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MP Buncamper concerned about boat wrecks removal from Lagoons

SINT MAARTEN (PHILIPSBURG) - Member of Parliament (MP) Claudius “Toontje” Buncamper of the USP faction in parliament, on Wednesday forwarded a letter to the council of ministers expressing his concern about the progress of the ongoing cleaning of boat wrecks in the Simpson Bay Lagoon and it’s shorelines and the Oyster Pond while the 2021 Atlantic hurricane season approaches.

While he praised the organization for the decommissioning for the wrecks, the MP stated that it is unfortunate that the wrecks on the French part of the lagoon are not part of this program and that he is extremely concerned that the environmental aspect of the works will not meet its potential long-term goal.

The MP also noted that the 2021 Atlantic hurricane season starts in 26 days and the water in the lagoon shows no regards to the border. MP Buncamper questioned if any sort of agreement exists with the French part of the island regarding the removal of the wrecks in their waters to safeguard what can still be salvaged of our lagoon.

And more disturbing to the MP is the Oyster pond lagoon which has been left unattended since the passing of Hurricane Irma in 2017 due to the World Bank’s statement that they “do not carry our works in disputed territories.”

“While I understand the World Bank’s position, I cannot understand our government’s position nor that of the Netherlands” the MP mentioned. “We are all aware of what part of the Oyster Pond Lagoon is being disputed, yet we allow the lagoon to suffer serious environmental damages because of the nonchalant behavior of the Netherlands.” In his letter addressed to the council of ministers, MP Buncamper noted that after Hurricane Irma the French government discharged a barge into the Oyster Pond Lagoon and cleaned up nearly all of the sunken vessels there.

“I cannot accept that our government has not yet contacted the Ministry of Foreign affairs in the Netherlands to indicate clearly which specific area of the Oyster Pond Lagoon is under dispute with the French Government, to enable the World Bank to amend the ongoing project for the removal of shipwrecks to include the Oyster Pond Lagoon.”

MP Buncamper warned against allowing the cleaning team and their equipment to leave the island before completing the project, which will result in the environmental destruction of the Oyster Pond Lagoon for unnecessary reasons.

The French government has indicated to the Dutch Government, and by extension the St. Maarten government, exactly what portion of the Oyster Pond Lagoon they claim is their territory. So, we can at least start to clean up the rest while we discuss the disputed part. “In my opinion, such a compromise cannot be too farfetched” the MP stated.                                                                                                                                            “This will show that we truly care about the environment and that we are willing to do more than just talk about it” MP Buncamper concluded.

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AOV and AWW now to be paid on the 28th of each month, says Minister Ottley

SINT MAARTEN (POND ISLAND) - Earlier this year, the Social Insurances (SZV) announced that the monthly AOV and AWW pension pay date would take place on the 1st of each month.

Numerous concerns within the community were voiced about this, primarily the concern of pensioners receiving their payments late.

Together with the team of SZV, the Ministry of Public Health, Social Development and Labour (Ministry VSA) was able to discuss these concerns. 

Today, the Minister of VSA, Omar Ottley is happy to inform the public, that SZV will be making a change in the monthly pension payment schedule. 

The change is as follows: 

  • The monthly AOV and AWW pension will be paid in advance,on the 28th of each month, excluding public holidays and weekends.  
  • All pensioners with a local bank account (Dutch SXM) can expect to receive their pension pay, in advance, on the 28th of each month.  
  • Pensioners abroad or those with an international bank account can expect their payment a few days later, based on the processing time of their international bank. 

This change will go into effect immediately, which means that the pension payment for the upcoming month of June will be available on the 28th of May.  

SZV will publish the new payment schedule today, on their website www.szv.sx, Facebook page and other media channels.  

Minister Ottley would like to thank the team of SZV for their timely cooperation with the Ministry of VSA to come together to achieve this result. A result, the Minister hopes will be a comfort to our pensioners. 

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Second edition of COVID-19 Vaccination Panel Discussion set for Tuesday May 11th at 7:00 PM

SINT MAARTEN (GREAT BAY, (DCOMM) – Do you have questions about the COVID-19 vaccination? Do you have concerns about the vaccine, or do you want more information about the purpose and goal of the vaccines?

Next week, Tuesday, May 11th, the second edition of the COVID-19 Vaccination Panel Discussion will be held, and the guests can provide you with answers to your questions. In this online event, which will be broadcasted via Facebook Livestream, various experts will provide updates and new data regarding the COVID-19 vaccines and answer all questions live!

There are many new developments regarding vaccination here on the island and worldwide, such as several different virus mutations, and many countries are adapting their COVID-19 regulations and restrictions as vaccination levels within the populations increase.

Why do you still have to wear a mask if you are fully vaccinated? Why is a PCR test still mandatory when you are fully vaccinated? And can I still become sick after vaccination? Various health experts will discuss all these questions and many more.

Here on the island, more people seem to become interested in taking the vaccine but still have questions or concerns. In this online event, any question regarding the vaccine can be asked directly to the health experts. Questions can be posted live in the comment section or sent in advance to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

With this event, which is available for everyone to view, the Ministry of Public Health, Social Development & Labour (Ministry VSA), Department of Communication (DCOMM), Collective Prevention Services (CPS), and the Vaccination Management Team (VMT) aim to inform and update the public and stop the spread of misinformation.

The Facebook Livestream will take place on Tuesday, May 11th at 7.00 PM via Facebook.com/SXMGOV & and simultaneously on the Government Radio Station 107.9FM.

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MP Emmanuel comments on contracts and companies without proper equipment

SINT MAARTEN (PHILIPSBURG) - Independent Member of Parliament (MP) Christophe Emmanuel on Monday said that the Minister of VROMI on Monday admitted that garbage collection contracts were allotted to companies without the proper equipment, using an explanation that contradicts the same term of reference documents that guided the bidding process.

Emmanuel said the Minister, with a sense of obsession, has occupied himself recently with trying to spin the garbage contract fiasco into some sort of personal tit-for-tat instead of answering critical questions. His admission that he signed contracts with companies who he knew could not fulfill stipulations of their contracts, re-enforces the concerns that other bidding companies had about the legality and transparency of the entire bidding process.

During a radio interview on Monday, Minister of VROMI Egbert Doran said that it doesn’t make sense to require contractors to have heavy equipment for garbage removal before awarding them a contract for garbage removal. The Terms of Reference dedicates more than 3 pages to exactly the kind of equipment that a contractor must have in place, how to maintain the equipment, the appearance of the equipment, size and dimensions, etc.

The Terms of Reference states verbatim: The collection and transport of the different waste categories will be executed in accordance with the tender requirements and with equipment. Not older than ten (10) years at the date of tender, in good state of maintenance and suitable for the job.

Furthermore, Emmanuel pointed out, the usage of equipment, especially garbage trucks, ties directly into the amount of experience a contractor and his personnel has in operating all types of equipment on a daily basis. Experience, he noted, is part of the evaluation process before awarding garbage collection contracts.

“So all of the complaints from the public about the improper handling of garbage and unsuitable vehicles used to collect garbage, can be laid at the feet of the Minister. He finally answered one of the many questions by admitting he signed contracts for companies who did not have adequate equipment. What sense does it make to award a contract to a company that cannot execute the work optimally? The banks are not accepting contracts as collateral, they accept hard assets,” Emmanuel said, adding that the public is paying for the Minister’s irresponsible action.

The MP said the Minister also doesn’t know his history when trying to tie the previous batch of garbage disposal contracts to his (Emmanuel) tenure as Minister. He explained that when he was sworn in as Minister in December 20, 2016, the garbage contracts had already been awarded by former Minister Angel Meyers. Emmanuel said when he started his tenure he never got involved unless necessary.

“And that necessity came about when the garbage haulers were making a mess of the place and I promptly saw to it that they were fined and lived up to their obligation and methods of collecting garbage,” Emmanuel said. “What has this Minister done with garbage still blowing everywhere? Nothing. And now after admitting he signed the contracts and basically said to contractors go pick up garbage with whatever you have, how can he ever legally impose sanctions on those who do not live up to the contracts,” Emmanuel added.

Regarding Doran’s statement that Parliament has not called him in and as such must be in agreement with him, Emmanuel reminded the Minister that if he truly had any sense of responsibility towards the people he would have used another avenue that Parliament also affords: Request a meeting yourself to address public concerns.

“But he does not care. He seems more obsessed with trying to get me to play a game of tit-for-tat. The bidding companies and other members of the public came to me as an elected representative with concerns. I in-turn as an MP used the avenue of public media to raise these concerns,” MP Emmanuel said.

He continued. “My job is to point out the inconsistencies, inaccuracies and the flaws of this government. I am addressing the people of St. Maarten via public media, just like he is lying and spinning via public media. It is my job to inform the people. My job is to hold government accountable and I have different means and ways to do so. Parliament’s platform is not only for MPs but ministers as well. The Minister doesn’t need an invitation to come to parliament and give a presentation on the garbage contracts or any presentation. I have asked the questions publicly thus informing the public.”

MP Emmanuel said the very next time the Minister goes on radio he should address the many questions he is running from including, but not limited to: were the correct and final contract documents sent to the Governor? What information did the financial controller not have before signing off? Was the financial controller given a warning letter? How were the final scores calculated? Where did government find NAf2 million extra for garbage collection and why? Has one of the contracts been awarded to a close relative of a sitting MP or Minister? How many inquiries have been started at the Ombudsman about the awarding of contracts? Have other bidding companies sought other forms of legal actions against government? How many Ministers signed the final dossier sent to the governor?

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Rotary Sunset, Mid Isle, & Heavenly Water Send Aid to St. Vincent

SINT MAARTEN (PHILIPSBURG) - A considerable amount of relief supplies has and continues to arrive at the ash covered island of St. Vincent. For the past month, over 20,000 residents try to cope with La Soufriere’s ceaseless eruptions which has affected water supply and quality, with thousands either in shelters or have been taken in by family members and/or friends. To help with the recovery in St. Vincent and the Grenadines, the Rotary Club of Sint. Maarten-Mid Isle, The Rotary Club of St. Martin Sunset and Heavenly Water combined donated 12 pallets of water, for a total of 6,600 bottles of water.

The two Rotary clubs partnered with Heavenly Water to procure the pallets of water at a reasonable price. In total, Rotary Sint Maarten-Mid Isle secured 8 pallets, Rotary St. Martin Sunset secured 3 pallets and Heavenly Water graciously donated 1 pallet. This initiative was spearheaded by Rotary Sunset’s Honorary Member Kenrick Housen, who expressed that, “In times like these, it is only right that we look out for our neighbors. This donation will go a long way, but with added donations from the St. Martin population we can assist on a much larger scale to bring relief to the affected persons in St. Vincent”.

With more than 1.2 million members worldwide, Rotarians are on the ground and ready to take action to help communities recover when disasters strike. Here in St. Martin, we know all too well what it is like to be in distress after a disaster, and our Rotarians immediately knew we had to contribute to St. Vincent in their recovery efforts. To ensure that the donation reaches the most vulnerable, the pallets will be collected by President Annette of the Rotary Club of Kingstown, St.Vincent and will be dispersed by members of the Rotary club,” the clubs stated.

The Rotary Club of Sint Maarten-Mid Isle and the Rotary Club of St. Martin Sunset would like to extend its heartfelt gratitude to all Rotarians and friends of Rotary for their kind contribution towards this initiative. The clubs would also like to wish the people of St. Vincent much strength and speedy recovery at this time.

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Minister Ottley meets with Windward Islands Health Care Union Association

SINT MAARTEN (POND ISLAND) - On Wednesday April 28th, the Minister of Public Health, Social Development and Labor, Omar Ottley held a meeting with Windward Islands Health Care Union Association (WIHCUA).

Representing the WIHCUA was Brunilda Illidge, President WIHCUA, Jacqueline Berkel, Vice President WIHCUA, Marguerite Priest, General Secretary, Charline Arrindell, Treasurer WIHCUA and Reinder Torrenga, Board member.

The main objective of the meeting was for the Minister to obtain a clear picture of the matters that the Union is dealing with, and to see how these issues can be resolved amicably.

The Union shared their grievances with some of the decisions taken by the SMMC supervisory board. The Minister informed the Union that he would do his due diligence and weigh in on the matter objectively.

The Minister went on to State that he cannot promise that all of the Union's needs will be met, but he will definitely bring the issues up with the SMMC supervisory Board to have both sides of the story.

The Union members told the Minister that they were encouraged to reach out to him after hearing that labor protection was one of his main priorities.

Brunilda Illidge, president of WIHCUA expressed her appreciation that her request for a meeting was accepted within less than 24 hours. She went on to state that it was the first time in her tenure as president that they were able to sit in a formal setting with a Minister to listen to their issues.

The Minister has a meeting scheduled in the coming week with SMMC where he will be able to get clarity on the matter.

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MP Romou and the St. Martin Promoting Young Ambassadors Foundation presents Cay Hill and Kenjo with the Artist Youth Excellence awards

SINT MAARTEN (PHILIPSBURG) - On Monday the 26th of April, The Artist known as Cay Hill, a local artist who recently signed under the Pretty Boy Worldwide record label held a showcase of some of her songs at Motorworld, Member of Parliament MP Angelique Romou said in a press statement on Wednesday.

This was the culmination of a 4-day showcase of various Pretty Boy Worldwide artists. On Saturday the 24th of April was Kenjo’s showcase. In the month of February MP Angelique Romou and the SMPYA Foundation started the monthly Athlete and Artist Youth of Excellence recognition program recognizing Youth from St. Maarten for their Excellence in sports and in the arts. In choosing their awardees for the month of April they thought it very important to recognize these two Young talents of St. Maarten who are making a name for themselves locally and internationally in the art of Song seeing their great positive influence and motivation for up-and-coming St. Maarten artists as well.

MP Romou and the SXM Young Ambassadors presented both Cay Hill and Kenjo with the awards at the end of the 4-day showcase, which ended with Cay Hill’s showcase. MP Romou upon presenting the awards enlightened the audience about her relationship with the two artists, mentioning that “She knew Cay Hill since she was a Child and that she was a member of the Children’s choir which MP Romou directed and that Cay Hill also joined the SMPYA Foundation at the age of 9 and was one of the weekly voices on their Saturday radio Program called the Kids’ Place Radio Program on SOS Radio 95.9 FM when they started 10 years ago.

She also explained that Kenjo was also a member of the SMPYA Foundation from the age of 15, so bestowing the two young St. Maarten Stars with the prestigious Youth of Excellence artist awards was quite an honor for her and that she was proud to live to see this moment.

She thanked the PBW label for giving the two artists the platform to share their music with the world and encouraged St. Maarten to continue to support their local talent.

MP Romou wants to remind all Sport and Art organizations to submit their recipients for the month of April as they are a still receiving the nominees for the month of April and for those organizations who have not yet gotten in contact with her they can email MP Romou at 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. to enquire about the requirements and qualifications needed to submit their nominations.

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CPS & Belair Community Center extend opening hours for Vaccine Walk-ins on Tuesdays/Thursdays

SINT MAARTEN (GREAT BAY, (DCOMM) – The Vaccination Management Team (VMT) decided on Monday, April 26th, to extend the opening hours of both vaccination administering locations from 4.00 PM to 8.00 PM on Tuesdays and Thursdays, starting on Thursday, April 29th.

The decision was made to keep both locations open for longer to make it easier for people to come for their vaccination after office hours or have other obligations during work hours.

Sint Maarten residents are invited to both vaccination locations who have not yet registered, to come to the Belair Community Center between 9.00 AM and 3.00 PM, and at the Ministry of Public Health, Social Development and Labour (Ministry VSA) Collective Prevention Services (CPS), between 8:30 AM and 4.00 PM for on-site registration and vaccination on the same day, and on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. Both vaccination locations will stay open until 8.00 PM on Tuesdays & Thursdays.

The VMT would like to emphasize that to prove eligibility for a walk-in vaccination, the person only needs to show one of the following documents. Not all of them.

  • Rental agreement of Dutch side in the name of the person.
  • Pay slip of Dutch side company in the name of the person.
  • A Sint Maarten ID card, Sint Maarten driver’s license or a Dutch passport.
  • A non-Dutch passport with the latest immigration entry stamp dating back six months or longer, showing that the person is here six months consecutively six months.
  • Proof of registration from the Census Department.
  • SZV Card.
  • A copy of a residence and/or work permit.
  • Proof of residency application.

The VMT also informs the public that both vaccination locations will be closed on Friday, April 30th, due to the public holidays.

Sint Maarten Protected Together.

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Emmanuel pleased that laws on income cuts submitted to Constitutional Court

SINT MAARTEN (PHILIPSBURG) - Whether or not the Constitutional Court deems the ordinances regulating the cuts to employment benefits as unconstitutional, the initiative by the Ombudsman to submit the ordinances for review “once again echo’s what I’ve stressed from day one; it is not just about salary, but all income and deprives people of the standard of living that they are due.”

So says Member of Parliament (MP) Christophe Emmanuel in reaction to the news that the Ombudsman of St. Maarten, Gwendolien Mossel, after careful consideration, submitted the three national ordinances, in connection with cuts to the employment benefits of all (semi) public sector workers, to the Constitutional Court for review. Emmanuel said he is pleased with the move by the Ombudsman.

He reminded that the government has stated on numerous occasions that they informed State Secretary Knops that the austerity measures could not be enforced if they are against the laws, constitution and rights of the people of St. Maarten.

MP Emmanuel is the only MP who voted against two of the laws on February 3, 2021. He voted against the National Ordinance to reduce the employment conditions for civil servants by adjusting the terms of employment by 12.5% per July 1, 2020. This entailed the reduction of vacation allowance and the right to vacation hours, the non-granting of increases in the remuneration and the reduction of the remuneration for overtime for government employees. He also voted against the National Ordinance to standardize the top incomes and reduce the employment benefits by 12.5% per July 1, 2020, within the (semi) public sector entities.

To stand in solidarity with the people of St. Maarten, Emmanuel voted for the National Ordinance to amend the employment conditions of political authorities. As such, this law reduced the employment conditions of political authorities by 25% per July 1, 2020.

Emmanuel vehemently chastised government for not fighting for its people by accepting the laws in order to meet the conditions set by the Government of the Netherlands for receiving the second tranche of liquidity support. “Government instead proudly claimed on more than one occasion that they are not touching salaries. And they celebrated this as a great accomplishment, while denouncing my warnings as fear-mongering. I wonder if the Ombudsman is also fear-mongering?” MP Emmanuel asked.

“From day one, I have said that while the direct salary is not being touched for now, everything else is still income. Not income that is given now and then, but income that people have earned, have become accustomed to and structure their lives around. Removal of this income in terms of vacation pay, bonuses etc, affects the standard of living of our people which is morally and constitutionally wrong. Government’s responsibility is to identify measures that do not touch the people, “ Emmanuel said.

MP Emmanuel said he is pleased that the Ombudsman, the guardian of the Constitution of St. Maarten, has taken it upon herself to have the Constitutional Court review the laws. “Whether or not the court deems the laws unconstitutional, there is one fact that this government cannot escape: that they made the lives of the people of St. Maarten harder,” the MP said.

“In the next few months people will start feeling the loss of income when school fees and uniforms are due, when house and car insurance are due, when hurricane preparations are due and maybe even when medical costs are due since government now have an issue with pharmacies accepting medical cards. So on top of all of that, the people might have to pay for their medical costs if a solution is not found. I said then and I will continue saying, the cuts to income were wrong, unfair, unconstitutional and immoral,” Emmanuel concluded.

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Two persons arrested by Alpha Team in connection with drug smuggling offense

SINT MAARTEN (PHILIPSBURG) - On Monday afternoon April 26th, 2021, the Alpha Team arrested two suspects in connection with an ongoing drug smuggling investigation. The suspects were arrested for their involvement which took place on March 5th 2021 at the Princess Juliana International Airport. 

In addition to the arrest, a house search took place at the residence of one the suspects and items were confiscated.

The suspects were transported to the police station in Philipsburg for questioning.

The Alpha Team is a joint multidisciplinary Team that is comprised of the Police Department KPSM, the Customs Department, the Immigration Department, the

Koninklijke Marechaussee and the Coast Guard. (KPSM)

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