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K1 Britannia’s DIRECT Receives Support from CIBC FirstCaribbean

SINT MAARTEN (PHILIPSBURG) - K1 Britannia’s Disaster Relief and Crisis Team (DIRECT) has been assisting with relief activities during the ongoing Covid-19 crisis. Their efforts recently received a boost from CIBC FirstCaribbean with a donation of USD $1,000.00.  

Packaging and delivery of food and hygiene supplies throughout the communities and households impacted by the pandemic over the last months - including the warehousing, loading, unloading, inventorying and packaging and management of all the data of these supplies are the responsibilities of the non-profit organization and its committed volunteers.  

DIRECT has packaged and delivered nearly 5,500 food boxes to the needy on St. Maarten.

The donation will aid in their full-time relief activities, purchasing of additional supplies for distribution and daily operations. 

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Red Cross and Nature Foundation Kick off First Tree Planting Event as part of the Re-greening SXM Project

SINT MAARTEN (SIMPSON BAY) - The Red Cross and Nature Foundation St. Maarten hosted their first tree planting event in the M.A.C. primary school John A. Gumbs Campus as part of their Re-greening SXM Project. The project (an initiative of the Red Cross and the Nature Foundation SXM) organized its first tree planting event within this school garden last Saturday, whereby more than 60 trees, shrubs and herbs were planted. Over 60 volunteers came out in support of the project’s mission to restore environmental resilience and aid in the building of the agricultural program within the M.A.C. primary school J.A.G. Campus. Volunteers spent their morning planting trees, painting tires which were recycled, varnishing wood, tire placement, and preparing the area for the building of a greenhouse.

“I have never seen so many volunteers come out to an event before to create such a difference, it was honestly very exciting and heart-warming. I am proud of everyone who came out, without them nothing would be possible. The event was an absolute success which makes me even more excited for our future planting events” said Ernika van Putten, Re-greening SXM Project Leader.”

Volunteers learned how to carry-out proper plant transference along with the importance of trees within our communities. Trees help build our environment’s resilience against disasters, improve soil and air quality, and improves the overall health of the environment. They also learned the importance of having an educational program that can further inform the youth of this importance.

“The event was a great success and we are very thankful for the partnership with the Red Cross to help establish our agricultural project.”  Now we can use the garden as a means of teaching the students about simple plants, the process of planting, the way plants grow, and its importance in our environment. The students actually named the garden prior to its existence, they called it the ‘Eat What You Grow Garden!’” said Jamal Newton, Community School Coordinator.

Each volunteer was required to wear their mask, and practice social distancing in order to comply with current standards. In addition, sanitary precautions were taken, gloves were provided to each volunteer.

The Re-greening team is looking forward to having more successful events like this one and would like to encourage the public to stay tuned for the upcoming tree planting opportunities. The next tree planting event will be held at Seaside Nature Park, Cay Bay, in mid-October, stay connected for date releases. To sign up to volunteer for this project you can email us at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or visit naturefoundationsxm.org/preservation/regreening-st-maarten/.

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Border controls lifted on Thursday in Bellevue and Orleans Quarter

SAINT-MARTIN (MARIGOT) - The Prefecture of Saint-Martin and St. Barths and the Public Health Agency ARS responded to the request for an audience from the organizers of the “open the border” march that was held on Wednesday.

According to a press statement from the Prefecture, the ARS has taken stock of the current health problems in Saint-Martin, of the number of cases, the worrying indicators in particular in terms of near-saturated hospital capacity (18 beds occupied out of 23 in the COVID-19 unit and an additional death yesterday (Tuesday) at the Louis Constant Fleming Hospital, and 100% of the occupancy rate in resuscitation unit at the Guadeloupe University Hospital).

The members of the Collectivite did not hear these arguments but pledged to contribute to the establishment of a health education program for the neighbourhoods promoting public health preventative measures (wearing masks, gathering of people, social distancing, etc.).

While the regulation of population flows between the two parts of the island has been shown to significantly reduce the circulation of the virus, the risks of disturbances to the public order in a period of the public health crisis are not acceptable to the population or to law enforcement authorities who have been in high demand for months.

As a result, and as announced at a press conference on Monday, the Prefecture of Guadeloupe is studying the limitation of air-transportation into the Grand Case Airport which is expected to take place in the coming days (decrease in the number of flights and conditioning the purpose of travel for compelling reasons).

In view of the risk of disturbances to the public order, the Prefecture decided to lift border controls. The removal of the containers at Terres Basses (Cupecoy) and Oyster Bay will be carried out tomorrow (Thursday). The health risk remains present on both parts of the island and the Prefecture urges everyone to comply with barrier measures to prevent COVID-19 spread.

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NV GEBE Marks 60th Anniversary Milestone in Power Generation

SINT MAARTEN (PHILIPSBURG) – NV GEBE has reached a milestone from GESM to GEBE St. Maarten, St. Eustatius and Saba to finally St. Maarten as the sole shareholder. September 16, 2020 marks 60 years of service to the community, and for the occasion, the Chief Executive Officer Kenrick Chittick, Chief Operations Officer Veronica Jansen-Webster and Chief Financial Officer Iris Arrindell, issued the following statement for the occasion.

“Dear NV GEBE Family, it is with great pride and honor that we have reached such a milestone, from GESM to GEBE St. Maarten, St. Eustatius and Saba to finally St. Maarten as the sole shareholder. September 16, 2020 marks 60 years of our service to the community and we must give THANKS and PRAISE to those that served before us and that are celebrating 60 years with us today. To the first employees who are no longer with us in flesh, and our retirees and former employees who worked within the organization, we say THANK YOU. To the former members of the Supervisory Board of Directors and Shareholder Foundation, we say Thank YOU. To all past Managing Directors, without your leadership in your time at the helm of the company, we could not have made it to 60 years without you. Also, much praise and thanks goes out to the late Mr. Julius Lambert, our longest serving Managing Director. THANK YOU, to the many past and present subcontractors that have worked with us through the years.

“Finally, to all current employees (242) we give our ongoing THANKS! To the current members of the Supervisory Board of Directors, we say THANK YOU. The past three years have been very challenging, but we have pulled through and will continue to pull through. The road of our past employees was not always easy, and the trials were challenging, from pick and shovel to backhoe and hydraulic pole digging. However, despite the different times we have always stayed connected as employees and have always been able to pull through any obstacle together.

“From Back Street, where now houses Angelo Boutique to Cay Bay and from a peak demand of 0.2 MW to now 57 MW, we have progressed from a nightly electricity curfew to a now 24-hour electricity service. Through these years we have endured outages, load shedding and total black outs and are now at a regularly stable and reliable electricity and water grid. From a few water and electricity meters to now over 40.000 meters combined. From bills being handwritten to bills now printed and automated folded, from cables hanging from pole to pole, to the final stage underground cabling.

“Moving from fossil fuel to Liquid Natural Gas, and from bills being hand delivered to bills being emailed. From standing in line paying bills to paying bills online at your convenience, and to chatting with our customer care officer via live and from accounting and plan drafting on software and AutoCAD. The ever moving forward of NV GEBE through the times and challenges have not stopped the growth, with dedicated caring and hardworking employees we have made it to 60 years and are seeking to move beyond with SXM’s finest.”

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Ennia issue may be resolved possibly in Wednesday meeting

SINT MAARTEN (PHILIPSBURG) - Ambassador Hushang Ansary and attorney Richard Gibson are accusing former Interim President of the Central Bank of Curaçao and St. Maarten (CBCS) Jose Jardim of acting in bad faith and laid critical accusations against him in the ongoing Ennia saga.

In a leaked document from a trusted and well-informed source, Gibson and Ansary have directed a letter to Jardim in response to the latter’s request for a zoom meeting to possibly resolve the Ennia issue on Wednesday, September 16.

If the intention towards a resolution are serious the letter reads, then Gibson and Ansary are both interested. However, “it is hard for us to understand your real reasons for private meetings and zoom calls at the same time as you take action against certain US-shareholders and certain management members in connection with legitimate expenditures dating back as far as 11 years ago, against which extraordinary profits by the very same US-shareholders for the privately owned entity. Nothing to do with an agreement between this entity and Ennia Leven which made it possible for Ennia Leven to meet its obligations to its policy holders on a timely basis at all times.”

Additionally, Ansary and Gibson reminded Jardim that he continues to repeat publicly the same false accusation claiming that US shareholders of Ennia had moved a total of US 400 million from the company to bank accounts of their own.

“This was categorically denied by us at the meeting (on February 1, 2020 in Florida with Jardim) but we added that for this amount to be transferred out of Ennia bank accounts it would be necessary for two Managing Directors of Ennia with signature authority to have sent wire transfer instructions,” the letter to Jardim reads.

Ansary and Gibson further reminded Jardim that they asked him to present documentation to substantiate his claims and that he, Jardim, made the commitment to deliver such evidence to Gibson within one week from that date of February 1. Jardim has since never produced this evidence despite an additional one week being granted to do such. “In the many months that have passed, Richard has received nothing from you and no explanation. Very surprisingly, you (Jardim) once again repeated this accusation to the media in Curacao shortly after the zoom call you requested on August 21, 2020.”

Jardim is being told in the letter from Gibson and Ansary that he (Jardim) is on record during the emergency rule proceedings and subsequently the media for having said that Ennia was “financially sound” and that the restructuring would take about 6 months and received the court’s approval of your budget in the amount of Naf 500,000.

“Today, over two years later, millions of dollars have been squandered from the hard earned money made by shareholders in the United States, not a penny of which should have been wasted because of the fact that the restructuring has already been verbally agreed upon with you before you moved unexpectedly to take all the companies, regulated and privately owned by US citizens, without even a courtesy notice to US shareholders to be present at the court,” the letter reads.

“In addition, many millions of dollars of financial asset value appear to have been lost under your supervision over and above which we must regretfully include in the loss of market share at Ennia, purely as a result of rumor mongering and negative allegations.”

Ansary and Gibson re-iterated that the Ennia Group of companies during its entire existence has never been as strong financially as it was when the emergency rule was declared at Jardim’s request. “What is the definition of an emergency and how did that exist when you imposed the law and with what has the emergency now been placed by under your supervision in the last two years? For the record, if the highly negative conditions following your imposition of the emergency rule continue at this pace, the downfall will inevitably accelerate beyond control and the negative outcome will be far reaching. The day of reckoning will then arrive: what was taken delivery of and what will be there to be returned to the shareholders.”

Gibson and Ansary chided Jardim as being disingenuous and acting in bad faith. “Those who show interest in private meetings between parties for the purpose of resolving their differences are assumed to be generally motivated by a strong desire to achieve positive results outside the formal and rigid environment of a court of law. If this is what is intended by the private meetings you have initiated and we have welcomed in principle, everything that you have been doing is the exact opposite of what is intended as the critical objectives of private meetings. How can what has happened so far between us be encouraging in the context of that objective.”

Nevertheless, Ansary and Gibson concluded their letter by stating that they are still interested in participating in a Zoom call on Wednesday if there are serious intentions on Jardim’s part to resolve the issue to mutual satisfaction. (Submitted)

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Confiscated goods donated to three churches by KPSM

SINT MAARTEN (PHILIPSBURG) - The Sint Maarten Police Force (KPSM) in collaboration with the Customs Department collectively came together on September 10th, 2020 to donate various nonperishable items to three prominent churches on the island.

These items donated were amongst some of those that had been seized during several different investigations carried out by the Customs Department throughout the year thus far.

The items, which included nonperishable foods and children’s toys, were distributed evenly between the Seven-Day Adventist Church, Heavens Touch International Ministries, and the Good News Baptist Church, to be shared among the communities where they are needed. These churches were among those chosen based on their strong community outreach ties.

The members of the KPSM and Customs would like to thank the Prosecutor’s office for their role in making it possible for the food and toys to be donated to the community of Sint Maarten. (KPSM)

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Speeding driver loses control and crashes into parked Pathfinder

SINT MAARTEN (COLE BAY) - The police were called to an accident that had taken place on the Welfare road on Sunday morning September 6th, 2020, about 01.04 am, close to Eduardo’s Inn.

After further investigation. the on scene officers were able to gather that the driver behind the wheel of a Gray Hyundai Tuscan, was traveling at a very high speed on the Welfare road going towards the Kruithoff roundabout and lost control of the vehicle resulting in a serious collision.

The Tuscan slid in the area of Tropicana Casino and slammed into a White Nissan Pathfinder that was parked on the left side of the road. Both vehicles were severely damaged but luckily the drivers of the Gray Tuscan only sustained minor injuries.

He was treated at the scene by the paramedics. The traffic department is still investigating this incident. (KPSM)

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STATIA NOW HAS ITS OWN COVID-19 TEST CAPACITY

SINT EUSTATIUS (ORANJESTAD) - St. Eustatius can now perform tests on COVID-19 without being dependent on St. Maarten for testing. The test capacity is located in the laboratory of the Queen Beatrix Medical Centre. 

 The National Institute for Public Health and Environment in the Netherlands (RIVM) has procured the Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) test equipment for both St. Eustatius and Saba.

Starting this weekend St. Eustatius can conduct its own COVID-19 tests. Having the possibility to now independently test on COVID-19 is very important, especially in case of an outbreak on the island. The tests results will be available on the same day the test is conducted. Results can be in within 35-50 minutes.

This is a huge milestone for Statia as up till today tests had to be delivered to St. Maarten. And, depending on the available flights to transport the samples and the capacity in St. Maarten, it took 1-4 days to receive the test results.

A microbiologist from Curaçao, Mr. Radjin Steingrover, will train the staff members in the laboratory today on how to use the equipment and to ensure that the device was well placed and calibrated.

The first group of persons that will be tested by the public health department are people that are currently in quarantine. The department will also start with source and contract tracing.

The samples will be analyzed in the Queen Beatrix Medical Centre. The Public Health Department will receive the results and inform the persons tested.

The test capacity is also available for persons who plan to travel and who must be tested on COVID-19 as part of the entry requirements of a country.

They can apply for a test at the Public Health Department. Doctor Sharda Baboe-Kalpoe of the St. Eustatius Health Care Foundation/Public Health Department and project leader, is very excited that Statia now has its own test capacity.

“It’s like a dream come true. We have all worked so hard to get the device here on our island. Now we can test ourselves and have the results available on the same day.” (Statia GIS)

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SMCC – Netherlands obliged to complement St. Maarten budget without conditions

SINT MAARTEN (PHILIPSBURG) – The Sint Maarten Consumer Coalition (SMCC) said in a press statement based on its press conference this week: “In our last press briefing we alerted some parliamentarians about our right to demand monies from the Netherlands without conditions. We have been following the parliamentary meetings on the liquidity support challenges, and none of the Parliamentarians gave proof to be knowledgeable of our human right, to demand unconditional compliance from the Dutch government with funds, not only because of COVID 19.

“Today we will provide you with some quotes of various reports of the UN Committee on Economic Social and Cultural Rights, which show, that for more than two decades already, the Kingdom of the Netherlands has been addressed to comply with the International Covenant on Economic Social and Cultural Rights. Our politicians have to demand the Kingdom government to comply with the UN committee’s recommendations!

“22 years ago in June 1998 the United Nation’s Committee on Economic Social and Cultural Rights recommended the Kingdom government to apply all provisions of the treaty in all parts of the Kingdom (see paragraph 21 in their Comments to the Kingdom’s report).

“13 years ago in May 2007 the UN Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights[1] under the heading D. Principal subjects of concern, the committee wrote that all the concerns are expressed in this chapter are based on non-compliance with the International Covenant.[2] We quote paragraph 16 in the Comments about the right to social security, an important right not to be in poverty and to still realize the right to an adequate standard of living.

“16. The Committee is concerned that social security benefits are insufficient to enable the recipients to combat poverty. The Committee is also concerned by reports that social assistance is not provided to all those who need it. so as to ensure an adequate standard of living.

“34. the Committee recommends “that the State party take all necessary steps to guarantee the right of everyone to social security[3].”

“35. The Committee encourages the State party to provide social assistance to all those who need it, in particular the most disadvantaged persons and groups, so that they may attain an adequate standard of living.”

“In other words, just as in the Netherlands social allowances, social pensions, minimum wages are being paid for people not to be in poverty, so they should be increased to combat poverty and to cover everybody in need by an adequate equal social protection floor in this part of the Kingdom! Today the social allowances, social pensions, minimum wages in the Kingdom are still not equal and are keeping more than 13.000 (94%) households in SInt Maarten in poverty, that according to the STAT Household Budget Survey from 2015! So, since St Maarten does not have enough means, the Kingdom government has to provide the means, not as a loan and without any conditions!

“One month after 10-10-10 the Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights[4] in its concluding observations under C. Principal subjects of concern and recommendations, the committee addresses the inequality and the eradication of poverty again:

“304. The Committee is concerned at the unequal enjoyment of economic, social and cultural rights among the four constituent countries of the State party (art. 2, paras. 1 and 2). As the State party is accountable for the implementation of the Covenant in all its territories, the Committee urges it to ensure the equal enjoyment of the economic, social and cultural rights by all individuals and groups under its jurisdiction. This entails an obligation for the State party to ensure that all its enactments and policies should provide for all the same level of enjoyment of economic, social and cultural rights. Moreover, the principle of “maximum available resources” should apply to the State party and not to its constituent countries individually.[5]

“318. (…) The Committee urges the State party to continue taking all necessary measures to raise awareness of social assistance entitlements both in the Netherlands and in the islands of the former Netherlands Antilles, and ensure that all individuals and households in need of social assistance have effective access thereto. The Committee also encourages the State party to include these measures into national poverty action plans.”

“323. The Committee notes with concern that pockets of poverty exist in all the constituent countries of the State party. Moreover, the Committee is concerned that Aruba, Curaçao and St. Maarten have not yet adopted either official poverty lines or strategies or action plans to combat poverty (art. 11). The Committee urges the State party to combat poverty and social exclusion by targeting disadvantaged and marginalized groups, such as single parent families, migrants and children, and reiterates its recommendation calling on the State party to:

(a) Establish, for each constituent country, an official poverty line which would enable the State party to assess the extent of poverty and monitor and evaluate progress; and

(b) Draw up and implement anti-poverty strategies and action plans, taking full account of economic, social and cultural rights.

In this regard, the Committee refers the State party to its statement on poverty and the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (E/2002/22‑ E/C.12/2001/17, annex VII), adopted in 2001.” [6]

“These are very important conclusions and recommendations. This has implications for the Governing Program, the annual budgets and for the assistance of the Kingdom government. The means to address the development needs in the national budget of Sint Maarten must include resources from the Netherlands. one of the richest countries in the Kingdom and one of the richest countries in the world. This has not been implemented in the budgets of the government of Sint Maarten, nor by the Parliament of St Maarten, nor in the advices of the CFT and decisions of the Kingdom government! The State party the Kingdom of the Netherlands must provide with all means possible in the State an equal enjoyment of economic social and cultural rights: so, the Netherlands have to put their money where their mouth is!

“The Council of Ministers and the Parliament of St Maarten has to amendment the 2020 budget of Sint Maarten in such a way that it should reflect the means to eradicate the poverty in Sint Maarten and to realize fully all the economic social and cultural rights on an equal enjoyment level in the Kingdom of the Netherlands.” 

[1] third periodic report of the Kingdom of the Netherlands concerning the Netherlands Antilles (E/C.12/2007/SR.9 and 10) on the implementation of the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (E/C.12/ANT/3).

[2] concluding observations at its 21st, 22nd and 23rd meetings, held on May the 14th and 15nd, 2007

[3] The State party should conduct a thorough study on persons excluded from the social security system, indicating the reasons for their exclusion and the results of steps taken to address this situation, and include the study in the next periodic report

[4]the combined fourth and fifth periodic reports of the Kingdom of the Netherlands on the implementation of the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (E/C.12/NLD/4-5, Add.1 and Add.2) at its 43rd, 44th and 45th meetings, held on 10 and 11 November 2010 (E/C.12/2010/SR.43, 44 and 45).

[5] The Committee requests E/2011/22 E/C.12/2010/3 GE.11-42291 63 the State party to provide information on practical measures adopted and implemented in this regard in its next periodic report.

[6] The Committee also requests the State party to provide in its next periodic report disaggregated and comparative, annually collected data on the number of individuals and households living in poverty, and on progress made in combating poverty.

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PFP MPs appeal to Jacobs to resume talks with the Dutch for liquidity support

SINT MAARTEN (PHILIPSBURG) – The parliamentary faction Party for Progress (PFP), has called on the Prime Minister Silveria Jacobs to restart talks with the Dutch Secretary of State for Home and Kingdom Relations Raymond Knops regarding liquidity support for the country among other matters that are linked to additional support for the country.

In a letter addressed to the prime minister dated September 1, 2020, PFP Members of Parliament (MP) Melissa Gumbs and MP Raeyhon Peterson state:

“We have now received both advices from the Council of Advice. While the Prime Minister, and indeed several of our colleagues, have maintained that State Secretary Knops has ‘shut the door’ on discussion, the knowledge that our sister islands Aruba and Curacao continue to negotiate raises questions on this statement.

“The statement by Minister of Finance Irion, in the Parliament meeting of Friday, 28 August 2020 of the government’s current liquidity carrying us until the end of October 2020 has fueled even more concern in this faction and indeed, the public.

“When analyzing the suggested Plan B that you mentioned in answers to our questions (7 August 2020) it does not appear to be feasible from a timing or sustainability perspective. As the saying goes, “we do not want to take from Peter to pay Paul,” which would create an unstable and potentially worse financial situation for the country just mere months down the line.

“It’s in light of this that we urge you to seriously consider the advices that Government requested and received from our High Council of State, the Council of Advice, and to resume discussions with the Dutch government about the proposed consensus Kingdom law and the much needed liquidity support for the sake of the people of Sint Maarten.”

Melissa D. Gumbs

PFP MP Melissa Gumbs, Faction Leader

 

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