Focus (2)

Soualiga Newsday Focus (2955)

FCCA, Ministers of Tourism and Justice and Port St. Maarten discuss Crime Fighting Initiatives and Employment Opportunities

MIAMI/SINT MAARTEN –Minister of Tourism and Economic Affairs Claret Connor, Minister of Justice Dennis Richardson, and Port St. Maarten Chief Executive Officer Mark Mingo, and other delegation officials, met with Florida Caribbean Cruise Association (FCCA) President Michele Paige and the FCCA Security Committee members Adam Ceserano, Vice President, Domminick A. Froio Jr., Vice President of Security Services, and Michaek Panariello, Director Security Services, on Wednesday morning to discuss crime fighting measures of the Government of St. Maarten along with other matters.

The FCCA praised St. Maarten’s handling of the incident especially from a communications perspective. FCCA was very appreciative of how the Government of St. Maarten and Port management were immediately in direct contact with the FCCA and keeping them abreast of developments as they happened.

The FCCA Security Committee was given an update about the armed robbery incident of August 5, 2015 based on the investigation carried out by law enforcement.  The armed robbery led to the death of Police Officer Gamali Benjamin when he responded to the call.

The follow-up actions by the Government of St. Maarten were explained especially the seriousness of the approach of the Government and the country’s highest legal body, the Parliament of Sint Maarten, to ensure that enhanced security measures are set as high priority for the public and visitors.  The briefing was given by Minister of Justice Dennis Richardson and Acting Chief Police Commissioner Carl John.

The FCCA President and Security Committee were once again assured that safety and security is priority number one for the Government of St. Maarten.

The ports security plan which includes cooperation with the Police Force was also discussed at length where an update was given about initiatives to be developed.  This also includes the camera surveillance network for the Philipsburg area.

More resources will be given to the Bike Patrol and further deliberations will take place between the Ministry of Justice, Police Force, Port Security and the Safety Officer.  The aforementioned will be tied to the expansion of the created Soualiga Patrol.

A follow-up meeting will take place at the FCCA Conference in Mexico in October.  A draft security protocol will be reviewed by the Ministry of Justice and the Ministry of Tourism, Economic Affairs, Transport and Telecommunications (Ministry TEATT), and will be discussed in detail with the FCCA at the aforementioned conference.

Another important issue discussed were employment opportunities onboard cruise ships; more commercial support for selling island products onboard cruise vessels; and social programs such as the FCCA Crime Social Project.  With respect to the latter, there are a number of successful programs that were highlighted in the meeting about initiatives in Panama, St. Lucia, and St. Vincent and the Grenadines. 

Minister of Tourism and Economic Affairs Claret Connor discussed job opportunities onboard cruise ships which is a program established by the FCCA as well as the FCCA Crime Social Project.  These initiatives he deems very important and could contribute to the overall socio-economic development of St. Maarten.

Minister Connor added that the information received at the meeting he will discuss with the Minister of Education, Culture, Youth and Sports Hon. Rita Bourne-Gumbs, School Management and Educational Institutions in order to ensure that a program which is developed in collaboration with the FCCA is successful and sustainable.  Minister Bourne-Gumbs is also Acting Minister of Labour Affairs.

The opening up of Cuba and the interests of cruise lines was another topic that was discussed between Paige and Port management.

The St. Maarten delegation was also briefed about the cruise line protocol that they have in place in the event of an incident involving a cruise passenger.

Another topic that was discussed is the new BREA (Business Research and Economic Advisors) report which will be published shortly and presented at the FCCA Conference in Mexico. 

Destination St. Maarten has improved its position when it comes to cruise passenger and crew spending.  The report studied the economic impact of the FCCA Member Lines to cruise tourism throughout the Caribbean.


MP Leona Marlin-Romeo wants Minister of Finance to get Central Bank involved in receiving and resolving complaints

PHILIPSBURG – Independent Member of Parliament (MP) Leona Marlin-Romeo will be requesting a meeting of Parliament to discuss and mandate the Minister of Finance to implore upon the Central Bank to take up their responsibility and assume the tasks of receiving and resolving complaints brought by consumers and, in some cases, small businesses against banks, insurers and/or other financial services providers.

“In our system the Central Bank is supposed to regulate and supervise institutions that offer financial services. This responsibility is not being executed.

“Several months have passed and the Minister of Finance have not reacted to the much discussed subject matter.  The Central Bank have responded but passively, acknowledging their role and responsibility but not actively pursuing the necessary changes that is needed to execute this task.

“What country in this age will have an established Central Bank that do not see consumer protection as a priority?  There is no excuse for the passive behaviour of the Central Bank and the minister,” Independent MP Leona Marlin-Romeo said on Tuesday.

This aspect of consumer protection is related but separate from what the Member of Parliament is advocating for the Small Claims Court of Sint Maarten and for the establishment of a Consumer Protection entity, which are both necessary for Sint Maarten. 


Rotary Sunrise and Motorworld team up again for students

PHILIPSBURG -Motorworld and Rotary Club of St. Martin Sunrise have joined forces yet again to help start kids on the right path for this school year. School bags containing school materials such as pens, pencils, copy books, sharpeners and erasers were handed out to students at the Sr. Borgia Elementary School and the Sr. Marie Laurence Primary School.

The students were excited to receive the school bag and supplies as members of Rotary Sunrise, President Marcellia Henry, Fundraising Director Peter Dialani, Vice President Angela Gordon, and Motorworld’s Marketing Officer Lorenzo Gomez, handed out the bags to them.

The two partners wished the Students, Teachers and the Schools’ Principals a very successful school year and hoped that with this the Rotary Club of St Martin Sunrise and Motorworld have contributed to the performance of the children in school.

“Motorworld has proven to be a worthy partner over the years for the Rotary Sunrise in this project”, said President Henry. The club appreciates the acceptance from the business sector to collaborate in such a way that it benefits our community especially as it concerns the youth. Motorworld will continue this relationship with Rotary Sunrise in the years ahead.

On behalf of Motorworld Mr. Lorenzo Gomez thanked the Rotary for partnering with them and said it was a great pleasure to be of service to the community. He also added that this donation is a part of Motorworld’s Educational Campaign that will focus on helping to develop St. Maarten’s next scholar superstars. 

Motorworld is the car dealer for the brands Hyundai, Honda, Daihatsu, Jeep, Dodge, Ram and Chrysler, for St. Maarten and neighbouring islands.

For more information visit the Motorworld Sales Department which is located on Welfare rd #20, Cole Bay, St. Maarten Tel: 1-721-544-5294, email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or visit them on Facebook at

Rotary Club of St. Martin Sunrise meets at Barefoot Terrace Restaurant every Tuesday mornings at 7:00am for fellowship and breakfast.  For more information on the club visit us at or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., they are also on Facebook: Rotary Club of Saint Martin Sunrise


Junior Chamber International (JCI) adopted the United Nations Agenda of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals at the JCI global Summit

SINT MAARTEN - JCI, UNICEF and other key partners adopted the United Nations agenda of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals known as SDGs on 30th and 31st August, 2015. This has gain interest to JCI members to share their views in discussing the various topics at the United Nations Headquarters in New York.

At the culmination of the JCI Global Summit it was evident that the JCI main objective is to create a better livelihood for all human beings by  allow access to the basic necessities human need to survive on a daily basis through positive and sustainable changes. These changes are geared towards all despite one’s gender, colour, religion or creed.

By providing adequate training to its members, the organization is confident that its members will be fully equipped with the necessary skills to bring about positive changes in various communities. Likewise building partnership with entities who shares the same goals of the JCI there is no doubt that these various ventures can only be successful in aiding and improving the quality of life.  

The goals of the JCI are built on three focal points, which undoubltly will ensure the smooth implementation of the SDG’s. Firstly, health and wellness, secondly, education and economic empowerment and lastly, sustainability. It’s upon theses focal points the SDG’s will be birth and more importantly produces evidences of their success in assisting and aiding the human race.

It’s the goal of the organization to eradicate poverty and hunger, to administer programmes to ensure healthy lifestyles, equitable quality education, gender equality, sustainable water and climate solutions, sustainable economic growth, the construction of resilient infrastructure, build stronger cities for human settlement, to protect and restore ways for the continuous use of the ecosystem.

Through perseverance and due diligence the SDG’s can be achieve and lead to positive changes which will benefits individuals who are in dire needs of these assistance and they toil day after day hoping and waiting for changes to come.

The United Nations 17 SDGs will be on the agenda for the next 15 years from 2015-2030.Heads of Government will meet at the United nations Building also to discussion the needs of the adoption of the SDGs in September.

JCI will be celebrating 100 years in Kanazwa, Japan in November. Kiwanis International has become Partners with JCI on 31th August, 2015 and will be celebrating 100 years also.  The 17 SDGs can be seen on the website of


Ombudsman: Moving on

PHILIPSBURG - The Ombudsman Dr. Nilda Arduin offers her input to move on. She observes that after days of total shock, anger and fear came mourning, which culminated with a tremendous show of solidarity by the community on the day of the funeral of Police Officer Gamali Kwasi Benjamin; those born here, from here, just happen to be here, and more were there. She likens the impact of the tragic event on August 5th 2015 as devastating to the morale of the people and the economy of the island as the impact of hurricane Luis on September 5th, 1995.

The response to the devastation of the hurricane was swift, with total involvement of the entire community. A Government of Reconstruction and Recovery took up its responsibility, and lead the people in clearing the island of the mess, and built the people’s morale. And so today, after the shock and national mourning, Government needs to lead to restore the damage caused by the fatal shooting of a Police Officer in the line of duty, protecting people, business and our economy in the heart of town. Government needs to boost the morale and restore hope for the people, who call Sint Maarten their home.

The same awareness of what hit us, and a sense that we are in the mess together in the days after hurricane Luis, should guide us to collectively contribute towards swift restoration of the devastation caused by the event of August 5th 2015. The awareness that the shooting of a Law enforcement Officer at close range in broad daylight in the middle of the capital, a stone’s throw away from the Court House and the Parliament House, is a form of anarchy at its highest level, should awaken us all.

There is no time to pick and choose, or point fingers, but time to act swiftly and collectively. Government is expected to lead by example, just like Officer Benjamin did. Taking care of the people’s business unbiased, impartial, with understanding, transparency and utmost respect is a budget neutral first step. Acknowledging that behind each decision and action or non-action of Government are the interests of real people, does not require additional monetary investment.

As Ombudsman listening to and investigating the complaints of the people against Government’s behavior, established that the primary needs of the citizens are that Government is open and clear, transparent, cooperative and involved, serving the general interest of the people. Lack of transparency and decision making by Government stagnates development, freezes the wellbeing of the people, increases frustration and anarchy. Applying propriety, standards of proper conduct, is a simple first step in rebuilding and restoring trust in Government and by extension our community. Reading and implementing the many cost effective recommendations offered in the reports of our own High Councils of State and Advisory bodies, as well as the many reports paid for and produced by the various Integrity Committees is another step in the right direction.

If government leads as stated above, and this includes Ministers, civil servants and Parliament, the Board of Trustees elected by the people to supervise Government,  the people will follow and understand if measures need to be taken to restore law and order within the community.

Though the statistics published in the Year Report 2014 of the Ombudsman shows that the complaints against the Ministry of Justice, topped by complaints against the Police Department, were the highest last year, the fact is that the Police Department is most active and compliant when it comes to investigations and recommendations from the Ombudsman to better serve the public.

Officer Benjamin understood propriety; he served the public with respect and kindness. May his legacy lead Government and the civil servants as we move on.


Minister of Youth Affairs Bourne-Gumbs says Engage your community

PHILIPSBURG – Minister of Education, Culture, Youth and Sports (Ministry ECYS) Hon. Rita Bourne-Gumbs, in a pre-International Youth Day Message, Wednesday, 12 August, congratulates the nation’s youth on their internationally recognized day, and at the same time calls on them to engage in their community.

On 17 December 1999, the United Nations General Assembly, in its resolution 54/120, endorsed the recommendation made by the World Conference of Ministers Responsible for Youth that 12 August be declared International Youth Day.

The theme for 2015 is ‘Youth Civic Engagement.’ The engagement and participation of youth is essential to achieve sustainable human development.  

“Our youth are among our nation’s most valuable resources.  Government renews its commitment in our young people in all aspects of their development.  I encourage our youths to devote their energies and ideas into civic engagement. 

“Civic engagement is when young people are involved in responsible, challenging activities to create positive social change.  Youth engagement is a central corner stone of youth development.  Youth civic engagement prepares young people to be active citizens in a democracy.

“I encourage our young people to join youth movements and student groups, and help out with activities being organized in our community by volunteering their time.  The reward is not money, but the satisfaction of helping and giving back to your community.

“I also take this opportunity to commend those who have been volunteering their time and continue to do so. Have a happy international youth day 2015,” Minister Bourne-Gumbs concluded.


Parliament Secretariat reminds public final week to recommend an individual for Annual President of Parliament Award

PHILIPSBURG – The Secretariat commenced back in June with the process related to the Annual President of Parliament Award whereby organizations, individuals and others could send in nominations. This is the final week to make a recommendation. 

The application documents are on the parliament’s website.  Persons/organizations have until August 15, 2015 to submit their nominations. 

The website address is:www.sxmparliament.organd can be found under the documents section of the site.  Select the link and you will be able to download the application form. 

The purpose of the award is to honour young persons on Sint Maarten that are a great example to the youth and who have contributed positively to the community and the country. 

Nominations can be submitted by any citizen of Sint Maarten who believes that the individual that he/she is nominating meets the criteria. 

The eligibility criteria are: the candidate must have the Dutch nationality and/or has been legally residing in Sint Maarten for 10-years or more consecutively, and has been registered in the Civil Registry for that period of time; must be between the ages of 15-24 years; has made a worthwhile contribution to the development of the community and the country; these contributions/achievements must have taken place within the last three years; contributions/achievements must have been made while the individual was acting as a private citizen, not as an appointed or elected government official; and must have demonstrated capacity for leadership and ability to motivate. 

An award committee will be established each year consisting of three members of Parliament.  Members of the committee will review the nomination documents prior to the selection meeting and select three nominees. 

During the selection meeting, the President of Parliament selects the recipient of the award based on the recommendations of the award committee. 

The award will be presented yearly to the recipient during the reception ceremony at the Opening of the Parliamentary Year. 

Nominations for the Annual President of Parliament may be submitted to The Parliament of Sint Maarten, attention, Annual President of Parliament Award Committee, Wilhelminastraat 1, Philipsburg.


Prime Minister Gumbs announces flags at half-mast for Police Officer Benjamin

PHILIPSBURG – Prime Minister Hon. Marcel Gumbs in solidarity with the nation instructed according to protocol to have flags flown at half-mast out of respect after a law enforcement official was killed in the line of duty. 

Police Officer G. Benjamin from the Sint Maarten Police Force was seriously wounded on Wednesday, August 5 while attending to a call of a robbery on Front Street.  Officer Benjamin passed away on Saturday, August 8.

Flags will be flown at half-mast at all public buildings until the day after Officer Benjamin has been laid to rest.


SXM Airport Media Tour Expected to Generate Unprecedented International Exposure

SIMPSON BAY—The group of international aviation and travel writers that will be arriving here Monday, August 10 for a three-day  media tour organized by the Princess Juliana International Airport, SXM, are drawn from  nine different destinations in four countries.

The writers will be submitting their stories to more than 30 international media outlets, both print and electronic and should therefore offer an unprecedented exposure for the airport, the entire island, and the hub partners. “This is the main reason why we decided to invite this select group of professionals,” said Regina LaBega, SXM Airport’s managing director

Furthermore, it is “to draw international attention to the numerous developments at SXM airport and to showcase the island as a tourist destination in markets where we may not be very well known yet and to keep the focus on St. Maarten, even in places where most of our tourists come from,” said LaBega.

“Our hub partners will also benefit from the tour as will WINAIR, which is collaborating with us on this important initiative,” LaBega added.

The select group of journalists is drawn from the USA, Canada, Spain, and the UK, and includes editors and contributors to major aviation journals and travel publications. Some of the media professionals will be visiting the island for the first time, and all of them have expressed excitement at the trip.

“Hearty congratulations and thanks to all who worked on this project. I’m completely psyched,” wrote Kathryn Creedy, out of Orlando, Florida. She is a contributor to Business Airport International, Florida Today, Airways News, and FlyCorporate among other publications.

The St. Marten/St. Martin media will not only have an opportunity to network with their visiting colleagues but will engage in a Q&A session with them as an integral part of the program.

“The St. Maarten Tourist Bureau and the Tourist Office in Marigot, our hub partners of Anguilla, Saba, St. Barths, and Dominica have all been on board in this endeavor to make it a truly unique experience that we hope will result in positive coverage for all,” said SXM Airport managing director Regina LaBega.


90 earthquakes near Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands

SINT MAARTEN/U.S. VIRGIN ISLANDS – As of 4 pm last Saturday, more than 90 earthquakes were listed by Virgin Islands Alert in the Mona Passage near Puerto Rico and in the vicinity of the U.S. Virgin Islands.  These quakes had a magnitude of 2.5 or more.

Geologist from the Puerto Rico Seismic Network said that this is a normal spate of events and called it a “swarm.”

Last week Barbados experienced a number of earthquakes offshore which was felt by several neighbouring islands.


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