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PFP: Six Months In, A Brief Review

SINT MAARTEN (PHILIPSBURG) – Monday, August 10th marked six months since the sitting Parliament was sworn in. Among the returning and new faces are Party for Progress (PFP) Members of Parliament (MPs) Melissa Gumbs and Raeyhon Peterson, the PFP said on Wednesday in a statement.

Six months into their new roles, the two MPs took a few moments to reflect on the time spent so far and offered their thoughts on some key topics facing the country.

On Being in Parliament

Having experienced St. Maarten’s political arena before being elected in their own ways, both MP Gumbs and MP Peterson were somewhat prepared for the experience of being in Parliament. However, with the COVID-19 pandemic requiring a country lockdown in March, Parliament found itself in the unique position of having to now conduct Parliament business over the online meeting platform Zoom. While this has been happening since March with little to no hiccups, both MPs look forward to Parliament returning to the legislative hall.

Both MPs are looking forward to seeing more topics come to the floor of Parliament that touch directly on peoples’s quality of life and seeing the focus return to the business and productivity of Parliament.

“There have been many emotional weeks since COVID became a reality for us,” Peterson said. “But our focus as Parliament must remain clear and must remain on what the business of Parliament actually is. We’ve heard a lot of rhetoric about Parliament reserving the right to question anyone it wants to but that is just a show of disrespect for the separation of powers (Trias Politica) and for democracy as a whole. Not everyone reports to Parliament. It is something we will continue to be vocal about, regardless of the criticism we may face.”

On COVID-19 & Its Impact on Sint Maarten

Both PFP MPs have repeatedly expressed their concern for two significant areas impacted by COVID-19: education and food security. In a recent public meeting of Parliament, Gumbs questioned the Minister of Education, Culture, Youth & Sport Rodolphe Samuel about the state of the digital infrastructure at all public schools, as well as the Ministry’s plans to handle those students who do not have a device, in-home internet, or both.

“COVID forced everyone to rethink not only how we do business, but most importantly, how we learn. This is the second crisis opportunity we have had to change how we do things. We shouldn’t waste it again.”

Aside from education and food security, the MPs we need to plan ahead for the future as well. “COVID has also shown us that diversifying our economy have to become one of the top priorities,” Gumbs added. “Whether it’s through agriculture or any other endeavor, the government needs to prioritize putting the legislation and manpower in place to start this trajectory.”

On the Proposed Entity

Gumbs and Peterson joined their colleagues in rejecting the proposed Kingdom law for a reform entity in its current form by way of a motion passed on 8 July 2020. Each MP shared concerns over several overreaching articles within the entity’s structure that they did not believe were in the best interest of Country St. Maarten. The motion’s second resolution also requested the Government to issue a counterproposal to the Kingdom Government to find ways and means wherein the entity could better reflect the needs and realities of the country. The MPs believe that aside from solely motioning the government to take action, Parliament should also explore all the tools given to them in our Constitution to fight this common battle on a Kingdom level.

“Lack of communication has played a big role, especially since the beginning of the pandemic. Not only from government to Parliament, but also on a Kingdom level. Egoism, alongside emotional reactions, instead of proactive and proper planning, has been the order of the day,” Gumbs said.

On Government

The MPs have spoken about improved prioritization being an avenue out of the pandemic. they believe this has to start with personnel, and strengthening the human resources of key areas in government to execute plans and projects. Restructuring, by increasing capacity in some areas while decreasing in others, is definitely needed, they believe, to allow all tasks as prescribed in the law to be executed, such as at the tax office.

“Key revenue-generating departments are not reinforced with the proper amount of people and the right tools. This keeps our compliance low across several disciplines, and if we want to stop depending on other countries to support us in times of crisis, we have to start fixing our own state of affairs first,” Peterson said. “This means making some uncomfortable, but necessary decisions.”

On the state of the Kingdom

The faction reflected on the current state of the relationship between the Kingdom partners. It’s no secret that the relationship between the three smaller autonomous countries and the Netherlands is strained. Often it is felt that the autonomy of the countries is being affected by the actions of the Netherlands. A motion has been passed to address this subject, but PFP did not vote for the content of the motion.

“The finalization of the decolonization process is not the short-term solution the people of Sint Maarten need at this moment,” according to Peterson. “Our own Constitution and Kingdom Charter give us, as Parliament, a say in these matters, and we need to utilize all of the tools given to us within our own laws before bringing it the United Nations or we’ll be very embarrassed at that point. Communication is key, if a real solution is what we are looking for.”

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Sint Maarten Trust Fund Launches Enterprise Support Project

SINT MAARTEN (PHILIPSBURG) - The US$35 million Enterprise Support Project was officially launched today. The project is funded by the Sint Maarten Recovery, Reconstruction, and Resilience Trust Fund, financed by the Government of the Netherlands, managed by the World Bank, and implemented by the National Recovery Program Bureau (NRPB) on behalf of the Government of Sint Maarten.

The project aims to support micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) through direct financial assistance to contribute to the restoration of economic activity in Sint Maarten.

Micro, small, and medium enterprises are key for the island’s economic recovery and for job creation. This project can benefit Sint Maarten’s economy by supporting viable local enterprises, so that they can continue operations, and better prepare for the future,” said Michelle Keane, World Bank Program Manager for the Sint Maarten Trust Fund.

The Enterprise Support Project will provide grants and financing to eligible MSMEs through participating financial institutions, which currently include Qredits and the Windward Islands Bank Ltd. MSMEs are important for the economy and employment in Sint Maarten, but often lack the financial resources of larger firms, so are more vulnerable to shocks.

Many firms continue to struggle since Hurricane Irma and have been further severely affected by the unprecedented economic disruption caused by COVID-19. Business continuity planning training will be provided to enterprises and financial institutions in Sint Maarten, as well as training to lenders to improve their MSME lending products. Overall the project intends to provide direct financial assistance to more than 500 MSMEs, including training to 150 MSMEs over the next four years.

“Though there were many challenges to overcome, with much perseverance and an eagerness to propel MSMEs forward, we are proud to announce that ESP has been launched. Together with Central Bank, WIB, and Qredits, we welcome other local financial institutions to help us build a stronger and more resilient Sint Maarten.

What is also key in this project is the opportunity for St Maarten to properly develop its Micro, Small and Medium Enterprise sector through other important aspects of the project. This is a study to strengthen the resilience of the economy to future shocks, in addition to incorporating trainings to enterprises and participating financial institutions. The aim is to improve MSME lending capabilities to ensure better MSME access to finance and improving resilience of businesses.

“We therefore look to the Ministry of Economic Affairs and other organizations such as the Social Economic Council (SER) and St Maarten Chamber of Commerce (COCI) to foster a strong and cohesive collaboration in the spirit of Private and Public Partnerships (PPP) to provide support to the NRPB, ESP Team in successfully executing this mission,” said Claret Connor, NRPB Director.

Chris Johnson, head of the Representation of the Netherlands in Sint Maarten VNP, commented, “The island of Sint Maarten was heavily damaged by the hurricanes of 2017, including its economy. For Sint Maarten’s reconstruction I believe it is important that the private sector will recover in an innovative and flexible manner. With the launch of the Enterprise Support Project the need to support micro, small and medium enterprises, is addressed. The project design is geared to contribute to the sustainable recovery of the private sector on Sint Maarten. I hope to see tangible results on the island soon!”

Resources for interested applicants can be found at: https://nrpbsxm.org/esp/

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SMMC hosts construction update session for new hospital project

SINT MAARTEN (CAY HILL) - St. Maarten Medical Center (SMMC) recently hosted update sessions for staff and neighbors in the immediate surroundings regarding the construction of St. Maarten General Hospital (SMGH).

During the sessions, SMGH Project Manager Erika van der Horst outlined the construction activities and schedule as well as the measures contractor INSO is taking to reduce the effects of hinderances such as a sprinkler system to minimize dust, a wheel-washing facility to prevent mud and dirt from trucks and cars ending up on the main roads and sound-proofing of in-patient rooms. She also assured attendees that all possible measures were being taken to reduce the inconvenience of the construction of SMGH to patients, staff, neighbors, and the environment and gave expected completion dates for construction milestones.

The construction of SMGH is estimated to be completed in 2024 and the new hospital will have 110 in-patient beds, 4 operating theaters, 4 out-patient clusters, a Dialysis clinic with up to 30 positions, a Radiology Department including MRI, a Helicopter Deck, a Pharmacy and Laboratory and sufficient parking.

The new hospital will also be able to withstand Category 5 hurricanes (up to 200 mph), sits on base isolators to be able to handle earthquakes with a magnitude scale of 6 on the Richter scale and has solar paneling for the usage and generation of clean, renewable energy.

The main goals of the new hospital project are to assist in the further reduction of off-island referrals and raise the bar for local and regional healthcare by providing quality care close to home. It is also a goal to become a JCI-accredited leading medical institution in the Eastern Caribbean Region.

Individuals and organizations in the immediate surroundings of the existing hospital and the new hospital who wish to be kept abreast on new developments pertaining to the construction are asked to send an email to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. with their name and address to be added to the stakeholders’ newsletter database.

SMMC apologizes in advance for any inconvenience that the construction of SMGH may cause and count on your understanding and support during the project.

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No Planned or Scheduled Lockdown Issued by Government

SINT MAARTEN (POND ISLAND) - The Minister of Public Health, Social Development and Labor Richard Panneflek hereby informs the general-public that the government has not taken a decision to issue a planned lockdown, contrary to rumors circulating within the community.

For official news and updates, please continue to monitor the Official Government of Sint Maarten Facebook page or the government's website at www.sintmaartengov.org.

For your safety, the safety of your loved ones, and our community, follow the mandatory regulations implemented in order to flatten the curve and reduce the further spread of the COVID-19 virus on St. Maarten.

The public is reminded that flattening the curve is highly dependent on the behaviors of members of the community.

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Final notice for owners to retrieve confiscated vehicles and motorcycles. August 25 is the deadline. Vehicles/Motorcycles to be disposed of

SINT MAARTEN (PHILIPSBURG) - As the preparedness process for the peak of the 2020 Atlantic hurricane season continues, the Sint Maarten Police Force (KPSM) is making one final call to vehicle and motorcycle owners, who have previously had their transport seized by the police to come to the Police Headquarters to collect them.

The police have extended the deadline until Monday, August 25, to allow persons to come to the station with the necessary documentation to retrieve their vehicles.

“The vehicles which are being released are those that were impounded for technical issues or the documentations not being in order “Therefore, the police will be releasing them to their owners, providing they present the necessary paperwork.”

These required documents include:

  • Proof of ownership (Bill of Sale)
  • A valid identification (ID card, driver's license, or passport)
  • Proof of a valid insurance and Inspection card.

Vehicle owners are urged to make use of this opportunity to retrieve their vehicle before the announced deadline, as once the deadline has passed, the impounded vehicle will be considered abandoned and will be subsequently disposed of.

“This is the final opportunity for persons to collect these vehicles as we will be disposing of them once the deadline has passed,”  Sint Maarten is entering the peak of the hurricane season and the police wants to ensure that we complete this process sooner rather than later so that we can clear the area and minimize any safety risk these impounded vehicles might pose.”

However,  any motor vehicle which is still part of an ongoing investigation will not be released and the Prosecutor’s Office is the only entity that can authorize the release of a confiscated vehicle once the investigation is considered closed.” (KPSM)

police scooters ins1 monaug10

 

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Entrepreneurs to receive support from EZK again

SABA/SINT EUSTATIUS - Entrepreneurs who are faced with a loss of revenue due to the corona crisis and as a result have more difficulty covering their fixed costs, can again apply for a compensation from the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Climate (EZK).

It concerns a new regulation where the compensation amount can range between $ 500 and $ 55,000. This one-off payment is in addition to the support in labor costs for companies (SZW Emergency Regulation) and follows the previous EZK compensation of $ 2,200 or $ 4,400.

In this new regulation, the amount of support is calculated on the basis of revenue figures of the company. Figures from March through June in 2019 are compared to figures of the same period in 2020. There must be at least a 30% loss of revenue due to the corona crisis in order to qualify.

On the website of RCN there is a calculation module that entrepreneurs can use to easily calculate the amount that they may be entitled to. If the amount is $ 6,000 or more, a statement from their bookkeeper or accountant must be added to the application form to confirm the figures provided.

The compensation serves as support for the fixed costs for the period from June 13th to October 12th, 2020. Companies that want to apply for the regulation must be known to Belastingdienst Caribisch Nederland (BCN) since the 13th of March 2020 and be located on Bonaire, Saba or St. Eustatius. All conditions and additional information are available at www.rijksdienstcn.com/covid-19 (under ‘emergency package government’).

Because the Ministry of Economic Affairs has no implementing body in the Caribbean Netherlands, the RCN unit SZW implements this regulation. Fully completed and signed forms, together with the necessary attachments, can be sent by e-mail to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. starting Tuesday the 11th of August until Thursday the 12th of November 2020.

For support with submitting the application, please contact the Chamber of Commerce on Bonaire at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. If you have urgent questions, you can contact the RCN unit SZW at 781-5554 / 781-5558 (Bonaire), 790-0052 (St. Eustatius) and 416-3804 (Saba). (RCN Caribbean Netherlands)

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MP Ottley and others donate 63 electronic devices to students for online learning

SINT MAARTEN (PHILIPSBURG) – Member of Parliament (MP) Omar Ottley, in collaboration with Argos, Keianna Liburd, Klass Electronics, Good Food & Mojitos, Brooks Modeling Agency (in the Netherlands), will collectively be donating 63 hand held tablets and lap tops for students in need during the upcoming school term.

The MP stated that it is no secret that St Maarten as a country is faced with what is now known as the new norm, and unfortunately distance learning is part of this norm.

The recent spike in covid 19 cases on St Maarten has forced the Minister of Education to make provision for students to participate in online classes.

MP Ottley went on to state that while online classes may seem like the safest option at this moment, the reality is that many families are unable to provide their children with the necessary devices to participate in online schooling.

MP Ottley noted that he is extremely proud of what the group of donors have accomplished in just one week. The MP personally donated 10 devices and commends everyone involved for their commitment and their contribution of the other 53 devices.

The group has received many emails from families, organizations and schools requesting assistance and while they are unable to satisfy everyone at this time, they are happy to take these positive steps in the right direction.

MP Ottley urges the community to stick together in these trying times and be each other's keeper. He also noted that this is only the beginning and the group will continue to assist the community to the best of their ability. 

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SMMC reminds public to call CPS or House Doctor when experiencing COVID-19 like symptoms

SINT MAARTEN (CAY HILL) - St. Maarten Medical Center (SMMC) hereby reminds the public that persons experiencing non-urgent COVID-19 symptoms should contact their House Doctor or Collective Prevention Services (CPS) for instructions prior to coming to the hospital.

Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, SMMC has put protocols in place to prevent the transmission of COVID-19 to other patients and staff within the hospital. These protocols include a mandatory COVID-19 triage questionnaire at all entry points which include questions such as if the patient is experiencing any COVID-19 symptoms, if they have recently traveled and if they have been in contact with anyone who has been confirmed as having COVID-19, mandatory hand hygiene and a mandatory universal masking policy which applies to patients and staff.

Despite these protocols, SMMC has seen an increase in non-urgent patients attempting to visit the Emergency Room and the Outpatient Clinics requesting check-ups to rule out COVID-19.

“Due to the recent uptick in cases on the island, we have had an increase of stable and asymptomatic patients coming to the hospital requesting a check-up to exclude COVID-19. As the only hospital on the Dutch side of the island, it is of utmost importance that we take all necessary precautions safeguard the health of our patients and employees and that includes urging the public to adhere to our COVID-19 mitigation protocols. By attempting to visit the hospital when experiencing non-urgent symptoms, these persons put our staff and patients at risk unnecessarily”, said Dr. Felix Holiday, Medical Director and Chairman of SMMC’s Outbreak Management Team.

“We encourage the public to wear masks when in public, avoid visiting the hospital unnecessarily, practice social distancing, practice proper and frequent hand hygiene and to immediately isolate if you are feeling unwell” concluded Dr. Holiday.

SMMC urges persons experiencing symptoms of COVID-19 such as fever or chills, cough, shortness of breath or difficulty breathing, fatigue, muscle or body aches, headaches, loss of taste or smell, sore throat, congestion or runny nose, nausea or vomiting and diarrhea to CALL their House Doctor or contact the CPS hotline at 914. Persons experiencing symptoms such as trouble breathing, persistent pain or pressure in the chest, new confusion, the inability to wake or stay awake and bluish lips or face should contact the Ambulance Department by calling 912 and await further instructions.

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LU’s hygiene procedural handbook balance educational needs with safe environment

SINT MAARTEN (CAY HILL) - In preparation of the opening of its 2020-2021 school year on August 12, Learning Unlimited (LU) has produced a 30-page Hygiene Procedural Handbook for students, teachers and parents with the goal of balancing students’ educational needs within a safe, supportive environment for learning while providing important services to limit the virus that causes COVID-19. The handbook was sent to all parents last week.

In drafting this comprehensive handbook, LU utilized the recommendations of the Federal Institute for Health and Environment (Rijksinstituut voor Volksgezondheid en Milieu (RIVM) and “Sint Maarten’s Plan for Education Continuity- Amidst COVID-19 Pandemic” across the board. In addition, extra measures were implemented where such was deemed required. The RIVM has found that transmittance of COVID-19 by and among children is minimal. Nonetheless, LU’s directorate stressed that will uphold the highest standards it can provide to eliminate the risk of transmission as much as possible while still offering a safe and fun learning and work environment.

“We spent an inordinate amount of time preparing the school to re-open. The detailed handbook and policies we have created with the help of our task force and various consultants is available to be shared with any other schools on the island if they so desire,” Director of LU Daunesh Alcott said. While some of the ideas and recommended practices in the handbook we are going to do our best to adhere to may not all fit the needs of other schools, we are happy to assist and help any other educational institution out as best as we can.

“All they need to do is contact us, and we will be happy to help out in any way we reasonably can. I assume most every school is in various levels of preparation, and maybe some of the items in this handbook can help or spark a thought. We are in this Covid pandemic for the long-haul, I personally think. It is not going anywhere, so we are just going to have to all try and manage it the best way we all can, all the while not sacrificing the in-school education of kids. We cannot allow them to fall behind and lose another several months- or years- of education. That alone will be far more consequential than the virus fallout.”

The school will implement additional stringent measure where it deems necessary, but its current extra measures include:

- Required face masks from Grade 8 and up

- Where social distancing is applied, 2 meters distance is imposed instead of 1.5 meters (RIVM)

- Ventilation of the building wherever and whenever possible (dress code is revisited)

- Disinfectant tunnel for entry of the school premises

- Stop and drop/pickup procedures

- The introduction of a hybrid lesson model for those students who are required be educated from

Home.

- A COVID Management Team (CMT) has been formed. The CMT consists of Mr. Harold Raxlen (LU

School Board President), Dr. Pouneh Alcott (LU Founder and Executive Director), Ms. Amissa

President (Head of LU Primary School), Mr. Danny Fleming (Head of LU Middle and Upper School and Dean of Students) and Mr. Daunesh Alcott (LU Head of School). The CMT will monitor adherence to this handbook closely. Any incidents or suspicions are to be reported to members of the CMT. They will serve as your contact persons for anything COVID-related.

The hybrid plan

A hybrid option for students to continue their educational plan via distance learning with academic testing on-site will be available to those students who are unable to attend school. For instance students in risk categories, students who have been in contact with or live with a COVID-infected person or being infected him or herself, or students and/or parents/guardians who do not feel comfortable with in-class learning while the COVID threat remains, can apply. Any of these compelling reasons will be considered on a case-by-case basis in consultation with LU.

Online learning will only be fully implemented in case of another island shutdown due to a state of emergency being declared. Online learning, however, is not the preferred method at LU.

“Online learning is generally not the solution for future education models anywhere involving students in their formative years through high school. Part of a successful school experience is developing the whole child. That involves positive and negative peer interactions, coping skills, dealing with rules and consequences, social problem solving skills, dealing with authority figures, learning valuable life-skills, etc. Just having academic skills will not prepare children for future endeavors in their later lives. I think that is pretty universally understood by parents and educators, alike,” Alcott said.

The disinfectant chamber

LU has installed a disinfectant chamber outside the main entrance. All students and staff must enter this chamber before entering the school building. Parents visiting the school (either to drop off or collect their children from Preschool, Pre-K or Kindergarten or on appointment) must enter this chamber too. This chamber will perform temperature checks, UV disinfectant light rays, disinfectant spray, and a hand sanitizing station.

A disinfection chamber is an enclosed facility similar to a telephone booth in size where users can efficiently complete disinfection and sanitizing procedures in around 40 seconds. This machine offers state of the art non-contact triple disinfection and sanitization to help prevent the spread of germs and viruses. The unit comes equipped with an infrared sensor automatic spray that deploys 360-degree ultrasonic atomization disinfection. Intelligent hands-free temperature measurement, high-temperature alarm, and a contactless automatic alcohol hand gel dispenser complete the sanitization process.

The disinfection chamber uses a hypochlorous disinfectant and it is EPA List N-approved. This product is 100% natural. It is harmless to people, animals, and the environment. The unit itself is a stainless-steel structure, corrosion-resistant, deformation-resistant and movable. Disinfection practices are important to reduce the potential for COVID-19 virus contamination in a school setting. As per the ECYS requirements, at least one staff member will supervise the entry to the school. Staff will be informed of this schedule separately.

Daily Self-Assessments

To help prevent the spread of COVID-19 and reduce the potential risk of exposure to its employees

before school reopens, the school will also be requiring employees to complete a detailed self-screening which includes a temperature reading and answering a set of questions related to COVID-19 symptoms.

Teachers will also be expected to perform daily temperature checks on themselves and all students. All screening information will be kept confidential by the LU Human Resource department. The school has a supply of rapid COVID-19 tests on hand to also supplement the teaching staff. LU staff is required to keep a daily logbook in which the names of all persons whom they came in close contact with, should be listed. This will help the school and CPS in their contact tracing in case of an outbreak.

The handbook also takes care to detail what each student must do in terms of hygiene once on school premises. There are instructions for in-class and out-of class activities, how to handle lockers ect. There will also be a staggered approach for arrival and departure from school with the various grade levels given specific times to arrive and leave to minimize the crowd and stagnation at both times.

The handbook also presents several annexes that outlines, among other things, what measures are to be immediately taken if an infected person is present at school (becomes aware at the school of their

COVID status), or the infected person was not transparent or honest about their positive COVID results, and/or that a suspected person is awaiting COVID results or becomes aware of positive COVID results at home

“I hope parents truly understand how hard all schools are working- public and private. This is a completely new phenomenon we are all dealing with. Teachers, administrators, and school boards on the island and the world over are being stretched to the limits and working much harder now, in general, than at any other time in their respective careers. While we do not know all the answers and can never guarantee anything, we will do our best to adapt and adjust accordingly to the new challenges that this virus seemingly poses to us all on a daily basis. I am pretty confident all schools are working diligently on countless guidance and recommendation and so much more to keep their communities as safe and secure as they can,” Alcott said.

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Civil Servant Loekie Morales retires after contributing to the development process

SINT MAARTEN (PHILIPSBURG) – “I remember my first day of work at the Government of Sint Maarten like it was yesterday. After working for municipal and provincial governments in the Netherlands for several years, I decided it was time to leave that cold, foggy country and work on the development of our Antillean islands,” Loekie Morales said in a statement on Saturday.

“I chose Sint Maarten, and I have never regretted my choice of a vibrant island that had potential, but then-insufficient capacity to run complex national development programs and projects.

“I started by designing an industry package with environmental regulations for car- repair companies and contributing to the federal Antillean Nature Policy Plan. A year later, then-Commissioner Roy Marlin placed me in the Strategy Policy and Development Department (SBO) to develop the new field of heritage conservation.

“The idea of ​​identifying, designating and eventually restoring or preserving potential monuments in Sint Maarten for future generations was mainly encouraged by then-Lieutenant Governor Franklyn Richards, who gave me a lot of support in that process.

“In partnership with the Foundation for Monuments and the Curaçao Monuments Fund, I started to lift the monuments policy, legislation, and financial framework, including a Monuments Revolving Fund. We also set up the Foundation for Conservation of Monuments and established the Monuments Advisory Council, a government advisory board of cultural-heritage experts.

“Working with a team of Dutch students specializing in heritage restoration, we identified and described the interior and exterior of more than 100 potential monuments.

“This enormous job was completed with the generous cooperation of monument owners in Sint Maarten and the unconditional support of Herman George, former director of the Monument Fund in Curaçao.

“The capital of Curacao, Willemstad, is on the UNESCO World Heritage list and provided an outstanding example of preservation of monuments. George’s employees often flew to Sint Maarten to advise me on monument policy, legislation, financing and designation. We began by designating 28 monuments, which are on the official monuments list of Sint Maarten.

“In 2004, the reorganization of the civil service was underway, and SBO became a Program and Projects Bureau, set up to implement large development programs, with millions of Antillean guilders from the Netherlands managed by USONA.

“All ministries had to be focused and aligned in Sint Maarten’s development endeavor. Stakeholders were players to reckon with. Government deployed specialists in the field of leading programs and projects, such as the SEI, a Social Economic Initiative program, and the Institutional Strengthening Program, with good governance of government and NGOs as a pillar.

“In the Netherlands, I had worked for many years on large spatial-planning and environmental projects, such as water-purification installations and drawing up provincial plans to manage and renovate estates and castles in the Stichtse Lustwarande area. As a result, my skills were a good fit for Sint Maarten’s new “development strategy” model.

“From Oct. 10, 2010, Sint Maarten was to be developed in such a way that it would be stable on the way to becoming an autonomous island.

“I was briefly in charge with the new portfolio regarding development via the European Development Funds. The National Development of Sint Maarten was soon taken up. Basis was the Millennium Development Goals, since 2015, the Sustainable Development Goals, a portfolio that I managed and became my passion.

“Before that, I led a working group that wrote the first Millennium Development Goals report for Sint Maarten. This was followed by the development of the Millennium Acceleration Framework, in which development goals such as poverty alleviation and environmental sustainability were cross-linked. Sint Maarten was lagging with these goals. With relevant stakeholders, we developed a program to strengthen these targets.

“Today, I end an interesting journey, in which I learned a lot and represented Sint Maarten in various national, regional and international forums and contributed to its development.

“The road to the sustainable development of Sint Maarten has many challenges, yet it is worth following to achieve a cohesive, decisive country, with more equality in wellbeing and progress.

“Sint Maarten can best focus on recruiting and supporting specialists in creating and leading development programs and projects, developing new forms of income outside the tourism pillar and providing our young people with tools and skills to promote self-reliance, including knowledge of government finances and the ability to recruit funds from international organizations.

“During my years in government service, I am happy to have contributed to Sint Maarten’s development process. I would like to thank all those who helped me in the shaping of programs and projects, and I wish them continuing insight and inspiration on their way to a sustainable Sint Maarten,” the statement from Morales concludes.

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