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Soualiga News Today (4228)

Electoral Council brings clarity to political party registration; Eight parties possibly to partake in August 29 polls

PHILIPSBURG, Sint Maarten - Since its establishment, the Electoral Council has been diligent in providing accurate information to the public in a manner that minimizes all ambiguity or controversy. For this reason, the Electoral Council has been very hesitant to publicize the names of political parties that applied for registration or that were registered.

However, recent reports seem to have created anxiety in the community during this historic electoral process. In order to stem unnecessary speculations and concerns, the Electoral Council would like to give clarity in regards to the registration of the political parties to the general public.

Both the United People’s Party (UP) and the Citizens for Positive (CPC) have completed their registration process and have been registered by the Electoral Council since April 2014. Also, the Social Reform Party (SRP), which had attempted to register before the establishment of the Council, was also registered by the Electoral Council after completing the registration process. 

After the announcement of the deadline for registration, five (5) political parties applied for registration last week to be able to participate in the upcoming parliamentary elections. These parties are: the Democratic Party (DP), the United St. Maarten Party (USP), the One St. Maarten People Party (O.S.P.P.), the National Alliance (NA), and the Concordia Political Alliance (CPA).

The Electoral Council would like to emphasize that an application for registration, as in the cases of the aforementioned parties, does not automatically mean that the party is registered.  There is a registration process which includes the review of the application to ensure that the party complies with the law. Therefore, the applications and accompanying documents of the five (5) parties that applied for registration last week, are now under review by the Electoral Council.

After review of the documents received, the Electoral Council will contact these parties to notify them of its findings.

In the event, no objections can be found to register these parties according to the requirements laid down in the National Ordinance on Registration and Finances of Political Parties, there is a possibility that eight (8) political parties will contest in the upcoming Parliamentary elections on St. Maarten. 

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Civil registry department extends opening hours on Friday and opens on Saturday for eligible voters

GREAT BAY, Sint Maarten (DCOMM) – Head of the Civil Registry Department Leona Marlin-Romeo, announced on Monday that the department will extend opening hours on Friday for eligible voters to check their voting status.

On Friday, June 6 the extended hours are from 5.00pm to 7.00pm.

The office will also be open on Saturday, June 7 from 8.00am to 1.00pm.

Eligible voters will be able to correct their address and get information about their voting status.

No financial transactions will be conducted during the aforementioned times.

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Prime Minister urges preparedness for 2014 hurricane season

PHILIPSBURG, Sint Maarten - The Prime Minister of St. Maarten the Honorable Sarah Wescot-Williams urged the community over the weekend to be vigilant and be prepared for the coming 2014 Hurricane Season, and stressed that, although last season was relatively quiet it takes only one to effect the country: “I cannot stress enough how important it is for us not let our guard down as far as hurricane preparedness is concerned. We have been spared for quite some time a direct hit of a major hurricane for which we are extremely grateful to the almighty, but at the same time we need to realize that, as the saying goes, it only takes one. Although a less busy season is projected I am urging the community at the beginning of the season to be prepared and to take the necessary precautions.” Emphasized the Prime Minister.

“We as government will be repeating the message of preparedness as we go along. The Emergency Operations Center has had its first meeting and from a Government perspective we will be looking at, for example, the readiness of the shelters and what needs to be done to ensure the safety of the People.  And ensuring that all the essential organizations and entities will do their part to ensure that we are prepared in the event of a hurricane.

“It is good to also recognize that we should recognize that whatever happens it eventually is in the hand of God and as a Country we should indeed offer our prayers for a safe hurricane season,” stated the Prime Minister. (Contributed by the Cabinet of the Prime Minister)

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Five political parties register with Electoral Council: UP, NA, DP, OSPP and CPC

PHILIPSBURG, Sint Maarten - By the end of the deadline for registration of political parties on Wednesday, May 28, 2014 at 5:30 pm., representatives of five political parties appeared before the Electoral Council (EC) to apply for registration to be able to participate in the upcoming elections on August 29th, 2014.

(Publisher's Note: The Electoral Council has not specified which political parties have registered with the EC by the deadline of May 28. Various political parties have announced publicly that they have registered with the EC, namely UP, NA, DP, OSPP of Lenny Priest and CPC of Reuben Thompson. Political observers are saying that this leaves the US party of MP Hon. Frans Richardson and Jacinto Mock of the Social Reform Party out of the race for the second country parliamentary elections.  This is however only speculation at this point in time. Soualiga Newsday is trying to confirm which parties have registered with the EC.)

At 5:19 p.m. on Wednesday, May 28, 2014 an interested person visited the office to enquire about the registration for participation in the upcoming elections.

Three political parties had already finalized the registration process and have been registered for participation in the upcoming Parliamentary Elections and the references of these parties which will be placed above the candidate list to be submitted by the parties on postulation date have also been registered.

In the coming weeks, the Electoral Council will review the five applications and accompanying documents submitted and will examine whether they are all in compliance with the National Ordinance on Registration and Finances of Political Parties.

If there are no objections found to register the political party, both the party as well as the Main Voting Bureau will be notified.

In the event not all requirements laid down in the National Ordinance are met, the Electoral Council will invite the party's representative to discuss any omissions or errors and the party will be given seven business days to correct or amend the errors or omissions.

Once these improvements have taken place within the allotted time, the Electoral Council will re-evaluate the improvements for compliance with the National Ordinance. However, if the party does not make the necessary corrections and improvements within the stipulated time, the Electoral Council will not be able to register the party.

In such case, the party may file an appeal with the Court of First Instance within six days after the Decision of the Electoral Council. The Court's decision cannot be appealed.

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Port St. Maarten hits 1 Millionth Cruise Passenger mid-May One Month Ahead

POINT BLANCHE, Sint Maarten – Port St. Maarten surpassed the one millionth cruise passenger in mid-May, one month ahead.  Annually Port St. Maarten has been hitting the one millionth cruise passenger mark around mid-June.

Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Mark Mingo said on Sunday that he is very pleased with this news, and it further signifies that the country continues to grow in the cruise area.

“This is a significant sign that our cruise sector is strong and continues to grow.  This goes back to the relationships and strategic partnerships that have been developed over the years with the cruise lines.

“Our growth is also embedded in the hospitality of our people and service providers who deal with our cruise passengers on a daily basis, from the taxi driver, to the water taxis, from the tour busses to the car/bike rentals. 

“Everybody who comes in contact with a cruise passenger and crew, and who has left them with a smile, have contributed to our country’s success story as a premiere cruise destination in the Caribbean,” CEO Mingo said on Sunday.

The countries cruise sector has grown in leaps and bounds over the past 50-years. Port St Maarten will be celebrating its 50th anniversary in 2014 since the cruise pier opened.  On June 3rd, 1964 the A.C. Wathey Pier was inaugurated, and marks the 50th year of catering to the marine sector in different facets which includes the Japanese fishing fleet.

Cruise tourism has grown since those days with a significant leap being made in 1980, 16 years after the AC Wathey Pier was brought into use, when the destination received its first 100,000+ cruise passenger (105,000).  16-years later in 1996 that grew to more than half a million, 677,662, and 16-years later in 2012 to 1,753,215.  Port St. Maarten ranks number four in the Caribbean region.

Port St Maarten CEO Mingo says the former is a significant economic contributor to the Gross National Product (GDP) of the country. 

The Port St. Maarten was second in the top five destinations with US$356.2 million in expenditures by passengers and crew; according to the Business Research & Economic Advisors (BREA) September 2012 study.  The top five destinations have US$1.43 billion in direct expenditures, accounting for 72 per cent of the total cruise tourism expenditures among the 21 destinations. 

“The cruise sector is a key strategic economic pillar of the country’s economy, generating a total of 8,123 jobs with a wage income of US$160 million.

Port St Maarten and the destination as a whole will be hosting the 21st Annual Florida Caribbean Cruise Association Conference & Trade Show from October 6 to 10.  Approximately 1,000 cruise industry partners, including close to 100 cruise executives, will be visiting the destination during that one week period.

For cruise executives, ports and destinations, cruise and tourism agencies, attractions, ship agents, suppliers and tour operators, the annual FCCA Cruise Conference & Trade Show is the premier industry event of the year to meet key industry players, analyse trends and discuss current issues.

The official hotel for FCCA event is the Westin Dawn Beach Resort & Spa.

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Nature Foundation Expresses Concern Regarding Conservation of Mangroves and Sea Grass Beds

SIMPSON BAY LAGOON, Sint Maarten - The St. Maarten Nature Foundation has expressed via official letter its concern regarding discussions pertaining to the possible building of boat marinas and possible other developments in one of the last remaining mangrove areas in the Simpson Bay Lagoon. The Foundation has expressed its concern based on discussions that areas that were previously zoned as green areas in the Zoning Plan for St. Maarten are now being labeled as areas where development is slated to take place. Of particular concern is that these areas are where the Nature Foundation recently conducted a mangrove reforestation program where some eight thousand juvenile mangroves were planted, a significant and costly undertaking for a conservation management organization and one that has gained wide scale recognition throughout the region.

It is with significant concern that the Nature Foundation is following the developments regarding areas where some of the last remaining relatively healthy mangrove strands are left in the Simpson Bay Lagoon. The area from the Cole Bay side of the Simpson Bay Causeway to Port de Plaisance Marina are some of the last relatively healthy areas of not only mangrove strands but also of seagrass beds that support habitat for conch, lobster, and numerous fish species. Based on a 2012 Nature Foundation Report that area is responsible for the maintaining of acceptable water quality levels in other areas of the Simpson Bay Lagoon. Also based on the 2012 study if that section would be developed the entire eastern section of the Simpson Bay Lagoon from the Causeway to Cole Bay would experience significant environmental collapse with no living, viable ecosystems in place to support life. A significant drop in water quality will also be experienced, turning that section into what is scientifically termed a “dead zone”.

Additionally the mangrove sections, based on the Nature Foundation report on the effects of Climate Change, will play an important role in the rise of seawater levels. If those areas are removed the effects of climate change, including the flooding of some Cole Bay areas, will be realized as mangroves, which fulfill a significant coastal protection function, are essential in protecting communities from the effects of Climate Change.

Many Conservation Organizations and residents have expressed hope that the section in question will be preserved in its current state considering that it, together with areas such as Little Key and Mullet Pond, currently form the ecological backbone of the Simpson Bay Lagoon. There is no question that the development of the area and the destruction of important natural habitat that is associated with that, will have dire consequences for the Simpson Bay Lagoon and St. Maarten in General. The conclusions that are outlined in this letter are based on and supported by Scientific Studies conducted of the area, further highlighting the negative effects that can occur based on scientific fact.

The Nature Foundation urges all stakeholders involved to review the process and come to the mutual conclusion that developing the area will cause ecological collapse in one or multiple sections of the Simpson Bay Lagoon and does not fit within the context of sustainable development, a development where the economy of St. Maarten, the St. Maarten society including the communities of Cole Bay and Simpson Bay, and the Environment in the Simpson Bay Lagoon is sufficiently managed and supported for future sustainable growth.

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B&L Worldwide President Baptiste Meets with COM on Expanding Hub Function in Aviation Sector

GREAT BAY, Sint Maarten (DCOMM) – On Tuesday, May 27th, Craig Baptiste, the President / Chairman of B&L Worldwide attended a meeting with the Council of Ministers. Baptiste was requested to provide elucidation on the project proposals previously received by the Government in writing.

Baptiste has trained at the United States Air Force Academy and Embry Riddel Aeronautical University. He has extensive experience as an airline captain and he has been active in the aviation industry for many years in different capacities. In addition, he has been involved as an entrepreneur in different areas like real estate, food manufacturing and government contracting.

The B&L Worldwide project is currently known as ‘Project Majestic’ and its objective is to increase the hub function of St. Maarten in the aviation industry. The realization of the project would create job opportunities on the island. According to Baptiste the project can be financed by investors and will not require financial assistance from the Government.

The Council of Ministers appreciated Baptiste’s presentation. The course of action, due to the technical level of discussion, is for B&L Worldwide to continue discussions with the necessary stakeholders, among which Princess Juliana International Airport. Depending on the results of these meetings discussions with B&L Worldwide will be continued.

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Parlatino MPs discuss Energy Matters, Mining Safety, Migrant Rights and Parlatino Integration with the Caribbean

PHILIPSBURG, Sint Maarten – Members of Parliament and support staff from the Latin American Parliament (Parlatino) had two-days of very successful committee meetings.

Energy was one of the main issues discussed.  The Committee for Energy & Mines discussed a draft framework law concerning Electrical Energy which will be finalized for discussion in the next Committee meeting that will be held in Panama from July 24-25.

The decision taken in the committee is to send this draft law to the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC).  The Parliament of Sint Maarten is to also receive a copy and is expected to give its opinion and input on the draft law.  Work will also be carried out in drafting a law on Sustainable Energy.

The Chile delegate Issa Kort did a presentation about Mining Safety and it was decided that a draft framework law will be prepared.

Nuclear energy was discussed as well as a draft law on the use of renewable energy.

In the Committee of Political Affairs, Municipal and Integration meeting, it was agreed to create a document that promotes the unity of Latin America and the Caribbean.  It will be recommended to the Board of Directors of Parlatino, that the concept of integration be present in all topics of Parlatino.

The committee for Economic Affairs, Social Debt and Regional Development discussed the issue of migration.  The committee agreed to propose to the Parlatino Board of Directors about promoting a meeting with the Congress of the United States and the European Parliament, to exchange views on the rights of migrants.

It was also decided to promote a meeting with the United Nations Human Rights Committee with respect to making an integral analysis of the problems related to the human rights of migrants.

The Cuban delegate proposed to strive for a greater expansion of Parlatino toward the countries of the Caribbean.

The Parlatino Members of Parliament and support staff attended three committees meetings that took place last week at the Sonesta Maho Beach Resort & Casino.

Parlatino, is a regional, permanent and unicameral organization, comprising the National Latin American Parliaments elected democratically upon popular vote, whose countries have subscribed to the institutional treaty of November 16, 1987, in Lima, Peru.

Some of the purposes of Parlatino are to encourage the economic and social development of the Latin American community and endeavour for it to achieve the full economic, political, social and cultural integration of its nations.

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Minister Lake reminds Simpson Bay residents and stakeholders to review draft development plan as June 3 deadline approaches

PHILIPSBURG, Sint Maarten – Minister of Public Housing, Spatial Planning, Environment and Infrastructure (Ministry of VROMI) Hon. Maurice Lake says that the draft Simpson Bay Development Plan that includes the SXM Airport, Beacon Hill and Simpson Bay Lagoon, official review will conclude on June 3.

Minister Lake is calling on residents and stakeholders to make use of the opportunity to submit their views before the aforementioned deadline.  The public review started May 5.

The development plan is available at the Ministry VROMI (Tamarindesteeg #16, Philipsburg, Pondfill) and at the Public Service Center, Simpson Bay Fish Market.

The draft development plan is also available online through the Government website www.sintmaartengov.org; select Government; select Ministry of Public Housing, Spatial Planning, Environment and Infrastructure; scroll down to Zoning/Development Plans, and select About Zoning/Development Plans; go to the interactive map and select Simpson Bay. 

“The public review is the legal formal part of the zoning plan process.  The plan will guide the future spatial development of the Simpson Bay area where it relates to land use and building regulations.

“This is the opportunity for residents and stakeholders of the Simpson Bay area and adjacent communities to address their concerns in writing to the Minister VROMI.  I fully believe in transparency and openness, and community engagement. This is my back to basics approach, from the ground up. 

“The deadline is approaching.  Tuesday, June 3 is the last day to submit in writing your views via this formal process,” Hon. Minister Maurice Lake said on Thursday. 

Residents and stakeholders can submit objections with respect to the draft development plan Simpson Bay to the Minister of VROMI, Government Administration Building, P.O. Box 943, Clem Labega Square, Philipsburg, Sint Maarten.

At the end of the public review, the objections will be sent to the Council of Ministers and Parliament for handling and approval of the law.

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UP Party Board Extends Deepest Condolences to Leader MP Theo Heyliger and Family on Tragic Loss

PHILIPSBURG, Sint Maarten - The United People's Party (UP) family board extends its deepest condolences to the Leader of the UP Party Hon. Member of Parliament Theo Heyliger and family, as well as to Debby Zwanikken and family with respect to the passing of their son.

The UP family is now in deep mourning, and joins with the entire Sint Maarten community for strength during this time of bereavement.

The over-pouring amount of call and messages of support during this difficult time of sadness is deeply appreciated.

The UP family kindly ask to respect the privacy of the families as they deal with their loss. 

All UP activities have been suspended until further notice.

 

 

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