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Remember to pay your fines! Grace period is almost over!

SINT MAARTEN (POND ISLAND) - The Ministry of Justice in conjunction with the Prosecutor’s Office, and the St. Maarten Police Force would like to remind the general public to pay their outstanding fines.

The grace period for payments started on September 1, 2019 and will end on September 30, 2019. Individuals with outstanding fines imposed on traffic infractions are strongly encouraged to take advantage of the next two weeks, as during this time fines can be paid without further penalty.

Notification letters along with strict controls by the St. Maarten Police Force will begin in October. Be advised that in the event you are stopped, and discovered to have outstanding fines, you will be required to settle your debts immediately. If you are not able to do so, your vehicle may be seized. Violators may be taken to the police station, where they will be given the option to either “pay or stay”.

Please note that the locations for payment are at the Prosecutor’s Office, the Police Station in Philipsburg, and the Receiver’s Office. Payments can also be made at the Public Service Center located in Simpson Bay. Cash payments are only made at the Receiver’s Office. If there is any uncertainty on the amount of your outstanding fines, please contact the Prosecutor’s Office.

The Ministry of Justice, the Prosecutor’s Office, and the St. Maarten Police Force, would like to commend the individuals that have been taking advantage of the grace period, and have settled their outstanding amounts.

We look forward to your compliance and cooperation as this project progresses. Further updates can be found on the Ministry of Justice (@ministryofjusticesxm) as well as Fines Recovery Project (@finesrecoverysxm) Facebook pages. 

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Parliament recognizes those contributing to Sint Maarten’s environment

SINT MAARTEN (PHILIPSBURG) – Tuesday, September 10, 2019 marked the beginning of a New Parliamentary (PY 2019-2020) Year for the Parliament of Sint Maarten.

September 10, 2019 also marked the second year that the Parliament of Sint Maarten recognized persons in the community for deeds worth mentioning. Last year Parliament recognized persons who were helpful in their communities, after the passing of the devastating Hurricane Irma.

This year Parliament recognized persons and organizations for their contribution in protecting our environment for our future generations during the reception held at Sheer restaurant on the occasion of the Opening of the New Parliamentary Year.

Special recognition in the form of a certificate of appreciation, were presented by the Honorable President of Parliament, Sarah A. Wescot-Williams to several persons and organizations.

Ms. Bodine Beentjes; a young girl who realized that within her district every one really wanted to recycle but they did not have a facility to do so and as a result she took the initiative and started a separation of garbage project in her neighborhood and then added two more neighborhoods.

The separated recyclables which include plastic bottles, glass, cardboard, and aluminum are picked up twice a week by Clean St. Maarten and processed.

Oil Mop Environmental Services Limited (OMES); a locally owned environment and waste management service company whose mission is to provide practical cost-effective solutions to environmental and waste management problems, through careful consideration of local conditions also received special recognition.

Also receiving certificate of appreciation was Mr. Boykie Mendez, who through his company has just started a pilot program within the House of the Parliament of Sint Maarten by providing containers to separate paper, plastic, carton, and tins. This all is done free of charge.

Mr. Steve Hammond of Reef-It Snorkel Park received special recognition for his contribution by assisting with the restoring of the coral life around the island. Reef-It Snorkel Park also educate youngsters on the island on how to protect the coral around Sint Maarten.

Another organization receiving special recognition for their contribution towards the environment of Sint Maarten is EPIC Environmental Protection in the Caribbean. Certificate of appreciation was given to this organization for always cleaning up Sint Maarten’s beaches, while they also cut paths for tourists to walk and hike on St. Maarten. This enhances the environment for all residents and tourists alike. Ms. Natalia Collier was present to receive the certificate on behalf of the organization.

No Kidding With Our Kids Foundation, Mrs. Merlyn Schaminee-Miguel also received special recognition for the ASA recycling project.

In her closing remarks, President of Parliament Sarah Wescot-Williams also mentioned having noticed persons who have been providing food and homes for stray animals on the island. She stated that when the animals are homeless and hungry on the street it becomes a hazard for our environment.

The President of Parliament reminded all persons that animals are also part of our Sint Maarten environment; hence the reason for thanking all persons for going the extra mile in safeguarding the environment.

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NIPA Prepares Strategically for World of Professional Training

SINT MAARTEN (LITTLE BAY) - The National Institute for Professional Advancement (NIPA) is continuing to strengthen its forward trajectory into the world of professional training and advancement.

Following the recent extension deal with MIC-IT, the Advanced Vocational Education (AVE) Supervisory Board of Directors for NIPA wasted little time and dove right into strategic planning with NIPA Management and Support Teams.

On Monday, September 9, planning sessions were held in the Conference Hall at Divi Resort.

Chairlady of the AVE Supervisory Board of Directors, Drs. Peggy Ann Dros, accompanied by Vice-Chair Mrs. Annuska Friday-Illis, Treasurer Aisha James and other members of the board were there to represent their stake in the tactical growth of NIPA.

Dros opened the strategic gathering with words of optimism and set up the framework for topics of discussion. The meeting emphasized the importance of tactics for solid growth of NIPA as an organization, with reminders of the governing legislation, and the necessary compliance of all National Ordinances to preserve the credibility of NIPA.  

Also in attendance was Mr. Sergio Blomont, General Director of NIPA, along with members of the Management and Support Team whose knowledge of the organization’s day-to-day operations was crucial to planning and implementation. 

A delegation of MIC-IT Strategic Consultants lead by Deputy Chairman Mr. Keith Toby was also present to further support this ambitious development.

NIPA maintains its objective to foster a superior working environment, through empowerment and solid retention strategies that secure quality education by quality instructors and management teams, and further include the input of all stakeholders to prepare students for the global labor market.

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Mhakeda Shillingford awarded President of Parliament Award 2019

PHILIPSBURG, Sint Maarten – Mhakeda Shillingford was awarded the President of Parliament Award 2019. 

A youth is awarded annually the President of Parliament Award for exemplary behavior, leadership skills as well as contribution to the community.

Ms. Shillingford started her contribution to her island at the tender age of 10. She volunteered in tutoring students ages 5-16 for their academic growth. She also volunteered at summer camps every summer as a youth leader in order to motivate and develop a variety of students.

Every Christmas she would be in collaboration with youth groups to have a Christmas party for the foster homes giving them a warm-hearted Christmas, filled with fun, food and gifts. She has always been a strong advocate for her island. She has been part of the Sint Maarten Youth Parliament, Dutch Kingdom Youth Parliament and the Sint Maarten Youth Council.

She was also part of Y2x which is a podcast motivating teens on both sides of the island. She was on Beautiful me Magazine, where the target was to motivate self-love throughout young people. She is the founder of an organization called Patrol to Eradicate Pedophilia and Child Molestation. 

Now that she has ventured on to Texas to further her studies, she still represents her island. As President of Texas Junior Colleges Student Government Association, she is in charge of all colleges in Texas to advocate for their rights.

This year’s President of Parliament Award 2019 was presented by the Hon. President of Parliament Mrs. Sarah Wescot-Williams to Ms. Mhakeda Shillingford during the reception on the occasion of the new Parliamentary Year 2018-2019.

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RFHL ONE STEP CLOSER TO CLOSING BANK OF NOVA SCOTIA TRANSACTION

SINT MAARTEN/TRINIDAD - Republic Financial Holdings Limited (RFHL) is now one step closer to expanding its reach within the Caribbean region. The Eastern Caribbean Central Bank (ECCB) has approved the application for the transfer of the assets and liabilities of the Bank of Nova Scotia (BNS) to RFHL in Anguilla, the Commonwealth of Dominica, Grenada, St Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia and St Vincent and the Grenadines, pursuant to Section 43 of the Banking Act of 2015 that governs the various territories.

The ECCB made the announcement in a September 6, 2019, news release after its Monetary Council met on the same day to discuss the ECCB’s assessment of the Republic Group’s application to acquire BNS operations in ECCB member countries.

The ECCB has said that it believes that the corporate banking record of the Republic Group and its extensive network of correspondent banks will bode well for the Eastern Caribbean Currency Union (ECCU) banking sector. RFHL Chairman, Ronald F. deC. Harford, said, “This is a crucial and promising step toward an even brighter and more expansive future for the Republic Group. We appreciate the ECCB’s faith in our Group’s potential to be of great benefit to our other Caribbean counterparts, through this transaction.”

In November of 2018, the Republic Group announced that it had entered into an agreement to acquire the BNS banking operations in various territories. The execution of the agreement signalled the commencement of a transaction that remains subject to all regulatory and other customary approvals and conditions.

This approval is the most recent of those gained by RFHL since the announcement. Previous approvals include a letter of “No Objection” from the Central Bank of Curacao and St. Maarten and approval from the Central Bank of Trinidad and Tobago (CBTT).

As RFHL works with all regulators for finalisation of the transaction, the Group remains committed to working with all stakeholders to achieve a swift and successful closure.

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SMILE pre-event hosted by the Cabinet of the Minister Plenipotentiary in the Hague a Success

GREAT BAY, Sint Maarten (DCOMM) – On the 10th of September, the Cabinet of the Minister Plenipotentiary of Sint Maarten in collaboration with the St. Maarten Hospitality & Trade Association (SHTA), facilitated a special pre-SMILE lunch event.

This meeting was held in order to prepare interested European-based companies and Non-Governmental Organizations (NGO’s) who will visit Sint Maarten during the Sint Maarten Innovations, Initiatives and Industries Link-up Event (SMILE) on October 25th- 26th at the University of St. Martin (USM).

Minister Plenipotentiary, Drs. Jorien Wuite, was honored to welcome the Ministers Plenipotentiary of Aruba and Curacao, members of the diplomatic corps, representatives of Netherlands Enterprise Agency (RVO), Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs and almost 40 representatives of businesses and business support agencies.

In her speech Minister Wuite elaborated on the essence of the private sector re-development of Sint Maarten and the constructive collaborations needed to elevate the socio-economic development and further recovery process of Sint Maarten.

Wuite also emphasized the opportunities of doing business with the Caribbean, in particular with Sint Maarten, and was happy to acknowledge the presence of various Sint Maarten entrepreneurs based on island and here in the Netherlands.

Entrepreneurs John Sandiford and Cristal Legrand, both supportive and experienced young professionals were present to emphasize the opportunities available to businesses taking part at SMILE.

Ronald Vermeeren, Coordinator Caribbean Territories of the Dutch Kingdom at RVO, briefly presented the possibilities and export instruments available for collaboration in order to assist the private sector on Sint Maarten.

At this special lunch meeting he announced that he will be present at the SMILE event, together with his colleague, Nadia Smith, from the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs. They will have the opportunity to extensively present the collaborating instruments available at the RVO for Sint Maarten based companies.

Through a conference call, the representatives of SHTA (Wyb Meijer) and the St. Maarten Chamber of Commerce and Industry (COCI) (Benjamin Ortega), gave a detailed outline of what to expect at the SMILE event and encouraged all interested parties to join the event.

The SMILE event enjoys the committed involvement of the SHTA, COCI, ORCO Bank, Global Resourcing, 360º of Innovation (Aruba) and USM. In order to facilitate more business opportunities for organizations, SMILE will also provide a very interesting trade show for organizations that want to share their products and/or services.

The representatives of different NGO’s and Dutch-based businesses present at the pre-SMILE event in the Hague indicated that they will surely consider participating at this year’s SMILE and look forward to establishing some form of partnership with businesses on Sint Maarten.

Minister Plenipotentiary Wuite was pleased with the turnout of approximately 45 guests and the level of interest and enthusiasm of the business community taking part in the event.

Together with the acting Minister Plenipotentiary, Michael Somersall and the Director, Carol Voges, she emphasized the Cabinet’s focus on and support for economic opportunities and business development on Sint Maarten.

For more information you can call: + (31) 70-215 6067 or email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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Antek IT Solutions and Software Donates New Computer Equipment

SINT MAARTEN (COLE BAY) - Antek IT Solutions & Software, the leading IT solutions and service provider for Sint Maarten and neighboring islands, has donated new computer equipment to the Sint Maarten Nature Foundation.

Antek Manager Leo Ligthart donated the equipment to departing Nature Foundation Manager Tadzio Bervoets and Nature Foundation Board Member Binkie van Es. The Foundation will use the new computers to strengthen the activities of the Nature Foundation activities.

“Thank you so much to Antek for providing this much needed equipment. We are an organization that often struggles financially and the support from Antek and the business community for us is crucial,” commented Bervoets.

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French/Dutch Tourist officials continue mission to promote St. Maarten globally

SINT MAARTEN (POND ISLAND) —Minister of Tourism, Economic Affairs, Transport & Telecommunication (TEATT), the Honorable Stuart Johnson departs St. Maarten today with a "jam-packed" schedule ahead as he travels to Europe with French St. Martin Government officials and representatives of the Tourist offices on both sides of the island this month.

The entire trip has a cost of Euro.8,300.00, with an exponential value. Port St. Maarten will also be in attendance as they try to drum up a new business and speak to the improvements they have made since 2017. The overall effort is in keeping with the Ministry of TEATT's bid to drive visitor interest via Cruise Lines back to St. Maarten.

The event is organized by Hamburg Messe und Congress GmbH, in collaboration with Seatrade (Informa Markets) and held in Germany.

"Learning best practices from the Port of Hamburg, which is the leading centre for Cruise Shipping in the world has a huge value. Last year they welcomed over 2.19 million cruise passengers to their shores and recorded eleven per cent passenger increase, and eight per cent increased cruise calls," said Johnson Monday.

He said the work on St. Maarten continues as both French and Dutch Side Tourist Offices and government officials work to let the world know "St. Maarten is open for business."

"Especially after being devastated by hurricanes, this message is an important one which the world wants to know. On Sunday Rick Fox a Canadian-Bahamian retired NBA star, actor, businessman, and esports franchise owner spoke on CNN letting the world know that the Bahamas depends on their visit and encouraging them to visit," said Johnson.

The Bahamas is presently going through the first few days in the aftermath of the worst storm to reach land in The Bahamas which has displaced over 70,000 people and left many dead.

"This is the message that St. Maarten must not stop spreading to the world because we depend on visitor arrivals." 

Seatrade Europe is organized by Hamburg Messe und Congress GmbH, in partnership with Seatrade (Informa Markets).  The convention is from September 11-13.

"The port continues to work with our cruise partners throughout the year, and we are looking forward to attending this leading trade event. Seatrade Europe is an opportunity to have discussions with cruise line executives by reconnecting with them and networking with European cruise lines," Port St. Maarten Management said on Thursday.

Germany welcomed 2.19 million cruise passengers in 2018 and is the number three global source market according to the Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA).

The Port of Hamburg is a leading centre for cruise shipping with 11% more passengers and 8% more ship calls in 2018 based on figures from the Hamburg Cruise Net.

As the cruise industry continues to grow, Germany remains a hub of innovation and is leading in its response to technological and greener cruising initiatives making it an ideal location to host the Seatrade Europe Cruise & River Cruise Convention

Johnson is scheduled to be the guest of honor at the Monaco Boat Show which be followed by a Round Table Press Conference featuring dozens of International Media Houses whose press reperceives are eager to learn more about St. Maarten's recovery efforts two years after being devastated by Hurricane Irma and Maria. He also has a scheduled visit to the Port of Rotterdam as part of efforts to garner new information and innovations in Cruise Travel.

As part of his official responsibilities, Johnson is scheduled to visit the Dutch Tourist Office on September 16 and will likely attend the opening day of the Dutch House of Parliament after a visit to St. Maarten House in Den Haag.

Amongst the issues to tackle on his trip, is St. Maarten's economic development which will be discussed when he meets with the Governor. Johnson's trip centres around Seatrade Europe Cruise and River Convention. This event is attended to each year by top executives from Cruise Lines around the globe and is an opportunity for leaders in tourism-based economies to negotiate the addition of cruise calls to their shores.

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COCI: Be Ready as the Country is in the Peak of the 2019 Hurricane Season

SINT MAARTEN (PHILIPSBURG) – St. Maarten Chamber of Commerce & Industry (COCI) says the country is continuing to bounce back in the post-Irma/Maria era, and the Chamber reiterates to the business community to be ready as the country is now in the peak period of the hurricane season.

Hurricane Dorian is a stark reminder of what a bad hurricane season looks like especially when viewing the catastrophic damage, the northern islands of the Bahamas has experienced with the passing of Category 5 Dorian a week ago. Dorian passed through the southern Leeward Islands within the past two weeks as a tropical storm bringing rain to the country before heading towards the Bahamas.

The Chamber Supervisory and Managing Boards would like to express their heartfelt sympathy to the people, the Government and business community of the Bahamas following the loss of life and devastation left behind by Dorian on the islands of Abaco and Grand Bahamas. We extend our solidarity with the Bahamas Chamber of Commerce and Employers Confederation.

Hurricanes generate a series of threats to lives and property. The most obvious is the threat posed to buildings, equipment, and people due to high winds and storm surge.

COCI says the business community must be storm-ready for the peak period of the 2019 Atlantic hurricane season.

COCI says the three main areas for the Sint Maarten business community are that businesses are prepared; are able to secure their facilities; that law enforcement has a plan in place for pre-arrival of a storm and post-hurricane strike security plans are in place to protect the fragile economic engines of the national economy; and businesses are able to re-open and provide services and products thereby bringing a semblance of normalcy to the community/customers and visitors to the island – business continuity.

The COCI is calling on employees of all businesses and for business owners and employees to work together in reviewing preparations for the season and to make sure they are ready.

COCI would like to share with the business community a checklist that will help each business prepare for a hurricane’s effects. The checklist covers what key actions should be taken before and following the passing of the event:

Before the Storm: Stay up-to-date on the storm’s progress via radio, internet; Review your shelter-in-place plan, making sure your Disaster Kit if fully stocked (flashlight, batteries etc.); Back-up all data on servers and personal computers at your business; Place electronic devices in a safe secure area off the flood; Secure physical files; Devise a communication protocol where the business manager can keep in contact with employees (cell phone emergency list); Turn-off all non-critical devices and other non-essential electrical equipment at your business; Make sure drains and gutters are cleared; Install shutters/plywood over windows and doors; Secure all loose debris and other items outside around your business establishment; Make sure generators are filled with fuel; Shut off the gas line and secure the gas bottle; Call the water truck company to fill back-up tank; clean and sterilize water containers; Fuel up company vehicles; Review company insurance plans and make sure they have been updated; Make sure you have emergency cash on-hand as ATM machines and banks will be closed until the all clear has been given by the authorities.

Stay indoors and this would entail that your family and employees and their families are all safe. Monitor storm reports as the system passes the area. Stay on the downwind side of the house, away from windows and doors even if they are shuttered. Close all inside doors. If the wind gets inside, closed doors will stop it from entering other rooms. Do not go outside while the eye of the storm – an area of calm weather at the centre of the storm – is passing. The calm eye can last for up to half an hour or more, and winds will return unexpectedly from the opposite direction, sometimes with greater force.

After the Storm: Stay indoors until the authorities declare the storm is over – All Clear. Most of the time a curfew is issued before the passing of the hurricane. You should not venture out and remain within your home/yard. Do not touch loose or damaged wires or anything that is touching them. Do not step in pools of water where wires could be grounded. Avoid trees, signs, buildings and other structures that appear damaged. Do not go sightseeing as you may hinder emergency rescue work or road clearance being carried out by the authorities. Open windows and doors for ventilation and to dry your home/business to prevent mold.  

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Minister Wever briefed about Dutch Quarter project progress

SINT MAARTEN (DUTCH QUARTER) - Minister of Public Housing, Environment, Spacial Development and Infrastructure (VROMI) Christopher Wever on Friday assured sub-contractors of the ongoing Dutch Quarter sewage project that the project itself as well as their concerns about various issues has his fullest attention and is looking forward to the project being completed by its stipulated date.

Minister Wever held two meetings on Friday at the project site, the first with main contractor Van Boekel, Contract Supervisor IIACO and representatives of government. The second meeting was with concerned citizens of Dutch Quarter who spoke on behalf of several sub-contractors and workers.

The Minister wanted to get first-hand information about the project, its delays and bottlenecks and to ensure that the project is still on schedule be to be completed in June 2020. Main contractor Van Boekel explained that despite underestimating the project at the start, work has been progressing. The main contractor also detailed issues with burglaries at the work site but this is being looked into by the police department.

The sub-contractors had the opportunity to brief the Minister about funds they are owed by contractor Van Boekel and how this on more than once occasion disrupted their lives. Minister Wever and government representatives present stressed and clarified that any backlog of payments does not rest with government, rather with Van Boekel, which the representative of Van Boekel who was present confirmed was due to a lengthy process.

Van Boekel's Chief Financial Officer (CFO) will be on St. Maarten soon and will be asked to explain this to the sub-contractors to avoid any additional delays with payments and unwelcomed situations which only serve to delay the ongoing work.

Minister Wever said he also wanted to stress to the contractor, sub-contractors and VROMI department to maintain on open line of communication so that all parties are on the same page.

"Bottom line is this project is important for Dutch Quarter and the people of Dutch Quarter. Some issues have been addressed and solutions found. Now we all have to make sure the project is completed by the stipulated time so that the residents of Dutch Quarter can go back to a normal daily commute with improved facilities. My cabinet and I are also open to all parties involved in the project," the Minister said.    

The Dutch Quarter sewage project comprises the expansion of the sewer network including home connections and connection to the main sewer line, upgrading of the side roads and improvement of the overall drainage system in Dutch Quarter, improvement of public street lighting and related works for the entire district and the construction of pedestrian sidewalks.

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