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COCI establishes Soualiga Employers Association and ready to submit names to Prime Minister for SER

SINT MAARTEN (PHILIPSBURG) – The St. Maarten Chamber of Commerce & Industry (COCI) is in the final phase after steering the process leading to the establishment of the “Soualiga Employer Association (SEA).”

The establishment of the SEA is part of the process of nominating various representatives to the high council of state the Social Economic Council (SER). A list of names will be submitted to the Prime Minister hopefully by the end of the week of September 7.

President of the COCI Supervisory Board Benjamin Ortega, said on Friday that COCI was mandated by the Prime Minister back in April and given the task to follow a legally and sound process where names would be submitted to fill the positions on the SER based on the establishment of an umbrella employer organization to ensure a better representation of employers’ organizations on the board of the SER.

The appointment of the 2020-2023 board was put on hold until a new structure was put in place.

“We have read in the media several times press releases and statements made from another Employer Council that according to the aforementioned, are made up of four Associations that are known to the island. Members of one of these Associations has been on the board of SER for a number of years and is aware of the request of the Prime Minister with regards to the establishment of SEA through COCI.

“We took a holistic approach regarding this very important process that we were tasked with to carry out on behalf of the Government. We consulted with a number of broad-based stakeholders and worked in unisom according to the procedures of good corporate governance to reach the final stage of this process.

“We have ensured that the right process has been followed and that all major employers have had the opportunity to be included and ultimately be a part of the SER,” Benjamin Ortega, President of the COCI Supervisory Board said.

Consultation sessions took place with the Banker’s Association, the Sint Maarten Insurance Brokers Association, the Taxi Association, the Chinese Merchants Association as well as with small and medium hotel sector representatives.

In addition, letters were sent to Government-owned companies to inform them and request if they would be interested in joining the SEA.

Ortega added: “Although we are still in the process of engaging with as much relative businesses and associations to ensure we have a balanced representation in the names that we will put forward to the Prime Ministers office, we are extremely surprised and disappointed in the lack of inclusion and respect that the Employer Council has shown towards the country by disregarding the SER and the mandated request from the Prime Minister.

“The SER is not a pressure group, and hijacking the process of the request of the countries government without acknowledging nor contacting or including COCI or SER or any other business and associations can be considered presumptuous and disrespectful.

“It is important that the country has a SER board with a variety of businesses and government owned companies that represent a large group of persons. The SER as an independent advisory body, is comprised of independent experts, employee representatives (unions) and employer representative (various companies/business owners through the SEA).

“The combination of employer, employees and independent experts in the SER, is the only official tri-part constellation which is in line with international best practices and the international United Nations Charter standard for organizations such as the SER.

“Through the mandate given by the Honorable Prime Minister, the SEA is required to present three permanent members and three substitute members for the appointment on the SER board.

“We are now in the final stage at this juncture. The SER needs to be up and running as soon as possible due to our current socio-economic challenges brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic. Broad-based representation is needed in order to deal with the uncertainties that our country is currently facing for the foreseeable future.

“The SEA remains open to all businesses and Associations who would require their voice being heard at the level of the SER to ensure a balanced representation across the board. Interested in participating, contact should be made with COCI for details and confirmation,” Ortega concluded.

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President Gibbs challenges the Prefecture on Border control measures

SAINT-MARTIN (MARIGOT) - The President of the Collectivite of St. Martin, Daniel Gibbs, the 1stère Vice-President Valérie Damaseau and the 4the Vice-President Steven Patrick, participated on Tuesday, September 1, 2020, in a meeting with the Prefecture regarding the COVID-19 health situation of the territory and the measures currently in force, according to a statement from the Collectivity on Wednesday.

The meeting was led by the Secretary General, the Prefect Mickael Doré, in the presence of the Director of the Saint-Martin Hospital Center, Marie Lampis, the local representative of the Regional Health Agency, Pascal Godefroy and the Commander of the Gendarmerie of the Northern islands, Stephan Basso.

President Gibbs once again sounded the alarm about the socio-economic consequences of extending border control measures.

First of all, the President alerted the State representatives to the situation of students attending school on the French side, currently stuck on the Dutch side. The President asked the Secretary-General to study the situation of the Saint-Martin families who have come forward to allow their children access to school.. The Secretary-General is committed to addressing these situations on a case-by-case basis.

On the economic side, the President recalled the typical position of the territory, which, unlike other islands in the French West Indies, lives 90% from tourism. The President asked the State representative to take into account the situation of socio-professionals and their employees, whose difficulties have increased since the establishment of border control between the north and south sides of the island.

The Chair requested that a date for the reopening of the border be communicated to them as soon as possible so that they could consider the upcoming tourism season and that reservations could be made by potential travelers to the destination.

In the medium term, the President asked the Secretary-General about the economic situation of Saint-Martin and the importance of planning for a wider reopening of the destination for the next tourist season.

President Gibbs also indicated that, in preparation for the upcoming season, the Collectivite will consider the possibility of requesting a waiver from the State in order to welcome American nationals (USA) on its soil, as well as the Collectivite of Saint-Barthélemy whose economy is also tourism dependent.

This waiver envisioned provides that a specific health protocol is established, to which the socio-professionals of the territory will have to contribute and fully adhere too.

Concerned about the recent deterioration of the health situation and aware of the need to protect the inhabitants, the Territorial Executive Government is seeking appropriate socio-economic solutions to enable Saint-Martin to recover from this unprecedented health crisis, while continuing to raise public awareness about the fight against the spread of COVID-19.

With this in mind, the Territorial elected representatives have called for tighter field controls. They agreed that the territorial police should join the gendarmerie's arrangements in order to increase prevention and control, particularly at bars and leisure establishments. The aim is to limit gatherings and enforce social distancing guidelines.

President Gibbs and his executive are once again calling for joint health protocols to be put in place as soon as possible between the French State and the Government of Sint Maarten, the two parties who are responsible for health and border management -with joint health protocols to reopen the borders and gradually resume general functioning of socio-economic activities between both sides of the island. President Gibbs has been calling for this essential health cooperation for several months now, a Wednesday statement from the Collectivite said.

The prefecture has committed to study the proposals put forward by the Collectivite and its elected representatives.

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13 New COVID-19 Positive Cases. Active cases continue to decrease and now stands at 174. 61 Recover

SINT MAARTEN (POND ISLAND) - As of September 2nd, St. Maarten has confirmed thirteen new cases of persons who have tested positive for the Corona Virus (COVID-19), however there was a recovery of 61 persons; reducing the total active cases to 174. The new total of confirmed cases now stands at 495.

Of the active cases, the Collective Prevention Services (CPS) are monitoring 168 people in home isolation. Six patients are currently hospitalized and the total number of deaths due to COVID-19 remains at 19.

The number of people recovered since the first case surfaced on St. Maarten has increased to 302. One hundred and sixty-three (163) people are now in quarantine based on contact tracing investigations carried out by CPS of persons who may have been in contact with any of the active cases.

To further control the spread of the virus, CPS has tested 820 travelers arriving at the Princess Juliana International Airport, (PJIA) and 1615 people throughout the community. As the number of cases continue to fluctuate, CPS will continue to actively execute its contact tracing measures.

Please remain at home and contact your family doctor immediately if you have been exposed to someone with the virus or experiencing flu-like symptoms.

Minister Panneflek advises all to continue to wear your masks, practice social distancing, avoid greeting by hugging and kissing, sanitize your hands as frequently as possible, wash your hands with soap, and refrain from mass gatherings.

ARCHIVED - SINT MAARTEN (POND ISLAND) - As of September 1st, St. Maarten has confirmed six new cases of persons who have tested positive for the Corona Virus (COVID-19).

41 persons recovered; however, CPS reported two additional deaths today.  One person unfortunately died on July 30th and the second case died on August 26th.  Both were living on the French side; however, they were registered as Dutch side residents. 

Uncertainty in their official residency status led to a delay in reporting.  The Minister of Public Health, Social Development and Labour extends his deepest condolences to the families concerned. This brings the total active cases to 222 and confirmed cases now stand at 482.

Of the active cases, the Collective Prevention Services (CPS) are monitoring 216 people in home isolation. Six patients are currently hospitalized and the total number of deaths due to COVID-19 has increased to 19.

The number of people recovered since the first case surfaced on St. Maarten has increased to 241. Two hundred and eight (208) people are now in quarantine based on contact tracing investigations carried out by CPS of persons who may have been in contact with any of the active cases.

To further control the spread of the virus, CPS has tested 786 travelers arriving at the Princess Juliana International Airport, (PJIA) and 1597 people throughout the community. As the numbers of positive cases continue to increase, CPS will continue to actively execute its contact tracing measures. We would hereby like to make it clear that the figures will change as we receive lab confirmation from SLS/HCLS, this is due to lab results pending.

To protect yourself and other’s around you, please remain at home and contact your family doctor immediately if you have been exposed to someone with the virus or experiencing flu-like symptoms.

Minister Panneflek continues to urge all to wear your masks, practice social distancing, avoid greeting by hugging and kissing, sanitize your hands as frequently as possible, wash your hands with soap, and refrain from mass gatherings.

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13 New Positive COVID-19 Cases. 21 Recovered. Total Active Cases Decreases to 259

SINT MAARTEN (POND ISLAND) - As of August 31st, St. Maarten has confirmed thirteen new cases of persons who have tested positive for the Corona Virus (COVID-19), however there was a recovery of 21 persons; reducing the total active cases to 259. The new total of confirmed cases now stands at 476.

Of the active cases, the Collective Prevention Services (CPS) are monitoring 254 people in home isolation. Five patients are currently hospitalized and the total number of deaths due to COVID-19 remains at 17.

The number of people recovered since the first case surfaced on St. Maarten has increased to 200. Two hundred and eighty-six (286) people are now in quarantine based on contact tracing investigations carried out by CPS of persons who may have been in contact with any of the active cases.

To further control the spread of the virus, CPS has tested 762 travelers arriving at the Princess Juliana International Airport, (PJIA) and 1591 people throughout the community. As the numbers of positive cases continue to increase, CPS will continue to actively execute its contact tracing measures. We would hereby like to make it clear that the figures will change as we receive lab confirmation from SLS/HCLS, this is due to lab results pending.

For the safety of yourself, your loved ones and the community, please remain at home and contact your family doctor immediately if you have been exposed to someone with the virus or experiencing flu-like symptoms.

With the increase in positive cases, Minister Panneflek reminds all to do your part and wear your masks, practice social distancing, avoid greeting by hugging and kissing, sanitize your hands as frequently as possible, wash your hands with soap, and refrain from mass gatherings.

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WTN LAUNCHES IPTV WITH INTERNET SERVICE & MYWTN.COM

SINT MAARTEN (PHILIPSBURG) - Wireless Television Network (WTN), is pleased to announce the launch of the brand-new IPTV with internet service as of September 1, 2020. 

WTN´s IPTV with Internet starts at US$89.99 with +64 digital channels and a basic speed of 5Mbps. Customer will have several choices to upgrade the internet speed as well as to add movies, sports and adult channel to their subscription. 

The new IPTV with internet service is geared towards improving the service to WTN´s customers and expanding the range of entertainment and communication options. IPTV (Internet Protocol television) is a service that provides major TV channels combined with internet that has unlimited data usage. Mr. Gregory Obersi, Managing Director of WTN, explained that, for limited time, WTN is offering the first month free for new customers and current DVB-T2 customers who changes to IPTV with internet. 

More details are available at www.mywtn.com, a just launched trilingual (English, Spanish and Haitian Creole) website with mobile compatibility and quite easy navigation to came closer to WTN customers.

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UPDATED: Three new COVID-19 positive cases as of Sunday. Total active cases: 267

SINT MAARTEN (POND ISLAND) - As of August 30th, St. Maarten has confirmed three new cases of persons who have tested positive for the Corona Virus (COVID-19). The new total of positive cases now stands at 463.

The number of people recovered since the first case surfaced on St. Maarten remains at 179. Minister Panneflek advises all to remain persistent with practicing the guidelines implemented, to reduce the spike. The total number of deaths due to COVID-19 remains steady at 17.

ARCHIVED - SINT MAARTEN (POND ISLAND) - As of August 29th St. Maarten has confirmed sixteen new cases of persons who have tested positive for the Corona Virus (COVID-19). The new total of positive cases now stands at 460.

The number of people recovered since the first case surfaced on St. Maarten remains at 179. Minister Panneflek urges all to remain vigilant and continue to adhere to the guidelines implemented so that we can flatten the curve of the virus. The total number of deaths due to COVID-19 remains steady at 17.

If you have been exposed to someone with the virus or experiencing flu-like symptoms, please remain at home and contact your family doctor immediately. For any questions or concerns, call CPS at emergency number 914.

In a continued effort to control the spread of the virus, wear your masks, practice social distancing, avoid greeting by hugging and kissing, sanitize your hands as frequently as possible, wash your hands with soap, and refrain from mass gatherings.

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Two additional police officers test positive for the Covid-19 virus

SINT MAARTEN (PHILIPSBURG) - In an effort to continuously maintain transparency with the community, the Sint Maarten Police Force (KPSM) would like to inform the community of St.Maarten that two more officers have tested positive for the Covid-19 virus. The colleagues have since been isolated and members of their team, who were in close contact, have been placed in self-quarantine.

The KPSM protocols previously set in place have been followed and the building where the officers were working was immediately disinfected/sanitized. Both colleagues who tested positive are doing reasonably well considering the circumstances in which they find themselves at the moment.

The colleagues who were in close contact with the two officers who tested positive were promptly informed and swiftly quarantined, according to the CPS protocols. They have been asked to monitor themselves for the upcoming two weeks and call CPS should any symptoms develop. 

The colleague who previously tested positive on August 17th, 2020 is still currently in the final isolation stages. The officers who worked closely with him, who were also quarantined, according to the CPS protocols, fortunately, are not showing any symptoms and will be back at work shortly. The health of KPSM staff is the number one priority, as we need to be in good health to continue to serve the community, the police said in their Friday statement.

The management team of the KPSM would like to reiterate to the general public that it is imperative they continue to be vigilant, no one is immune from contracting the virus. Please adhere to the social distancing measures set in place, your health, as well as the health of others around you are at stake. (KPSM)

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Diesel Price to be adjusted on Saturday

SINT MAARTEN (PHILIPSBURG) – On Saturday, August 29th, fuel pump prices will be adjusted for diesel. 

The current price of diesel is Naf.1.195 per liter, will be adjusted to the new price of Naf.1.222 per liter.

The Government of Sint Maarten regulates the prices of petroleum products by imposing a maximum price at which wholesalers and retailers can sell these products in the country to motorists.

At the international level, the prices of crude oil have experienced adjustments and local prices follow the international trend, and therefore prices are adjusted to reflect this. 

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IB Conducts Results Review Increasing the St. Dominic High School IB Diploma Pass Rate to 93%

SINT MAARTEN (REWARD) - On August 17, 2020, IB released adjusted grades for the May 2020 examination session. This resulted in changes being made to the marks previously released at the beginning of July. With this review, nearly all students of the St Dominic High School International Baccalaureate (IB) Diploma Programme had total point increases from 1 to 5 points. With this increase, 14 of the 15 diploma candidates will now receive the internationally recognized IB Diploma.

The written examinations of May 2020 were cancelled due to the impact of the coronavirus. The IB Organization worked with assessment specialists and independent experts in the education field to design a method to award grades to candidates.

The method used the student coursework called internal assessments, teacher-predicted grades and the accuracy of teacher-predicted grades in relation to student coursework and final results. This year IB graded over 920,000 internal assessments (student coursework) instead of just moderating samples of that work. This meant that each student had the opportunity to have his or her work individually evaluated.

When the results were released to schools, grades were lower than expected and not in line with the students’ performance over the two years of the Diploma Programme.  Those concerns were communicated to the IB organization. In response, IB conducted an additional review which resulted in it recommending grades be adjusted.

With this second review, the school continues its trend of strong performances in the group 3 subject Business Management and group 4 subjects Biology, Chemistry, Physics and Computer Science. Significant improvement was shown in the group 5 subjects Mathematics SL and Mathematical Studies SL. The average points achieved by students in both subjects surpassed the world-wide average grade.

Added to the list of noteworthy performances are Naomi Jankee and Srishti Rajani. Both achieved a grade 7 for Business Management HL and received the highest diploma points (35 out of a possible 45) awarded to the school’s candidates. The St. Dominic High School candidates who qualified for the diploma had an average score of 32 points.

Mr. and Mrs. Dharamraj whose second child successfully completed the programme and will receive the IB diploma stated: “[We] believe that the IB programme at St. Dominic High prepares our children well in the broadest possible way. It is not by any means an easy road, but when given the opportunity, discipline, hard work and dedication pays off.”

St Dominic High is one of 3,421 schools worldwide offering the Diploma Programme. The IB Diploma Programme is a rigorous and academically challenging pre-university curriculum where students select and study six subjects from six groups – literature, foreign language, individuals and societies, experimental sciences, mathematics and the arts.

In order to qualify for the diploma, students must complete the following core requirements: a 4,000-word Extended Essay (EE), the Theory of Knowledge (TOK) course which examines how knowledge is acquired and the various kinds of knowledge that exists, Creativity, Activity, Service (CAS) requiring students to engage in the arts, sports and the community.

The Diploma Programme was designed to not only address the academic needs of each student, but also to target the students’ social, emotional and physical well-being in order to give them the skills to be successful contributive citizens and members of our global community. For more information about the Diploma Programme, visit www.ibo.org.

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Police investigating several robberies that took place on Monday evening. Customer hit on the hit with the gun

SINT MAARTEN (CAY HILL) - The Sint Maarten Police Force was kept busy yesterday, August 24th, 2020 with an armed robbery of an individual in the Cay Hill area as well as an attempted robbery on a lottery booth on the L.B Scott Road. 

The robbery took place in the Cay Hill area at around 4:00 pm in the vicinity of Kooyman as the victim explained to the officers on the scene. According to the information received, two young men dressed in all black with hooded jackets, and brandishing a firearm robbed her of her cell phone. 

The robbers fled on foot in an unknown direction after taking the victims' belongings.   

At about 8:00 pm on that same evening, the police were called to an attempted armed robbery that took place on the on a lottery booth on the L.B Scott road.

According to the information gathered, two young men also dressed in black clothing entered the establishment armed with handguns and attempt to rob the cashier.

During the attempt, one of the suspects injured a customer by hitting him on his head with his weapon. The suspect did not manage to get any money from the cashier. The Special Unit Robbery is busy investigating these two cases. (KPSM)

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