News 2 (2)
Menu

Soualiga News II (3564)

Saba Island Council updates Dutch Second Chamber on effects of the COVID-19 crisis

SABA (THE BOTTOM) - The Island Council on Monday, October 5, sent a letter to the Permanent Committee for Kingdom Relations of the Second Chamber of the Dutch Parliament in which additional information was shared following last week’s virtual meeting of the Island Council with Committee members to discuss developments surrounding COVID-19.

Saba indicated in the video conference last Thursday that the island was very grateful to the Dutch Government for the various ways of financial assistance for residents and the local private sector. “This assistance surely contributes to softening the financial circumstances in which many residents and entrepreneurs currently find themselves in.”

However, there are a few bottlenecks for which the Island Council sought attention in the letter to the Dutch Parliament. These bottlenecks relate to the compensation of expenses for entrepreneurs in the first emergency package, the expenditures compensation in the second package in relation to small business owners, the detrimental effects of COVID-19 on a small-island economy and the associated increase of poverty.

The expenditures compensation for the private sector, provided by the Ministry of Economic Affairs in the first emergency package, was mainly used by entrepreneurs to pay the wage tax for the months April, May and June. However, this compensation contributed little to the alleviation of other monthly expenditures. This led to much doubt among the entrepreneurs as to the objective of the compensation.

Small businesses

The point of departure of the expenditures compensation in the second emergency package was mainly based on situation of Bonaire, which has larger companies than the micro-economy of Saba where almost 90 per cent of the registered companies are so-called one-person businesses (“eenmanszaken”).

The applied formula of the compensation in the second emergency package excluded many small businesses because their turn-over was too small. In the first emergency package many companies received a compensation of US $2,200. Entrepreneurs are very concerned how they will have to pay the third quarter wage tax in October.

The third concern expressed by the Island Council relates to the tourism sector. Because the harbor and airport are closed to visitors since the COVID-19 pandemic, hotels, dive operators, taxi’s, the sole travel agency and the local ferry have not generated any income for more than six months. Alternatives to generate some income though so-called stay-cations and a reopening of the airport are not possible on Saba.

Bankruptcies, dismissals

“Saba’s small scale, combined with the closure of the island and the COVID-19 situation in St. Maarten, has resulted in severe damage to the already vulnerable local economy to an extent where bankruptcies and dismissals are unavoidable. With this development in the back of our minds, we, as the Island Council are greatly worried about a further increase of poverty on Saba. This is already becoming visible through a reduced purchasing power, a backlog in rent and repayment to banks.”

The Island Council is also very worried about the general economy, which apart from tourism, greatly depends on the Saba University School of Medicine. With fewer medical students on the island, the retailers and apartments owners very much feel the effect.

The Island Council during the virtual meeting, and again in the October 5 letter, asked the Second Chamber to seek solutions together in order to prevent a complete standstill of Saba’s economy. A number of proposals were mentioned to reduce taxes for entrepreneurs and residents, and to provide cheap loans for the private sector.

Freeze of taxes

The first proposal concerned a freeze of the wage tax for an indefinite time which will give entrepreneurs and individual employees some direly needed financial leeway. The second proposal concerned a freeze of the general spending tax (ABB) for an indefinite period, which will financially benefit everyone on the island. Thirdly, a freeze of the real estate tax for hotel properties and apartments to help the owners to survive. The fourth proposal was to facilitate more investments in the local businesses through attractive loans. This will aid in preventing a further decline in this sector.

In the last part of the two-page letter, the Island Council sought attention for the so-called free allowance (“vrije uitkering”), the amount that the Public Entity Saba receives on a yearly basis from the Dutch Government to cover the operational costs of government. This allowance has been too low for years in order to adequately govern the island. The Island Council asked the Second Chamber for its assistance in helping to solve this lingering issue.

During the handling of the 2021 budget for Kingdom Relation in the Second Chamber on Tuesday, several Members of Parliament made mention of the Island Council letter and Saba’s situation during this crisis.

Read more...

Sargassum Research Team from the Climate Cleanup Foundation Conducts Pilot Study on Sint Maarten

SINT MAARTEN (COLE BAY) - The Climate Cleanup Foundation visited St. Maarten to study sargassum landings, collect sargassum, perform tests and take samples, in order to find solutions for the sargassum invasions by researching several options of using the sargassum and possibly creating carbon sinks. Two members of the Climate Cleanup Team visited Sint Maarten in September to conduct research on the Sargassum Seaweed, the team got intrigued by the problems the algae cause for us humans and our ecosystems.

In September Peter Lindeman and Fons Janssen working for Climate Cleanup, a Dutch NGO (see www.ClimateCleanup.org), held their trip for field research. They needed to obtain samples of the Sargassum plague they are studying. Peter: “This expedition has made us even more determined to find solutions for the excessive growth of Sargassum in the region.”

Climate Cleanup is an NGO working on natural climate solutions. Fons: “Our goal is to bio-sequester 1500 gigaton of CO2, to work with nature to reverse climate change. Sargassum seaweed is sequestering lots of CO2, but when beaching it smothers coastal areas, kills natural ecosystems such as mangroves and seagrass, and causes health and economic problems to people. We are trying to find ways to make best use of the seaweed, while also preventing it from washing ashore. Therefore, we are working on valorisation of the seaweed, as well as capturing and storing it as a natural carbon sink.”

For two weeks Fons and Peter have been harvesting and drying 1500 kilogrammes of Sargassum Seaweed. The team of Nature Foundation Sint Maarten offered lots of help, from providing transportation, boat and crew for catching Sargassum at sea, to arranging land space and support from many local people and organizations.

Peter: “We got such a great welcome on this beautiful island, meeting great people and learned so much from all the conversations. We took many samples which we have taken home and which will be tested in several labs. We are diving deep into different types of use of Sargassum, think about biogas, paper, building blocks and composting. We are also researching into sinking the seaweed to the deep-sea, mimicking the natural life cycle of the seaweed when floating in the Sargasso Sea. To save our planet we need to take a lot of CO2 out of the atmosphere to fight climate change, something seaweed can do perfectly. Thus, we are taking problems such as Sargassum and aim to turn it around into a solution; one which is beneficial to people and nature.”

The Nature Foundation has often been forewarning the public about the increased amounts of Sargassum Seaweed on the Eastern beaches of St. Maarten, typically starting in late spring each year. In the summer months the temperature increases which causes the sargassum to bloom, this seaweed has been an increasing problem throughout the Caribbean since 2011 landing on beaches in massive amounts and decomposing slowly. Sargassum is a genus of brown (class Phaeophyceae) seaweed which is distributed throughout the temperate and tropical oceans of the world.

Along with causing a build-up of seaweed on the beaches, the decomposing sargassum can cause potential health problems by emitting a colorless, toxic and highly flammable gas called hydrogen sulfide. This gas spreads an unpleasant odor much like the smell of rotten eggs. The Nature Foundation is excited about this research from the Climate Cleanup Foundation and is looking forward to hearing about positive results and possibilities!

nature fd ins1 tue06

nature fd ins2 tue06

nature fd ins3 tue06

 

Read more...

Rotary Sunset Highlights Early Stimulation Educators

SINT MAARTEN (PHILIPSBURG) - In recognition of Rotary’s Basic Education and Literacy month, observed in September, the Rotary Club of St. Martin Sunset honored 9 early stimulation educators who exemplify the Rotary ideal of “Service Above Self”.

The respective school boards, school management teams and associations were tasked with selecting one teacher, who would be the recipient of a breakfast box, gift certificates from various businesses, a bottle of champagne, and a certificate of appreciation from the club. The club has been highlighting teachers with surprise appearances for the past 2 years.

“Early stimulation educators play a vital role in a child’s life, as they are the steppingstone to a life of endless learning possibilities. Even in these uncertain times, our educators are making endless sacrifices to ensure they deliver quality education to our children.

“While students remain safe in the comfort of their own homes, our early stimulation educators, in particular, are going into the schools or welcoming students into their homes and demonstrating their passion for teaching.

“It was a pleasure for the members of Rotary Sunset to visit the schools and homes of this year’s recipients and being able to uplift and bring cheer them on with gifts of appreciation,” President Elisia Lake stated.

The 9 early stimulation educators honored for their decades of service, selfless dedication and advocating the importance of basic education, literacy, and care were;

  • Tr. Cheryl Freedom of Dafy Swing.
  • Tr. Bernadette Giorgi of 1,2,3 Soleil
  • Tr. Colleen Cato of Little Gosling Playschool
  • Tr. Chaniele Brookes of M & M Playschool
  • Tr. Antonia Philips-Joseph of Rupert Maynard Community Center afternoon school program and Children’s World play school.
  • Tr. Joan Rogers of Methodist Agogic Centre BFM campus.
  • Tr. Gayle Danzic of       Alexander’s Early Stimulation.
  • Tr. Claudia Wilkinson of Ebenezer Learning Playschool.
  • Tr. Berlinda Missoudan of Catholic Early Childhood Stimulation.

The Rotary Club of St. Martin Sunset would like to thank the various school boards, management, and associations for their selection of educators. The club would also like to extend a heartfelt thanks to Chef B, Sharisa’s Kitchen, BBox and M & D Catering Services for sponsoring the breakfast boxes.

A special appreciation is extended to Addicted Hair Lounge, Georgina’s Nails, TamLeo, Tee Zan and Angelic Touch Day Spa for sponsoring gift vouchers to all recipients and Digital Gumbs for their kind sponsorship of bottled champagne.

The Rotary Club of St. Martin Sunset would like to thank all educators for their continued hard work, years of service to our students and being the backbone of our educational system.

The Rotary Club of St. Martin Sunset meets every second and fourth Monday of the month at Carl N Sons Unique Inn and Conference Facilities in Colebay at 7:30pm. Due to Covid19, the club currently meets via Zoom.

The club can be contacted via email at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or via the official Facebook page at facebook.com/rotarysxmsunset.

Read more...

Statia announces new Royal Decoration Committee

SINT EUSTATIUS (ORANJESTAD) - The Public Entity of St. Eustatius is proud to announce the appointment of new members to its Royal Decoration Committee. This committee will recommend residents of Statia to be considered for a royal declaration, on an annual basis.  

The committee members are Anica Marsdin (President), Marion Schroen (Secretary), Maxine Spanner-Suares (member), Rosabel Blake (member) and Beulah Simmons-Merkman (member).

The islands in the Dutch Caribbean and municipalities in the European Netherlands can annually submit candidates for a royal decoration. The process for submitting the candidates for consideration is to submit a document with thorough background information outlining why the person nominated should be considered. Annually, on the birthday of H.R.H King Willem Alexander of the Netherlands Dutch nationals are decorated for noteworthy contributions in their respective communities.

For more information, please visit www.lintjes.nl . (Statia GIS)

Read more...

Horticulture advisory committee established

SABA (THE BOTTOM) - Commissioner of Agriculture, Horticulture and Animal Husbandry Rolando Wilson late last week established an Advisory Committee Horticulture on Saba.

According to the Commissioner, the various horticulture activities on Saba need some more structure and expert advice to make the activities in this area more effective and efficient.               “Although Government is no farming expert, it has an obligation to make sure that her people are able to grow and/or to buy enough fresh vegetables and fruits to lead a healthy life,” said Wilson.

The Commissioner explained that for this reason, Government some time ago initiated the Fram at Zion’s Hill and The Garden in The Level. Next to these existing projects, Government is executing the project to set up a hydroponic farm at Rendezvous and green houses for both schools as well as the Benevolent Foundation.

The Commissioner said that the COVID-19 epidemic has made very clear that Saba needs to become less dependent on the imports of fruits and vegetables. “That is why we also need to strengthen our home gardening by the people.”

The established Advisory Committee Horticulture, which consists of private citizens and Head of the Agricultural Department Randall Johnson, will advice the Commissioner how to strengthen home gardening and to make the executing of horticulture activities and projects more efficient and effective.

Read more...

An Unprecedented Achievement Yacht Haven Grande, St. Thomas has won Superyacht Marina of the Year Award for a third time

SINT. MAARTEN/ST.THOMAS - October 2, 2020 | IGY’s Yacht Haven Grande, St. Thomas has recently been bestowed the Towergate 2020 International Superyacht Marina of the Year by The Yacht Harbour Association (TYHA).  Yacht Haven Grande, St. Thomas is the only marina in the world to have received this prestigious award three times in 2016, 2019 and 2020. 

(TYHA), one of the oldest international yachting associations in the world partnered with Towergate Insurance, to recognize the best marinas from around the world.  This amazing achievement follows the 2019 elevation of Yacht Haven Grande’s status as a 5 Gold Anchor Marina to the coveted 5 Platinum Anchor level. 

Upon receiving the news of this third award, Kenny Jones MBE, Executive Vice President of Global Operations at IGY Marinas stated, “I am beaming with pride for the Yacht Haven Grande team, along with the other IGY family members across the globe, for being the absolute best in the world and for delivering consistently exceptional service to our superyacht owners, guests, captains and crew.”

“Our team at IGY and Yacht Haven Grande have worked incredibly hard to make this marina the Caribbean home for yacht owners, crews and guests. To be selected for this accolade by the captains and officers of some of the world’s most notable yachts is truly an honor; to receive the Towergate TYHA award over two consecutive years – and for the third time – is a testament to our state-of-the-art superyacht facility, but moreover to the amazing IGY personalities from operations to our cooperate staff who all strive to make every visit a secure,  memorable and fun one. I couldn’t be prouder” commented Phil Blake, Marina General Manager, Yacht Haven Grande.

Yacht Haven Grande, St. Thomas is one of the busiest charter destinations during the Caribbean winter season and is a dedicated superyacht marina capable of berthing yachts up to 656 ft. (200m).  Yacht Haven Grande along with other selected IGY marina locations will be offering health screening for Covid-19 to support the industry this season along with regularly updated website content providing key destination information to deliver a successful charter (www.igymarinas.com).

“IGY has the largest superyacht berth inventory in the world and our main goal is to continually raise the standard for the superyacht experience at all of our global locations,” remarks Tom Mukamal, CEO of IGY Marinas, “This third recognition along with achieving Platinum status validates our efforts and we look forward to delivering outstanding customer experiences across our growing marina network every day.”

Read more...

STUCO CONTINUES PROJECT TO IMPROVE WATER PRODUCTION

SINT EUSTATIUS (ORANJESTAD) - Stuco is continuously working to improve and expand the water production and distribution on Statia. Much progress was made so far to construct a new water tank, the installation of a new water plant to expand production capacity and to replace the current water transport pipelines.

Stuco is carrying out the project although the company is confronted by a set of challenges as a direct result of the COVID 19 pandemic. The rainfall the past two weeks has added more challenges. Nonetheless, the progress on the STUCO water projects results from the commitment and resilience of all parties involved. (Statia GIS)

stuco water tank

 

Read more...

Due to hot weather, CPS urges population to prevent heat related illnesses

GREAT BAY, Sint Maarten (DCOMM) – With the extreme heat that the country has been experiencing during the past couple of weeks, residents and visitors are requested to take measures to prevent heat-related illnesses, the Collective Prevention Services (CPS), a department within the Ministry of Public Health, Social Development and Labour, said on Thursday.

Heat-related illnesses are heat exhaustion or heat stroke. The aforementioned happens when the body is not able to properly cool itself.

Some factors that might increase your risk of developing a heat-related illness include high levels of humidity; obesity; fever; dehydration; prescription drug use; heart disease; mental illness; poor circulation; sunburn; and alcohol use.

Some measures that can be taken to stay hydrated are: wear lightweight, light-colored loose-fitting clothing; stay cool indoors (air-conditioning); wear sunscreen; do not leave children and animals in cars; and avoid hot and heavy meals as they add heat to your body. Also keep your pets hydrated by providing plenty of fresh water; leave water in a shady area.

Dehydration occurs when your body loses more fluid than you take in, and the current hot and dry weather can make you very thirsty.

When the normal water content of your body is reduced, it upsets the balance of minerals (salts and sugars) in your body, which affects the way it functions.

Older adults, the very young, and people with mental illness and chronic diseases are at highest risk, however, young and healthy people can also be affected if they participate in strenuous physical activities during hot weather.

CPS is advising the community to make sure they drink lots of water during outdoor activities and especially those working in the construction sector and outdoor public sector projects.

Dehydration is usually caused by not drinking enough fluid to replace what we lose.

Anyone can become dehydrated, but certain groups are particularly at risk. These include: babies and infants – they have a low body weight and are sensitive to even small amounts of fluid loss; older people – they may be less aware that they are becoming dehydrated and need to keep drinking fluids; people with a long-term health condition – such as diabetes or alcoholism; and athletes – they can lose a large amount of body fluid through sweat when exercising for long periods.

Some of the early warning signs of dehydration include feeling thirsty and lightheaded; a dry mouth; tiredness; having dark coloured, strong-smelling urine; and passing urine less often than usual.

A baby may be dehydrated if they: have a sunken soft spot (fontanelle) on their head; have few or no tears when they cry have fewer wet diapers; and are drowsy.

The body is affected even when you lose fluid. Make it a habit to drink more water.

Consult your physician if you think you or your child are dehydrated.

Read more...

Reading is FUNdamental. Book week 2020 is coming up

SINT MAARTEN (PHILIPSBURG) - Book week is HERE again. This is our opportunity to collaborate with schools and once again motivate and promote reading among our youngsters and their parents. It’s also an opportunity to remind the public that your library is OPEN DAILY and offers online books and physical books at our location upstairs Adolphus Richardson Office on the Walter J.A. Nisbeth road #3, during the week from 9: 00 am to 5:00 pm and on Saturday from 10:00 am to 1:00 pm.

This year the focus will be on primary school students from the five different school types and the activities will be organized within the preventive measures of COVID19. First of all, we encourage all students to read books. Books are not only important for your educational development but also just FUN. The PJL has a whole selection of new books waiting for you; you can even borrow your digital books online.

For our existing members don’t miss this chance to renew your Philipsburg Jubilee Library’s membership and for prospective members to become a new member and enjoy the great selection of books that we offer both physical and digital. The upcoming mid-term break (October 5 -9) gives you ample time to visit your library.

The book week starts on Monday, October 19, 2020, with a soft opening online. During the week there will be online instruction on how to make a bookmarker yourself. A special request to the invited schools is that three students send in a drawing depicting the theme “Anytime, any place and any book” and interested students are encouraged to submit selfies that show him/her reading a book. The book week lasts until October 23, 2020, which does not mean that the reading stops on that date.

Our theme is our way to motivate and encourage you to feel comfortable knowing that with the availability of digital platforms at Philipsburg Jubilee Library you can always explore options to read books and you can come and visit your library any time and read any book, be it hardcopy or digital because there is always a book for you at the library.

The detailed book week program will be published within short. Just follow us on Facebook stmaarten.Pjlibrary or go to our website stmaartenlibrary.org. 5422970

Read more...

Reaction to recent media coverage about Ennia

SINT MAARTEN/CURACAO - Following recent media coverage, the Central Bank of Curaçao and Sint Maarten (CBCS) reports as follows. In early July 2018, at the request of the CBCS, the Court of First Instance in Curaçao issued an emergency measure with respect to, among others, ENNIA Caribe Leven N.V., ENNIA Caribe Schade N.V. and ENNIA Caribe Zorg N.V. (ENNIA).

Mr. Ansary challenged this court ruling through several legal proceedings and has lost these suits. The US Bankruptcy Court in New York has also recognized the emergency measure and rejected Mr. Ansary’s defense against it.

The lawfulness of the emergency measure has therefore been established. The emergency measure was also issued against ENNIA Caribe Holding N.V. and EC Investment N.V. These two institutions were not under the supervision of the CBCS and it was therefore only possible to assess the true scope of the problems once the emergency measure had been issued.

After an extensive investigation, it was established that ENNIA suffered at least NAf 700 million in damage resulting from mismanagement by former policymakers and shareholders, making deliberate use of non-transparent structures and institutions that lie outside the supervisory reach of the CBCS.

ENNIA is now claiming compensation for this damage in a liability suit brought by means of a petition filed on October 11, 2019. Almost a year later, on September 28, 2020, Mr. Ansary responded, in this suit, to the evidence and the substantiation of the allegations presented in the petition.

The CBCS remains willing to engage in serious settlement negotiations. Several extensive deliberations were held with Mr. Ansary in recent years (both before and after the emergency measure was issued).

So far, however, Mr. Ansary has made no move towards a concrete settlement proposal, despite having been invited on several occasions to do so. If Mr. Ansary does come up with a concrete and realistic settlement proposal to compensate the damage suffered by ENNIA, the CBCS is ready to discuss matters.

Meanwhile, the CBCS continues to work hard, together with ENNIA’s management team, carrying out the legal mandate to restructure ENNIA.

Read more...
Subscribe to this RSS feed

Soualiga Radio