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The Adult Literacy Program at USM continues to assist adults with reading and writing

SINT MAARTEN (POND ISLAND) – The University of St. Martin (USM) is pleased to announce that its Adult Literacy Program (ALP) will continue in the Fall semester. 

USM is pleased to announce that its Adult Literacy Program (ALP) will continue in the Fall semester. The ALP began last year in August 2021 and ended in December 2021. The staff at USM is thrilled to kick off the Adult Literacy sessions and welcome members of the community to apply or encourage someone who may benefit from the course.   

The program was piloted back in 2019 as part of USM's collaboration with the St. Maarten Training Foundation (SMTF), where persons who could not previously write or read were taught the requisite skills.  Students in the pilot program reported immense excitement and appreciation for the curriculum since it provided them with more than just skills.

There are many adults in our society, who are literacy challenged. They are functioning with the help of family and friends but are essentially vulnerable and run the risk of being taken advantage of. 

Acquiring literacy skills as an adult is not easy and learning how to read can seem overwhelming at times, even to the most motivated learners, but we at USM are committed to helping these adults conquer this issue. The Adult Literacy Program, which is offered under the leadership of USM ESL coordinator, Mrs. Corinne Lejuez, is scheduled to start on October 11, 2022. The program will be held 3x a week for 2 hours over a period of 12 weeks.

Interested persons, or someone who knows someone who can’t read or write or has issues with both, can email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or call USM directly at 542-5249 for more information.

USM continues to serve the needs of our community through this initiative.

Do you know someone who has given up on reading and writing because they believe they are too old? Or are they afraid or embarrassed about it? Encourage them to come to USM. It's never too late to learn to read and write! And we are proud of everyone that comes to us for assistance with this!

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IPKO to start on Tuesday in The Netherlands

SINT MAARTEN (PHILIPSBURG) - The Interparliamentary Kingdom Consultation (IPKO) will take place in The Hague, the Netherlands from Tuesday, September 27, to Friday, September 30, 2022.

During the IPKO, delegations of the Parliaments of Aruba, Curaçao and Sint Maarten and of the State’s General, under the leadership of the chairlady of the permanent committee for Kingdom Relations of the Second Chamber, Ms. Mariëlle Paul (VVD), will meet on topics that affect the countries of the Kingdom.

The topics in this IPKO are the unsolicited advice of the Council of State of the Kingdom on the Kingdom, treaties and Union law, consensus kingdom laws, a proposed Kingdom Law on Kingdom disputes, cooperation within the Kingdom and democratic deficit, and colonialism and the history of slavery.

Agenda

The consultation will start on September 27 with an opening meeting in the plenary room of the First Chamber.

Here the delegation leaders of the Caribbean Parliaments and the leader of the State’s General delegation, Mr. Paul Rosenmöller (Groen Links).h++, will give a presentation on recent developments in the four countries.

In the afternoon the meeting will be continued in the Second Chamber, with discussions on the unsolicited advice of the Council of State of the Kingdom and the subject of Consensus Kingdom Laws.

On September 28, a presentation is planned by the delegates of the Caribbean Parliaments, on a new proposal for the Kingdom Disputes Regulation.

After that presentation, the topics of cooperation within the Kingdom and the democratic deficit, as well as colonialism and the history of slavery are on the agenda. 

On Thursday, IPKO will make working visits to the Floriade and the Farm of the Future (WUR) on the theme of food safety and sustainability. 

The interparliamentary consultations will end on Friday, September 30, with the adoption and signing of the agreements list and a joint press conference by the chairpersons of the four delegations.

The deliberations between the delegations are largely public and can be followed live via a live stream – depending on the location – on the website of the First Chamber and the Second Chamber.

Links

Links to the daily sessions are:

For the part in the First Chamber on Tuesday morning, this link can be used: https://www.eerstekamer.nl/plenaire_vergadering/20220927/live

For the part in the Second Chamber on Tuesday afternoon, Wednesday and Friday, this link can be used:

https://www.tweedekamer.nl/vergaderingen/livedebat/troelstrazaal

These links will also be available on the FB page of the Parliament of Sint Maarten.

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2nd Annual Fitness on the Beach Event – Sunday, October 2

SINT MAARTEN (PHILIPSBURG) - Globally, September and October is observed as Prostate and Breast Cancer Awareness Month respectively. This year, 2022, the Positive and Elektralyets Foundations have hosted and scheduled several blue and pink events to heighten the awareness of prostate and breast cancer for men and women on St. Maarten. The “Fitness on the Beach” schedule for Sunday October 2, 2022, from 5.30am – 9am on the Boardwalk in Philipsburg. It is a free event and men, and women are invited to participate. This event was initially planned for September 18th but was postponed due to the passing of Tropical Storm Fiona.

Men and women are invited to take part in this event. Participants of the event will be provided with a free T-Shirt sponsored by NAGICO Insurances. The t-shirt will only be distributed on the morning of the event. Prior to the start of the event attendees will be given information related to the importance of prostate and breast health. This will be followed by a circuit of activities geared towards all fitness levels and abilities. All activities will be held on the beach in Philipsburg (close to Castaway beach Bar on the boardwalk) from 5.30AM – 9AM. While breakfast will not be provided, ILTT will provide free refreshments. The Red Cross will be present at the fitness on the beach event to ensure the wellbeing of all participants. It is important to note that parking is not allowed on the Boardwalk.

The foundations have partnered for the second time with Dimar Labega of the Monster Factory to host the “Fitness on the Beach” event. Mr. Labega, is very experienced in these types of events and together with his team, will guide all participants through the activities safely. The event is suited for all fitness levels and abilities.

Dimar Labeba of Monster Factory is excited to be hosting the fitness session this year. Reminding people that physical activity can lower risk for breast cancer by as much as 20%. Regular exercise regulates hormones including estrogen and insulin which can increase breast cancer growth. We can’t wait to see you bright and early for an amazing beach workout.

NAGICO sponsored the T-shirts for the “Fitness on the Beach” event that the participants will wear during the event. Participants will also receive fitness related give-a-ways. (Lisa to put her feedback) NAGICO is extremely proud of to be apart of this event, which has now become a movement to create awareness and spread knowledge about Prostate & Breast Cancer. We have been partnering with the Positive & Elektralyets Foundation for several years now, and their positive impact can be seen in the community, as they continue to champion their Cause and spread the word that awareness and early detection saves lives.”

ILTT is another sponsor who will be supplying drinks and refreshments for the participants. They are very happy to be part of this event and understand the importance of being proactive and staying hydrating while doing your exercises and find that this is a great event that they wanted to be a part of.

While there is no absolute way to prevent prostate and breast center, the Positive and Elektralyets Foundation know that there are some things you can do to lower your risks. Maintaining a moderate body weight and getting regular exercise can play a key role.

“Exercise doesn’t have to be boring. Change up your routine and invite your friends to participate on Sunday October 2nd from 5.30 am to 9 am at Fitness on the Beach on the Boardwalk near Castaway Beach Bar.

Help us help our community and let us be proactive in the fight against prostate and breast cancer and have fun while working out!”, Shelly Alphonso and Mercedes Van der Waals, Presidents of the respective foundations stated.

The breast cancer awareness movement launched in 1998 by the Positive Foundation has collaborated with the Elektralyets Foundation for over 10 years in the fight to save lives with its early detection messaging.

The prostate cancer awareness campaign launched in 2019 by the Positive Foundation, Elektralyets Foundation, and the St. Maarten Medical Center.

For more information regarding Prostate and Breast Cancer Awareness events please contact:

Shelly Alphonso Cellphone:580 9658

Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Mercedes”Elektra” van der Waals-Wyatt Cellphone: 5237418

Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

FRI Participants in Engaged in Fitness Activity

 

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Royal decoration for outgoing Governor Sint Maarten

SINT MAARTEN/THE HAGUE - Outgoing Governor Eugene Holiday of Sint Maarten has been appointed today as Commander in the Order of Orange Nassau. During a farewell reception in the Grote Kerk in The Hague, he received the royal decoration from State Secretary Alexandra van Huffelen of Kingdom Relations.

During the reception, State Secretary Van Huffelen reflected on the many merits of Governor Holiday for Sint Maarten. She mentioned that the maximum term of 2 times 6 years is over and looked back on the role he played in the past period. "For example, you were the stable factor that guided Sint Maarten through various political crises. I can imagine that it was not always easy to assist eleven different cabinets. But even in these turbulent times, you made sure that things that couldn't wait kept going."

Particular attention was paid to the role that Governor Holiday played during successive crises such as Irma and the Covid pandemic. In addition, the State Secretary expressed her appreciation for his careful way of working, his honest way of acting, his accessibility for every resident of Sint Maarten and his commitment to young people and good education.

"You have fulfilled your two terms in a great way," concluded the State Secretary and surprised the Governor with an appointment as Commander in the Order of Orange Nassau. An award that is not often granted. The decorated person must have performed very special or important activities.

In his role as Governor, Eugene Holiday represented the King. In that capacity he was also the head of the government of Sint Maarten. In this function, the Governor is inviolable, and the ministers are responsible. As a kingdom body, the Governor represents the interests of the Kingdom of the Netherlands.

On 10 October, Ajamu Baly succeeds Eugene Holiday as Governor. (RCN Caribbean Netherlands)

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Leader of the US Party: Self-fulfilling Agendas over Principles seems to be the Order of the Day

SINT MAARTEN (PHILIPSBURG) - Leader of the United St. Maarten Party (US) Mrs. Pamela Gordon Carty in an invited comment said, “The Chair of Parliament should reflect 15 members of Parliament. It’s unfortunate to continuously see immaturity, power plays and politics taking precedence over running the country.”

“The position of Chairperson of Parliament is a position that is neutral and should be carried out with the outmost respect. Running a country is a serious matter and personal issues should not be intertwined with the execution of this task,” said Gordon - Carty. “The appointment of the chair is voted on by all members of parliament and not exclusively coalition members. It is unfortunate that with all the serious issues facing the country at this time, personal agendas and party politics is taking priority ahead of the people’s business,” continued Gordon -Carty.

Gordon-Carty weighed in on the very public spat between the Leader of the UPP, MP Rolando Brison and the Chair of Parliament MP Grisha Heyliger - Martin that has dominated the air ways and social media over the past few days.

“There is something seriously wrong with the NA /UPP union, the issues being debated, stem from a lack of principles. Principle positions seem to be applied as a matter of convenience and that has eroded the stability and integrity of the coalition.”

The USP leader lamented that ministers being falsely praised for the execution of task that they are appointed and paid to complete, and photo-ops with civil servants executing their duties, is not the definition of governing. “Deviating attention from the critical issues facing the country to non-existing achievements as a means of distracting the population from the sea of ongoing negative matters has been this coalition’s modus operandi lately.”

Gordon- Carty said, “Instead of focusing on wanting to be the longest sitting government the focus should be placed on upholding the constitution and achieving progress for the country. Fact is that no laws has been presented and passed by the coalition members of parliament other than the three laws that in effect hurt our people by decreasing their spending power and by extension stagnated the rebound of our economy. This government has failed the people and the coalition partners in parliament have failed to uphold the core principles of our constitution.”

“I am not impressed, but rather disappointed in the execution results of this government thus far, much more could have been and should be done,” said Gordon-Carty. “The lack of principles, integrity and transparency, sly behavior, cunning attitudes, and the falseness being displayed is unbecoming of true leadership. I am calling on the population to not lose hope, things can change, your constitutional rights can be upheld, and your life and living conditions will improve when you elect the USP slate of capable and committed candidates under my leadership and place them in the position to lead this country.”

Gordon-Carty pointed out what she termed as empty promises and nice talks currently being used to erase and account for all the mishaps, justifying the disappointing manner in which the people’s business has been handled thus far. “The best interest of the people does not describe what has transpired in the Jacobs cabinet. Emotionally misguiding the population by means of a reverse psychological approach of sympathy, pity and fake humility only adds insult to injury.”

“It is time for the NA/UPP coalition to show some maturity, accountability and respect towards those that placed them in their positions and the country as a whole. Your job is to uphold the core principles of the constitution, and work in the interest of the people, not misinterpret and use it in the best interest of your coalition. That approach is obviously flawed and has not produced any positive tangible results for the country. The turmoil and utter failures that have spawned out of that approach speaks for itself,” concluded Gordon - Carty.

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PSGs CEO Gumbs, Act. Minister of TEATT Ottley Met with Cruise Executives from Carnival Corp. Brands

PORT ST. MAARTEN – Port St. Maarten Group (PSG) Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Alexander Gumbs and Acting Minister of Tourism & Economic Affairs Hon. Omar Ottley, recently met with a number of cruise executives in order to generate more business for the destination.

Carnival Corporation & plc as a long-term partner of PSG are working on positioning cruise ships from the nine brands which will create new opportunities for the destination for the upcoming cruise seasons.

Acting Minister of Tourism & Economic Affairs Hon. Omar Ottley stated, “Fruitful discussions were had with the Carnival Corporation & plc and Princess Cruises executives.

“The discussions with the executives were based around opportunities for additional calls for Princess Cruises which is looking to have a stronger presence in the Caribbean, and it is our goal to make sure St. Maarten remains at the forefront of the cruise industry.”

“Exciting times are ahead as we fine tune the details whereas a cruise port, we will pick-up more port calls from the Carnival group. The nine Carnival brands, eight of them currently visit the destination on an annual basis.

“Our deliberations also allowed us to connect with the President of Holland America Line Jan Swartz and President of Princess Cruises John Padgett,” PSG CEO Gumbs said on Tuesday.

Princess Cruises had an exclusive event for the unveiling of their most advanced ship to date the Sun Princess. During this event Gumbs and Minister Ottley had the opportunity to connect with Carnival Corporation & plc recently appointed CEO Josh Weinstein.

Sun Princess is a next-generation ship and is the first ship in the fleet to be powered by Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG). This cleaner burning fuel will significantly reduce air emissions and marine gasoil to minimize the cruise companies’ environmental footprint.

Gumbs said that the discussion with Padgett had a strong note to the Environmental goals outlined by the Cruise Line International Association (CLIA) 2030 carbon vision.

Gumbs added that PSG has been strengthening its compliance department which has been transitioning to include Environment, Social & Governance (ESG) principles aligned with the recently completed high level vision plan.

Sun Princess is the third ship to be honored with the Sun Princess® name, adding to the legacy of the first ship sailing from 1974 to 1988 and the second ship sailing from 1995 to 2020. At that time, she had the largest number of balcony cabins and the cruise companies’ first 24-hour cafe.

Sun Princess embarks on its inaugural cruise in 2024. The vessel will weigh in at 175,500 tons with an overall length of 1,133 feet. The next-generation ship will have 2,150 guest cabins and have a guest capacity of 4,300.

“Weinstein during our discussions showed full confidence in the cruise industry where it concerns its full return and benefits for the industry and destinations,” PSG CEO Gumbs pointed out.

Carnival Corporation & plc is the world’s largest leisure travel company with 92 ships sailing under nine cruise brands including Princess Cruises, famously known as the line of the Love Boat, and Cunard which built the world’s biggest ocean liner at the time, Queen Mary 2.

Carnival Corporation & plc’s 120,000 employees worldwide serve more than 13 million guests a year.

Carnival Cruise Line is the company’s biggest brand with 22 ships, operating 1,500 voyages annually, calling on ports from Cozumel to Ketchikan. The fleet’s largest ship, Panorama, can accommodate 4,008 guests.

The company’s portfolio of global cruise line brands includes Holland America Line, Seabourn, P&O Cruises (Australia), Costa Cruises, AIDA Cruises, and P&O Cruises (UK). Carnival Corporation also operates Holland America Princess Alaska Tours, the leading tour company in Alaska and the Canadian Yukon.

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MP Wescot: Time to renegotiate the cuts in workers’ benefits comprehensively

SINT MAARTEN (PHILIPSBURG) - The government is expecting that its proposal of law to sanction its unlawful act of paying out vacation allowance will be passed by Parliament on Monday, Member of Parliament (MP) Sarah Wescot Williams said in a press statement on Sunday evening.

“As can be recalled the government paid out vacation allowance in June to civil servants.  There is currently a law in place that cancels the vacation allowance payment, as well as reduces vacation days and overtime payments”, MP Wescot Williams explains. 

The government has found all types of arguments to cover up the fact that it acted against the law, but its argument regarding its legal right to do so without the approval of parliament is really neither here nor there. 

No one can contest the fact that the annual vacation allowance payment is very much appreciated by civil servants and for varying reasons. Arguments such as persons needing to pay school fee and get school stuff etcetera are valid and definitely not overstated. 

“That many people on Sint Maarten are hurting is also not an exaggeration. I experience it every single day.”

In the view of the MP, the government needed to inform parliament of its intentions, provide a financial overview, and ask for parliament’s approval to go ahead and pay out the vacation allowance in the absence of a legal basis. 

MP Wescot emphasized, “They did not!  They paid out the vacation allowance and now want the parliament to approve this law retroactively. Even now the government has not provided the financial paragraph for this payment, and I have in the past addressed the ambiguous situation with respect to the CFT’s (Ed. Committee of Financial Supervision for Curacao and Sint Maarten) advice on the matter. 

But even more concerning is how the government is handling or rather not handling the 12 ½ percent cut in the salaries of the other workers. Other workers meaning those who work for semi-government institutions. The cutting of the salaries of the other workers is part of the law that maximizes the so-called top incomes.  The government, on instructions of the Dutch government, has amended the so-called top incomes law, but went only as far as amending the law to meet the requirements of the Dutch government, explained MP Wescot. 

‘While the Prime Minister is pushing to get the law passed to cover their tracks of paying out vacation allowance to civil servants without the required parliamentary approval or authorization, the Deputy Prime Minister and the Minister of Finance are seemingly on a campaign to fix (for the lack of a better word) the payment of vacation allowance to the other workers, such as teachers employed by school boards and many others.” 

Again, it seems to be expected of parliament to sit back and wait and see when and how the government will deal with the top incomes law and address how school board employees and others will get the relief that civil servants got through the payment of vacation allowance. 

The top incomes law as far as it relates to the 12 ½% cut in salary benefits states that every institution that applied the law should publicize how. To give an example, if school board X chose to apply the 12 ½ percent cut by amongst others not paying vacation allowance and for the rest cut other benefits, school board X should make that known. 

“Up to now, I as a member of parliament have no information as to how any semi-government institution has complied with the law”. 

“Some might have cut the vacation allowance of their workers, others might have not, and I have stated from day one that the rationale behind a 12 ½ percent cut in workers’ benefits at the time when this was demanded and done, was flawed economic reasoning. This should therefore be undone as soon as possible for all workers, in its entirety.” 

To facilitate this, the parliament of Sint Maarten in approving the laws labeled temporary, gave the government the authority to cancel these laws by a decision of the government, formalized in a national decree. To undo both laws that slashed workers benefits with 12 ½%, the government has the mandate to do so by national decree. 

“Rather than muddying the waters with actions by individual ministers, the COM (Ed Council of Ministers) should collectively make a strong case for reinstating the workers’ benefits that I maintain were imposed on Sint Maarten more out of frustration with the government’s actions towards The Hague than any sound economic arguments”, MP Wescot concluded.

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TV15 keeps the ball rolling with launch of SXM Sports on TelTV+

SINT MAARTEN (POND ISLAND) - Well-known sports commentators and sports personalities, Herbert Martina and Dennisio Duzong are the latest addition of TV15’s line up of locally produced and aired broadcasts from the channel’s Orion Production Studio, Backstreet.

The pair are teaming up for the weekly sports program, SXM Sports, with the aim of touching on all the major sporting events and developments on St. Maarten in the past seven day.

The premier episode of SXM Sports will be aired at 8:30 pm this Friday evening, formal introductions from presenter, Mr. Martina, and reporter, Mr. Duzong.

The pair will give a wrap up of some of the sporting events that have recently taking place and other events that are coming up. The program will be re-broadcast the following day, Saturday, at 1:30 pm for those who may have missed the earlier broadcast.

Program producers say on the show tonight, some important local sports personalities will be featured and some interesting insights will be given into the development of local sports generally. There insights will be a regular feature.

Earlier in the week, TV15 launched a local news program that is being aired each evening. Producers say with the addition of the SXM Sports each week, more attention can be given to impressive sporting achievements that are up to now going unnoticed on St. Maarten.

TV15 operator, Mr. Ricardo William, predicts a strong following for Mr. Martina and Mr. Duzong, both of whom are themselves involved in sports. Mr. Martina lists Basketball amongst his favorite participating sports while Mr. Duzong is more comfortable in cycling pursuits. Both have commentated on live sporting events on St. Maarten and are equally at ease covering and speaking about all sports activities.

“In the opening program, SXM Sports will be touching on a number of sports, including softball, basketball with a very special mention in swimming, that everyone should watch out for in terms of the mark our sportsmen and women are making not only here on St. Maarten, but overseas as well,” said Ricardo.

Ricardo says the 30-minutes broadcast is powered by TelEm via TelTV+ and the Sports Department.

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SHTA Beach cleaner Project Used as Regional Best Practice by CHTA

SINT MAARTEN (PHILIPSBURG) - In a regional digital conference organized by the Caribbean Hotel and Tourism Association (CHTA) this today Thursday pertaining to the regional challenge of Sargassum seaweed, St. Maarten's efforts were highlighted by means of a best practice panel. The country received regional acclaim for its multi-partner Beach cleaner project spearheaded by the St. Maarten Hospitality & Trade Association (SHTA).

SHTA's secretary and Beach cleaner Foundation President Ricardo Perez was invited to be part of a multi-island panel discussing solutions to the seasonal influx of Sargassum seaweed. This natural phenomenon is not just a challenge for the beach tourism dependent regional economy, but also to its biodiversity. In addition, the Foundation coordinates educational sessions from time to time with the equipment operators and others providing information about turtle nesting protection and awareness.

The Beach Cleaning Foundation’s President Mr. Perez gave a presentation conferring how St. Maarten has been combating the Sargassum issue since the beach cleaner’s arrival in 2021.

In the wake of hurricane Irma (2017), SHTA commenced a fundraising campaign to acquire a beach cleaning machine. In conjunction with the St. Maarten Nature Foundation, procedures were developed to make sure the truck would safeguard St. Maarten nature to the best of its ability. 

Donations of ANWB the Netherlands, Rotary Club of St. Maarten, Rotary Mid Isle, Port St. Maarten and owners of Oyster Bay Beach Resort and Coral Club made it possible to achieve the milestone of securing the machine. For this special cause, producer Kässbohrer Geländefahrzeug AG (Germany) generously supported the acquisition as well.

Several of the aforementioned partners founded a not-for-profit Beach cleaner Foundation making the Cherrington 5500 beach cleaning machine available for island wide use. For this cause, Windward Roads continues to offer transport and personnel for any entity desiring the Beach Cleaner for a full day of operations at cost price. 

For more information about the beach-cleaner please contact SHTA at +1 (721) 542-0108.

shta beach cleaner at work

 

 

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PSG Invites Small Contractors to Register for Port Improvement Projects

PORT ST. MAARTEN – Port St. Maarten Group (PSG) management is in the process of upgrading infrastructure and carrying out the necessary improvements at the Dr. A.C. Wathey Cruise & Cargo Facilities, Captain Hodge Wharf, and at the Water Plantz Square that will further enhance the cruise product.

Small contractors are being requested to partake in upcoming tenders related to various small construction works and renovation projects.

In order to participate, interested contractors will have to submit a number of documents in order to comply with PSGs corporate governance regulations.

The documents that small contractors will have to submit are Letter of Engagement; Business License; Chamber of Commerce & Industry excerpt of registration; Receivers Office Declaration; Inspectorate of Taxes Registration; Two Recommendation Letters of Works from previous clients.

Contractors established and operating less than a year are excluded. For enquiries and document submission, you can email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

The projects will be announced once PSG has updated its contractor database.

PSG has chosen the current slow period to execute the facility improvements prior to the start of the 2022-2023 high season. Current cruise market rebounds indicate a promising season ahead.

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