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Prime Minister Jacobs: St. Maarten will maintain an environment where Rotary Clubs can positively impact lives

SINT MAARTEN (PHILIPSBURG) - St. Maarten had the prestigious honor to be chosen by Rotary District 7020 to host their 2022 Conference for the Rotarians of the District from May 9 until May 14. The Honorable Prime Minister Silveria E. Jacobs delivered the Official key note address of the opening ceremony held at the Sonesta Maho Beach Resort in Maho on May 12, under the theme ‘Serve to Change Lives.’

In attendance were Acting Governor, His Excellency Reynold Groeneveld, Deputy Minister Plenipotentiary Richard Panneflek, Rotary International President Representative Robert Hall and spouse Charlene Hall, Rotary International Director for Zone 33 and 34 Peter Kyle and Margaret Kyle, and Rotary International District Elect Jeremy Hurst and Michelle Hurst. With about 400 attendees from around the District, Caribbean and USA in attendance, the week-long conference consisted of District Training and Assembly at the Sonesta Maho Beach and fun fellowship events that showcase the beauty, culture, and activities of St. Maarten.

The opening ceremony began with an introduction of the dignitaries in attendance and a flag procession by the St. Maarten Youth Brigade. After a rendition of the St. Maarten Song, the national anthems of the ten territories of which District 7020 consists, were played by local steel pan players, while the St. Maarten Community Choir entertained the gathering with a medley of cultural St. Martin songs. Welcome remarks were delivered by District Governor Louis Wever and Rotary International President Representative Robert Hall.

“The services of Rotary International have manifested themselves in a variety of ways, including offering leadership training to its members, and humanitarian assistance to the community. As a result, I, like the people of St. Maarten and those around the globe, continue to be indebted to Rotary for its tremendous efforts. The recent pandemic is a prime example of how the Rotary Club has risen to the occasion by mobilizing its members and partners and demonstrating a determination to serve. In doing so, Rotarians have addressed the needs of our community and helped those most vulnerable affected by this crisis,” expressed Prime Minister Jacobs as she delivered the official key note address.

During her address, Prime Minister Jacobs challenged the District attendees to go out and change a life. “As more and more countries around the world enter the endemic phase of the COVID-19 pandemic, I challenge you to go out and change a life. That is the positive impact you can have as a servant of your respective communities,” she stated. Thereafter entertainment was provided with an inspirational performance by local dancers Troy, Dashaun, Ray Angel and Naomi, and a performance by 2022 Calypso Monarch of St. Maarten King Beau Beau singing a tribute to St. Maarten.

“On behalf of the People and Government of Sint Maarten, I commend Rotary District 7020 as they continue to make their mark here on St. Maarten and globally. With their generosity and invaluable contributions in mind, the Government of St. Maarten will continue to strive to maintain an environment where organizations such as the Rotary Clubs can prosper in their pursuit to positively impact lives, as they continue to serve,” concluded Prime Minister Jacobs.

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Ombudsman attends IOI Board of Directors meeting

SINT MAARTEN (PHILIPSBURG) - The Ombudsman of Sint Maarten, Ms. Gwendolien Mossel, recently attended the International Ombudsman Institute’s (IOI) Board of Directors meeting, which was held from May 10-12, 2022, in New York.

Ms. Mossel was recently elected to the IOI Board in February of this year. The current Regional President of the Caribbean & Latin American Region is Ms. Nashieli Ramírez Hernández, President of the Human Rights Commission of Mexico City.

This was the first face-to-face Board of Directors meeting since the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic in 2020. Attending the Board meeting afforded Ms. Mossel, the opportunity to directly liaise with her colleagues from around the world regarding the various topics of the continuously evolving institution of Ombudsman, an important pillar in the checks and balances within a democracy.

Apart from membership matters, other agenda points discussed during the meeting were: cooperation and training. In this regard a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between the IOI and the United Nations Institute for Training and Research (UNITAR) was signed.

UNITAR and the IOI share the common goals and objectives with regard to developing and strengthening institutional and organizational capacities by raising awareness and providing training and learning solutions.

The Ombudsman of Sint Maarten has benefited from trainings sponsored via the IOI’s subsidies program during the Caribbean Ombudsman Association (CAROA) biennial conferences in 2015, 2017 and 2019.

IOI Board of Directors

IOI Board of Directors

 

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MP Emmanuel wants answers on 90 million PJIA bond refinancing

SINT MAARTEN (PHILIPSBURG) - Independent Member of Parliament (MP) Christophe Emmanuel on Friday said in a press statement he has dispatched a letter to three Ministers seeking answers to questions he has surrounding the announced US $90 million refinancing of PJIA’s 2012 indenture to a conglomerate of companies.

Emmanuel said it is “unbelievable” that such a crucial decision has taken place and the Parliament of St. Maarten was not informed. “That the news came from the arranging bank, and not from the shareholder shows a lack of respect for Parliament and the people of St. Maarten,” MP Emmanuel said.    

He pointed to the difference in airport management approach when the previous bond issue was refinanced for US $135 million with a reduction in interest rates from 7.5 percent to 4.5 per cent. “At least then, we not only heard from airport management and got proper explanations, we could see and understand the benefits and the savings to the airport,” The MP said.

“Back then we knew the term was 15 years which was considered good for the Caribbean market considering the regional market was not considered "mature", we know how it was guaranteed and who guaranteed it, we knew that airport management engaged the ratings company Moody’s in the process and so on.

“Today, we have no information. The one thing that is clear to me is that when you look at the institutions involved now, the lenders are companies from Aruba and Curacao who now controls more 54% of the loan facility. The arranging bank in fact, the AIB Bank N.V, is an Aruban institution,” MP Emmanuel said.

The MP also questioned how much cash flow was, according to AIB, “freed up” to assist in the reconstruction of PJIA. “PJIA is apparently a bottomless money pit that keeps getting significant amounts of financial injections, while we can barely see any significant progress five years after hurricane Irma. PJIA got US $50 million from the Trust Fund, 50 million from the EIB (European Investment Bank) another US $20 million recently from the Trust/NRPB, and how much now?” the MP questioned.

The MP addressed his letter to the Prime Minister, Minister of Finance and Minister of TEATT. Some of the questions he posed included:

  1. What is the real reason for the refinancing?
  2. What is the exact amount of the loan?
  3. What is the actual interest rate?
  4. What are the savings referred to by AIB? Exactly how much is being saved?
  5. How much money is PJIA getting to assist with its reconstruction?
  6. What is the term of the loan in years?
  7. Was there collateral demanded/used for this loan facility? If so, what was used as collateral?
  8. Did the government extend the airport’s concession? If so, for how many years?
  9. Who guaranteed this loan and how?
  10. Is the EIB now subordinate to this new loan?
  11. How will this be repaid? Were airport fees increased?
  12. Was the Council of Ministers kept abreast during this loan process?
  13. How does this loan affect the rating of the airport (Moody’s)
  14. Who is now the majority holder of the bonds?
  15. How much was AIB paid as arranger? Why was APS not used?
  16. Which borrower did Simmons & Simmons represent?
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AIB BANK N.V. reaches Financial Close of USD 90 million transaction for Airport

SINT MAARTEN/ARUBA - AIB Bank N.V. is pleased to announce that on Wednesday, May 11, 2022, it successfully concluded the refinancing of existing Senior Secured Notes for the Princess Juliana International Airport in Sint Maarten. The transaction of USD 90 million was funded by a consortium of seven local and regional financial institutions put together by AIB Bank N.V. as Mandated Lead Arranger.

AIB Bank N.V. is grateful for the confidence entrusted to it by Princess Juliana International Airport, who selected AIB Bank as Mandated Lead Arranger in a public tender in 2021. We truly respect the professionalism and experience demonstrated by the CFO of the airport, Mr. Ben van der Klift and his team throughout the course of structuring and executing this transaction, contributing to realizing substantial benefits from refinancing the former bond loan.

This new syndicated loan facility brings substantial savings on interest and loan related legal fees, is structured under the laws of Sint Maarten, and frees up significant cash flow to assist in the recovery and renovation of the Princess Juliana International Airport.

This is an important transaction also for participating financial institutions in Sint Maarten and the region. The confidence shown by the regional finance community in Sint Maarten, its economy and the airport organization in particular by being part of this transaction at very competitive conditions indicates that Sint Maarten is emerging strong from setbacks by natural disaster and the pandemic.

AIB Bank N.V. would like to thank Stichting Algemeen Pensioenfonds Sint Maarten, RBC Royal Bank N.V., Ennia Caribe Leven (Aruba) N.V., Sagicor Life Inc., Stichting Vidanova Pensioen Fonds and Foundation Pension Fund Isla Curaçao for their participation as lenders in this consortium together with AIB Bank N.V. and congratulate them on the successful conclusion of this transaction.

Finally, AIB Bank N.V. would like to thank all those who participated in realizing this successful transaction, including Spigt Dutch Caribbean who acted as deal counsel to AIB Bank N.V. and the consortium, Simmons & Simmons LLP as borrower counsel and the syndication team of AIB Bank N.V. The members of this finance consortium are proud and honored to contribute to the further development of the Princess Juliana International Airport in Sint Maarten.

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Sint Maarten Library brings Story Reading to the Afternoon schools and Foster Homes in our community

SINT MAARTEN (PHILIPSBURG) - In the months of May and June, the Sint Maarten Library will continue to aim to bring to light all aspects of literacy among the young. In support of the quest of the leaders of Foster Homes, the Philipsburg Jubilee Library have pledged to join their campaign by organizing a series of visits to afternoon schools and foster homes where students will be treated to story readings by library staff in May and in June.

These reading sessions will commence in the week of May 16 and continue up until the week of June 23, 2022. The library looks to promote literacy in several ways, by raising awareness on the one hand and by promoting reading on a concrete level in the schools and foster homes on the other hand.

During these two month of literacy development the library will also be featuring two special activities, a Panel Discussion and a Book Launch.

Panel Discussion: The panel discussion will be held on zoom on Thursday, June 2, at 6:30 pm and can be seen on the Library Face Book page. The panel discussion aims to bring awareness to the needs and purpose of foster homes in Sint Maarten and the important role literacy development plays in the lives of youngsters. The moderator of this event will be Ms. Marcellia Henry, Secretary-General of UNESCO for Sint Maarten. Panelists taking part in the discussion will be foster care coordinator Meredith Concincion, foster parent Mrs. Veronica Benjamin Sally, Mrs. Kimberly Brown, director of the Court of Guardianship, Ms. Guicindy Glascow, family guardian at the SJIS, afternoon school teacher Tom Burnett, Claudia Connor, English language coordinator of the Department of Education, and the library’s Director M.A.Ed. Glenderlin Holiday.

Book Launch: The second special activity will be the launching of the children’s book “Nuris Superdad” by our new local author Mr. Roy Q. Marlin in the week of June 13, leading up to Fathers’ Day. This launch will take place at one of the primary schools and the theme of the story is centered around the role fathers play in their children life.

Do tune in to the upcoming panel discussion on literacy and foster parenting on Zoom on Thursday, June 2nd, at 6:30 pm. The Zoom session will be broadcast live on the library’s Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/stmaarten.pjlibrary/ . Look out for the zoom link which will be provided on the library social media forums and during promotional ads in advance.

Reading is FUNdamental, so keep on reading.

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The SMYC is preparing for the 5th Annual Domino's Interschool Dinghy Sailing Championship 2022

SINT MAARTEN (SIMPSON BAY) - The Sint Maarten Yacht Club is pleased and excited to announce that the 5th annual “Domino’s Interschool Dinghy Sailing Championship” is rescheduled and will be sailed on Sunday, May 15th, 2022.

This competition was scheduled for January 2022, but had to be rescheduled because of a the sudden spike in Covid cases in January. A lot of students were quarantined, and schools could not complete their teams. Together with Domino’s Pizza, the Sint Maarten Yacht Club decided to reschedule the event.

The event is open to all schools on St. Maarten and St. Martin and there are no entry fee or cost involved, thanks to the sponsorship by Domino’s Pizza.

“The setup of the Championship is unique in sailing, where normally sailors compete against each other on an individual base. In this event the sailors team up with all the other sailors in their school and compete school against school.” Said Saskia Revelman, event manager at the Sint Maarten Yacht Club.

The SMYC is expecting the following schools to be joining the event: Sister Regina Primary School, Learning Unlimited, Sundial St Maarten, Milton Peters College, Saint Dominic, Sister Magda, St. Maarten Academy.

The racing is divided into four classes: Optimist Class, Laser Class, RS Zest and RS Quest Class.

The goal is to take home the Overall Trophy for best school. Learning Unlimited won the 2021 edition of this event, are they able to win again?

Individual trophies will be awarded as well to 1st, 2nd and 3rd place in each class.

The aim of the event is to promote the sport of sailing on our island within the schools and to recognise those students who compete in this exciting sport. Through promotion of this 5th annual interschool sailing event, we hope to encourage and introduce as many young students on St. Maarten to sailing.

You can find the Notice of Race with the time schedule on our website: www.smyc.com/interschool-championship

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Prime Minister Jacobs Congratulates Keacy Carty. Becomes First Homegrown Player to be Picked for the West Indies

SINT MAARTEN (PHILIPSBURG) – The Prime Minister of Sint Maarten Hon. Silveria Jacobs was elated after she heard that homegrown Cricketer Keacy Carty became the first player from Sint Maarten to be picked by the Cricket West Indies (CWI) Selection Panel.

“We are very proud of Keacy Carty’s accomplishments to date. I would like to take this opportunity to congratute Carty on behalf of the Government and people of Sint Maarten. Congratulations to his family, friends and the cricket community of Sint Maarten,” Prime Minister Jacobs said on Monday.

Carty and some other players were chosen on Monday for their first West Indies One-Day International (ODI) Senior Men’s squad for short tours of the Netherlands and Pakistan.

The West Indies and the Netherlands will meet for their first ODI series at the VRA Cricket Ground in Amstelveen on May 31, June 2 and June 4.

The 25-year-old batsman Carty made 57 and 49 against England in March in a test warmup game for the CWI President’s XI.

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Twenty-Three sailing teams competed in a beautiful first day of the Hope Ross Series

SINT MAARTEN (SIMPSON BAY) - The first day of the Sint Maarten Yacht Club’s Hope Ross Series, which is part of the Grant Thornton Dinghy Season Championship, was known for beautiful sailing conditions, on the west side of the Causeway Bridge.

The Race Committee was able to start 4 races. The SMYC was happy to see both the Club de Voile de Friar’s Bay and the St Barths Yacht Club joining the racing again. Not only the children are competing, but we also see fathers or father/son teams joining as well!

8 sailors competed in the Laser Class. Emma Lennox came in third in a Laser 4.7 and Jules Fortunati and Justin Pieterse ended up in a tie on first and second place, both winning 2 races and 2 races as second. Pieterse won the last race so ended up on first place at the end of the day.

In the Optimist Class 9 sailors competed. Corentine Corroy came in third place and Thomas Magras and Sarah Michaux ended up in a tie as well for first and second place, with 8 points. Thomas Magras came in first and Michaux came second. Axel van den Eynde from Sint Maarten, 7 years old, sailed his first race ever and managed to finish all the races. He was supported by his grandfather, mother, and father on the water. He did great! 

4 teams sailed in the RS Quest fleet. Paul Pages and his son came in third. As it was the day of ties, Antonin and his crew from the St. Barths Yacht Club ended up in a tie with SXM’s Racing Coach Sam Peeks and his brother Guus Peeks.

Both teams won two races, but the Peeks brothers won the last race so they ended up first at the end of the day.

In the RS Zest class, 2 teams sailed. Clarice Darling and her friend came in second place and Filippa Vriezen sailed on her own and won the Zest Class.

The second day of the Hope Ross Series will take place on May 21st.  

“Congratulations to all competitors and winners. Great to see a big group of competitors out on the water again. We would like to thank the volunteers that made this race day happen again. In special we would like to thank Corrine Draesner and Clenda Pecht. Both ladies are organizing the race committee almost every race. Corrine is going back to Canada for the summer, so we won’t see her in a while, but she will be back in December. We can’t do this without you ladies, thank you!”. Said Saskia Revelman, Event Manager from the Sint Maarten Yacht Club.

syc red boat

 

 

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MP Romou Responds to the Recent Court Ruling To Allow Psychiatrists to Open New Care Facility

SINT MAARTEN (PHILIPSBURG) – Member of Parliament (MP) Angelique Romou was elated to hear of the recent court ruling allowing TWO BIG psychiatrists, Dr. Nijdam and Dr. Kelbrick-Furstenburg to open their own practice to provide mental health care services to the people of Sint Maarten.

MP Romou stated that she completely agrees with the judge’s conclusion that there is a current acute shortage of psychiatric services and that the doctors should be granted an exemption to offer their services via their practice – something she has been lobbying for since 2020.

As you may recall, it was just some months ago MP Romou made her concerns public about the revocation of the licenses of the psychiatrists. MP Romou stated in her then press release “The pandemic has shed light now more than ever, on how important mental health is and has also magnified our shortages as a country when it comes to mental health care.

“We cannot continue to do our fellow brothers and sisters of this country a disservice when it comes to their mental health.” MP Romou even questioned about the current situation on the island, saying “With the evident lack of qualified psychiatrists – can we really continue with the current status quo with an overburdened Mental Health Foundation which lack enough psychiatrists to truly deliver quality care for all?

“It also leads me to question if such a decision is really and truly in the best interest of the people of St. Maarten? Is Mental Health considered a monopoly on the island? Is it truly MHF way or no way at all?”.

Upon hearing the news of the court ruling, MP Romou says she was exhilarated by the decision because she knows that the people that will benefit the most from this outcome is the people of Sint Maarten.

“More persons can get the help they need and more importantly, more lives may be saved. I wish to congratulate Dr. Nijdam and Dr. Kelbrick for staying the course and for being persistent with their fight to deliver mental health care to the people of Sint Maarten. The work is only now beginning, and I implore you to always keep the best interest of our people at heart”.

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Salary adjustment for civil servants with lower income

SABA (THE BOTTOM) - The Public Entity Saba has raised the salary of a group of employees who earned below the minimum amount that is needed to cover their monthly costs.

The few dozen civil servants earned less than the amount that was calculated in a report by the Regioplan as the necessary minimum that a single parent needs. The Executive Council recently decided that the salaries of these civil servants goes up retroactively per January 1, 2022.

The Island Council has been advocating the much-needed increase for this group of workers. However, due to financial constraints mostly caused by the free allowance which has been too low to cover government’s operational and structural costs, it was not possible to do this sooner, explained Commissioner Bruce Zagers.

The Public Entity Saba is of the opinion that this increase can now be implemented because of the anticipated increase in the free allowance based on the new governing agreement in the Netherlands. “The Executive Council supports the position of the Island Council that correcting these salaries is a priority. Our employees work hard and should not receive a salary below the minimum amount that they need to cover their monthly costs,” Zagers said.

The Executive Council also decided that some civil servants will get a small amount added to their salary to help them with the inflation that has further raised the already high cost of living on Saba.

This measure went into effect retroactively per January 1, 2022.

The Public Entity Saba wants to have a more modern function house method for its employees. The Association of Dutch Municipalities (VNG) has been approached to assist the Public Entity Saba with this.

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