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Serious accident on Airport Road Sunday afternoon

SINT MAARTEN (MAHO) - The Police Traffic Department is investigating a traffic accident that occurred on Airport Road on Sunday, 1 August 2021. The driver suffered a minor injury and was treated at the scene by paramedics.

Police received several calls around 6:00pm about a car that had flipped over some 600 meters after the Maho roundabout.

Several police patrols and ambulance personnel found a dark colored 2012 Hyundai Elantra with license plate P-2175 on its side against the fence of Princess Juliana International Airport.

A preliminary investigation found that the vehicle was travelling at high speed when the driver lost control of the vehicle, struck a light pole, and some palm trees along the road. The vehicle rolled over and crashed into the fence. The vehicle was severely damaged.

This investigation is ongoing. (KPSM)

police car bad accident

 

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Africa in My Skin wins USA graphic design award for St. Martin book publisher

SINT MAARTEN (GREAT BAY) - HNP has won the American Inhouse Graphic Design Award 2021 for África en mi piel / Africa in My Skin / L’Afrique dans la peau, according to Gordon Kaye, publisher at Graphic Design USA (GDUSA).

The winning book cover for the trilingual poetry collection by Rafael Nino Féliz, a Dominican Republic educator — was designed by Gina Rombley of BEOS, Inc.

House of Nehesi Publishers (HNP) received the award in July on behalf of both companies from GDUSA in New York City, said Jacqueline Sample, president of the St. Martin indie press.

This year marks the 58th anniversary of the GDUSA design awards. “We saw 6,800+ entries; only the top 10 percent – including you! – were selected as a winner,” wrote awards director Sasha Kaye-Walsh to HNP in a July 29 email.

Among the winning brands and companies for the 2021 graphic design award are “AARP, Amazon, American Bar Association, Art Institute of Chicago, Citibank, Doritos, E&J Gallo Winery, Gatorade, National Community Pharmacists Association, PepsiCo, Prudential, State Farm, Walmart, and many more,” according to Kaye-Walsh.

“Many thanks to Gina Rombley for her stunning book cover design,” said Sample. “Thanks also to GDUSA for selecting HNP among its awardees in 2021.”

Sample also congratulated “Professor Rafael Nino Féliz. I can’t thank him enough for deciding to publish África en mi piel / Africa in My Skin / L’Afrique dans la peau with HNP.” 

África en mi piel / Africa in My Skin / L’Afrique dans la peau is available at Van Dorp and Arnia’s bookstores in St. Martin, bookstores in Santo Domingo, DR, and at Amazon and SPDbooks https://bit.ly/3wQQOC2.

HNP also won the GDUSA Award in 2017 and 2018, with cover designs by Carole Maugé-Lewis for Plastered in Pretty by N.C. Marks and Language, Culture, and Identity in St. Martin by Rhoda Arrindell, said Sample.

award GDUSA 2021

 

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South Omega Leo Club Hosts First Service Activity

SINT MAARTEN (SUCKER GARDEN) - The Sint Maarten South Omega Leo Club hosted its first service activity for the Leonistic year July 1st, 2021-June 30th, 2022, whereby the members came together on Sunday August 1st and thoughtfully provided homemade soups and johnnycakes for the most vulnerable persons within the community.

The Leo Club also distributed homemade soups to the God Bless Nurse Monique Nanny Nurssy Foundation. The President of the Omega Leo Club, Leo Javid Hurtault remarked, “Our members fully understand the importance of working together with the goal to collectively reinforce and engage the community in building a better place for all.

“The Club aims at working with more Organizations to ensure it expands its outreach efforts to as many vulnerable persons as possible.”

Through this initiative, the intention of The Sint Maarten South Omega Leo Club is to be a beacon of hope in the community especially for persons in need, recognizing that the Club’s support can go a long way as the island continues to maneuver its way through the COVID-19 pandemic.

“As a Service Club, we believe it is important to help and provide for the less fortunate in our community by supporting them at their most vulnerable times,” Leo President Javid added.

The Sint Maarten South Omega Club encourages persons within our community to continue to support their efforts and sincerely thanks its members for their continued dedication.

“Coming together is a beginning; keeping together is progress; working together is success”. -Henry Ford

 sxm leos first actvitiy photo grp

 

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SMMC postpones elective admissions to the Medical/Surgical Department

SINT MAARTEN (CAY HILL) - In light of the rise in active cases of COVID-19 and the prevalence of the highly contagious delta variant, St. Maarten Medical Center (SMMC) has postponed all non-urgent and elective admissions to the Medical/Surgical Department effective immediately.

Patients whose appointments have been postponed will be contacted by the hospital ahead of their scheduled appointment date and time.

Appointments at SMMC’s other Inpatient Departments (Obstetrics/Gynecology and Pediatrics) and the Outpatient Department (Policlinics) will continue as planned. Patients visiting SMMC are asked to ensure that they fill out the COVID-19 screening questions truthfully, that their masks are worn correctly and that social distancing rules and guidelines are adhered to. Only persons with appointments may be allowed to enter the building with the exception of minors and medically indicated companions. Persons who refuse to comply or cooperate may be kindly asked to leave the premises.

SMMC also reminds the public that patient visiting hours have been suspended. Persons with friends or family admitted to SMMC are asked to make use of text messages and phone and video calls where possible to keep in touch with their loved ones. Persons wishing to receive an update on a patient must contact the patient’s emergency contact (which is typically a spouse or immediate family member) as SMMC does not provide patient information to third parties in an effort to protect and uphold patient confidentiality and their patients’ right to privacy.

SMMC apologizes for any inconvenience this may cause and thanks the public for their cooperation as they provide quality care close to home while keeping their staff and patients safe.

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COM and Union members meet. Discuss alternative measures to meet conditions for personnel deductions

SINT MAARTEN (POND ISLAND) -Philipsburg – On July 26, the Honorable Ministers of General Affairs Silveria Jacobs; Justice, Anna Richardson; Finance, Ardwell Irion; TEATT, Ludmila de Weever; and Education, Culture, Youth and Sport, drs. Rodolphe Samuel; met with the Committee for Civil Servants Unions (CCSU) members; WICSU-PSU, WITU, ABVO with representatives of NAPB to continue the discussion on the 12.5% cost-cutting measures on the employment benefits. After calculations were finalized by the Ministry of Finance, the government paid out the 3% (50% vacation allowance) withheld since June 2020 during the first two weeks of July 2021.

During the meeting, Minister Irion presented two proposals from the government per article 112h of the LMA, this in keeping with the fact that the Constitutional Courts’ verdict is still outstanding. The first proposal represented a package to cover the 3% (50% vacation allowance) already paid out. Parties agreed that the 3% vacation allowance 2019-2020, paid out to government workers based on June 29, 2021, will be compensated by;

A) A reduction in the vacation days (2019-2020: by 2.8%)

B) The elimination of payment of overtime across the board except for the Ministry of Justice (0.2%)

The second proposal regarded the payment of the 2020-2021 vacation allowance, owed. Though liquidity remains a challenge, and the Government intends to pay out the balance of the 6% owed for 2021, parties agreed that Government would look into the possibility to consider the benefits mentioned in article 112h of the LMA, as personnel-related benefits. In so doing, some of the “benefits” such as travel expenditures, uniform allowances, and the compensation for the usage of personal vehicles to execute work-related services, could be accepted by CFT as personnel-related benefits, and be cut accordingly.  

Prime Minister Jacobs stated, “These quarterly meetings will continue together with the Council of Minister and the CCSU members in the interest of our civil servants. We will also meet again with the union members once the Constitutional Court renders its decision on the petition of the Ombudsman regarding the 12.5% cost-cutting national ordinances.”

Discussions on the issuance of the 6% vacation allowance owed will resume once Government has information to share with the CCSU membership.

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Tribute to poet “Big Ray” Helligar “under the mango trees” on August 7

SAINT-MARTIN (BELLEVUE) - The tribute concert with 25 poetic performances for the late Raymond Helligar takes place here at The Gardens on Saturday, August 7, said organizer Sabrina Charville.

The open-air program “under the mango trees,” which begins at 4:30 pm, honors the work of Raymond “Big Ray” Helligar as a spoken word artist, said Charville. He was a “founding poet” at the recitals in Sandy Ground organized by Coffee & Soda Biscuits, a cultural association founded by Charville in 2017.

A number of the poets and spoken word artists scheduled to perform on Saturday will don a black beret, a cap often worn by Helligar. Melissa Fleming, Thierry Stephen, Clara Reyes, Sarina Alexander, Prisca George, Cristine Maccow, Lise Coats Flanders, Jeremie Huot, “and many more” readers are lined up to take the stage, said Charville.

Among the guest readers are writers published by House of Nehesi Publishers (HNP). “Tamara Groeneveldt, Rhoda Arrindell, Fabian Adekunle Badejo, Faizah Tabasamu (Rochelle Ward), and Magueda Jackson are listed to recite their poetry or read from Helligar’s work,” said HNP projects director, Lasana M. Sekou.

The signature poem of Helligar, “Sin Martin is We’z Own,” and his popular and defiant pieces, “Wee Mother Tongue” and “Holding on to We Cock,” could be a challenge to writers and performers asked by the organizer to read those selections, but they will delight and inspire the audience, suggested Badejo on his Culture Time radio show last Sunday.

“Sin Martin is We’z Own” is one of the poems found in the book Where I See The Sun – Contemporary Poetry in St. Martin (HNP, 2013).

Raymond Helligar was also known as a workers rights organizer, chamber of commerce officer in Marigot, and a businessman. He passed away last June at age 73.

The concert admission fee is $5 or 5 euros. Covid-19 mask-wearing and distancing will be observed, said the organizer. For event details see the Facebook page of Coffee & Soda Biscuits https://fb.me/e/2y2aBQFkv.

The sponsors of the Raymond Helligar tribute include the Collectivity, CCISM, SoualiganSlangs, 92.5 FM, SKA, Radiance, and 4 Real We Agree with Culture, said Charville.

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Six illegal guns confiscated in 16 weeks

SINT MAARTEN (PHILIPSBURG) - The Police Force Sint Maarten KPSM, in collaboration with the Prosecutor’s Office OM SXM, have confiscated six illegal firearms in the past sixteen weeks. The weapons are related primarily to armed robberies committed on Front Street jewelry stores.

These confiscations average at least one illegal firearm taken off the streets approximately every three weeks by law enforcement officials. The weapons were confiscated directly from suspects, found in (house) searches or from crime scenes.

While the removal of these deadly weapons from the streets is a good development, OM SXM is still very concerned about the number of illegal firearms in the country and the use of these in the committing of crime.

The ongoing cases that have yielded these illegal firearms are only some of the incidents in which firearms were used by criminals since the start of 2021.

Possession of an illegal firearm carries severe penalties under the Penal Code. Those penalties become even graver when weapons are used in a crime and/or used to assault, injury or kill another person.

Helping to rid the country of illegal weapons and removing these from the hands of criminals may aid in safeguarding a life, whether it is your own, that of a loved one or even someone else in the community. Therefore, anyone in the community of Sint Maarten who knows about illegal weapons or have information about robberies or other crimes should contact the police. Information can be shared with law enforcement confidentially.

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SINT MAARTEN SEES A MODERATE RECOVERY IN 2021. Real GDP growth rate of 3.4% in Sint Maarten

SINT MAARTEN (PHILIPSBURG) - In 2020, the world economy was hit severely by the COVID-19 pandemic and measures implemented to contain the spread of the virus. As a result, real output dropped in both the advanced and emerging & developing economies. The monetary union of Curaçao and Sint Maarten also was deeply affected by the pandemic.

“Even though both countries were relatively successful in containing the local spread of the coronavirus through stringent measures, this success came at high economic and social costs”, stated Richard Doornbosch, president of the Centrale Bank van Curaçao and Sint Maarten (CBCS) in the 2020 Annual Report.

Particularly during the second quarter of 2020, economic activity in both Curaçao and Sint Maarten came practically to a standstill as both countries implemented a border closure that lasted approximately three months and a total lockdown of approximately 6 weeks.

“Despite the later easing of these measures, economic activity, particularly in the tourism industry, remained substantially lower than before the crisis. Consequently, real GDP dropped by an unprecedented 19.3% in Curaçao and 22.4% in Sint Maarten”, explained Doornbosch.

Curaçao 2016 2017 2018 2019 2020 Domestic demand 0.2 -0.4 -1.2 -3.7 -11.3 Net foreign demand -1.1 -1.2 -1.2 0.3 -7.8 GDP -1.0 -1.7 -2.2 -3.4 -19.3

Sint Maarten 2016 2017 2018 2019 2020 Domestic demand 5.1 1.5 -0.2 0.8 -9.8 Net foreign demand -4.0 -9.3 -7.1 8.2 -12.6 GDP 0.5 -5.8 -6.6 8.2 -22.4

An analysis by sector shows that real value added dropped in all sectors of the economies of Curaçao and Sint Maarten.

According to Doornbosch, the decline was most pronounced in the manufacturing, restaurants & hotels, wholesale & retail trade, and transport, storage, & communication sectors. Real output dropped significantly in Curaçao’s manufacturing sector due to a decline in refining activities following the closure of the Isla refinery after the expiration of the lease contract with Venezuelan state-owned oil company, PDVSA, in December 2019.

In addition, ship repair activities decreased. The contraction in the manufacturing sector in Sint Maarten reflected a decline in yacht repair and service activities in line with the lower number of yachts that visited the island.

The contraction in the restaurants & hotels sector was caused primarily by the containment measures that were imposed amid the pandemic. Furthermore, the demand for international travel dropped and the cruise industry was completely shut down after the first quarter of 2020.

Hence, the number of stay-over visitors, the number of cruise tourists, the number of stay-over nights, and the hotel occupancy rate dropped significantly. In the wholesale & retail trade sector, real value added fell considerably on the back of the drop in domestic demand and the decline in tourism spending.

The negative outcome in the transport, storage, & communication sector reflected a decline in both airport-related and harbor activities. Airport-related activities shrank as a result of a sharp decline in total passenger traffic and the number of commercial landings while the contraction at the harbor was consistent with the decline in the number of ships piloted into the port and fewer container movements.

Economic recovery is projected to be moderate in 2021 with real GDP growth rates of 0.1% in Curaçao and 3.4% in Sint Maarten. The marginal recovery in Curacao is explained by another six-week lockdown during March – May. It is expected that the recovery will gain speed in 2022 with growth rates of 6.2% in Curaçao and 14.4% in Sint Maarten.

“The path of economic recovery, however, is uncertain as it depends on how the virus develops and the speed of the vaccine roll-out. Therefore, it is important that both countries continue to make progress in their vaccination programs to be better protected against the virus allowing for less restrictions and facilitating a faster economic recovery”, Richard Doornbosch concluded.

The complete text of the 2020 Annual Report can be viewed on the CBCS-website at www.centralbank.cw under the Publications section.

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Nature Foundation Partners with Community Members to Host First In-No-Plastic Beach Clean-ups

SINT MAARTEN (COLE BAY) - This past week, the Nature Foundation partnered with the American University of the Caribbean School of Medicine (AUC) and the St. Maarten Tourism Bureau alongside the Real Madrid Foundation to organize two beach clean-ups. These two clean-ups were a part of the Nature Foundation’s newest project In-No-Plastic and took place on Mullet Bay Beach and Belair Beach. Participants collected a total of 446 kilograms (984 pounds) of debris from the shoreline. 

“AUC and Real Madrid students went above and beyond with picking up the trash. We are thankful for their help and commitment to keeping St. Maarten’s beaches clean. The Real Madrid students were very competitive, with some groups digging out a boat hull from the sand, weighing 30 kilograms (66 pounds),” stated Alice Manley, project coordinator for In-No-Plastic on St. Maarten. 

The clean-up with AUC on Saturday July 24th at Mullet Bay Beach, was a part of their Community Action Day, organized by the Phi Chi Medical Fraternity. Community Action Day takes place every semester, and the clean ups are an essential contribution to St. Maarten. The AUC students used the Nature Foundation’s reusable burlap sacks to collect the litter, picking up a total of 223 kilograms (492 pounds) of trash alongside the road and on Mullet Bay. The litter picked up included plastics, paper, wood, aluminium and various other items. The prizes gifted to the teams who picked up the most trash included reef friendly Raw Elements Sunscreen products donated by Agrinature Caribbean. 

The clean-up partnered with Real Madrid on Wednesday July 28th, was located at Belair Beach during World Nature Conservation Day. Real Madrid has collaborated with the St. Maarten Tourism Bureau, the Sports Department, and Flames United Football Club SXM to give back to the island’s youth. Several young students participated in games and competitions while cleaning up the garbage on and around the beach with the Nature Foundation. Collectively, the students picked up an astounding 223 kilograms (492 pounds) of garbage. The litter picked up included car parts, boat parts, plastics, paper, wood, aluminium and various other items. Teams that picked up the most garbage received Nature Foundation prize packs. 

“We would like to thank AUC, Real Madrid, and the Tourism Bureau for their commitment to helping keep our beaches clean. The In-No-Plastic project will be hosting more events like this around the island. If you are a teacher or a group leader, do not hesitate to contact us at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. to organize clean-ups with your students,” continued Alice Manley.   

In-No-Plastic is a three-year EU funded project within the Horizon 2020 framework programme, with the goal to develop and demonstrate nano-, micro-, and macro- plastic clean-up technologies in the aquatic ecosystems. This project will incorporate technical and social strategies on St. Maarten’s lagoons, shores, and shallow sea water. Within this project, the Nature Foundation will bi-annually test the water for micro plastics, host more beach clean-ups around the island, and incorporate a blue economy using an App on Sint Maarten. An association of 17 partners and 10 different countries in Europe and the Caribbean. The Nature Foundation will work alongside the Dutch Caribbean Nature Alliance (DCNA), a participating partner with In-No-Plastic.

nature fd inside jul30

 

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MP Buncamper: Land or property tax for who all exactly?

SINT MAARTEN (PHILIPSBURG) - Member of Parliament (MP) of the United Sint Maarten (US) party MP Claudius Buncamper is questioning who the suggested property tax will apply to, the MP said on Thursday in a press statement. “This query comes at the heels of the presentation in Parliament by CFT which stated that Property Tax should be implemented in St. Maarten.

“I was somewhat surprised at the hard stances several MP’s have already taken regarding the land tax or property tax issue. While the CFT stated clearly that the recommendation of the IMF to impose some sort of land or property tax is understandable, because of its consistency on the books, I strongly believe we need to put that in perspective and explain what is expected from such a tax,” Buncamper suggests that it is necessary to understand whether it is the intention for the proposed property tax burden to be carried by the residence of St. Maarten who are already carrying all the tax burden on St. Maarten, or whether this time around, this tax burden will indeed be spread, and the property or real estate tax will be used to tax those who are not contributing to the Government’s Treasury.

“The current situation is as such that there are no restrictions for non-residents to own or purchase property, but this group does enjoy the benefits that the Country provides. The consequences of this includes the high cost of property which disadvantages the residents or locals, but that is a discussion for another time.”

Member of Parliament Buncamper would like the Government to explore the possibility of imposing a real estate tax on non-residents so that they too contribute to the treasury. While this may seem discriminatory, it is positive for the country and the residents and finally allows the country to tap into a revenue source currently not being enjoyed. Buncamper states that such differentiation is applied in other countries, so there should be no issue.

“We don’t collect revenue from AIR BNB, and this for me is rather unclear, but we can create our own revenue source for this sector, as the properties cannot be hidden in an offshore account”.

“This may just be the solution says MP Buncamper, to still collect a tax from foreign owned properties being rented and generating rental income on St. Maarten, while thus far none of that income remains on the island, or at least does not reaching the government’s coffers and as such does not help to pay the bills of the country.

The MP states that in other countries all timeshare owners (in the USA for sure) pay property tax, so the concept is familiar and should not be a deterrent for wealthy foreign investors who want to own a little piece of paradise.

According to the USP Member of Parliament Claudius Buncamper, he clearly stated in the July 7th meeting with the CFT, that he could not support land or property tax in its present form. “We must bear in mind that having absolutely no property tax, land tax or restrictions of any kind on foreign investors, causes the market price for property to be driven by the buying power of the wealthy foreign investors. The result is, that locals are unable to afford land in St. Maarten; are unable able to qualify for a mortgage to buy property (yes for a car of course) and as such have a very difficult time building wealth; own an asset for which the value can actually increase or which can be used as collateral to invest in other assets; and this is what contributes to the growing disparity in wealth, concludes Buncamper.

“As a landowner this law will not personally benefit me as it can drive the land prices down. My decision is based on the job I’m presently fulfilling; being a parliamentarian and placing country above self.
While many of us might dislike the authors/proposers of the tax proposals please remember that the money generated is for the country and not the authors of the law. I truly hope to see a land tax proposal in the tax reform proposal the Minister of Finance is coming with to parliament prior to the budget 2022 debate so we can ensure we are all looking and moving in the right direction. Monies raised from such a taxation can easily remove the pensioners payment of taxes and social premiums starting January 2022,” MP Buncamper concludes.

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