was scheduled in follow-up to concerns expressed to the Minister in matters related to the physco-social well-being of teachers after the passing of hurricane Irma in September.

Joining the Minister at the meeting was President of the Windward Island Teacher’s Union (WITU) Claire Elshot-Aventurin and cabinet staff along with APS representatives Kendra Arnell, Oscar Williams and Nadya Croes-Van Putten.

Via meetings held within the past few weeks with school managers and teachers alike it was accessed that matters related to housing remained a worry for a large number of teachers.

The majority were concerned with the high cost of rent, others’ problems involved owning their own homes but being uninsured or underinsured. Many of these teachers were unable to qualify for the various social relief programs offered in the weeks and months following the hurricane.

In that light Mrs. Elshot-Aventurin and Minister Wuite met with APS to explore any potential opportunities they may have to offer as teachers being civil servants are automatically clients of APS.

During the meeting APS informed of an affordable housing project that is currently underway specially geared towards civil servants. Realizing that this may be a key opportunity, it was resolved to host a special information session just for teachers with APS representatives to further inform and see if they would qualify for such a program. This meeting is currently being planned and teachers will be duly of the details.

Another critical issue notified during the meeting was the possibility of a supplemental pension. This option would be especially important to teachers who may have switched to this profession later in life and as a result not receive their full pension available versus a colleague who may have started in their early twenties.

At the same afore-mentioned information session APS will also discuss any available option to teachers who may fall in this category.

The psychological condition of teachers, administrators and school management in reaction to the devastation of hurricane Irma and the resulting changes in their social environments continues to receive the full attention of Minister Wuite.

Consultations have already started and will continue with affected teachers of public schools as the Minister in her capacity as school board is directly responsible for their well-being. Those with critical needs will receive priority in conjunction with the organization of workshops specifically geared towards improving the teacher’s physical, mental and emotional well-being.  

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MINISTRY OF VSA RECEIVES 14 NEW VEHICLES AND CONTINUES INSPECTIONS WITH FULL FORCE

SINT MAARTEN (POND ISLAND) - The Ministry of VSA (Public Health, Social Development and Labor) received 14 new vehicles as part of the Emergency aid of the Netherlands offered to St. Maarten post hurricane Irma and Maria.

Seven of those vehicles were handed over to Ministry on Friday February 16th. As a result of the hurricanes, the Ministry’s daily operations were heavily affected, and in some cases put to a standstill by the lack of vehicles as almost all of its vehicles were severely damaged.

The request for vehicles was a direct request of the Ministry to the Netherlands as part of the crisis emergency aid offered by the Netherlands. The vehicles form a critical part of operations, several tasks such as inspections of restaurants, medical and pharmaceutical service providers, job sites and much more can now be intensified by the Ministry staff.

As some of the aid requests to Government are now being realized, many may question: why only now? As is the situation with many other islands hit during the 2017 hurricane season, vehicles and other essential products and materials have been challenging to source within a short time frame.

The fleet of vehicles received had specific requirements for the wide range of work that is carried out by the staff and the terrain conditions on the island, this was important to ensure that the ministry can make the best use of the vehicles and for a long period of time.

The vehicles were sourced by local dealerships, one of the perquisites to obtaining them – ensuring warranty and service maintenance, but also stimulating the local economy in this time of recovery.

"On behalf of the Ministry of Interior and Kingdom Relations BZK of the Netherlands it is my honor to be able to hand over these much needed vehicles to VSA. Throughout the emergency, recovery and rebuilding process the Netherlands has been a reliable and beneficial partner for St Maarten and its people.

“This is another example of the benefits of cooperation and partnership in our Kingdom," stated head of the Dutch Representation office on St. Maarten Chris Johnson.

All vehicles will be tagged with the UTS Secure tracking device made available by UTS. The tracking devices offer digital fleet monitoring and management options that will allow for greater measure of supervision and accountability by the Ministry.

Features include driver behavior alerts such as speeding, idling time etc., overview of past trips, geo-fencing and much more. These features will enable the ministry to be more effective in carrying out its duties, reporting and costs containment. The work carried out can be monitored by management and staff to ensure accountability in the use of government vehicles.

“I am happy that we have received these vehicles in what was our darkest hour of need. Post-Irma, our entire team was hands on within the community, with extremely limited resources to do what was necessary to not only assess but assist where we are required to do so.

“Requesting emergency aid and actively pursuing this was top priority for me. It was my duty to ensure that the Ministry remained operational and directly assess what was needed to do so after the passing of Irma and Maria. The damage caused by the hurricanes caused a ripple effect which we all are still feeling.

“We are happy that slowly but surely, we too here at the Ministry can get back to work as usual. These vehicles will surely allow us to do so. Kingdom Affairs was very quick and collaborative in response to our request for aid and I am appreciative of this. Our staff can now go out and carry out their tasks effectively, knowing that they are safe, and have the tools to manage their operations in an accountable manner.” – Emil Lee (Minister VSA)

The Ministry of VSA consists of several departments which make use of Government vehicles. The Inspectorate, Collective Prevention Services, Department of Social Affairs and Labor, Community Development and the Ambulance department of which their new vehicles are pending arrival.

Collectively these departments carry out health inspections, job-site inspections, occupational safety inspections, bottled water testing, community outreach programs, disease prevention controls, rat and mosquito vector controls, community help desk programs, preventive health and response, youth vaccination, labor mediation services and more.

vsa vehicle inside

Photo Caption:  Head of the Dutch Representation office on St Maarten Chris Johnson, Minister Emil Lee, UTS Representatives, and staff from the Ministry of VSA.

NL VSA Vehicle Donation

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Minister Ferrier and State Secretary Knops sign 50 Million Guilder liquidity support loan

SINT MAARTEN/THE NETHERLANDS – On Friday afternoon in The Hague Minister of Finance Michael Ferrier and State Secretary Raymond Knops signed off on a 50 Million Guilder loan to Sint Maarten, staving off looming liquidity challenges that Country Sint Maarten would otherwise face shortly.

Minister Ferrier explained that the loan conditions are 0% interest, a term of 30 years, with 25 equal yearly payments of NAFls 2,000,000.00 starting in January of 2023 (5 years from now).

This arrangement puts Country Sint Maarten in a much better position to deal with its financial obligations, especially in the Post Hurricane Irma period, when Government’s income has taken a heavy hit, while expenditures have gone through the roof.

The Government of Sint Maarten sincerely thanks their Kingdom partner for this favorable arrangement in these trying times.

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Complimentary Heineken-70’s BAG for all competitors of the St. Maarten Heineken Regatta

SINT MAARTEN (SIMPSON BAY) - The organizers of the St. Maarten Heineken Regatta have teamed up with 70's BAG, an American-Dutch company which focusses on designing fashionable and foldable shopping bags to encourage people to stop using single-use plastic bags, and to shop responsibly.

During the regatta registration for the upcoming 2018 event, every entry will receive a complimentary Heineken-70's BAG in their registration packet filled with goodies and information.

Patrons during the 4-day sailing and music event can also purchase this limited-edition bag at the Heineken Merchandise shops at each party location. This will make it easy and stylish to reduce plastic bag pollution during the 4 amazing days and nights of the St. Maarten Heineken Regatta and throughout the year.

70's BAG is honored to celebrate the fifth year of this wonderful partnership for this amazing event. The Heineken-70's BAG is a cleverly designed faux leather wallet which zips open to reveal a big Heineken green shopper for your shopping convenience while contributing to a plastic-bag-free environment.

Heineken 70's BAGs can also be purchased in Amsterdam in the Heineken Experience, Heineken's first brewery which has been transformed into a sensational interactive tour through the dynamic world of Heineken.

Pauline Ann, the owner and designer of 70's BAG, teamed up with Heineken's distributor on St. Maarten, John Leone, to design a custom-made bag that perfectly coordinates the brand values of 70's BAG, Heineken and the Regatta.

The special bag features a black outer surface bearing the Heineken Open Your World logo with a stunning green interior shopping bag. 

Pauline Ann adds., "70's BAG is a company dedicated to making "The World a Little Greener, Oceans a Little Bluer and Hearts a Little Truer, so this campaign is sure to be a hit on all fronts."

"The 38th St. Maarten Heineken Regatta is the largest warm–water regatta in the world, held right here on our beautiful little Island, and we are proud to work with 70's BAG to promote responsible and sustainable practices on and off the water." 

Adds John Leone. “The annual Heineken-70’s bag collaboration is one of the pioneering efforts over the years that helps make the St. Maarten Heineken Regatta a truly "Green Regatta".”

So come enjoy the St. Maarten Heineken Regatta, the wonderful parties, the beautiful island and be part of the "Serious Fun", combining the best of sporting, enjoyment and the environment.

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