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St. Maarten Tourism Bureau in search of website developers

SINT MAARTEN (PHILIPSBURG) - The St. Maarten Tourism Bureau is requesting proposals from agencies with website design and development experience to provide services to revamp the official destination website: www.vacationstmaarten.com  

It is important that the destination have a fully functional website that aligns with the latest trends in website development and design to capture relevant audiences, seeing that travelers rely on social, video and photo outlets as well as search engines for trip inspiration.

“Having a website that is not only attractive, but compelling and savvy is key to be able to offer users an invaluable experience while browsing our website, and persuade them why they should visit St. Maarten. Additionally, we also want to offer our stakeholders a common platform to manage and share information. We want to invite agencies to come up with their best ideas to create an amazing website for the destination” says Director of Tourism May-Ling Chun.

The terms of reference for this project can be requested via email from Sabrina Carty at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or it can be obtained at the St. Maarten Tourism Bureau office at 6 Juancho Yrausquin Boulevard, Philipsburg, St. Maarten during business hours from Monday to Friday.  The deadline to submit all proposals is October 4th, 2019 before 5:00 pm. 

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NA MP Doran: Council of Ministers openly declared "Incompetent"

SINT MAARTEN (PHILIPSBURG) – “Recently, it has been brought to the attention of the citizens of St. Maarten that Member of Parliament Claude Peterson has requested that the Dutch State Secretary of Home Affairs and Kingdom Relations Raymond Knops, come to the house of Parliament to discuss a few topics,” according to a statement from National Alliance (NA) Member of Parliament (MP) Egbert J. Doran said on Thursday.

These topics include liquidity support, evaluation of the performance of the Trust Fund and its projects and Kingdom relations.
Member of Parliament Doran questions why MP Peterson would invite a Dutch Civil Servant to have a discussion in the house of Parliament, when Sint Maarten has a Council of Ministers (COM), that should be able to answer any questions that Members of Parliament may have in regards to the above mentioned topics. As a matter of fact, it is their duty to do so.

“In our constitution it states that the Ministers of St. Maarten are accountable to the Parliament of St. Maarten, therefore, inviting State Secretary Knops to do the job of the Ministers, carries absolutely no weight.

“On a public platform, MP Peterson stated that the reason why he requested a meeting with State Secretary Knops is because in his opinion, discussions with the Prime Minister, the Minister of Finance and other Ministers on the above-mentioned topics, have been exhausted. 

“It therefore seems that MP Peterson deems the current Council of Ministers incompetent in providing the information to Parliament, hence the reason that he has opted for an audience with the Dutch civil servant, State Secretary Raymond Knops.

“The Council of Ministers is responsible for communicating with the Dutch Ministers, where after they are to update the Members of Parliament of St. Maarten,” the statement from MP Doran said.

MP Doran stated that if a Member of Parliament that supports the current COM, does not believe that they can adequately execute a simple task such as updating and informing the people of this country, then it makes him question whether the MP himself is working in the best interest of the people, as he himself continues to support the very same Council of Ministers that he cannot receive proper answers from.

MP Doran: “The people of Sint Maarten should have confidence in the ability of the Council of Ministers to perform on a proficient level, which includes communicating and updating the house of Parliament while protecting the patrimony of this country, and not leaving this up to an outsider.”

MP Doran went on to state that “the people of St. Maarten trusted us with their vote, therefore, we are their voice and we are responsible for appointing Ministers that are competent. “If at any point we no longer have confidence in them, this should be expressed in a motion to send them home. Not by bypassing them and inviting not a Minister, but a State Secretary to the house of Parliament, nor by going on public platforms and expressing that all avenues of discussion within the Council of Ministers have been exhausted. It is unfair to the people that Members of Parliament continue to support Ministers that they obviously deem unfit, instead of replacing them”.

Finally, MP Doran reminds the people of St. Maarten that himself and other Members of Parliament will continue to be vocal about the lack of vision, performance and backbone of the current Council of Ministers and its supporting Members of Parliament.

He also urges Members of Parliament to study their constitutional arrangement before making requests and sending out weightless invitations that do not carry us forward in any way. The people deserve better. 

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No Kidding with our Kids Foundation Receives Projector from CIBC FirstCaribbean

SINT MAARTEN (PHILIPSBURG) - “Guiding and shaping the youth of today into the leaders of tomorrow” is the motto of the No Kidding with our Kids Foundation. 

The charity continues to live up to that motto through a number of programmes including their afterschool program. To further their work, the foundation recently received a new projector from CIBC FirstCaribbean. 

This donation will enable the foundation, which has been providing afterschool care to children 4 to 14 for twenty-three years, to use the projector for various activities within their program, such as staff trainings and information sessions for parents and children. It will also further aid them in their continued efforts to care for the youth and highlight their potential.

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27-Year old Woman arrested by the ALPHA team at the airport

SIMPSON BAY-AIRPORT - On Saturday 14th of September 2019, approximately at 18:20 hours, a woman who arrived at the PJIA SXM Airport from Kingston Jamaica with initials SK (27) was arrested under the suspicion of money laundering, police announced on Tuesday evening.

The suspect SK was arrested after a routine joint control carried out by the Alpha Team and Customs.  The suspect had a large amount of money in her possession, which she didn’t declare upon her arrival at the Customs Department. 

The money was confiscated, and the suspect transported to the police station in Philipsburg where she was incarcerated pending further investigation. (Sint Maarten Police Force)  

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CCSU and Justice Minister reach consensus on way forward for Police Force

SINT MAARTEN (PHILIPSBURG) - On Friday, September 13th a Consultation meeting was held between the members of the Committee of Civil Servants Unions (CCSU) and the Minister of Justice the honorable Cornelius de Weever. Also present at this meeting were the Police unions: the ABVO and the NAPB, who were allowed to take part in the meeting as observers with speaking rights.

The purpose of the Consultation meeting was to discuss a way forward on three critical matters for the Sint Maarten Police force: the constellation of the placement and appeal committee, the approved function book of June 3rd, 2019 and the “Rechtspositie” decree, which is the document that regulates the majority of the legal rights and benefits of the Police.

In June 2019, the Minister of Justice presented the CCSU and the Police Unions with several signed documents. These documents included a signed function book, a letter pertaining to the existence of a “Rechtspositie Korpspolitie Sint Maarten” of 2011, a request to repeal the “Rechtspositie Korpspolitie Nederlandse Antillen” of 2000 and a request for appointment of members to the placement and appeals committee.

It was critical for the parties to meet on these points as the CCSU did not approve the request to repeal the “Rechtspositie Korpspolitie Nederlandse Antillen” of 2000 and the members of the CCSU did not agree with the constellation of the placement and appeals committee proposed by the Minister of Justice.

In addition, after the CCSU provided a positive advice on the function book and formation in February, changes were made to the formation plan that was not submitted to the CCSU for review in accordance with article 112g of the “Landsverorderning Materiel ambtenaren recht (LMA)”.

The Consultation would offer the opportunity to address these matters and reach consensus on a way forward, supported by all parties. After much negotiating and lobbying, parties settled on two of the three matters.

The Members of the CCSU (the WICSU-PSU & the WITU) could not agree on the proposed constellation of the placement and appeals committee. In such a case, the Minister of Justice is allowed to decide on the matter (see article 112f subsection 3 of the LMA). The proposed constellation of the placement and appeals committee by the Minister of Justice is in line with the placement procedure applied in 10/10/10, with the exception of two members nominated by the CCSU, instead of one.

The Minister of Justice explained that there are currently two regulations on the legal position of the Police force that are applicable and proposed the repeal of the “Rechtspositie Korpspolitie Nederlandse Antillen” of 2000, instead of the “Rechtspositie Korpspolitie Sint Maarten” of 2011”. The members had serious reservations about this request, as the “Rechtspositie Korpspolitie Sint Maarten” of 2011 did not receive a green light from the CCSU in 2015. This lead to the drafting of a “Rechtspositie Korpspolitie Sint Maarten” of 2016 in collaboration with the then Minister of Justice. After hours of deliberations, parties agreed to repeal the “Rechtspositie Korpspolitie Nederlandse Antillen” of 2000 and recognize the legality of the “Rechtspositie Korpspolitie Sint Maarten” of 2011, ensuring the placement procedures can commence with the needed legal clarity.

Additionally, the Minister of Justice explained that there are no significant changes between the “Rechtspositie Korpspolitie Nederlandse Antillen” of 2000 and the “Rechtspositie Korpspolitie Sint Maarten” of 2011 and as such, repealing the “Rechtspositie Korpspolitie Nederlandse Antillen” of 2000 would not hamper their current rights and remuneration. The Minister of Justice, in turn, guaranteed to work on the finalization of the draft “Rechtspositie Korpspolitie Sint Maarten” of 2016.

The function book of June 3rd is linked to the “Rechtspositie Korpspolitie Sint Maarten” of 2011. This means, by accepting the “Rechtspositie Korpspolitie Sint Maarten” of 2011, the members also accepted the function book, despite procedures not being followed and the discrepancies noted in the function book.

The members stated that in order to achieve the bigger picture of proper placement and salaries for the Police force it was imperative that the process not be halted any further. Not agreeing to the “Rechtspositie Korpspolitie Sint Maarten” of 2011, would mean delayed placement.

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Broken leg and fractured facial bones due to head-on car and scooter accident

CUL DE SAC - The traffic department of KPSM (Sint Maarten Police Force) is presently investigating a serious traffic accident involving a private vehicle and scooter, police announced on Monday evening. The accident took place on Saturday September 14th, about 19.30 on the L.B Scott road in the vicinity of Emilio Wilson Park.

According to the report, the male victim was riding on a pink/black scooter with number plate MF-53 on the L.B Scott road from the direction of Saunders towards John Cooper/Jose lake Sr. Ball park.  While overtaking on the bridge by Emilio Wilson Park, the driver of the scooter lost control and collided head-on with a private vehicle with license-plate P-6544 coming from the opposite direction.

As a result of the collision the rider of the scooter suffered a broken leg and fractured bones in his face.  He was treated at the scene by the personnel of the ambulance and transported to the SMMC Medical Center for treatment. The rider at the time of the accident was not wearing a helmet.   

Message to all scooter and motorcycle riders

Wearing of a helmet while riding a scooter or motorcycle is required by law. The wearing of a helmet is to minimize the severity of head injuries if an accident occurs while operating these vehicles.  Because the rider of this scooter was NOT wearing a helmet during this accident, he suffered severe head trauma as a result of the impact. Therefore, the Police Department is urging every scooter or motorcycle rider and passenger to wear a helmet when operating these vehicles as required by law. (Sint Maarten Police Force)

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Parliament recognizes those contributing to Sint Maarten’s environment

SINT MAARTEN (PHILIPSBURG) – Tuesday, September 10, 2019 marked the beginning of a New Parliamentary (PY 2019-2020) Year for the Parliament of Sint Maarten.

September 10, 2019 also marked the second year that the Parliament of Sint Maarten recognized persons in the community for deeds worth mentioning. Last year Parliament recognized persons who were helpful in their communities, after the passing of the devastating Hurricane Irma.

This year Parliament recognized persons and organizations for their contribution in protecting our environment for our future generations during the reception held at Sheer restaurant on the occasion of the Opening of the New Parliamentary Year.

Special recognition in the form of a certificate of appreciation, were presented by the Honorable President of Parliament, Sarah A. Wescot-Williams to several persons and organizations.

Ms. Bodine Beentjes; a young girl who realized that within her district every one really wanted to recycle but they did not have a facility to do so and as a result she took the initiative and started a separation of garbage project in her neighborhood and then added two more neighborhoods.

The separated recyclables which include plastic bottles, glass, cardboard, and aluminum are picked up twice a week by Clean St. Maarten and processed.

Oil Mop Environmental Services Limited (OMES); a locally owned environment and waste management service company whose mission is to provide practical cost-effective solutions to environmental and waste management problems, through careful consideration of local conditions also received special recognition.

Also receiving certificate of appreciation was Mr. Boykie Mendez, who through his company has just started a pilot program within the House of the Parliament of Sint Maarten by providing containers to separate paper, plastic, carton, and tins. This all is done free of charge.

Mr. Steve Hammond of Reef-It Snorkel Park received special recognition for his contribution by assisting with the restoring of the coral life around the island. Reef-It Snorkel Park also educate youngsters on the island on how to protect the coral around Sint Maarten.

Another organization receiving special recognition for their contribution towards the environment of Sint Maarten is EPIC Environmental Protection in the Caribbean. Certificate of appreciation was given to this organization for always cleaning up Sint Maarten’s beaches, while they also cut paths for tourists to walk and hike on St. Maarten. This enhances the environment for all residents and tourists alike. Ms. Natalia Collier was present to receive the certificate on behalf of the organization.

No Kidding With Our Kids Foundation, Mrs. Merlyn Schaminee-Miguel also received special recognition for the ASA recycling project.

In her closing remarks, President of Parliament Sarah Wescot-Williams also mentioned having noticed persons who have been providing food and homes for stray animals on the island. She stated that when the animals are homeless and hungry on the street it becomes a hazard for our environment.

The President of Parliament reminded all persons that animals are also part of our Sint Maarten environment; hence the reason for thanking all persons for going the extra mile in safeguarding the environment.

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NIPA Prepares Strategically for World of Professional Training

SINT MAARTEN (LITTLE BAY) - The National Institute for Professional Advancement (NIPA) is continuing to strengthen its forward trajectory into the world of professional training and advancement.

Following the recent extension deal with MIC-IT, the Advanced Vocational Education (AVE) Supervisory Board of Directors for NIPA wasted little time and dove right into strategic planning with NIPA Management and Support Teams.

On Monday, September 9, planning sessions were held in the Conference Hall at Divi Resort.

Chairlady of the AVE Supervisory Board of Directors, Drs. Peggy Ann Dros, accompanied by Vice-Chair Mrs. Annuska Friday-Illis, Treasurer Aisha James and other members of the board were there to represent their stake in the tactical growth of NIPA.

Dros opened the strategic gathering with words of optimism and set up the framework for topics of discussion. The meeting emphasized the importance of tactics for solid growth of NIPA as an organization, with reminders of the governing legislation, and the necessary compliance of all National Ordinances to preserve the credibility of NIPA.  

Also in attendance was Mr. Sergio Blomont, General Director of NIPA, along with members of the Management and Support Team whose knowledge of the organization’s day-to-day operations was crucial to planning and implementation. 

A delegation of MIC-IT Strategic Consultants lead by Deputy Chairman Mr. Keith Toby was also present to further support this ambitious development.

NIPA maintains its objective to foster a superior working environment, through empowerment and solid retention strategies that secure quality education by quality instructors and management teams, and further include the input of all stakeholders to prepare students for the global labor market.

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Mhakeda Shillingford awarded President of Parliament Award 2019

PHILIPSBURG, Sint Maarten – Mhakeda Shillingford was awarded the President of Parliament Award 2019. 

A youth is awarded annually the President of Parliament Award for exemplary behavior, leadership skills as well as contribution to the community.

Ms. Shillingford started her contribution to her island at the tender age of 10. She volunteered in tutoring students ages 5-16 for their academic growth. She also volunteered at summer camps every summer as a youth leader in order to motivate and develop a variety of students.

Every Christmas she would be in collaboration with youth groups to have a Christmas party for the foster homes giving them a warm-hearted Christmas, filled with fun, food and gifts. She has always been a strong advocate for her island. She has been part of the Sint Maarten Youth Parliament, Dutch Kingdom Youth Parliament and the Sint Maarten Youth Council.

She was also part of Y2x which is a podcast motivating teens on both sides of the island. She was on Beautiful me Magazine, where the target was to motivate self-love throughout young people. She is the founder of an organization called Patrol to Eradicate Pedophilia and Child Molestation. 

Now that she has ventured on to Texas to further her studies, she still represents her island. As President of Texas Junior Colleges Student Government Association, she is in charge of all colleges in Texas to advocate for their rights.

This year’s President of Parliament Award 2019 was presented by the Hon. President of Parliament Mrs. Sarah Wescot-Williams to Ms. Mhakeda Shillingford during the reception on the occasion of the new Parliamentary Year 2018-2019.

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RFHL ONE STEP CLOSER TO CLOSING BANK OF NOVA SCOTIA TRANSACTION

SINT MAARTEN/TRINIDAD - Republic Financial Holdings Limited (RFHL) is now one step closer to expanding its reach within the Caribbean region. The Eastern Caribbean Central Bank (ECCB) has approved the application for the transfer of the assets and liabilities of the Bank of Nova Scotia (BNS) to RFHL in Anguilla, the Commonwealth of Dominica, Grenada, St Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia and St Vincent and the Grenadines, pursuant to Section 43 of the Banking Act of 2015 that governs the various territories.

The ECCB made the announcement in a September 6, 2019, news release after its Monetary Council met on the same day to discuss the ECCB’s assessment of the Republic Group’s application to acquire BNS operations in ECCB member countries.

The ECCB has said that it believes that the corporate banking record of the Republic Group and its extensive network of correspondent banks will bode well for the Eastern Caribbean Currency Union (ECCU) banking sector. RFHL Chairman, Ronald F. deC. Harford, said, “This is a crucial and promising step toward an even brighter and more expansive future for the Republic Group. We appreciate the ECCB’s faith in our Group’s potential to be of great benefit to our other Caribbean counterparts, through this transaction.”

In November of 2018, the Republic Group announced that it had entered into an agreement to acquire the BNS banking operations in various territories. The execution of the agreement signalled the commencement of a transaction that remains subject to all regulatory and other customary approvals and conditions.

This approval is the most recent of those gained by RFHL since the announcement. Previous approvals include a letter of “No Objection” from the Central Bank of Curacao and St. Maarten and approval from the Central Bank of Trinidad and Tobago (CBTT).

As RFHL works with all regulators for finalisation of the transaction, the Group remains committed to working with all stakeholders to achieve a swift and successful closure.

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