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Sarah: Looking forward to hear the EOC recommendations on earthquake preparations

SINT MAARTEN (PHILIPSBURG) – “Recent reports from the region regarding earthquakes and elevated seismic activity should be of concern to all of us”, Member of Parliament, Sarah Wescot-Williams stated recently. 

“A statement from Mr. Clive Richardson of Sunday, January 12th, 2020, did not address or allay my concerns, and given the reports and the inquietude amongst the population, I’ve posed questions to Prime Minster Silveria Jacobs, as the one responsible for disaster management.”, the MP said. 

The Member of Parliament posed the following questions to the Prime Minister in a recent letter. 

  1. What is the view of Government regarding these increasing seismic activities? Do thesenot warrant increased alertness? 
  2. What has Government put in place to mitigate the potential threat of an earthquake to our island? Does the plan include  schools and other public places? 
  3. What is the disaster management plan for earthquakes? 
  4. Please share any other information regarding this matter that could be helpful to the population as a whole and may I suggest an urgent communication plan, if not yet in place. 

“These questions were not posed to create panic, but to be assured that the Government of St. Maarten is doing all within its power to: keep the population informed and prepared, make sure that plans are in place to roll out in the event that St. Maarten is struck by an earthquake and  include drills in the plan, especially in our schools. In response, the Prime Minister has informed me that she will be calling for an EOC meeting soonest and will provide the answers to the questions above, the MP continued. 

MP Wescot-Williams further stated that she has “downloaded the Disasterprep Sint Maarten App, but there appears still some work to be done before this can be considered the medium of choice to reach the widest population possible.  And of course, collaboration with our French counterparts is  of paramount importance.” 

“I look forward to some concrete proposals coming from the EOC and I encourage all to be vigilant and helpful in protecting ourselves as much as humanly possible”, the MP concluded.

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Grandmaster Flash to light up the St. Maarten Heineken Regatta

SINT MAARTEN (SIMPSON BAY) - Organizers of the 40th St. Maarten Heineken Regatta are proud to announce that DJ Grandmaster Flash will open the Main Stage of the Regatta festival. His much-anticipated performance will take place at Princess Port de Plaisance on Thursday, March 5th, 2020. The event will be free to the public and everyone is invited to enjoy the restaurants activities and vendors that will be set up throughout the Regatta Village.

The legend of Grandmaster Flash starts back in the 1970’s when rap music and DJ's were beginning their craft. Born on the Caribbean island of Barbados, Joseph Saddler was raised in the Bronx, New York City. His love of music and ear for beats guided him on his musical journey. Hard work and dedication to the craft of DJing has culminated in a career that spans the decades. His induction into both the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and the Grammy Hall of Fame helped bridge the musical gap of mainstream music and Rappers/DJ's.

Grandmaster Flash is considered to be a DJ pioneer and is credited for developing and mastering three innovating techniques, that are still used today, by DJ’s around the world. “As the unofficial voice of the 70's, his electrical performance is the perfect way to start the 40 years of celebrations we have planned" stated Michele Korteweg, General Manager of the Sint Maarten Yacht Club. “His will set the tone for the remainder of the week. With several other great artists lined up, we are sure everyone will walk away feeling amazed, and we hope they will join us as we travel through the decades with music”.

The 2020 edition of the St. Maarten Heineken Regatta will take place in the waters surrounding the island of St. Maarten. Onshore festivities will be hosted in the Regatta Village which is located at Princess Port de Plaisance Resort & Casino. Event-goers will have the benefit of an open-air venue, plenty of free parking and a village set up with a variety of technical suppliers, sponsors, food vendors, and artisans as well as the official regatta merchandise. The venue officially opens its doors on Monday the 2nd of March and will be open daily for both sailors and visitors.

Event Production Director John Leone adds, “It is truly a dream come true to be hosting Grandmaster Flash on our island. His songs with the Furious Five were a part of my life since my teenage years; The Message, White Lines, Scorpio and New York New York help set the foundations for Hip Hop as we know it today. Every DJ in the business today respects what he’s done for the business. Get ready for an amazing show!”

The final performance of the Regatta Festival will be Superstar singer and songwriter, Flo Rida who is promising to bring his high-energy hits to the main stage on Sunday evening, March 8th, 2020. You are invited to come enjoy the 40th Anniversary Edition of the St. Maarten Heineken Regatta, “Serious Fun!”

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THE AC COMPANY DONATES TIME AND SERVICES TO THE MARTIN LUTHER KING JR SCHOOL

SINT MAARTEN (DUTCH QUARTER) - Minister Ardwell Irion and Martin Luther King Jr. school would like to thank Gyenuar Lopez from The AC Company, for servicing the air-conditioners at the school free of charge.

Upon hearing about the issues, the school was facing, Mr. Lopez took it as a call to action, spending the day donating his time and services.

Mr. Lopez thought it important to have the air-conditioners serviced to avoid further allergy complications due to dust build up over the last couple of years.

Mr. Lopez owns The AC Company which operates from 106 A.T. Illidge Rd. You can contact them via telephone at +1 721-584-4444.

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St. Maarten present at the annual Dutch Holiday Fair ‘Vakantiebeurs’

SINT MAARTEN/THE NETHERLANDS - Destination St. Maarten is currently being represented alongside Saint Martin and Saba at the 50th edition of Vakantiebeurs which is one of the largest holiday fairs in the Netherlands.

This popular holiday fair consists of a trade day during which the tourism bureaus representatives were able to meet with travel professionals from airlines such as KLM and TUI, tour operators and travel agents amongst others. The holiday fair also consists of four consumer days for holiday seekers to get inspired, receive information and book their next holiday trip. 

According to the facts and figures of last year’s Vakantiebeurs, there were 103.312 visitors, and 120 countries being represented, of which the French and Dutch tourism office representatives were present to promote the destination.

This year, it can be expected that these numbers will increase due to the 50th year anniversary celebration of the Vakantiebeurs.

“Being present at Vakantiebeurs will give the island the necessary exposure amongst thousands of vacation seekers and will allow us to engage with them on a personal level to provide information and promote the destination.

Promoting the destination together with Saba showcases the island hopping and multi destination vacation visitors can experience. Targeting the more luxury traveler interested in villas is also one of our objectives as Dutch travelers are spending more per person on their holidays and are avid travelers that goes on vacation at least 2.5 times per year.” said Director of Tourism, May-Ling Chun.

KLM currently flies three times per week directly to and from Amsterdam from Princess Juliana International Airport, and has their annual World Deal Weeks campaign on going offering lower prices on over 100 destinations including St. Maarten with ticket prices flying from Amsterdam to St. Maarten starting at 499 euros.

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Sint Maarten about to face economic damage says SHTA

SINT MAARTEN (GREAT BAY) - In the January 12th edition of the Antilliaans Dagblad, mention is made of a possible solution to the Giro bank issue, the Sint Maarten Hospitality & Trade Association (SHTA) said in a statement on Wednesday.

“The proposal appears to have at least the support of the government of Curacao. It is to increase the license fee charged by the central bank on foreign currency transactions, with a staggering 170 – 190%. In the article, Curacao’s Prime Minister, Mr. Rhuggenaath states that Sint Maarten will have to increase its foreign exchange license fees as well, in order to reduce damage to Curacao’s economy.

“It is important to note that the poor management by Giro bank and poor oversight by the CBCS (Ed Central Bank of Curacao and Sint Maarten) is a Curacao problem which will now cause great harm to St. Maarten’s economy. This while Giro Bank was not active in St Maarten.

“Without elaborating on the technicalities, this would be equivalent to a devaluation of the guilder, according to financial experts. In addition, it should be mentioned that in small market economies like Curacao but especially of St. Maarten, devaluations are counter-productive; they would lead to a shift of purchases from the Dutch to the French side or, a significant reduction of consumption.

“With all the post Irma challenges, a poorly devised additional transaction tax is possibly the worst idea for St. Maarten’s fragile economic recovery. Besides the fact that St Maarten had no part in the creation of the Giro bank problem, our economies are different. What may work for Curacao will not work for Sint Maarten.

“An increase in license fees will mean that imports become more expensive. According to the population things are already too expensive. Businesses often get the blame. No-one ever considers the cost of doing business, the cost of TOT and license fees.

But when your dollar or guilder buys you less in the store, or when the fees for using the ATM look higher, an increased license fee may be the cause.

“According to financial experts, transaction fees like the foreign exchange license fee, should only be implemented or adjusted (decreased/increased) with the purpose to increase or decrease consumption (imports). It is not a tool to fund government’s expenses because of the significant economic impact such measures have. The Curacao proposal will increase license fees in order to raise funds for the Curacao Government to cover the ANG 450 million to solve the Giro Bank problem. Don’t let anyone fool you! This is a destructive tax that will lead to decreased economic activity and increased social misery; an inflationary spiral of increasing prices, stagnant wages increased unemployment and business closures.

“Is this the answer? Let the St. Maarten taxpayers suffer in order to solve a problem caused by years of political shenanigans and CBCS mismanagement that created the Giro Bank Fiasco? To our ministers and future ministers of finance: The St Maarten taxpayer is one of the most docile in the world, but this measure, in light of our current economic predicament, is making St. Maarten pay for something they were not a part of, were not responsible for, and is therefore unacceptable.

“The present economic situation in Curacao combined with the Giro Bank issue raises the question whether the monetary union between Curacao and St. Maarten can survive. It appears that Curacao, as the larger economy, dictates Central Bank policy without any consideration for St. Maarten. It is high time that St. Maarten re-evaluates its position.  We suggest that the respective ministries pay attention to what can only be termed an existential threat.

“Let’s make 2020 the year of progress, a fresh start to a new decade of opportunity. Let’s stand up against the selfish and shortsighted measures proposed by Curacao which were a bad idea in 1996 and are an even worse idea now. Protect the purchasing power of St Maarten taxpayers, do not erode it even further.

“We ask the present and incoming minister of Finance and Parliament to be proactive and address this additional potential blow to our fragile economy before is too late,” the SHTA press statement concludes.

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WIB Announces Mortgage Campaign Winner 2019

SINT MAARTEN (PHILIPSBURG) - Win Back 1-year interest paid on your Mortgage and 25,000 Fun Mile points, was the Windward Islands Bank Ltd (WIB) Mortgage Campaign which offered very attractive loan terms for anyone looking to buy, build or renovate their home.

The campaign started on March 25, 2019 through December 31, 2019.

WIB is proud to announce that Mrs. Sue-Ellen Libretto is the lucky winner of one-year interest paid on her Mortgage and 25,000 Fun Mile points.

The Windward Island Bank Your Partners in progress.

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COCI Calls on Entrepreneurs to Register for January 30 Customer Service Workshop

SINT MAARTEN (PHILIPSBURG) – The St. Maarten Chamber of Commerce & Industry (COCI) is inviting members of the business community to register for its next “Grow Your Business with COCI Workshops set for Thursday, January 30.

This is the sixth workshop and the first for 2020 and will be given by tourism and hospitality consultant Glen Yeung. Yeung, a former Dean of the University of St. Martin, is a seasoned training facilitator in business management, hospitality, marketing, and leadership.

Glen holds a master’s degree from the Florida International University and is a Certified Hospitality Educator (CHE); and is a Hospitality Assured Business Advisor (HABA) for the Caribbean Tourism Organization (CTO).

The workshop will be about ‘customer service,’ and the workshop will take place at the COCI Conference Room from 7.00PM to 8.30PM.

Those interested in attending the workshop must register and pay a registration fee of US$20. Seating is limited and potential attendees need to register as soon as possible. You can register via email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or call 721-542-3590 for further information.

Each workshop will deal with one specific topic. The other workshops planned for 2020 are: February 20 Bureau of Intellectual Property (BIP), Vincentia Rosen Sandiford; and March 26 Financial Planning, Ahmed Bell.

The workshop product series is being organized in connection with COCI’s 40th anniversary marking the Chambers establishment this year 40-years ago.

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Government opens Condolence Book for Mavis Brooks-Salmon as of Wednesday

GREAT BAY, Sint Maarten (DCOMM) – A condolence-memorial book will be open to the public in connection with the passing of Vice-Chair of the Council of Advice the late M.C.C. Mavis Brooks-Salmon LL.M, MA.

The condolence-memorial book will be open at the Government Administration Building on Pond Island as of Wednesday, January 15 from 2.00pm to 6.00pm and Thursday/Friday, January 16 and 17 from 8.30am to 6.00pm. Civil servants can sign the condolence book anytime throughout the day.

The late Mrs. Brooks-Salmon joined the High Council of State in October 2010 as Sint Maarten attained country status.

Mrs. Brooks-Salmon had a distinguished career in education whereby teaching was her passion. She taught on Curacao and Sint Maarten for close to 10 years before becoming Principal of the Sister Borgia School in Philipsburg, a position she held for 10-years.

Furthermore, Mrs. Brooks-Salmon was a public servant holding a number of positions including serving as Deputy Minister Plenipotentiary for the Netherlands Antilles (former) Government in The Hague, the Netherlands.

She held a law degree and received a Royal distinction as a Member of the Order of Oranje Nassau.

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Three MPC & Vocational School students to go head to head on automotive care

SINT MAARTEN (SOUTH REWARD) - Three automotive students from Milton Peters College (MPC) are getting ready to compete against a team of three automotive students from St Maarten Vocational Training School this Friday January 17.

They will have three hours to repair certain elements of a car. Judges Ivmaral Carrilho from Motor World and Michael Scott from Auto Real will determine how well they have performed and if they win in their category of automotive technology.

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Carnival 2020 schedule spans 27 days, two new local events

SINT MAARTEN (POND ISLAND) - The St. Maarten Carnival Development Foundation (SCDF) on Monday released the schedule of events for Carnival 2020. Beginning in March with the first pre-Carnival event, the Carnival 2020 schedule will feature 27 days of various Carnival activities.

There are eight pre-Carnival events in March before the official part of the schedule begins on April 16 with the opening of Carnival Village. The festivities come to a close on May 4. “We are coming off of a very large, fun and yet very challenging 50 years celebration of Carnival. We pulled off the biggest Carnival ever and were very proud of that. We had the novel idea to scale back 2020, but this is almost impossible with the size of the festival and what the country, corporate partners and stakeholders expect,” President of the SCDF Alston Lourens said.

The schedule features the regular amount of jump-ups (5), parades (3) and international concerts (6). Most of the locally themed events also return including the Senior Calypso Competition which has been placed before Jouvert Jump-Up.

There are two new events to the Carnival schedule. The first is a Pan Explosion Concert featuring the best in steel pan from both side of the island. “Pan music is missing from Carnival and we were determined to address that this Carnival after going through an anniversary year without it. This concert will feature the best in pan music, mixed in with some other surprises. We hope it gets full support from the public,” Lourens said.

The other new addition to the schedule is a change to the second day parade. The parade will now be called the Sunset Labor Day Light Parade. Lourens explained: “This is still the second day parade, but we will light up the costumes and start at sunset. So the costumes and revelers you see on the first day (Grand Parade) you will see the second day but all lit up. In addition to this, we have approached our corporate sponsors to participate with floats that would be fully lit as well. We believe this event have the potential to grow into a fun, new attraction for St. Maarten Carnival and a new marketing tool.”

Not on the schedule for Carnival 2020 are three of the four Carnival Queen pageants. Lourens explained that while registration was decent for the Teen, Senior and Mature pageants, after the contestants started their preparations and realized that obtaining sponsors were a challenge, the participation numbers dwindled below the minimum to have a pageant.

“As such we decided to move on without those pageants, host the junior pageant as a pre-Carnival event and focus on the other three for next year,” Lourens said. Soca Rumble is not on the schedule after the promoter of that event announced in late 2019 that she will not be hosting it for Carnival 2020.

“The residents and visitors of St. Maarten are in for another memorable Carnival. Once again we offer the best Carnival product in the North Eastern Caribbean. All Carnival Village booths are filled, all concerts allotted, troupe leaders are getting ready, music being prepared, bands gearing up. We started a little late this year due to the Parliamentary elections, but this won’t change the fact that the public can expect another great Carnival season,” Lourens said.

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