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Tobacco use ordinance signed by Independent MP De Weever

GREAT BAY - Independent Member of Parliament, Van Hugh Cornelius De Weever on June 8, 2015 signed the approval of a draft ordinance amending the Ordinance limiting tobacco use.

MP De Weever clearly stated that this ordinance is in the interest of public health. This will ban tobacco use in public places, workplaces and public transport. When MP De Weever was Minister of Public Health Social Development & Labor he already brought light to this ordinance. During that time MP De Weever asked the business community to do the right thing and ban smoking in their establishments and launched the ‘Clean Air For All’ policy banning smoking in all Government offices.

With the transition to Country status in 2010, St. Maarten took over many of the former Netherlands Antilles laws/ordinances, one of them being the ordinance of May 23, 1996 on measures to reduce tobacco use. MP De Weever has been able within short to have this ordinance of the amending of the ordinance restricting tobacco use.

Many countries within the Caribbean have tobacco control laws mainly banning smoking in public places and the workplace. Tobacco control measures can save lives as tobacco is the leading cause of cancers and heart disease.

MP De Weever stated that studies prove that by having these measures in place you promote public health by eliminating illness and death caused by tobacco and second hand smoke. “It is also important to note that this law is based on Curaçao and Suriname's laws as well.”

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Consumer prices Sint Maarten April 2015 - Prices have decreased slightly compared to February 2015

PHILIPSBURG - The consumer price index for Sint Maarten has decreased in the month of April 2015 by 1.0 percent compared to that of February 2015.  

When comparing average consumer prices over a twelve month period (Apr. 2014 to Apr. 2015), an increase of 1.5 percent was recorded compared to the same period one year earlier.  This is evident from the data released by the Sint Maarten Department of Statistics (STAT) today.

Price changes between April & February 2015  

The consumer price index for Sint Maarten has decreased in the month of April 2015 by 1.0 percent compared to that of February 2015. The price index recorded in April 2015 is 126.3.

Expenditure Categories – overall modest increases  

In April 2015, four of the nine expenditure categories became cheaper, whilst three became more expensive and one remained unchanged. Amongst the more expensive were the categories; ‘Food’ (+1.3%), ‘Household Furnishing & Appliances’ (+1.7%) and ‘Medical Care’ (+0.3%). Whereas decreases were recorded for the expenditure categories ‘Clothing and Footwear’, ‘Housing’, ‘Transport & Communication’, ‘Recreation & Education’ and ‘Miscellaneous’; -0.3%, -1.2%, -4.7%, -0.3% and -0.3% respectively. The expenditure category ‘Beverages and Tobacco’ remained unchanged.

Food

Within the expenditure category Food, it can be noted that eight of the nine food groups became more expensive whilst one became cheaper. The following food groups recorded increases; Grain (+0.7%), Meat and Fish (+1.0%), Fats & Oils (+0.1%), Dairy Products (+1.6%), Potatoes, Vegetables & Fruit (+2.4%), Pre-cooked dishes (+4.8%), Eating-out (+0.4%) and other food resources (+1.2%). Whilst the food group Sugar & Chocolate (-0.1%), became slightly cheaper.  

More specifically the following products largely influenced the total price change within the food groups: ‘Grain’ was largely influenced by other small breads (-3.5%) and pasta (+4.8%). ‘Meat & Fish’, was largely influenced by Oxtail (+30.6%), spareribs (-4.7%), pork meat without bone (-2.4%), pork meat (-36.7%), beef (+4.3%), ham (-7.4%) fish; i.e. cod, tilapia, marlin, kingfish, etc. (+10.8%), shrimp (+13.5%), salted & dried fish (+15.8%) and other fish (+1.2%). The food group ‘Dairy Products’ was largely influenced by; Yoghurt (+16.1%), ice cream (-4.2%), cheese (+31.9%) baby powdered Milk (+6.3%), canned milk (+3.5%) and eggs (-5.0%). The food group ‘Potatoes, Vegetables & Fruit’ was largely influenced by; potatoes (+13.3%), leafy greens (10.5%), green beans (+41.9%), spices (+3.2%), onions (-5.1%), bell peppers (+28.3), apples & pears (+3.5%) and other citrus fruit (-8.5%).

Housing

Within the expenditure category Housing, it is noted that two of the five product groups became more expensive whilst one remained stable and two became cheaper. The product groups; ‘Dwelling costs’ and ‘Garden maintenance’ increased by 0.3% and 0.2%, respectively, whilst ‘Maintenance of dwelling’ and ‘Energy expenses’ decreased by 1.0% and 7.9%, respectively. A decrease in the consumer price of electricity by 9.7% largely influenced the total price change within the product group ‘Energy expenses’

Transport & Communication

Within the expenditure category Transport & Communication only the product group ‘Vehicle Expenses’ recorded a price change, namely a decrease of 16 percent. The following products largely influenced this price change: mufflers (-5.8%), motor oil (-6.7%), car parts (+3.5%), gasoline (-36.5%) and diesel (-3.4%).

Sint Maarten Consumer Price Index a Broader Perspective  

Consumer prices in 2015 are generally at a higher level than 3 years ago (see bar chart below). An increasing trend is shown, with consumer prices in April 2015 being 4.8 points above that of April 2012.  

Over the last 3 years; consumer prices though increasing, have shown slower growth; with year to year increases of 2.3, 2.3 and 0.3 points. Notable are the more fluctuating development in consumer prices recorded during the period October 2014 to April 2015.

3-year Overview  

The trend line below indicates that inflation on Sint Maarten over the prior 3-year period has been declining. The rate of inflation reached a peak rate of 5.5 percent in April 2012. However since then, inflation has steadily declined to a rate of 1.5 percent in April 2015.The 12-month average of consumer prices was 1.5 percent higher in April 2015 than a year earlier. This represents a decrease in the inflation rate of 37.5 percent within this period mentioned.

Inflation per Expenditure Category  

Seven of the nine expenditure categories recorded inflation in April 2015. ‘Housing’ at a rate of +0.9 percent, whilst ‘Transportation and Communication’ recorded deflation of -1.3 percent and ‘Food’ prices saw inflation of +6.7 percent. Noteworthy is the steady deflation recorded in the expenditure category ‘Transportation and Communication’ since mid-2014. 

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Minister Plenipotentiary Fleming-Artsen says FRED Expo 2015 Impressive and a Success

ROTTERDAM, the Netherlands - Minister Plenipotentiary, Hon. Josianne Fleming–Artsen accompanied Minister of Education, Culture, Youth and Sports Hon. Rita Bourne-Gumbs, to the Flinx Recruitment Expo Dutch Caribbean (FRED) website (www.fredexpo.com) that took place from June 4-7 in Rotterdam at the Beurs World Trade Center.

The fourth FRED Expo brought together professionals, graduates, and pre-graduates and more than 30 companies including some from Sint Maarten.

Flinx Recruitment has been acting as a bridge between Dutch Caribbean professionals and local employers.

“I was impressed with the professional organization of the Expo. It was impressive to see Sint Maarten companies and institutions present seeking out our young professionals.

“We need our young professionals more than ever now to come back home to help build Country Sint Maarten.  Our country has experienced ‘brain drain’ over the years, however, there is so much to be done, and we need ‘brain-growth’ where our young professionals return to help the country grow,” Minister Plenipotentiary Hon. Josianne Fleming-Artsen said on Friday.

Minister Bourne-Gumbs who was in the Netherlands on a working visit took the opportunity to attend the Expo.

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President of the UP Party Meyers Takes a Stand, says Profession of Journalism being tarnished by Bloggers

GREAT BAY – The President of the United People’s (UP) Party and former Member of Parliament of the UP Faction in Parliament Sylvia Meyers on Thursday evening released a statement to the media regarding the profession of journalism and how it is being misused by “blogs.”

“The board of the United People’s (UP) Party does not support blatant misuse of the noble profession journalism by those who use journalism as a hobby to slander others rather than a profession to factually inform, educate and enlighten.

“Journalism requires research, impartiality and care in its execution so that credibility is not questioned. Operating on the fringe of fantasy, fabricating “news” and using the power of words in a deliberate, destructive manner, does not constitute good journalism and goes against the principle for fair reporting and presenting both sides of the story.

“Slander sites do not reveal their sources therefore what is published cannot be considered credible. 

“Slander sites are being pushed by political forces with an agenda and do not care how it achieves its intended objectives, whether it’s causing harm to the image of the country, whatever way possible this is the way they operate.

“Many good, solid people of this community continue to have their name or institutions they are part of, slandered simply out of bias and obvious agendas.

“These blogs do not enlighten and educate the population of the country, but only focuses on the UP Party.  The aim is to discredit and spread propaganda which places the people and country in a negative light.  Slander sites do not have country St. Maarten at heart. 

“This form of social media that the people of St. Maarten and the country have to endure operates under the basis of slander and smear of the good name of people in our community and damaging the name of the country of St. Maarten and its people.    

“The board hereby informs the general public that the UP party will not issue any press releases, information, press invites and the like to outlets it considers counterproductive to the principles of good journalism and who continue their deliberate attempts to smear people and institutions of the country St. Maarten.

“In addition to its own source of news distribution (social media etc.) there are reputable news institutions that uphold good journalism principles which the UP will continue to use as outlets to reach the people. 

“The UP Party admonishes slander sites, and do believe on the principle that while everyone has the freedom to express themselves via any means, one cannot idly sit by while there are those who are out there to destroy that very same freedom with slander. If we allow this to continue what example will we be setting for our own children?” UP President Sylvia Meyers said on Thursday evening. (UP Party)

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Lagoon Authority Enhances Area near Simpson Bay Causeway Round-a-bout

SIMPSON BAY – The Simpson Bay Lagoon Authority for the past two days has been busy shifting sand next to the Simpson Bay Causeway Round-a-bout in order to enhance the aesthetics of the area that is frequented by joggers, walkers and bird watchers.

Some benches will be placed in the area for pedestrians who frequent the Causeway every day to have a place to relax and enjoy the ambiance.  Families are also seen on weekends having an outing at the Causeway.

Some debris has been removed by a backhoe and the works continue with levelling the sand in the area. 

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Kingdom Conference takes place in Curaçao on June 16

SINT MAARTEN/CURACAO - The Santa Barbara Beach & Golf Resort will be the venue for the next Kingdom Conference that is scheduled for June 16.

The representatives of each government will discuss a number of issues such as cooperation that would be based on trust, reciprocity and mutual respect; economics; and health care.

 

 

Delegates from Aruba, Curaçao, Sint Maarten and the Netherlands will meet to discuss children’s rights.

 

The delegation includes Prime Minister Ivar Asjes (Curacao), Prime Minister Mike Eman from Aruba, Minister Etienne van der Horst of Administration, Planning and Services, Minister Ronald Plasterk of Kingdom Relations and Prime Minister Marcel Gumbs of St. Maarten.

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Prime Minister Gumbs administers Oath to Civil Servants. Stresses integrity and productivity

PHILIPSBURG - Honorable Prime Minister Marcel Gumbs on Wednesday administered the oath to a number of civil servants in the A.C. Wathey Legislative Hall at the Government Administration Building. 

Prime Minister Gumbs spoke to the civil servants about integrity and being productive while carrying out their duties to the nation.

The oath taking is part of the integrity compliance within the Personnel & Organization Department. The law acknowledges that and as a result requires that all public servants upon employment, upon changing of function or when acting in another function must take an oath.

The oath taking is part of the standards of conduct within the civil service organization of the Government of Sint Maarten.  They are standards for ethical conduct that promote common values and define the behavior and performance expected of a civil servant.

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Ministers Plenipotentiary Fleming-Artsen accompanies Minister Bourne-Gumbs visit to Dutch Minister of Education

THE HAGUE, the Netherlands - Minister Plenipotentiary, Hon. Josianne Fleming–Artsen accompanied Sint Maarten’s Minister of Education, Culture, Youth and Sports Hon. Rita Bourne-Gumbs, to visit Dutch Minister of Education, Culture and Science Hon. Jet Bussemaker, where a number of related portfolio matters were discussed.

The topics discussed at the Dutch Ministry of Education were: vocational and higher education; accreditation matters; studying in the region; supervision and inspectorate education; exams in secondary education; cultural heritage; monument care; youth employment; Fort Amsterdam; and student support services in the Netherlands.

Minister Fleming-Artsen said the meeting was a success and a follow-up will take place via Skype. 

“No financial commitments were made, however, the Dutch Minister of Education, Culture and Science Hon. Jet Bussemaker, did indicate her willingness to offer expertise for cultural heritage,” Minister Plenipotentiary Hon. Josianne Fleming-Artsen said on Tuesday. 

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MP Lake guests speaker at Sister Magda Primary School. Highlights role of Parliament

ST. PETERS - United People’s (UP) party Member of Parliament (MP) Hon. Maurice Lake, visited grade 5 students at the Sister Magda Primary School last week Friday as a guest speaker.

Sister Magda Primary School Grade 5 students were given an educational tour of the Parliament Building.  The class and teacher Noortje Pennings invited MP Lake to be a guest speaker at their school for a class project in which he gave them some good tips on how to be a successful student.

MP Lake stated he is very proud of both 5th grades of the Sister Magda Primary school.  

“The first time I visited the school, most of the students didn't know much about Government and Parliament and the names of their public officials.

“During my follow up visit to the school last week, the students were sharp.  After reading the newspapers, they now know mostly everything about Government and Parliament, and it’s have a positive influence on their grades good in class.  

“I promised them I will follow up to see how they are doing in class, and encouraged them to read, read and read and do their homework in class,” UP MP Hon. Maurice Lake said on Monday.

MP Lake added: “One of the tasks of Parliament is to educate the general public on the functioning and task of Parliament, and the best way to start is at the elementary level in the different schools.

“The only way to instil that will of leadership is through prevention, education and family values by teaching the children what is right and wrong and getting them to know their representatives of the people,” MP Lake concluded.

The students thanked the MP for taking the time to visit their school and sharing his knowledge with them.

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Les Fruits de Mer Joins BirdsCaribbean First Institutional Member in the French Caribbean

GRAND CASE, St. Martin - St. Martin’s connection to the regional conservation community just grew a little bit closer. Local non-profit association Les Fruits de Mer recently became the first institutional member of BirdsCaribbean in the French Caribbean. BirdsCaribbean is the largest regional organization devoted to wildlife conservation in the Caribbean.

Although the two organizations have been working together for almost two years, joining helps integrate Les Fruits de Mer, St. Martin and the French Caribbean into the regional bird education and conservation community.

“Working with BirdsCaribbean has really helped us have a big impact quickly, even though we’re a young association,” explained Les Fruits de Mer President Jenn Yerkes. “They’ve provided training and materials developed for the Caribbean that have really enhanced many of our events and educational workshops. Simply being part of something bigger also makes an event more meaningful and interesting to our members and the public.”

Les Fruits de Mer has collaborated with BirdsCaribbean on a number of projects and events over the last two years, primarily in the areas of education and outreach. Les Fruits de Mer’s annual Migratory Bird Festival and Endemic Animal Festival events are part of Caribbean-wide programs organized by BirdsCaribbean to celebrate migratory and endemic birds: International Migratory Bird Day and the Caribbean Endemic Bird Festival. Les Fruits de Mer has also added birdwatching sites to BirdsCaribbean’s flagship eco-tourism project, the Caribbean Birding Trail.

Les Fruits de Mer works closely with BirdsCaribbean on multiple education programs. Last year, Les Fruits de Mer co-founder Mark Yokoyama received training on two ecology-oriented programs: Wondrous West Indian Wetlands and BirdSleuth Caribbean. In addition to incorporating activities from these programs into their outreach and education programs, Les Fruits de Mer has partnered to help translate materials into French and train local educators in the BirdSleuth Caribbean curriculum.

The organizations began working together after a Les Fruits de Mer member attended BirdsCaribbean’s international meeting in 2013. “For someone new to wildlife education, it was a real eye opener,” according to Yokoyama. “It’s probably the only opportunity to spend a week with hundreds of Caribbean educators and conservationists, learning, sharing and tackling issues on a regional level. More than anything, BirdsCaribbean is a network of inspired individuals and organizations. Being a part of that network is key to our mission, and being the only member organization in the French Caribbean makes our role even more important.”

Membership also gives Les Fruits de Mer a chance to help BirdsCaribbean. “We support our member organizations, but our accomplishments are also the work of our member volunteers,” explained BirdsCaribbean’s Executive Director Lisa Sorenson. “Les Fruits de Mer are partners in many of our education and outreach programs, but members are also part of internal working groups managing BirdsCaribbean’s media and technology.”

Les Fruits de Mer have released a collection of desktop wallpaper and screensaver images to celebrate the partnership. It features 24 images of St. Martin birds and can be downloaded for free from their web site. Looking to the future, Les Fruits de Mer will continue to collaborate with BirdsCaribbean on education and awareness projects. Yokoyama will also lead a workshop at the 20th International Meeting of BirdsCaribbean in Jamaica this July. Once again, it will be a chance to connect St. Martin—and the French Caribbean—to the regional conservation community.

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