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Prime Minister Jacobs & GridMarket discuss approach for affordable energy generation

SINT MAARTEN (POND ISLAND) - In keeping with government’s strategic initiative to have Sint Maarten transition to clean, resilient, and affordable energy generation, Prime Minister Silveria Jacobs met with representative of GridMarket on Tuesday, October 19, to discuss the first phase of approach where this project is concerned. 

This project is in collaboration with Island Resilience Partnership (IRP), the Ministries of General Affairs, VROMI, TEATT and Finance, as well as utility company NV GEBE. GridMarket is currently aggregating data and key information from government’s GIS system in order to put forth options for more sustainable energy for the people of Sint Maarten. 

Prime Minister Jacobs stated, “Several large areas have already been identified for this project and the recommendation is to have the production spread throughout the island. This will reduce the risk of having energy produced at one location such as the GEBE plant in Cay Bay. 

Sint Maarten is almost entirely dependent on imported oil, as such, it is imperative that we continue our commitment towards diversifying the market with options for renewable energy and a resilient infrastructure as outlined by SDG 7 - affordable and clean energy. By March 2022, we would be able to give a more clear indication as to what is possible for St. Maarten in order to provide more sustainable energy.” 

This transformation will align with the Build-Back-Better principle, allowing Sint Maarten to be resilient in the face of future natural disasters and accelerate its long-term climate mitigation and adaptation goals. All phases of this initiative, including final project bidding and vendor selection, will flow through the GridMarket platform.

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Rotary Club of St. Martin Sunset Joins the Fight in Eradicating Polio

SINT MAARTEN (PHILIPSBURG) - World Polio Day is October 24, and the members of the Rotary Club of St. Martin Sunset are taking action on this day to raise awareness, funds, and provide support towards the efforts of eradicating Polio, a vaccine-preventable disease that still threatens children in parts of the world today.  Poliomyelitis (Polio) is a paralyzing and potentially fatal disease that still threatens children in some parts of the world. 

When Rotary and its partners launched the Global Polio Eradication Initiative in 1988, there were 350,000 cases of polio in 125 countries every year. While on St. Martin and many other countries Polio is just an “ancient” virus, there are still many that are contracting and suffering from this still very live virus. We’ve made great progress against the disease since then. Today, polio cases have been reduced by 99.9 percent, and just two countries continue to report cases of wild poliovirus being Afghanistan and Pakistan, however, we remain committed to the end.

The Rotary Club of St. Martin Sunset will mark historic progress toward a polio-free world while urging the community to help end the paralyzing disease. Eradicating Polio is a massive effort, therefore, the Rotary Club of St. Martin Sunset’s has launched an “End Polio Now Essay Competition”, for students in secondary schools. The theme for the essay competition is, "The Importance of Eradicating Polio". Essays are to be written in the English language with a word limit of 300 to 500 words. The essays must be sent in word document with the final date submission being Wednesday, October 20, 2021, via email to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. This essay competition is for students ages 13 to 17. The winner will be announced on World Polio Day, Sunday, October 24th, 2021, via the club’s social media platform. Rotary Sunset strongly encourages the participation of our young people as they get an opportunity to win a table device while promoting the importance of eradicating Polio throughout the world.

 With Polio nearly eradicated, Rotary and its partners must sustain this progress and continue to reach every child with the Polio vaccine. Without full funding and political commitment, this paralyzing disease could return to Polio-free countries, putting children everywhere at risk. Rotary has committed to raising US$50 million each year to support global Polio eradication efforts. The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation has pledged to match that 2-to-1, for a total yearly contribution of $150 million. Rotary has contributed more than $2.2 billion to ending polio since 1985, including donations by the Rotary Club of St. Martin Sunset.  

The Rotary Club of St. Martin Sunset would like to encourage the community to assist in eradicating Polio. Donations can be made at: https://www.endpolio.org/donate. These funds will help to provide much-needed operational support, medical personnel, laboratory equipment, and educational materials for health workers and parents. 

The Rotary Club of St. Martin Sunset meets on the second and fourth Monday of the month at Carl N Sons Unique Inn and Conference Facilities in Cole Bay at 7:30pm. Due to COVID-19, the club currently meets via Zoom. The club can be contacted via email at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or via the official Facebook page at facebook.com/rotarysxmsunset.

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MP Duncan Launches Hope in Sight to Help Vulnerable Families

SINT MAARTEN (PHILIPSBURG) – On Friday 22nd October 2021, Member of Parliament (MP) Ludmila Duncan launched her first annual Project: Hope in Sight. The initiative offers free prescription eye wear to children 16 and under whose families may be vulnerable, or cannot afford, to purchase glasses. 

“I started wearing glasses at 12. I can remember sitting at the bus stop in front of Academy with my friends when they pointed to someone down the road. It felt sudden, but I realized only in that moment that my vision was blurred. The next day in school, I struggled to see the chalk board from the back of the class. I remember feeling embarrassed about it,” recalled the MP.

Prescription eye wear on St. Maarten is known to be quite expensive. “I want to help those children who need it. There’s a saying that goes; if we share the same world, we should share the same vision. When my parents bought me my first pair of glasses, I didn’t think about how much they cost. Now I am quite aware of how lucky I was to get them," noted Duncan.

“There are children in our society struggling with vision impairment and losing the fight against preventable eye diseases because their families can't afford the necessary eyewear. If they can’t see, how can they learn? Project: Hope in Sight offers a helping hand,” concluded the MP.

Interested persons are asked to send an e-mail to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. with a short bio of the child; name, age and contact info of a parent before October 30th, 2021.

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Port St. Maarten Group and Minister Lawrence confirms possibility of new Homeporting options

PORT ST. MAARTEN – During the Caribbean’s largest and only official Cruise event in the region, the 27th Florida-Caribbean Cruise Association (FCCA) took place in Panama this week, Port St. Maarten Group and the Minister of Tourism, Economic Affairs, Transportation and Telecommunications (Minister of TEATT) Hon. Roger Lawrence, held great discussions with cruise industry leaders regarding aligning visions of St. Maarten and the cruise industry.

One of the key meetings held by Minister Lawrence, accompanied by Port St. Maarten Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Alexander Gumbs, was with MSC Cruise Chairman for North America, Rick Sasso. “MSC is 1000% interested in working with St. Maarten,” stated Sasso.

MSC Cruises is the world’s third-largest cruise brand, headquartered in Geneva, Switzerland, employing over 30,000 staff globally and sells cruise holidays in many countries around the world. MSC Cruises has six classes of vessels, and the fleet is expected to grow. MSC is rolling out with four new ships from November 2022 – April 2023. In total MSC expects to grow to 23 cruise ships by 2025, with options for six vessel orders in place through 2030.

Both Lawrence and Gumbs had held initial discussions over the past weeks with MSC Cruises discussing alternatives to turn one of their newest ships MSC Seaview into a homeport vessel out of Port St. Maarten as early as December 2021. MSC Seaview was launched in 2018 and is part of the Seaside Class and has a guest capacity of over 5000 passengers.

Minister Lawrence and Gumbs said on Thursday that this is potentially a great opportunity for the destination. Operation teams from Port St. Maarten Group and MSC Cruises will meet to discuss and review logistical operations to make sure that all is up to par, assuring smooth and efficient turn arounds can be accomplished.

Based on current discussions the vessel may have up to 85% occupancy in guests who will travel to the destination through multiple charter flights from Europe prior to embarking on their Caribbean cruise out of Port St. Maarten.

CEO Gumbs also alluded to the fact that he has had preliminary discussions with Princess Juliana International Airport (PJIA) CEO Brian Mingo last week regarding the potential to cater to such an operation during the week.

“The initial talks are about catering to this opportunity for the next four-five months as the cruise line assesses challenges in the other destinations that generally cater to this magnitude of operation.

“Port St. Maarten Group identifies that additional investments will be required in homeporting facilities in order to strategically move ahead as a major cruise destination in the Northeastern Caribbean if it is the intention of the destination to cater to this scale of operations structurally in the future.

“Great potential is identified as St. Maarten is well positioned and already functions as a hub for the neighbouring destinations within the region further strengthening the destinations potential to tap into such opportunities.

“We are simultaneously looking at strategically planning with MSC Cruises from an investment perspective for long term initiatives and becoming strategic partners in future port developments. Rick Sasso Chairman of MSC Cruises North America said the company still has great interest in exploring opportunities with St. Maarten as they see great potential and a great product,” Port St. Maarten CEO Alexander Gumbs said on Thursday.

Minister Lawrence said that the Port St. Maarten Group has his full support in terms of its strategic objectives, and also looks forward to the engagements Port St. Maarten has with the industry going forward with regards to their strategic initiatives which was recently presented to the St. Maarten House of Parliament.

Minister Hon. Roger Lawrence further stated that these discussions are currently ongoing and not limited to only homeporting in terms of developing this niche, will also be further developed in conjunction with other key stakeholders such as PJIA, St. Maarten Tourism Bureau and transportation companies, adding that in the near future, meetings will have to take place with the hospitality sector regarding catering to this potential market.

Gumbs added that with the potential penetration of MSC Cruises to the homeporting niche of the destination, it also diversifies the product mix of country St. Maarten along with beneficial factors to the cargo pillar where provisioning of vessels and providing additional auxiliary services are concerned.

The 27th Florida-Caribbean Cruise Association (FCCA), took place from October 18th to 21st in Panama City, Panama.

The cruise conference offered participants a series of meetings, workshops, networking opportunities and more with 100 high-level executives from FCCA Member Lines, which operate about 200 vessels and 95 percent of the global ocean cruising capacity were present to give industry updates.

Created in 1972, the FCCA is a not-for-profit trade organization that provides a forum for discussion on tourism development, ports, safety, security, and other cruise industry issue and builds bilateral relationships with destinations' private and public sectors.

The FCCA Conference was a four-day event designed to create a better understanding of the inner workings of the cruise industry and help attendees improve their cruise tourism business.

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As of November 1st, fully vaccinated travelers will no longer require a COVID-19 test

SINT MAARTEN (POND ISLAND) - The Minister of Public Health, Social Development and Labor, Omar Ottley announced during press briefing that as of November 1st, 2021, fully vaccinated persons will no longer require a COVID-19 test to enter St. Maarten.

This will only be applicable for travelers that are fully vaccinated with the approved vaccines of the RIVM and the WHO organization. The Minister went on to state that this is something that the ministry has been monitoring for some time, and with proven research has decided to proceed in this direction.  

Research has shown that the viral load of a fully vaccinated person, who is infected with COVID-19, lowers much faster than a person that is unvaccinated. This means that while there are a few breakthrough cases of fully vaccinated persons, the chances of these persons spreading the virus or becoming severely ill is tremendously low. https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/science/science-briefs/fully-vaccinated-people.html

The Minister stated that the vaccine allows your body to fight the virus once the infection moves from the nasal cavity and into the bloodstream. Severe illness is avoided by being vaccinated, as your body will be better prepared to fight the virus.

On St. Maarten, there is a recorded 1.6% death rate, in which 0.04% were fully vaccinated. A similar percentage is recorded for the number of fully vaccinated hospitalizations. “This shows that the vaccine is highly effective and we can move towards allowing fully vaccinated persons to enter without requiring a test” said Ottley.  

Minister Ottley announced that his short-term plan is to also develop the COVID-19 recovery Digital COVID-19 Certificate (DCC), which allows persons to register their past infections and show proof of natural immunity.

Please note that the requirements for unvaccinated persons remain the same, for further details visit the Government website. 

Please see List of WHO approved vaccines below:

Moderna

Pfizer/BioNTech. (FDA Approved)

Janssen (Johnson & Johnson)

Oxford/AstraZeneca.

Sinopharm (Beijing) BBIBP

Sinovac. CoronaVac.

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President of Parliament Brison attends Parlatino Board of Directors meeting

SINT MAARTEN/PANAMA - On Saturday, October 16, 2021, the President of Parliament, Mr. Rolando Brison, attended the Board of Directors meeting of the Latin American and Caribbean Parliament (Parlatino) at the Parlatino Headquarters in Panama City, Panama.

The Board of Directors is made up of the full Board of Directors and as many Vice-Presidencies as member congresses, of which the Parliament of Sint Maarten, represented by the Chairperson is member (Vice President).

Generally, the Board of Directors meet at least twice a year; however, extraordinary meetings can also be held by decision of the Board of Directors.

As this was the first time the Board of Directors met in person since January 2020, many present expressed that Members are much more effective in their work in person considering that virtual discussions cannot be had that fully flesh out the topics, especially topics related to draft legislation.

The Board of Directors agreed that as of the next General Assembly the Parlatino Committee meetings will also resume in person.

The Committee Parlatino Matters of the Parliament of Sint Maarten will be requested to make a recommendation regarding a preferred date for the General Assembly that will be held in the first quarter of 2022 in Panama City.

Some Members of the Board of Directors took the opportunity during this meeting to give their colleagues updates regarding the COVID-19 situation in their country.

Many explained the different decisions that needed to be made with regards to vaccination, mandates and states of emergency.

The President of Parliament of Sint Maarten also made a suggestion to create an easier way for Members to find draft legislation.

This would also include legislation that has not yet been approved. His suggestion will be taken up with the secretariat of Parlatino and will be handled at the next Board of Directors meeting.

The Latin American and Caribbean Parliament (Parlatino) is a regional, permanent and unicameral organization, comprising of delegates of the national Parliaments of Latin America and the Caribbean.

PARLATINO TUE 1910 INS1

 

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Minister Richardson escalates a call for action to the Attorney General to combat reckless riders

SINT MAARTEN (POND ISLAND) - Having taken note of the senseless act of violence carried out by bikers on Friday, October 15, 2021, on a family, whereby a four-month-old baby suffered serious injuries to her head and eyes, after a group of bikers threw a rock through the rear window of the vehicle that she was in, Minister of Justice Anna E. Richardson has renewed her call on the Public Prosecutor’s Office of Sint Maarten to take serious and swift action against all reckless behavior exhibited by riders of motorcycles and scooters on the island.

As a point of first action, Minister Richardson sent a communication to the Attorney General of Sint Maarten and Curacao; Mr. Ton Maan, calling for his attention to prioritizing this matter.

Minister Richardson also contacted the parents of the four-month-old baby on Monday, October 18, 2021, to offer her apology for the unfortunate experience and expressed that her thoughts were with the family during this time. “I’m grateful the baby is recovering well and that she’s said to be in good spirit,” said Minister Richardson.

It was in April 2020, soon after taking office, that Minister Richardson, because of the numerous complaints received from residents about the unabated nuisance experienced from bike riders while driving in traffic and residing in their neighborhoods, that the Minister indicated that a crack down would be set in place to combat bikers’ illegal activities.

Despite efforts from the Sint Maarten Police Force since then to address this matter, which have resulted in a number of successful confiscations of motorbikes and scooters, the problem remains. Minister Richardson finds it unfortunate to note that further activity to maintain consistency in this area is lacking.

The illegal behavior of riders of motorbikes and scooters continues to be a safety hazard for not only the law-abiding persons living in Sint Maarten but also for the illegal operators of said vehicles and it is for this reason that Minister Richardson is taking immediate steps to put a zero-tolerance policy in place to combat all illegal activities by riders of motorbikes, scooters, dirt bikes, etc. along with the unauthorized street races organized for these bikes.

In addition, the Sint Maarten police force has been requested to seek the cooperation of the authorities on the French side of the island, who themselves are familiar with the bodily harm that illegal riders can inflict on innocent persons as a result of their behavior, to discuss a joint approach to get illegal bikes off the roads.

Minister Richardson would like to reiterate that all persons making use of the public roads on Sint Maarten must adhere to the rules and regulations noted in our national traffic ordinance.

Far too many persons in the community have had the unfortunate experience of these riders who demonstrate an outlaw attitude toward motorists and despite being in violation of countless traffic laws, the reckless riders are quick to violently react to drivers despite being in the wrong. They constantly ride on the wrong side of the road. There is video footage circulating on social media of wheeling through and moving through traffic as these riders ensure to exhibit an attitude of being untouchable.

The community of Sint Maarten has been calling for action to be taken to deal with this matter and Minister Richardson has escalated the call to the Attorney-General to see to it that the Police Force of Sint Maarten receives the needed support to execute a joint action plan to address these lawbreakers.

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Minister Lawrence: Construction to Begin at Princess Juliana International Airport

SINT MAARTEN (SIMPSON BAY-AIRPORT) – This is a major milestone for the country, as today is the beginning, as we move towards a new outlook, we start to put the pieces together commencing with the reconstruction of the airport, Minister of Tourism, Economic Affairs, Traffic and Telecommunications (Ministry TEATT) Hon. Roger Lawrence said on Monday.

Minister Roger Lawrence met with Airport Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Brian Mingo and the reconstruction team of the Airport and Ballast Nedam and was provided with a project review and a facility walkthrough on Friday October 15th.

Ballast Nedam’s construction team was already on site preparing for the reconstruction to start in November. Mirto Breell, the Project Director at Princess Juliana International Airport (PJIA), expressed that the construction portion of the Airport Terminal Reconstruction Project will take a phased-planned approach over a two-year period, and is expected to be finished by mid-2023.

“As the reconstruction begins, we will not only focus on the construction portion but also focus on the guest experience. It is crucial that our guests coming to our country have a memorable airport experience, and this all starts with the people, what message are we sharing about country. This is key for our growth if we want to be the number one destination in the Caribbean. We all need to start saying it, believing it and living it,” stated Minister Roger Lawrence.

MinTEATT On the right Brian Mingo and Minister Lawrence during the walkthrough on Friday Oct 15

On the right Airport CEO Brian Mingo and Minister Lawrence during the walkthrough on Friday Oct 15.

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CPS: Calls on Frontline Health Workers to Participate in PAHO Campaign “Share Your Story”

SINT MAARTEN (GREAT BAY, (DCOMM) – The Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) has launched a social media campaign to raise awareness of the sustained burden the COVID-19 pandemic poses on the mental health of frontline workers, inviting them to share their stories and strategies to better manage and cope with this added challenge.

The Collective Prevention Services (CPS), a department from the Sint Maarten Ministry of Public Health, Social Development and Labour, is calling on frontline health workers to participate in the campaign and share their strategies that could help other workers in the region, the Americas and around the world.

The campaign “Mental Health Now – Tell Your Story,” will collect written and video stories from healthcare workers in the Americas through Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram (www.twitter.com/opsoms; www.facebook.com/pahowho; www.instagram.com/opsoms), which will be compiled and disseminated through PAHO’s website and social media channels until the end of the year 2021.

The story selection will be based on specific criteria, aiming to portray the breadth of the effects of the pandemic and display the diversity of the Americas.

The pandemic has affected the mental health of not only healthcare workers but also many other populations in the Americas, as they faced personal bereavement, news about illness and death, job losses, economic and social crises, domestic violence, school closures and persistent widespread misinformation.  

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APS submits 2022 budget to Minister of Finance Irion

SINT MAARTEN (CAY HILL) - On September 29, 2021, before the annual deadline of October 1st stipulated in the National Ordinance, Algemeen Pensioenfonds Sint Maarten (APS) submitted its proposed 2022 Budget to the Honorable Minister of Finance Ardwell Irion.

Despite the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic, APS’ net operational result in 2022 is expected to be positive at ANG 13.6 million, driven by strong positive results on investments. The operational cost is projected to remain stable and in line with the previous years. The investment budget in 2022 will focus on the current investment properties and the investment of available cash in local investments with a stable return.

In the 2022 Budget, the fund takes into account increased pension expenses. As mandated by the law, the fund decreased its actuarial interest rate due to the projected low market interest rates and a possible indexation. These factors are projected to have an estimated negative impact on the total net result of the fund.

“We based the 2022 budget on the premises that our coverage ratio remains healthy at approximately 105% or higher while ensuring efficient and professional service to our participants, pensioners, and employers. Our activities will continue to focus on monitoring the total net result and improving the results of our investments, developing sustainably with the interest of Sint Maarten at heart, and further increasing the efficiency of our operations”, commented APS Director Nadya Croes-van Putten.

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