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SXM PADEL CLUB OPEN TOURNAMENT BEGINS ON THURSDAY

SINT MAARTEN (BELAIR) - The SXM Padel Club is hosting its first men’s Padel Tennis Open for advanced players. Matches for this event begins this Thursday May 26th, 2022, at 6 pm. Twenty-four amateur players at the advanced level will have the chance to challenge their skills, interact and learn from each other in this friendly though extremely competitive tournament.

In typical St. Maarten fashion, the teams and participants come from multiple corners of the world. The event will host players from Curacao, France, Belgium, Holland, Argentina, Puerto Rico, Venezuela, Martinique, St. Martin, and St. Maarten. Players ranging in ages from 17 up to 58 will be competing against each other.

Each team will play at least 3 matches during this exiting competition. The matches will be taking place throughout the day and evening starting on May 26th and will end with the final match at 6 pm on Sunday May 29th.

The winners of the pre-qualifier tournament, Nicolas Jaume and Matthew Riffat from St. Martin, will be defending their title for the first time. Admission is free, so all spectators who might be curious to learn more about padel tennis (the fastest growing sport in the world!) or simply enjoy watching these world class matches will have an opportunity to see some extremely talented players from the best seats in town. The tournament chair is padel tennis coach Mr. Alex Schwartz.

This first tournament is supported and sponsored by the St. Maarten Tourist Bureau, Oyster Bay Beach Resort, SXM Padel Club, ARKA, CC1 (Dasani, Coca Cola and Powerade), Imagen Graphics, Heineken 0.0, and www.sxm-talks.com. All the players participating in the tournament will receive goodie bags and other gifts from the event sponsors.

The prizes for the 3 winning teams include accommodation certificates at Oyster Bay Beach Resort, Sunday brunch vouchers at Infinity Restaurant, products from the SXM Padel Pro Shop, and custom-made trophies designed locally by Imagen Graphics.

“We are very proud to see how this new sport of padel tennis is growing every day in St. Maarten and how it has been embraced by people of all ages,” said Ricardo Perez, one the principals of the club.

For more information about this exciting event, please contact Nicole Perez at 721-523-8925.

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From Canada to Australia, guest authors for St. Martin Book Fair 2022; Ambassador David Comissiong keynote speaker

SINT MAARTEN (GREAT BAY) - Over 35 authors, from Canada to Australia are heading to the St. Martin Book Fair, June 2 – 4, 2022, said Shujah Reiph, the literary fest coordinator.

The keynote speaker is David Comissiong, Barbados’ Ambassador to CARICOM, said Reiph. Comissiong is an author too but far better known in the Caribbean and beyond for his political astuteness and revolutionary thought.

The age range of novelists, poets, non-fiction writers, and multimedia artists from different parts of the world; about 10 new books being introduced or launched; and growth in the variety of St. Martin writers are only parts of what promise to make the book fair’s 20th anniversary a birthday bash to remember, said Reiph.

The invited authors include Habiba Cooper Diallo (Canada), Geoff Goodfellow (Australia), Caleb Dros (St. Martin), Mara Pastor (Puerto Rico), Michael McMillan (United Kingdom), Nicole Cage (Martinique), Burnett Coburn (Jamaica/USA), Heddrick McBride (USA), Yvonne Weekes (Barbados), Faizah Tabasamu (St. Martin), St. Clair Detrick-Jules (St. Barths/USA), Max Rippon (Guadeloupe), Sharma Taylor (Jamaica), Max Rippon (Guadeloupe), and Saida Agostini (Guyana).

The guest writers are scheduled to conduct masterclasses and workshops, visit schools, take part in panel discussions, introduce their new books, sign autographs, meet the public, exchange with fellow writers, and recite for the international literary evening.

The Opening Ceremony, June 2, takes place in the garden of the Government Administration Building, Philipsburg. The June 3 morning and afternoon of masterclasses and Youth Forum are held at the University of St. Martin (USM).

The Literary Evening, June 3, set to maintain its caliber of readings by published authors only, will open under the stars on the main street of Grand Case. Organizers plan to repeat the feature of “a special book launch that was so successful in 2019,” said Reiph.

The activities of the main book fair day, June 4 — including the Children’s Room and The Presidents Forum — take place at USM. The Closing Ceremony and Main Book Launch, June 4, will be held under the literary big tent at the Galisbay Port, Marigot. The venue is sponsored by the port. “Covid-19 protocols are encouraged” at the lit fest activities, said Reiph.

The theme of the island-wide lit fest 2022 is “The Rebirth.” For more information and program updates check out the news media and the St. Martin Book Fair Facebook page. The Book Fair Committee contacts are: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., tel. +590 (690) 30.73.66.

The St. Martin Book Fair 2022 is organized by Conscious Lyrics Foundation, in collaboration with Computech, USM, St. Maarten Department of Culture (MECYS), the Collectivity of St. Martin, and SOS Radio 95.9, and in consultation with House of Nehesi Publishers Foundation, said Reiph.

 

 

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TelEm Group once again significantly increasing fiber speeds for customers – at no extra charge

SINT MAARTEN (PHILIPSBURG) - One year after increasing Fiber speeds on St. Maarten, TelEm Group is doing it again - announcing another major increase in bandwidth starting this month.  

The TelEm Fiber team has again massively increased its download and upload speeds at no extra cost to customers. TelEm says this will ensure existing fiber customers are getting the best value and speed to date for internet on St. Maarten – especially since there will be no change in prices while customer get even more speed.

All packages are now nearly double the speed of previous offerings. Fiber packages start as low as $55 per month and include 25 Mbps download with an upload speed of 10 Mbps. For the first time on St. Maarten, the company is also introducing download speeds all the way up to 150Mbps with uploads of 75 Mbps with their top end package.  

According to TelEm Residential Manager Marketing & Sales, Julie Zambrini, TelEm did a similar Fiber upgrade last year, where speeds were doubled without any increase in prices. “In an effort to improve our customer experience and attract new customers we have done it once again, especially now that most homes and businesses are now connected to the TelEm Fiber infrastructure or are in Fiber Ready areas”.

“TelEm Fiber is now in more areas on St. Maarten and in more homes and offices, with subscribers using more and more devices that heavily consume data, therefore this is a wonderful upgrade for our valued customers and the perfect time for new customers to make the switch to TelEm Fiber,” said Mrs. Zambrini.

She says the demand for better and faster download and upload speeds is there. Rather than increasing prices, the company is giving back to its customers by significantly increasing their Fiber packages at no extra cost.

Mrs. Zambrini says subscribers are already enjoying the free speed upgrade, since TelEm began upgrading existing fiber customers at the beginning of May 2022.

“We hope our existing customers will enjoy the additional bandwidth at their disposal. We also encourage all individuals in Fiber ready areas, that are not currently with TelEm, to take a second look at our offerings, make the switch and get better value for their money with TelEm” continued the Residential Manager Marketing & Sales.

TelEm Group Chief Commercial Officer (CCO), Mr. Michiel Parent says TelEm Fiber is continuing to make its presence felt in various neighborhoods with an additional push from the speed increase announced in the month of May.

“While current customers have to do nothing but enjoy the additional speed, this is a great opportunity for new customers looking for the fastest internet at the most affordable prices to come over to TelEm,” said Mr. Parent, “We encourage anyone who is interested to go to www.telem.sx/fiber to check if fiber is available in their neighborhood and to sign up immediately, and we are happy to announce that installation can be done within days.”

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Customs explains process of releasing containers and cargo

BONAIRE (KRALENDIJK) - We regularly receive questions at Douane Caribbean Netherlands (CN) about the process of releasing containers and cargo that enter the island. Below we explain the procedure from the arrival of the container in the port to the release of the container/cargo by Customs.

After arrival at the port, the containers and cargo are cleared and unloaded. They are then stored in a temporary warehouse awaiting a customs destination.

All incoming containers are sealed by Customs and can then be driven to the location of the interested party/company.

The interested party must file a declaration via Asycuda World, the automated system of Customs. Subsequently, the ABB (general expenditure tax) and Accijns (excise duty) due on the declaration must be paid.

The importer receives automatic notification via Asycuda that their container/cargo are being released or inspected. In the latter instance, the importer contacts Customs to schedule an appointment.

There will be a maximum of five (5) working days between the registration for an appointment for a physical inspection of the container and the moment when the container is released.

In principle, physical inspection takes place only on Mondays to Fridays between 08:00 and 16:00 o'clock. An exception can be made for physical inspection of perishable cargo (e.g., vegetables, fruit, flowers), which the process will be speeded up.

Most containers/cargo are released immediately after declaration and payment. However, if the declaration has not been received or paid in a timely way, or Customs detects a risk, then this process may take longer.

Hence, in this process, there is a role for both the importer and Customs. The sooner all Customs formalities are completed, the sooner the containers are released.

Douane CN does its utmost to have the process proceed as quickly and efficiently as possible. (RCN Caribbean Netherlands)

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WIB’s SXM Extravaganza is finally here - Saturday

SINT MAARTEN (PHILIPSBURG) - The general public is invited to the Windward Islands Bank (WIB) WIB’s SXM Extravaganza Show at the Belair Community Center this Saturday, May 21. The event will take place from 10:00 am to 6:00 pm.

WIB has brought together several local business suppliers to display their products and services with discounts and promo offers.  A list of participating businesses can be found below but come from and are not limited to Home Construction & Essentials, Home security systems, solar water heaters, Generators, Home Office, Kitchen, Realtors, Hurricane-Preparation, Vehicles, Boats and more.

WIB SXM Extravaganza promises to provide a one stop shop atmosphere offering great rates and discounts. 

The WIB’s SXM Extravaganza will be an informative, fun filled day with a great selection of products, food & drinks, and a kiddy’s corner. You can obtain relevant information from the experts as WIB’s Sales & Services officers, Online banking ambassadors and the BSure Insurance team will be present to assist with all financing possibilities. Now is the best time to invest and enjoy savings.

The Lions /Leos – a charitable foundation will be selling soup, snacks, and drinks.  It’s one stop shopping, Open House with WIB and their Business partners at the Belair Community Center.

Come and let WIB tell you what you qualify for.       

WIB Extravaganza participants

 

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CPS Vaccine Clinic Also Open this Friday Afternoon

SINT MAARTEN (GREAT BAY, (DCOMM) – The Collective Prevention Services (CPS), a department in the Ministry of Public Health, Social Development and Labour (Ministry VSA), would like to inform the general public, that the CPS COVID-19 Vaccine Clinic will be open this Friday afternoon May 20 from 1:30 PM to 3:30 PM.

The extra afternoon opening this Friday is to compensate for the closure on Monday, May 16 due to unforeseen circumstances.

The opening hours are Mondays 8:30 AM to 12:30 PM; Wednesdays 8:30 AM to 12:00 PM and 1:30 PM to 3:30 PM; Paediatric COVID-19 Vaccination is Wednesdays by appointment from 3:00 PM to 5:00 PM; Fridays 8:30 AM to 12:30 PM.

The CPS COVID-19 Vaccine Clinic is located at the Vineyard Building Office Complex for COVID-19 vaccinations.

For vaccination related questions, registration queries, persons can go to services.sintmaartengov.org; or email/call (914), This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.; or call the paediatric hotline cell: (721) 526-1644.

Everyone is urged to come and get their COVID-19 vaccine. Walk-ins are welcome for their 1st, 2nd, and 3rd doses of the vaccine. You must bring with you your vaccination card and a form of Identification (ID).

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Reckless driver involved in a collision on Arlet Peters road

SINT MAARTEN (PHILIPSBURG) - Personnel from the KPSM Police Traffic Department are currently carrying out an investigation into an accident that took place on Arlet Peters Road on Tuesday, May 17, 2020, at approximately 3:30 p.m. (Old Cake house road).

Preliminary investigations indicate that the driver of a cream-colored Kia Picanto was traveling downhill at excessive speed heading towards Cole Bay. The driver was also in the process of overtaking several vehicles during which he lost control and ended up in the bushes.

With assistance from the Fire Department, the driver was extricated from his vehicle. Ambulance personnel administered first aid and transported the victim to the Sint Maarten Medical Center (SMMC).

The driver had injuries to his chest and face, but his injuries are not life threatening.

This investigation is ongoing. (KPSM)

police car front bush

 

 

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Prime Minister Jacobs: St. Maarten will maintain an environment where Rotary Clubs can positively impact lives

SINT MAARTEN (PHILIPSBURG) - St. Maarten had the prestigious honor to be chosen by Rotary District 7020 to host their 2022 Conference for the Rotarians of the District from May 9 until May 14. The Honorable Prime Minister Silveria E. Jacobs delivered the Official key note address of the opening ceremony held at the Sonesta Maho Beach Resort in Maho on May 12, under the theme ‘Serve to Change Lives.’

In attendance were Acting Governor, His Excellency Reynold Groeneveld, Deputy Minister Plenipotentiary Richard Panneflek, Rotary International President Representative Robert Hall and spouse Charlene Hall, Rotary International Director for Zone 33 and 34 Peter Kyle and Margaret Kyle, and Rotary International District Elect Jeremy Hurst and Michelle Hurst. With about 400 attendees from around the District, Caribbean and USA in attendance, the week-long conference consisted of District Training and Assembly at the Sonesta Maho Beach and fun fellowship events that showcase the beauty, culture, and activities of St. Maarten.

The opening ceremony began with an introduction of the dignitaries in attendance and a flag procession by the St. Maarten Youth Brigade. After a rendition of the St. Maarten Song, the national anthems of the ten territories of which District 7020 consists, were played by local steel pan players, while the St. Maarten Community Choir entertained the gathering with a medley of cultural St. Martin songs. Welcome remarks were delivered by District Governor Louis Wever and Rotary International President Representative Robert Hall.

“The services of Rotary International have manifested themselves in a variety of ways, including offering leadership training to its members, and humanitarian assistance to the community. As a result, I, like the people of St. Maarten and those around the globe, continue to be indebted to Rotary for its tremendous efforts. The recent pandemic is a prime example of how the Rotary Club has risen to the occasion by mobilizing its members and partners and demonstrating a determination to serve. In doing so, Rotarians have addressed the needs of our community and helped those most vulnerable affected by this crisis,” expressed Prime Minister Jacobs as she delivered the official key note address.

During her address, Prime Minister Jacobs challenged the District attendees to go out and change a life. “As more and more countries around the world enter the endemic phase of the COVID-19 pandemic, I challenge you to go out and change a life. That is the positive impact you can have as a servant of your respective communities,” she stated. Thereafter entertainment was provided with an inspirational performance by local dancers Troy, Dashaun, Ray Angel and Naomi, and a performance by 2022 Calypso Monarch of St. Maarten King Beau Beau singing a tribute to St. Maarten.

“On behalf of the People and Government of Sint Maarten, I commend Rotary District 7020 as they continue to make their mark here on St. Maarten and globally. With their generosity and invaluable contributions in mind, the Government of St. Maarten will continue to strive to maintain an environment where organizations such as the Rotary Clubs can prosper in their pursuit to positively impact lives, as they continue to serve,” concluded Prime Minister Jacobs.

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Ombudsman attends IOI Board of Directors meeting

SINT MAARTEN (PHILIPSBURG) - The Ombudsman of Sint Maarten, Ms. Gwendolien Mossel, recently attended the International Ombudsman Institute’s (IOI) Board of Directors meeting, which was held from May 10-12, 2022, in New York.

Ms. Mossel was recently elected to the IOI Board in February of this year. The current Regional President of the Caribbean & Latin American Region is Ms. Nashieli Ramírez Hernández, President of the Human Rights Commission of Mexico City.

This was the first face-to-face Board of Directors meeting since the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic in 2020. Attending the Board meeting afforded Ms. Mossel, the opportunity to directly liaise with her colleagues from around the world regarding the various topics of the continuously evolving institution of Ombudsman, an important pillar in the checks and balances within a democracy.

Apart from membership matters, other agenda points discussed during the meeting were: cooperation and training. In this regard a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between the IOI and the United Nations Institute for Training and Research (UNITAR) was signed.

UNITAR and the IOI share the common goals and objectives with regard to developing and strengthening institutional and organizational capacities by raising awareness and providing training and learning solutions.

The Ombudsman of Sint Maarten has benefited from trainings sponsored via the IOI’s subsidies program during the Caribbean Ombudsman Association (CAROA) biennial conferences in 2015, 2017 and 2019.

IOI Board of Directors

IOI Board of Directors

 

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MP Emmanuel wants answers on 90 million PJIA bond refinancing

SINT MAARTEN (PHILIPSBURG) - Independent Member of Parliament (MP) Christophe Emmanuel on Friday said in a press statement he has dispatched a letter to three Ministers seeking answers to questions he has surrounding the announced US $90 million refinancing of PJIA’s 2012 indenture to a conglomerate of companies.

Emmanuel said it is “unbelievable” that such a crucial decision has taken place and the Parliament of St. Maarten was not informed. “That the news came from the arranging bank, and not from the shareholder shows a lack of respect for Parliament and the people of St. Maarten,” MP Emmanuel said.    

He pointed to the difference in airport management approach when the previous bond issue was refinanced for US $135 million with a reduction in interest rates from 7.5 percent to 4.5 per cent. “At least then, we not only heard from airport management and got proper explanations, we could see and understand the benefits and the savings to the airport,” The MP said.

“Back then we knew the term was 15 years which was considered good for the Caribbean market considering the regional market was not considered "mature", we know how it was guaranteed and who guaranteed it, we knew that airport management engaged the ratings company Moody’s in the process and so on.

“Today, we have no information. The one thing that is clear to me is that when you look at the institutions involved now, the lenders are companies from Aruba and Curacao who now controls more 54% of the loan facility. The arranging bank in fact, the AIB Bank N.V, is an Aruban institution,” MP Emmanuel said.

The MP also questioned how much cash flow was, according to AIB, “freed up” to assist in the reconstruction of PJIA. “PJIA is apparently a bottomless money pit that keeps getting significant amounts of financial injections, while we can barely see any significant progress five years after hurricane Irma. PJIA got US $50 million from the Trust Fund, 50 million from the EIB (European Investment Bank) another US $20 million recently from the Trust/NRPB, and how much now?” the MP questioned.

The MP addressed his letter to the Prime Minister, Minister of Finance and Minister of TEATT. Some of the questions he posed included:

  1. What is the real reason for the refinancing?
  2. What is the exact amount of the loan?
  3. What is the actual interest rate?
  4. What are the savings referred to by AIB? Exactly how much is being saved?
  5. How much money is PJIA getting to assist with its reconstruction?
  6. What is the term of the loan in years?
  7. Was there collateral demanded/used for this loan facility? If so, what was used as collateral?
  8. Did the government extend the airport’s concession? If so, for how many years?
  9. Who guaranteed this loan and how?
  10. Is the EIB now subordinate to this new loan?
  11. How will this be repaid? Were airport fees increased?
  12. Was the Council of Ministers kept abreast during this loan process?
  13. How does this loan affect the rating of the airport (Moody’s)
  14. Who is now the majority holder of the bonds?
  15. How much was AIB paid as arranger? Why was APS not used?
  16. Which borrower did Simmons & Simmons represent?
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