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Soualiga News II (3523)

Certificate ceremony Saba civil servants

SABA (THE BOTTOM) - A ceremony was held at the Government Administration Building on Tuesday, September 15 during which the certificates of the management development program PEP and the emergency response team BHV course were handed out to a large group of civil servants of the Public Entity Saba. During a short ceremony, Island Governor Jonathan Johnson and Island Secretary Tim Muller handed out the certificates to the participants of the BHV and Management Development.

As an employer, the Public Entity Saba has a responsibility to provide a safe and healthy workplace. On Tuesday, some 25 civil servants from all levels within the organization received their First Responder (BHV) certification. During the BVH course, participants learned how to identify and resolve safety issues within buildings and at the job site, and how to act during emergency situations. For example, how to deal with a medical emergency at the workplace, how to extinguish a fire and how to carry out a building evacuation.

Last year managers and department heads participated in the extensive Management Development (PEP) trajectory that lasted almost a year. Participants learned, among other things, to develop insight into leadership qualities, develop skills for effective communication, gain insight into how leaders inspire others, and how to achieve management goals. Due to some seasonal issues and COVID-19, the certificate ceremony was postponed until Tuesday. 

The third part of Tuesday’s ceremony consisted of the handing over of the ‘Managers Toolkit’ to the department heads within government. Human Resource (HR) Manager Miguela Gumbs, who compiled the comprehensive manual, will be departing the island shortly, and wanted to leave the managers with something tangible that they can use in the daily managing of personnel. “The Managers Toolkit contains everything that you need to know as a manager when you work for the Public Entity Saba. This toolkit, which is the first of its kind, will contribute to a transparent and efficient work practice concerning personnel management.  It is a practical ‘go to manual’ that will assist managers in leadership and managing their department more effectively,” said Gumbs. The Managers Toolkit includes information on, among other things, HR policies such as sick leave management, onboarding and offboarding (from hire to retire), as well as documentation of the various trainings such as project management, time management, leadership and integrity, effective communication, etc. The Manager Toolkit is also available in digital form.

Despite the COVID-19 crisis, the Public Entity Saba continues developing its personnel. In an effort to continue in promoting professional development for its government apparatus, and because more and more is done digitally, the Public Entity Saba has launched an incentive for its civil servants to purchase an ‘all-inclusive laptop package’ which will consist of a brand new Dell laptop with the newest specifications, MS Office Pro 2019, extra external storage and a carrying case. Civil servants are given the opportunity to purchase this laptop on the basis of an interest-free loan which will be paid back in 12 monthly installments.

Since February 2020, it was not possible to hold any trainings where participants and the trainer are physically present. Government has since then decided to  continue with developing its civil servants by organizing online workshops and trainings via Zoom and Microsoft Teams. As a pilot the Public Entity Saba has also entered into a contract with a renown online education provider from the Netherlands. Coordinated through the HR department, civil servants can sign up for unlimited amount (200+) of online courses. The online courses are available in various languages.  “Civil servants from all levels within the Public Entity Saba have the unique opportunity to take part in courses to further develop themselves on various levels of expertise,” said Gumbs. With a new laptop and access to an unlimited number of online courses the Public Entity is on their way to further excelling to a new level in professionalization.  

Jonathan Johnson and Miguela Gumbs

Island Governor Jonathan Johnson hands over a certificate of the PEP program to HR Manager Miguela Gumbs.

 

 

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Free-roaming goat owners updated on goat control project

SABA (THE BOTTOM) - Owners of free-roaming goats on Saba received more information by letter and during a follow-up meeting with the Executive Council on Wednesday, September 16, about the goat control program which is about to start.

In the letter, the owners of the free-roaming goats were informed of the assistance that the Public Entity Saba can offer to allow for a collaborated effort to ensure that the goat owners in question have the opportunity to benefit from the project while the end goal is still reached. The letter addressed and explained many of the points brought forward by the free-roaming goat owners in the first meeting of September 3.

Goat owners were assured during the September 16 meeting and in the letter that was handed out that same day that the Public Entity Saba will provide assistance to goat owners to ensure that all goats are properly fenced with sufficient space, food, water, shelter and provided care. Fencing materials will be made available, as will subsidized goat food and medical veterinary care.

Goat owners can also receive support from government to assist them in controlling and/or removing their roaming goats. Once the shooting of goats starts, goat owners can request help from the specialists to help shoot their goats. Additional manpower will be offered if the goat owners need help to bring the animals’ carcasses back for butchering.

Freezer capacity

Goat owners were also assured that additional freezer storage capacity and a meat processing facility will be made available to assist them with the meat that will be brought in. Government will purchase two 20-foot freezer containers where goat owners can store their goat meat until it is sold.

Assistance will also be given to goat owners to help them find a suitable market for them to sell their meat abroad. While it is the responsibility of the goat owners to butcher and package the meat, government will take measures to make this process easier and less time-consuming. The meat processing facility should be ready by the end of this year.

On September 3, the Executive Council met with the owners of free-roaming goats where the owners made use of the opportunity to voice their concerns about the project. Some suggestions were presented, such as the possibility to find a middle-ground solution whereby a limited number of goats could be kept free in the wild so that the hunting of these animals can continue.

Allowing goats to roam free in nature will not be possible for several reasons, the goat owners were informed. Firstly, it is against the law to allow goats to roam freely: goats need to be fenced in, registered and tagged. The 2004 island ordinance, the BES Criminal Law and Civil Codes clearly state this. It is strictly prohibited for goat owners to allow their animals to roam on land that has not been designated and fenced off for this specific purpose.

Sustainable solution

Secondly, allowing even a small number of goats to free-roam would stand in the way of a sustainable solution to the goat problem, and the associated adverse consequences, such as erosion and the damage to nature and people’s yards.

Allowing a minor number of goats to roam-free would require an intensive management system, maintained and enforced by a fulltime government hunter for which the Public Entity Saba lacks the required funding.  

It was explained to the goat owners that in practice, it would be even more difficult to control just a few free-roaming goats. To start with, the animals would have to be caught and tagged. With more vegetation available, the few goats would retreat even further into the wild, making it even more challenging for the owners to find them and ultimately cull them. Over a relatively short period of time this would again result in an increase in numbers.

It is impossible to effectively control and manage goats that are not fenced in. This has been proven time upon time by the surge in the island’s goat population, the yearly influx of goats entering residential areas, destroying private property and the overgrazing of land. This has led to long-term damage to Saba’s vegetation and ultimately to widespread erosion, which in itself creates public safety hazards.

Grace period

It was also explained in the letter that in September 2019, the Public Entity Saba announced that it would carry out a goat control project in 2020. Late August 2020, a three-month grace period was announced. During this grace period, which starts on October 1, 2020, goat owners can remove their animals on their own account. Assistance is available in this period to remove roaming goats in residential areas. During grace period, removal of free-roaming will start in the Mt. Scenery National Park and along the Fort Bay road area. The possibility to also start with the removal of goats in the residential areas, such as The Bottom, during this time is also being looked into. When the grace period ends on January 1, 2021, the Public Entity Saba will proceed with the removal of the remaining roaming goats in the different zones throughout the island.  

Under certain conditions, goat owners may be granted additional time of up to three months to remove their animals if, due to exceptional circumstances, they were unable to remove their animals before the expiration of the grace period. Goat owners were informed how and under which conditions to apply for this extension.

Once the specialists, the persons who have been appointed by government to cull the goats, come to a zone, it will be closed off for public safety, in collaboration with local police. The Public Entity Saba recognized that the changes through the goat control project are hard to embrace for the goat owners. That is why many forms of assistance are being offered to ensure a smooth transition from keeping goats in the wild to keeping them in a responsible manner and properly enclosed.

Goats in the National Park

 

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ALL 114 TESTS ON COVID-19 NEGATIVE. CURFEW CONTINUES UNTIL SEP.25

SINT EUSTATIUS (ORANJESTAD) - All staff members of the Queen Beatrix Medical Center and the staff and residents of the Auxiliary home, have been tested negative on Covid-19. The results of these tests, in total 114, came in earlier today, September 17, 2020, around 3 PM.

The curfew remains effective until September 25th and the continuous wearing of face masks is strongly advised.

The Public Health department continues to do contact tracing as an extra precautionary measure. This is required to ensure that there are no new potential cases showing up.

The updated statistics regarding COVID-19 will be finalized later this evening and published on the Government of St. Eustatius Facebook page.

Several persons will leave quarantine this evening. (Statia GIS)

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PJIAEs Supervisory Board member Derby fully recovers from COVID-19

SINT MAARTEN (SIMPSON BAY) - On July 31st, of this year, Mr. Clarence Derby started to feel tired. At first, he did not think much of it, but as it worsened with symptoms such as chest pain, headache, and loss of taste and smell (anosmia and ageusia), Mr. Derby called the 914 number (CPS) and described his symptoms. CPS came the next day to test him, and he tested positive for Covid-19.

As his breathing worsened, he called his doctor, who diagnosed him with Pneumonia, for which he received anti-biotics, and other medication. Despite the medications, the symptoms gradually worsened; breathing became harder, he started to vomit and had stomach problems which further weakened his health. After experiencing dizziness, Mr. Derby fell on the floor, the moment which reality kicked in. He asked his wife to call an ambulance, and within 45 minutes he was in the hospital. 

‘’As a child I had mild asthma and it brought me straight back to that feeling. Breathing becomes more difficult and the lack of oxygen in your blood makes you feel very tired,” said Mr. Derby.  He continued by explaining; “the problem with Covid-19 is that it can slowly starve the body of Oxygen, and the process is so gradual that you don’t realize it until you get so tired that you can hardly get around.’’

Although Mr. Derby is not the youngest man in town, physically, he is anything but an old man. Those who are close to him know that he is a true sportsman, he swims at least 3 times a week, and completes a mile of swimming in under 20 minutes. He does variations of yoga, dumbbells, and cardio 3 times a week and the building he lives in offers him another great challenge of climbing 154 stairs, 3 times up and down, 3 times a week!

Additionally, Mr. Derby’s awareness and strict regime of a healthy lifestyle is truly admirable. A decade ago, his house doctor told him that he had to change his diet because he was diagnosed with high cholesterol and prediabetes. This news didn’t fall on deaf ears, and within a year he brought his cholesterol levels were back to normal and there were no more signs of prediabetes.

‘’Many young men tell me that I am their role model and that they want to look like me”, said Mr. Derby. “I always tell them that it is a daily lifetime investment and it doesn’t come automatically, you need to start today with at least one hour of sport activities and eat healthy, that’s the secret. 

My wife and I are both great believers in a healthy lifestyle, every morning we take a smoothie with Kale, Asparagus, Spinach and other healthy greens. We top it off with a shot of ginger.” Mr. Derby concluded with a smile on his face… “the acquired taste wakes me up instantly! During the Ambulance trip, the paramedics took immediate action and gave him oxygen. The paramedics know that low oxygen levels in the blood, or Silent Hypoxia, can be life threatening and should be taken very seriously. At the hospital, they continued giving him oxygen and quickly after he felt revitalized and much better.

Four days of good care at the hospital did the trick, Mr. Derby felt much better and after checking all his vitals, the doctors cleared him as healthy and strong enough to return to his family.

‘’I am grateful with the care I received from all the healthcare workers during my sickness. We should be forever thankful and proud of all the healthcare workers and front-liners that put their lives at risk by fighting for our health and keep the country going. Serving on the Supervisory Board of the airport, I am acutely aware of all the work that PJIAE management and staff did by implementing world class Covid-19 prevention and mitigation protocols to keep our community, stakeholders and visitors safe.” Mr. Derby ended by saying; “All the work on the background should never be underestimated, it is the fundament of Sint Maarten’s necessary recovery.’’

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U.S. Consulate General Curacao Sponsored English Language Curriculum Assessment

CURACAO (WILLEMSTAD) - Together with the Curacao Chamber of Commerce & Industry and in partnership with the Government of Curacao, schoolboards, and various local school officials and educators, the U.S. Consulate is proud to be supporting a program to study the development English language curriculum for Curacao schools.

Earlier this year, the Curacao Chamber of Commerce & Industry approached the U.S. Consulate General for support in developing an English language curriculum for all school systems in Curacao. The U.S. Department of State agreed to fund an assessment of the current situation on Curacao and worked with Georgetown University to evaluate specialists suited to the task. 

In a competitive process, stakeholders, selected Dr. Christine Jernigan (photo), who has a PhD specialized in teaching English to speakers of other languages and who has extensive experience developing English language programs throughout the world.   Dr. Jernigan starts this week with a three-week virtual assessment of the current English language curriculum for schools on Curacao.

The first phase, a needs assessment process will require the Specialist to evaluate the current primary and secondary schools' English language curriculum and make recommendations on how best to improve the curriculum based on the needs of the population, the culture, and economic/academic goals of Curacao.

The Specialist will meet with various stakeholders, including Ministry of Education officials, local company representatives, school officials, students, the Chamber of Commerce & Industry, and others involved in the educational system to acquire a deeper understanding of the current system so as to develop recommendations for changing the curriculum to better meet Curacao’s academic objectives.

Consul General Allen Greenberg applauded the initiative and stated that “enhancing English language capabilities, particularly in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics, will better prepare young people to become innovators and entrepreneurs in these fields and therefore can provide future economic benefits to Curacao.” 

The long-term goal is to continue with a U.S. government sponsored curriculum development program for elementary and high schools to provide a broad range of opportunities for children and improve the results of graduates. Proficiency in the English language will enable them to access more resources and to be competitive in a wider range of professional disciplines.

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MINISTER OF FINANCE MEETS WITH HERBAL AWARENESS SXM

SINT MAARTEN (POND ISLAND) - The Minister of Finance, Ardwell Irion, would like to thank Herbal Awareness SXM for extending an invitation for an audience on Friday, September 11th, 2020. During the meeting, one of the topics discussed was the structural and responsible legalization of adult recreational use of cannabis on the island. The organization positions itself as the people’s voice for cannabis legalization, with its core attributes being transparency and community representation. Some of the organization’s goals and responsibilities consist of:

  • Awareness & Education
  • Ensuring safe access
  • Advice & Support to the Government
  • Ensuring legislation and regulation for medicinal and adult-use
  • Avoiding monopolization of the market

Minister Irion stated, “I am looking forward to getting a proper authority established on the island for the legal use of cannabis. This would be a potentially great stream of income for St. Maarten, especially during these financially trying times. As a parliamentarian, I submitted a request on this matter to the Social Economic Council (SER). The request concerned the execution of a study to determine the economic benefits and impact that the medical cannabis industry would have on the island. I would be happy to see it come full circle. Having experts involved in the process is pertinent to ensuring there isn’t just oversight theoretically but also functionally.”

Executing the local development of the cannabis industry on the island in a responsible and structured manner could result in the direct and indirect funding of other sectors, benefitting the island. Examples of this would be extra funds that can be invested in education, infrastructure-based development, the orange economy, green energy alternatives like solar, water and wind energy. The execution of this will also mean an increase in agricultural infrastructure on St. Maarten. This is very positive, seeing as agriculture has had a significant uptick in interest amongst the community since the lockdown began earlier this year.

Herbal Awareness SXM will be sending in an official request to the Council of Ministers to give their presentation on the local development of the cannabis industry on St. Maarten.

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Tzu Chi emergency food distribution comes to an end. Next distribution Nov. or Dec.

SINT MAARTEN (CUL DE SAC) - The St. Maarten Tzu Chi Foundation’s emergency food distribution drive has come to an end with the foundation helping to put food on the table for thousands of persons in need in the community over the past three weeks. 

The emergency food distribution drive ended on Saturday, September 12, when the foundation completed the distribution of its target of 3,500 food packages. 

The emergency food distribution drive began on Friday, August 21. A total of 362 volunteers sacrificed their personal time to help with the initiative over a 23-day period. A total of 3,500 families received food packages and the items are estimated to have benefited a total of 10,236 family members. Of the 3,500 packages that were distributed, 3,265 were given out at Tzu Chi’s location on the L.B. Scott Road and 235 were delivered to seniors and families in difficult circumstances. 

During the 23-day activity, recipients took the opportunity to donate a total of $3,748.53 to help Tzu Chi Foundation continue its benevolent work in the community and help more persons who are in need. 

Recipients were very thankful for the assistance they received. One recipient from Dutch Quarter who gave his name as Steven said the process to obtain the food package was quick and uneventful. He said the foundation is doing a great job in helping persons in need on the island and for this he is grateful. 

Another recipient said the COVID-19 crisis has affected many persons and it’s good to see Tzu Chi assisting persons irrespective of their race and nationality. He called on others to use Tzu Chi as an example. 

Another recipient said she has been residing in St. Maarten for the past 21 years and she is grateful to receive assistance as many persons are now unemployed as a result of COVID-19. 

Tzu Chi Commissioner Sandra Cheung said she is extremely grateful and deeply thankful to all the volunteers who took time out of their schedules non-stop over the 23-day period to assist in the event. Some volunteers packed the food packages, while others pooled their efforts to set up the distribution by calling recipients, signing them in, executing the registration, welcoming recipients, ensuring that everyone sanitized their hands and maintained social distancing, amongst other things. Cheung said the Tzu Chi Foundation highly appreciates the cooperation of volunteers. 

She said while the Corona virus COVID-19 is keeping persons apart from each other, the love from Tzu Chi volunteers has no boundaries. 

Tzu Chi will arrange its next relief at the end of November or the beginning of December depending on the arrival date of the 11th rice container from Tzu Chi’s headquarters in Taiwan. 

Persons who have been registered with Tzu Chi with their Identification Card or passport and phone number, will be called to go for a food package, if their situation remains unchanged.

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Socio-economic effects of COVID-19 in the context of sustainable development goals

CURACAO (WILLEMSTAD) - Under the title “Socioeconomic effects of COVID-19 in the frame of the SDGs”, the global association of Socioeconomic Advisory Councils and Similar Institutions (AICESIS) is organizing an international webinar on Wednesday, September 16, 2020. During this webinar, in which the socio-economic effects of the COVID-19 crisis within the framework of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) will be discussed, knowledge sharing and experience exchange will be central.

Although the global context has changed radically as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, the United Nations (UN) Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), the Paris Climate Change Agreement and respect for human rights are more relevant than ever. The regions affiliated to AICESIS will elaborate on this during the webinar and will indicate how they are trying to respond to the Building Back Better call of the UN, especially in a time of crisis where international cooperation is under pressure.

During the webinar SER Curaçao will speak on behalf of the Latin America and Caribbean region. It will indicate that current efforts should focus on inclusive and sustainable economies and societies that are more resilient to future pandemics, economic crises, climate change and other threats and global challenges.

The webinar will be organized in collaboration with the UN Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC), the Association of Economic and Social Councils of Africa (UCESA) and the Association of Economic and Social Advisory Bodies and Similar Institutions of the Francophonie (UCESIF).

Visit the website www.ser.cw for more information.

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Police Force Covid-19 Measures: How to file an official complaint by the Police

SINT MAARTEN (PHILIPSBURG) - Following the rapid increase in the number of infected persons due to the COVID-19 virus in Sint Maarten, a new safety protocol has been adapted by the Sint Maarten Police Force (KPSM) in an effort to make sure we all remain Covid-19 free.  

It has been decided by the police management to re-introduce its safety guidelines governing the visits to the station in Philipsburg.
Persons wishing to file an official complaint at either the Philipsburg or the Simpson- bay the Police Station need to take the following into account.

The general public is requested to call +1 (721) 54-22222 to make an appointment. Persons will not be permitted to enter without a prior appointment on a non-emergency basis.

*Please have the following details at hand before calling the station, in order for us to provide efficient and speedy service. (Name, date of birth, place of birth, address, phone number, and a short summary of what took place)

• There will be only a maximum of four (4) persons allowed in the waiting area one time. The social distancing rules should be adhered to while waiting for assistance.

• The 911 hotline should only be called in case of emergencies.

• Persons wishing the file a complaint can now temporarily do so by sending an email to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or calling +1 (721) 54-22222.

• In the case of more complex complaints, persons will be referred to the detective department to be able to make an appointment for assistance.

The Sint Maarten Police Force will continue to be vigilant throughout this outbreak and we ask the community to continue to take the necessary precautions to protect themselves and the persons around them. We continue to ask the community to only share news from an official source to avoid unnecessary panic.  For further information, the public can call the police station on +1 721- 542 22 22.
Any changes made to the above-mentioned information will be conveyed via an official press release from the KPSM, it will also be posted on the police website (www.policesx.sx) as well as the Facebook page.

Please note when coming to your scheduled appointment it is mandatory to have on a mask.

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Caribbean Banks Promote Financial Literacy

SAINT LUCIA/CARIBBEAN - The Caribbean Association of Banks (CAB) Inc. has embarked upon a series of initiatives intended to promote and celebrate financial literacy and financial inclusion in the region. The campaign, which is now underway, will target a number of demographic groups, including families, small businesses, and financial services professionals. The theme for the campaign, which runs until the end of September, is Saving and Investing Today for a Brighter Tomorrow.

Its financial literacy campaign is the latest intervention coming out of the CAB corporate social responsibility programme, an avenue whereby CAB deepens engagement with the financial services industry and the general public, whilst contributing to regional development. The CAB CSR programme is known as CAB Cares.

CAB has posted a crossword puzzle to its website, www.cab-inc.com, to help teach children some of the basic vocabulary associated with banking and financial services, investment and savings. In collaboration with some of the leading practitioners across the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) the organisation will also publish a number of editorial thought leadership pieces on the subject of savings and investments, and will host various webinars, panel discussions, and workshops. These will be promulgated across the CAB social media platforms - Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.

Among the topics that will be addressed in coming weeks will be Reading & Understanding Financial Statements For Small Businesses, Insuring Your Assets, Vehicles For Saving, Innovations in Investment, Business Recovery – Caribbean Banking in a Post-COVID World (The Way Forward), and Data Privacy, Opportunities and Challenges.

The campaign is being supported by a number of partners including central banks and commercial banks from around the region, CAB general members and service members.

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