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SHTA publishes Comparative State of the Economy

SINT MAARTEN (PHILIPSBURG) - For many years, members of the St Maarten Hospitality & Trade Association (SHTA) have jointly cooperated on collecting occupancy rates as an economic performance indicator. SHTA compared numbers of before hurricane Irma and 2019 as the last full pre-pandemic year of tourism with 2020 thus far; from the graphs below light blue representing the 100% pre-Irma level and dark blue representing what we’ve experienced these last 6 months. It’s clear that our economic woes are deep. In fact, our over-night capacity is still only at 66% of Pre-Irma levels.

At this point, St. Maarten requires an increase of 650% of activity in the Stay Over sector to achieve pre-Irma levels of activity.

A main question is what will our traditional high season look like; more of what we have now? For many, this will depend on the marketing efforts and strategies of the country. Present levels in the tourism industry are not sustainable for properties. St. Maarten has gone “dark” on all markets, leaving attracting visitors to the destination to individual properties. Our entry protocol was initially confusing, and we have had some negative experiences with guest attempting to arrive. Obtaining the PCR tests is difficult and often expensive for the potential visitor.   Yet we could take advantage of the fact that some of our competitors are still closed or have even more restrictive requirements to enter.

In previous disasters, St. Maarten was able to suffer through it do to our diverse tourism base. This pandemic unfortunately is affecting all three of our tourism pillars in the same way. While stayover and timeshare industries are hurt the most, the further combined effect of the lack of cruise passengers and yachting visitors will unfortunately negatively affect all business sectors.   The three tourism pillars do not however carry the same risks for the island, and we should set policy and procedures, as well as Marketing efforts to ensure that as a community we can capture as much of the market as is willing to travel.

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Rotary’s “Help St. Maarten Children Receive Online Education” Initiative Supported by CIBC FirstCaribbean

SINT MAARTEN (PHILIPSBURG) - More children on St. Maarten will now have access to online education amidst the Covid-19 pandemic. 

CIBC FirstCaribbean recently supported Rotary Club of Sint Maarten’s initiative “Help St. Maarten Children Receive Online Education”, which was launched following Government’s mandate for schools to reopen with online learning for the academic year 2020/2021.  

The bank made a donation towards the purchase of the devices to facilitate children’s access to their classes.  

The club is dedicated to providing all children with proper access to their education and hence has set out to secure appropriate devices for students by collecting monetary donations as well as new and repurposed computers, tablets and other devices.  

CIBC FirstCaribbean, through its FirstCaribbean International ComTrust Foundation, provides at least $1M US throughout the Caribbean in support of worthwhile projects in the various islands where the bank has businesses. The Foundation’s mandate is for the support of the youth, entrepreneurship and education; the community, including environmental projects, and health and wellness. 

At the height of the Covid-19 lockdowns across the region, the Foundation provided US $250,000 to assist with the purchase of Personal Protective Equipment for those at the frontline of fighting the pandemic, as well as test kits and other support material used in the fight against Covid-19.

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The Rotary Club of Sint Maarten’s Interact Club of Learning Unlimited Donates Tablets to School Children in Need

SINT MAARTEN (PHILIPSBURG) - The majority of school children on St. Maarten are attending school online due to the effects of Covid-19. However, many students do not have access to the online classes because they do not own an appropriate electronic device. The Learning Unlimited Interact Club has been collecting monetary donations to purchase tablets and are receiving donations of used and new tablets, cell phones, computers, and headphones, which can then be repurposed as online learning devices for students in need.

Today the club donated 20 newly purchased tablets to the Catholic School Board at Sister Regina Primary School. “The Foundation Catholic Education St. Maarten is very grateful to receive these devices. It will allow for 20 more students to take part in the online schooling. Not only for the students, but also for their parents and most definitely also for their hardworking teachers, this device will bring much relief, excitement and connectivity. These students will now be able to rejoin their classmates and teachers online and be an active participant in the daily online education program. It is very commendable to see the youngsters in the Interact Club working towards helping other youngsters in need on Sint Maarten,” said the Project Manager of the Catholic School Board, Tanja Frederiks.

These donations were made possible with the help of Klass Electronics and the following donors: Lydia Gumbs, Christian Holfinger, Linda and Jim Gray, Janet Robertson-Morton, Joy Mario and Andrea Bartlett, La Vista Beach Hotel, Topper’s Restaurant, Lisa and Benjamin Sweetman, Marni and Michael Catani, Sharon Finch, and Nada Mathew.

“We are so grateful to those that have donated to this worthy cause. We are asking the community to please contribute. These children all deserve an education and our club’s goal is to give as many children the tools they need to attend online school as quickly as possible. Our club is committed to fundraise for this project throughout the school year.” said Interact President, Drake Daboul.

How can you help get our children back to school? Please send your used devices or donate to support this worthy cause where we can purchase used or new equipment for these children in need of education. Every $90 in donations can allow us to purchase a new tablet, complete with SIM card capability and a case for children that otherwise will go without education this year. Every dollar helps us to reach the goal of all children having an opportunity to receive education in St. Maarten.

Monetary donations and used or new tablets, phones, computers and headphones can be dropped off at:

Domino’s Pizza - Bush Rd. & Cole Bay

Topper’s Restaurant - Simpson Bay

Shopper’s Stop - Philipsburg

Foundation Catholic Education Head Office - Cul De Sac

For more information about the Rotary Club of St. Maarten, please contact the Rotary Club of St. Maarten Press Officer at: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or visit the website www.rotarysxm.org.

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SMCC: US$77 million of ENNIA Premium moneys disappeared in the Mullet Bay ruins?

SINT MAARTEN (PHILIPSBURG) - The Sint Maarten Consumers Coalition (SMCC) in a recent statement said that in the Vigilante newspaper in Curacao of Tuesday September 15, 2020, on page 7, one could read the results of an investigation of ENNIA Holding about what happened with premium moneys of ENNIA policyholders in the Mullet Bay project.

“From 1995 till 2006 shareholders of Mullet Bay hotel had no money to pay the owners of the destroyed apartments due to hurricane Louis in 1995. After the Ansary group acquired shares in ENNIA in 2006, a few months later Sun Resorts reached to an agreement with the owners of the apartments. After becoming owner of ENNIA the owners of Mullet Bay apartments were paid by ENNIA. How ENNIA money resulted in the hands of Mullet Bay apartment owners? ENNIA had no agreement with these owners, but SUN RESORTS.

“What the Ansary group did was the following: Mullet Bay property value was inflated to 400 million dollar and was brought in as an asset from the Parman group to purchase ENNIA. Than premium moneys of ENNIA consumers were used to finance the payment to the Mullet Bay apartment owners. How? The PARMAN International BV owned by mister Ansary bought ENNIA (without money using the destroyed Mullet Bay property as asset) and later used ENNIA premium moneys to pay SUN RESORTS/RESORTS CARIBE to buy out the owners of the Mullet Bay apartments for 58 million ANG.

“RESORTS CARIBE was created in 2006 as an investment company of the PARMAN group. 77 million dollars from ENNIA policy holders was transferred to RESORTS CARIBE to pay out the owners of the apartments and to rebuild the destroyed hotel and to make it operational! Until today the hotel has not been rebuilt. So what happened with the moneys and when the ENNIA policy holders will get this money back?

“On the same Tuesday, September 15, 2020 we read an article on St Martin News Network appeared an article with the headline that ambassador Hushang Ansary and attorney Richard Gibson Sr wants to resolve Ennia differences mutually. In a leaked document from a trusted and well-informed source, mr Gibson and ambassador Ansary have directed a letter to the CBCS director, in response to the latter’s request for a zoom meeting to possibly resolve the Ennia issue yesterday Wednesday, September 16.

“As Consumers Coalition we have requested our Parliamentarians and the Minister of Finance, and the minister of TEATT and of VSA to look into this matter, and make sure that the moneys of the ENNIA policy holders will be secured and that all unlawful transactions will be reversed! With the announcement of the President of Parliament that the Mullet Bay parliamentary inquiry will be addressed in this parliamentary year, we hope that this issue of the ENNIA liquidity and moneys of the policy holders also will be resolved,” the SMCC media statement concludes.

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TPI has launched TPI Prep for Teachers

SINT MAARTEN (PHILIPSBURG) - TPI has launched TPI Prep for Teachers to equip participants with the training and tools to transition to online learning models, necessitated by the ongoing Covid19 pandemic concerns for health and safety in classroom settings.

“We are training teachers in necessary skills such as classroom management, improving parental involvement, and multi-tasking skills, but fully adapted for online facilitation via Zoom,” said Dr. Natasha J. Gittens, President & CEO at TPI Firm.  Dr. Gittens added that all the TPI courses are facilitated by herself, Lead Facilitator Catherine Burns, and by certified instructors.  The courses are fully accredited, and the teachers will receive a certificate for each course completed.

All the courses are delivered in an online format and are designed to help the participants to use the Zoom online platform to establish best online teaching practices.  TPI will also provide the teachers with additional proprietary resources and manuals that will seamlessly allow them to take the lessons learned from theory to application. 

Effective Teamwork for Teachers, Peer to Peer Teacher Coaching, and Keep Students on Task are some of the additional featured courses.  TPI Prep for Teachers will also prioritize the feedback received in real time to maximize the benefit to the participants.  TPI Firm is currently training teachers from several local schools, including the Charlotte Brooks Academy School of the Arts (CBA) and Excellence Learning Academy.  The teacher’s reviews of the TPI training have been positive overall.

From Terry-Ann Williams, CBA Teacher of English Language, and Student Care Coordinator: “Providing numerous opportunities for personal and professional growth are vital in promoting effectiveness in any given organization. It has been a tremendous experience thus far with TPI FIRM whereby educators are provided with an engaging platform to identify, discuss and hopefully utilize best practices in the process of pedagogy and communication.”  

Nicole Rogers, the School Operations Manager for Excellence Learning Academy stated: “After completing the 4 business training sessions I took part in, I can truly say I've gotten a new perspective on how to better handle my day to day situations. Dr. Gittens was very interactive in each session, there was never a bored moment." Excellence Learning Academy teacher Laniva Frederick added: "As a growing teacher, I understand there is still a lot for me to learn. We are never done learning even when teaching students. These training sessions gave me insight on how to look at certain situations differently within my classroom. The calming techniques session was most beneficial to me."

TPI Firm was founded in 2016 by Dr. Gittens with a humanitarian goal of providing individuals with the opportunities to advance their education and careers at an affordable price. 

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APS and Government to host webinar on impact of pension reform September 29

SINT MAARTEN (CAY HILL) - On September 29th, Algemeen Pensioenfonds Sint Maarten (APS) and the Government will facilitate its third webinar to inform APS participants about the pension reform, which became effective July 1, 2020.

During a ZOOM video meeting, the most important changes will be addressed and subsequently attendees are welcome to ask any questions they may have. All persons interested can register for the webinar via https://www.apsxm.org/webinars/ until September 25th. Registration is required to attend the session.

Changes to the pension scheme that became effective in July 2020 include increasing the retirement age from 62 to 65, calculating pensions based on average pay instead of final pay, pension accrual from age 18 instead of 25, and conditions for indexation. APS and Government jointly prepared a video presentation about the pension reform in which these changes are explained. Major adjustments are also clarified on the APS website at https://www.apsxm.org/pensionreform2020/.

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Mentally ill woman leads police on high-speed chase and then pulls gun on officers

SINT MAARTEN (PHILIPSBURG) - The Sint Maarten Police Force (KPSM) patrols were kept busy yesterday, Monday, September 14th, 2020 with two separate incidents involving individuals suffering from various mental health issues.

The lady involved in the first incident, with initials D.M., is now facing serious charges after leading officers on a short high-speed chase, while they attempted to conduct a traffic control at approximately 11:30 am Monday.

The driver, who was being cited for reckless driving refused to stop but instead lead officers on a chase to her residence in the Cole Bay area where she then pulled a firearm on the officers.

The daughter of the driver quickly appeared from inside of the house to explain to the officers that her mom was not well and was suffering from a mental illness. Officers on the scene were able to quickly deescalate the situation by disarming the driver of her weapon before arresting her.

Fortunately, no one was harmed during this incident. After being treated by the personnel of Mental Health Foundation, D.M. is being held at the police station pending further investigation into the firearm.

Second mental illness incident in one day. Mental health cases on the increase

In a separate incident on the same day at around 12:30 pm the police dispatch Center directed the patrol to Kudu drive to assist the staff of the Mental Health Foundation with a patient with initials B.R.

According to the health staff, B.R. was non-compliant when asked to take his medications and became very aggressive.

When the police, who arrived on the scene, tried to approach him he threatened to inflict physical harm to them. During the shuffle with the patient, one of the officers sustained a small laceration to his face which was tended to.

After a fierce resistance, the officers managed to subdue him and place him under arrest. Once in police custody, he was treated by the mental health staff and he will be remanded pending further investigation. 

Since December 10th, 2018, the Sint Maarten Police Force and the Mental Health Foundation has established a protocol on the best plan of action for us to be able to assist the Foundation.

The number of crises such as these continues to rise and the need for some type of structure to deal with these situations is definitely a necessity. This protocol that was written was to safeguard the safety of that person and to make sure that these persons get the proper treatment and care he or she needs, the police statement said. 

We will continue to assist the best we can with the resources provided as we also follow the COVID-19 protocols set in place to protect the officers as well as the community. (KPSM)

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Exporting vehicles: New safety protocols set in place by the KPSM Traffic Department

SINT MAARTEN (PHILIPSBURG) - Following the rapid increase in the number of infected persons due to the COVID-19 virus in Sint Maarten, the new safety protocol have been adapted by the Traffic Department in an effort to make sure we all remain Covid-19 free.

Effective immediately, the Traffic Department will be working by appointment only. They can be reached by e-mail: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. and by telephone number 542 22 22, with extensions 241/ 239.

Services handled by the Traffic Department include but are not limited to: the export of motor vehicles, hit and run (driving-on after a collision), inspection of vehicles at events and in traffic accidents, for interviewing witnesses and suspects as well as going to the site in the case of ore serious road accidents.

Steps for the export of motor vehicles:

1.Persons must send an e-mail with the following documents attached to: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.:

          Bill of Sale or proof of ownership

          Inspection card (old/expired) of intended vehicle

          Proof of insurance of intended vehicle (if insured)

          Copy of identification card of the seller of the vehicle

          Copy of identification card of the purchaser of the vehicle

          A letter stating that said vehicle will be exported or that the vehicle will be registered in Saint Martin.

2.The applicant shall receive a reply from the Traffic Department within 3 working days by email, with a scheduled appointment for the control of the motor vehicle.

3.This appointment schedule always takes place on Wednesday mornings at the Simpson Bay Police Station, excluding Public holidays.

4.On the day of the appointment, you will report to Simpson Bay police station, with the motor vehicle to be exported, for the inspection and the following documents:

A letter stating that the vehicle will be exported or that the vehicle will be registered in Saint Martin.

Two stamps worth Naf. 5,-

Once everything is checked and found to be in good order, you will be given the stamped documents on the same day as the inspection.

Please note when coming to your scheduled appointment it is mandatory to have on a mask or you will not be attended to.

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Dutch Caribbean Nature Alliance Develops Pandemic Response Management Letter for Protected Areas in the Dutch Caribbean

SINT MAARTEN/BONAIRE - The Dutch Caribbean Nature Alliance (DCNA) has just released a Pandemic Response Management Letter which will serve as a blueprint for the Dutch Caribbean Park Management Organizations to recognize, respond to and protect their staff and visitors to protected areas against current and potential pandemic outbreaks.  The Management Letter outlines suggested protocols for social distancing, sanitation and other ways to respond to emergency situations related to health emergencies. 

2020 has been an interesting year, with the world facing unprecedented challenges between the affects of climate change and the global pandemic caused by the Novel Corona Virus and the COVID-19 disease it causes. These issues have brought to light the need for a rigorous emergency response plan which Park Management Organizations can use in order to safeguard their staff and visitors which may visit the protected areas they manage.  With this in mind DCNA has  just released its Pandemic Response Management Letter to serve as a framework for each Park Management Organization to design their own, tailored emergency response plan. 

COVID-19 has been unique in how widespread and devastating the infection has been. The uncertainty surrounding this virus has led to the need for social distancing and minimization of travel.  This drop in tourism has been difficult, especially for the Dutch Caribbean.  Interactions between the public and staff of Park Management Organizations varies between the six  Dutch Caribbean islands, however, with the implementation of safety protocols and procedures, risks can be minimized. 

The Pandemic Response Management Letter will provide each island with the tools needed to properly recognize and respond in emergency situations.  Each outbreak will have its own unique set of conditions, so the guidelines provided will need to be tailored appropriately.  The key to an effective response is for a timely acknowledgment of the problem and to react as swiftly and efficiently as possible. 

The objective of creating an emergency response plan is to ensure that Park Management Organizations on all six Dutch Caribbean islands are comfortable recognizing issues and reacting appropriately, especially under pressure. With pandemics, time is often the most important factor with an immediate response potentially saving lives and limiting the spread of a contagion. The blueprints of a pandemic response can also be useful in a variety of other emergency situations so having clear, well thought out protocols can be an important asset in both current and future emergency response.  

Exchanging knowledge and experiences between the nature parks of the Dutch Caribbean is very valuable and one of the ways DCNA is assisting to strengthen their activities. Together as a network Park Management Organizations are stronger in the common goal of safeguarding nature in the Dutch Caribbean. Lessons learned by the parks have been incorporated within Pandemic Response Management. 

It is recommended that each Park Management Organization take these recommendations into consideration and use them to draft a plan more specific to their situation. Pandemic preparedness is not a quick process as it will require careful planning between all stakeholders and will involve community buy in.  Therefore, it is also important to promote community involvement to optimize local knowledge, expertise, resources and networks. 

To stay up to date on this and various other activities related to nature conservation in the Dutch Caribbean please follow along on the websites and social media accounts for your local national park authorities as well as DCNA. When in doubt, please don’t hesitate to contact your local park authority for the latest updates.  

For more information, please find the full report here: https://www.dcnanature.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/09/DCNA-PandemicResponse.pdf

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Caribbean Wellness Day 2020 Statement

SINT MAARTEN/CARIBBEAN - This year, the people of the Caribbean Region will celebrate 12 years since the 2007 landmark summit, ‘Declaration of Port of Spain: Uniting to Stop the Epidemic of Chronic Non-communicable Diseases’ under a new theme, ‘Power Through Collective Action’ with the sub theme - “Stronger Together 2020” .

This year the Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA) is pleased to align the Caribbean Wellness Day (CWD) sub theme with the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) mental health awareness campaign. Worldwide, mental disorders are now recognised as the 5th major non-communicable disease and a major public health threat to economic development in the 21st century.

According to the World Health Organization one in four persons globally will be affected by a mental disorder or neurological disorder in their lifetime and 450 million are affected by these disorders, such as, depression, anxiety disorders, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, dementia and substance (e.g. alcohol, nicotine) dependency.

1 In the Caribbean, mental health disorders are a leading cause of disability and a major contributor to of the burden of non-communicable diseases (NCDs) in the Caribbean region. In Jamaica the burden of mental illness is predicted to cause US$2.76 billion in lost economic output from 2015-2030.

2 The current COVID-19 pandemic is also affecting different people in different ways, and is having a major impact on persons’ mental health and well-being including those persons who have existing mental illnesses.

3 Persons with mental disorders often face stigma and discrimination, limitation of human rights, abuse, neglect and inadequate access to community-based treatment, care and support services. Addressing stigma and discrimination are important strategies in programmes for mental health disorders. Investing in interventions designed to improve health can help reduce the burden of these illnesses.

There are cost-effective interventions that Caribbean countries can implement to prevent and control mental illnesses. Scaled up treatment for mental health disorders are likely to increase healthy life years, thus avoiding significant economic losses and social costs.

A recent study in Jamaica reported that by scaling up treatment for mental health disorders over 15 years, for every $1 Jamaican dollar spent there is a $4.2 Jamaican dollar return on investment.

4 On Saturday 12th September 2020, countries across the Region will celebrate Caribbean Wellness Day. The annual event is geared at increasing awareness and promoting activities to address non-communicable diseases including mental ill health.

We encourage everyone to engage in healthy lifestyles like being physical active, engaging in healthy eating; if you smoke, please quit, reduce consumption of alcohol to the recommended safe quantities, get annual health checks, improve your personal relationships with family and friends and take care of your mental health.

During the pandemic be calm, be safe, and seek help if unable to cope. As a Caribbean Region let us recommit to the 2007 ‘Declaration of Port of Spain: Uniting to Stop the Epidemic of Chronic Non-communicable Diseases’ and Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 3.4 ‘to reduce, by 2030, premature mortality from non-communicable diseases by one third, through prevention and treatment and the promotion of mental health and well-being’.

5 We must work together in order to prevent and control mental disorders and other NCDs. No one person, organisation or government can do this alone. All members of society need to play their role.

A ‘whole of society approach’ is essential for success. CARPHA will continue to work closely with the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), Institutions of the Community, Member States and its public health partners to create the needed alliances between governments, academia, civil society and others, to help to shape regional and country-level policy and programmes that address the issues of mental health disorders and to promote mental wellbeing.

There is power through collective action and each and every one of us can play a significant role in this response.

For more information visit CARPHA’s website and search • CARPHA Mental Health information • Caribbean Wellness Day • Stronger Together Campaign

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