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Police Confiscates Blackberry Tablet from Minor

PHILIPSBURG - On Wednesday 19th June, the Juvenile Justice Department confiscated a Blackberry tablet from a minor who could not prove ownership of the device, police said on Tuesday.

The Sint Maarten Police Force (KPSM) is now asking anyone who maybe missing their Blackberry tablet to come forward. When coming to the station to claim the tablet, the owner must bring with them valid proof which shows rightful ownership in order to claim the device. (Sint Maarten Police Force)

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An argument escalates into a fight on Saturday. One victim seeks medical attention

SIMPSON BAY - On Saturday 22nd June patrols responded to a call regarding an argument which took place at Rhythm and Booze. Two males were engaged in a heated argument, for reasons that are still unknown to the detectives, when one of the males pulled out a weapon and cut the other male.

The suspect was apprehended and placed under arrest by the officers at the location and brought in to the Philipsburg Police Station for further questioning.

The victim drove himself to the Sint Maarten Medical center for further treatment.

This investigation is still ongoing, and more information will be provided as it becomes available. (Sint Maarten Police Force)

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Business Plan Training hosted by SXM A.C.T.I.O.N and Qredits St. Maarten

SINT MAARTEN (PHILIPSBURG) - SXM A.C.T.I.O.N (Aspiring Citizens to Impact Our Nation) is cordially inviting the general public to join them and take advantage of the 'Business Plan Training' which will be conducted by Qredits St. Maarten on the 29th June 2019 at the NIPA (National Institute for Professional Advancement) from 2:30pm-5:00pm.

“Qredits is a foundation that supports you as an entrepreneur to successfully start or invest in your business. During this training, Trainer Edsel Gumbs will be exploring the advantages of the Business Plan Template and how you can develop your business Plan in line with what do you want to do, why do you want to do it and what do you need to be able to do it,” a statement from SXM A.C.T.I.O.N on Monday said.

SXM A.C.T.I.O.N looks forward to welcoming you. Admittance fee is fixed at $25.00 per person, please reserve your seating by contacting This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or call us at +17215262291.

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New secretary of the Boards of financial supervision

SINT MAARTEN (PHILIPSBURG) - As per October 1st Ray Thuis will be the new secretary of the Boards of financial supervision

After an extensive selection procedure supervised by the General Administrative Service, Raymond Knops, State Secretary of Interior Affairs and Kingdom Relations, has appointed Ray Thuis (61 years) as Secretary of the Cft as per October 1st. The Chairman and members of the Boards are pleased with this appointment.

Ray Thuis is a lawyer with broad financial and managerial experience. Within the Ministry of Defense he was, among others, Head of Department at the Legal Affairs Directorate and Director of the Financial and Economic Affairs Directorate. At NATO he was a financial controller and as such responsible for major international projects.

In 2007 and 2008, Ray Thuis was a quartermaster and subsequently the first secretary of the then newly established Cft. He is very much looking forward to returning to the islands with his wife and to once again, together with everyone involved, be committed to the further development of sustainable public finances.

With the appointment of Mr. Thuis, the position of secretary of the Cft is definitively filled again.

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Justice institutions sign MOU to facilitate training and employment

SINT MAARTEN (POND ISLAND) - On Monday, June 17, 2019 the Ministry of Justice, House of Detention and Prison Point Blanche signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the Ministry of Public Health Social Development & Labour, and Foundation Judicial Institute Sint Maarten.

The purpose of the MOU is to establish partnership between these entities to facilitate various initiatives as it pertains to training and employment opportunities for a specific target group.

“My aim as Minister of Justice has always been to introduce rehabilitative programs for our prison population, so that when these individuals have finished serving their time they can easily reintegrate back into society,” said Minister De Weever.

“It is not about incarceration, because they can still contribute to society, and the safety net needs to be in place to facilitate their reintegration into society.”

The MOU focuses on knowledge, information sharing, and sensitivity training both internal and external and offer training opportunities amongst the population of St. Maarten to enhance skills and competencies to prepare persons with a criminal background for the demands of the labour market.

Therefore, this MOU supports a variation of activities, which aims at assisting this clientele and raise awareness on the importance of inclusion.

“The work has started to ensure that this MOU becomes a “living” document,” said Minister De Weever.

The MOU is valid for two years and took effect on the date it was signed.

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Arrest made during routine control. Marijuana and Toy Gun Found

CUPECOY - On Thursday 20th June during a routine traffic control, patrol officers pulled over a vehicle, which was in violation of the tint laws, in the vicinity of the Rhine Road. During the control officers noticed a strong odor of marijuana coming from the vehicle, suspect J.E.F confessed to having nine marijuana baggies in his pocket.

The vehicle was subjected to a search and a handbag was found in the middle console with what appeared to be a firearm. Upon further inspection of the weapon officers discovered it was a fake (toy) gun disguised to look like a real weapon.

The suspect was placed under arrest and brought to the Philipsburg Police station for further questioning. (Sint Maarten Police Force)

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Home Repair Program progressing as NRPB signs contracts with homeowners

SINT MAARTEN (PHILIPSBURG) - Nervous anticipation, gratitude and joy, these were the emotions in the air as homeowners gathered at National Recovery Program Bureau on Monday, June 17th to sign their agreements. Financed by the Trust Fund, the home repair program of the NPRB has approximately 200 homes scheduled for repairs in the coming year. Works contracts, are broken down into lots and begin in stages.

One of the beneficiaries of the program is Mr. Ashley Arrindell, an eighty-four-year-old former carpenter, mason and steelworker from St. Peters. Mr. Arrindell, who built his home himself with the help of friends in the early 70’s, was in his home when it was destroyed by Hurricane Irma. “I watched my roof fly away and land on the car of my downstairs tenant.” Mr. Ashley stated. “I’ve lived downstairs since then and would be very grateful to have my own space again.”

Contractor on the project, Mr. Roberto Arrindell of Confidence Constructions BV, is eager to begin the repair works. “As a local Sint Maartener, it gives me great pride to be a part of the recovery process of building back better after the Hurricane. Without this project many of the homeowners would not have been able to afford the necessary repairs. I can’t wait to hand them back the keys to their completed homes at the end of construction.”

Each homeowner in the program has fulfilled the eligibility criteria set forth by the Government of Sint Maarten and their home has been technically assessment by an engineer to determine the necessary repairs. During the period of reconstruction, home owners are compensated to cover the costs of temporary housing and storage of their belongings. They are not allowed to stay in their homes while it is under repair. Expected works include repairs to the roofs, windows, doors and minor electrical works,

“I would like to especially thank the homeowners for their patience during this process,” Claret Connor, Director of the NRPB expressed as he addressed the first set of beneficiaries on Monday. “As a country we have been given a very generous gift by the people of the Netherlands. We have taken the time to ensure that all foreseeable aspects of the project have been taken care of. We will do it once, and we will do it right”.

The Sint Maarten Recovery, Reconstruction and Resilience Trust Fund is financed by the Government of the Netherlands, managed by the World Bank and implemented by the National Recovery Program Bureau on behalf of the Government of Sint Maarten.

home repair beneficiaries contract signing 1

 

 

 

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Transforming Tax Administration to Result in Economic Revival and Secure Government Finances & Investments

SINT MAARTEN (POND ISLAND) – The Minister of Finance Hon. Perry Geerlings said on Thursday that the transformation of the country’s Tax Administration will result in further national economic recovery and providing a sustainable secure system for future government finances and necessary investments into the public sector.

“For years we have neglected to properly invest in our Tax Administration, our primary source of income. The Tax Administration is not well equipped and unable to properly execute its task to levy and collect all taxes that the government is entitled to.

“As a result, the Government does not have enough income to pay for its public services, with the following serious consequences: Annual budget deficits that have to be financed one way or the other; the need to constantly borrow money, with accumulating debts which must eventually be paid back with interest; with the danger of imposing a huge mortgage on our children and future generations; inability to structurally invest in further developing our country and economy; dependency on Kingdom support for loans, grants and liquidity support; with a subjection to interference, instructions and constraints put on us by the Kingdom; which at times seriously undermines our autonomy; and a viscous circle of constant deterioration and decline which is not healthy for the national sustainable socio-economic long-term development of the country and its people.

“The goal of the reforms of the tax system is not to raise taxes but make everyone contribute their fair share. Close to 20 reports have been written over the years about our Tax Department and Tax System, and our Public Finance Management, with recommendations to urgently reform both.

“It is about time we start to go to work to fix this huge and dangerous problem. That’s why our plans of action for the reforms at the Tax Department and Public Finance Management Department are strongly supported by the Committee for Financial Supervision Cft, the Dutch Ministry of Interior and Kingdom Relations, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank.

“Without this strong support we would have never been facilitated and supported with the financing of these projects via grants through the World Bank Development Policy Operation (DPO) facility. Fixing our finances means strengthening our autonomous status,” Minister of Finance Hon. Perry Geerlings explained.

The 2019 National Budget of Naf. 483 million is reserved for expenses, and Naf. 93 million for capital investments. Approximately one third -Naf. 32 million- of the capital investments is reserved for Tax Transformation.

Minister Geerlings adds: “We need money to invest and develop Sint Maarten, its people and its economy! This vicious circle can only be reversed by a fundamental structural improvement of our Tax Administration, and overall, that should lead to increased income, a balanced budget and eventually budget surpluses to pay off our debts which are currently approaching one billion guilders.

“Additional investments in the National Recovery and Reconstruction Program and the further development of Sint Maarten, its people and its economy, without interference of The Kingdom in determining our priorities, can only be achieved by having our own financial house in order. We have to focus on becoming more self-reliant and less dependent on others and standing up on our two feet as a proud people and nation.”

The Minister of Finance Hon. Perry Geerlings said on Thursday that we must also be cognizant that Sint Maarten is still under financial higher supervision since 2015, and that the country is limited to only being able to borrow Naf. 40 million per year to finance the capital investment budget.

The remaining Naf. 53 million in capital investments is financed through the Development Policy Operation a grant mechanism of the World Bank and other means.

The Government of Sint Maarten is guaranteeing substantial investments in the economy like for example the US$101 million loan for SXM Airport and pending financial support for the Small and Medium size Enterprises (SME’s) for an earmarked amount of US$ 34 million.

“The way to go for substantial investments in the economy at this juncture in our recovery phase is primarily through the Trust Fund at the World Bank and private investments. Ministry of TEATT and all other ministries are doing their utmost to get that process dramatically improved.

“Without a balanced budget and enough funding to keep the government apparatus running, the Netherlands will never allow us to invest substantial amounts in the economy through the Capital Investment Account, hence why we have to take the necessary steps and measures to transform our current tax system which has been neglected for decades.

“In 2018 we applied for a big loan from the Netherland’s loan facility, via the Central Bank of Curacao and Sint Maarten, of NAf. 200 million, for the biggest part to be used for restoring/boosting the economy shortly after the hurricane disasters. This request was denied because of their worries about the already existing high government debts and the risk of Sint Maarten not being able to pay back such high amounts.

“We cannot continue down the same road that we have been walking. We have to transform our national tax system if we want to be self-sufficient and less dependent on others. Our Economy is growing, and tourism is picking up. Many investments are being made in rebuilding and repairing the hotels, restaurants and other tourist-related infrastructure.

“These investments are mainly made by and through the private sector, who has the greatest interest and stands to benefit the most, and other investments come from insurance payouts. Besides private sector investments and insurance payouts, the Government is also investing in the rebuilding of the tourism infrastructure through loans from the European Investment Bank (EIB), the Recovery Trust Fund at the World Bank, investment tax incentives, accelerated permit and license application processes, etcetera.

“The private sector will of course not invest in the tax authorities in transforming our tax system infrastructure, that is the government’s responsibility, and at this point in time we are making the necessary investments to secure a sustainable bright future for country Sint Maarten.

“The only way to have enough money to pay for Government’s primary responsibilities like education scholarships, justice, safety and security of the population, healthcare, social security, infrastructure, etc. and pay the civil servants and teachers is through the levy and collection of taxes, but you need to have a modern-day system of the 21st century in place in order to fully accomplish this where everybody pays their fair share, and that is what transformation of our tax system is all about in order to assure continued economic revival and secure sustainable Government finances & investments for the future,” Minister of Finance Hon. Perry Geerlings concludes.

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Festival Celebrates Unique Birds in Unique Ways All Over the Caribbean

SINT MAARTEN/CARIBBEAN — At dozens of events on more than 20 islands, people of all ages came together to celebrate and protect their birds. The events were part of the Caribbean Endemic Bird Festival, organized by BirdsCaribbean. The festival highlights endemic birds—the ones found only in the region—and how to protect them.

There are over 170 kinds of bird that live only in the Caribbean. Many of these live only on a single island, and many are rare. The events celebrating these unique birds are also unique. Groups all over the region find different ways to celebrate and learn about these birds.

In Puerto Rico, the Department of Natural and Environmental Resources took part in several events, including walks, talks and crafts. At the Ponce Museum of Art, a special guided tour shared birds and nature in the museum’s artwork. This was the first tour of its kind in the 60 years since the museum was founded.

This year’s festival theme was Protect Birds: Be the Solution to Plastic Pollution, and many activities featured cleanups and learning about plastic waste. In Jamaica, the National Environment and Planning Agency led activities and games from the BirdSleuth Caribbean program. These activities help kids learn about the problems that birds face, like plastic debris. In Venezuela, the group Ave Zona held a beach cleanup on Isla de Coche. On the island of St. Martin, kids decorated bird feeders made from reused plastic bottles.

“We are so happy that our 18th Caribbean Endemic Bird Festival reached so many people,” said festival coordinator Eduardo Llegus. “We are especially happy to see the many creative ways people have found to share, honor and help our birds. Our birds are unique symbols of our region. To protect them is to protect our heritage, our nature and our communities.”

The Caribbean Endemic Bird Festival is organized by BirdsCaribbean. Thousands of youth and adults participate each year in activities hosted by dozens of local groups on over 20 islands. For more information, visit http://birdscaribbean.org.

Jamaica

Students learn while playing a game from the BirdSleuth Caribbean program. (Photo by Otto Williamson)

Venezuela

Volunteers clean up the beach at Isla de Coche in Venezuela. (Photo: Ave Zona)

Puerto Rico

Students in Puerto Rico show off their bird masks. (Photo by Carmen Peña)

Puerto Rico 2

Visitors learn about nature in art during a guided tour of Ponce Museum of Art in Puerto Rico. (Photo: Adrianne G. Tossas)

 

 

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Johnson addressing Seminar Island Ecology and Economy

SINT MAARTEN (MAHO) – Minister of Tourism & Economic Affairs Hon. Stuart Johnson spoke at the Caribbean China People Foundation seminar that opened on Wednesday and will conclude on Thursday.  Johnson told the attendees the following:

“I am pleased to address you this morning on the New Perspective of the Caribbean Seminar dealing specifically with Island Ecology and the Economy. The combined efforts of the Caribbean China People Foundation and the Beijing International Exchange Association Sustainable Development Committee promotes the real value of service to others and fosters sustainable development.

“This concept is welcomed by the St. Maarten Government whose Governing Program 2018 – 2022 is entitled Building a Sustainable St. Maarten. We believe that the sustainable future of St. Maarten rests heavily on our ability to restore social norms, provide adequate healthcare, cost-efficient and environmentally sound energy and waste disposal solutions and foster more significant trade and investment relationships. 

“This is outlined in the Governing program. Guided by the governing approach of the Governing Program, we continue to and implement policies for the improvement of the health and wellbeing of all of our people. 

“Since being devastated by hurricanes Irma and Maria in 2017, St. Maarten has seen even more the actual value of international relationships and in particular, the benefit of relationships with key strategic partners whose influence and investments significantly improve our future economic outlook. 

“It is with this in mind that I commend the Chinese nation and its people for the continued healthy relationship between both countries. I am pleased to note that the relationship between China and St. Maarten has significantly increased over the past 15 years.

“Many of you here this morning, are aware that as a policy, since 1999 the Chinese Government set out to assist developing countries in the Caribbean in areas such as green energy, technology and social wellness programs. 

“We here in St. Maarten and other parts of the Caribbean have benefited significantly from trade in goods and foreign direct investment along with excellent development support for major projects such as the Airport in Antigua and the rapid reconstruction of the Sonesta Ocean Point and Sonesta Maho Resort, Casino & SPA to name just a few. 

“This approach to investment overseas by China called the Going Out Policy has prompted economists to predict that we can expect the Caribbean to grow up to three times as fast as developed economies over the next ten years.

“For this, I must commend the forward thinking of the Government and People of China. Because, while most developed nations tend to attract investments to their country, China continues to encourage its businesses to spend their money on investments abroad.

“It is safe to say that the Chinese St. Maarten relationship will only grow stronger and will continue to be mutually beneficial. 

“As Minister of Tourism, Economic Affairs, Transport and Telecommunications I encourage you to consider during your dialogue over the next few days, ways and means by which both countries can solve some of our development challenges. 

“I encourage you to do so with great appreciation for the already robust trade relationship between our Country and China and to concentrate on ways to improve our use of green energy, reduce our carbon footprint and preserve the environment in which we all live. 

“I am confident that you will have fruitful discussions and arrive at positive outcomes for the benefit of our people. Thank you and may God continue to bless our two nations.”

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