Soualiga News Today

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The A.C.E. Foundation School to continue to operate rent free thanks to NAGICO Insurances

SINT MAARTEN (PHILIPSBURG) - The teachers and students of the A.C.E. (All Children Education) Foundation school were elated when NAGICO Insurances confirmed that they could continue to operate from their current location in Cole Bay for another year rent free.

The A.C.E. school, which was founded by Claire Elshot, has been struggling for years to obtain adequate funding to pay for a location, after they were evicted from their previous site on LB Scott Road.

“We became aware of their plight when we were approached by Ms. Elshot and it was a no brainer for us. We simply had to find a way to accommodate them because we could not sit by knowing that children would be unable to attend school,” Eric Ellis, Managing Director of NAGICO Insurances explained.

“Our initial agreement was to allow the school to stay for a period of one year during which we would absorb the cost of rent and grant the administrators sufficient time to find an alternative and more permanent location. However, the last 2 years came with varied challenges for the A.C.E. Foundation and so we continued to lend a helping hand.”

The A.C.E. Foundation school provides education to a wide cross section of children; children of varying nationalities and from age 3 to 14. The school currently houses fifty-five (55) students and seven (7) teachers.

“We are extremely grateful and very appreciative to NAGICO, because we have been to the point where we literally had nowhere to have our school and I tried everything because I never ever want to have to tell these students and teachers that they have to go home because we have nowhere to keep our school,” Elshot said.

“So, the fact that NAGICO did not hesitate to allow us to have the building when we approached them, this is something I will be always grateful to them for, they have really come through for us.”

NAGICO’s Chief Strategy & Development Officer, Kyria Ali, met with the teachers and students during a site visit at the school and she lauded the A.C.E. Team on the remarkable work they have been doing with the students. “The A.C.E. Foundation School has added and continues to add significant value to St. Maarten. They have shaped the lives of many. The teachers and administrators have created a safe and happy environment for the children to gather, learn and develop together.

“It was very nice to see that in addition to the academic lessons that are taught, invaluable life skills are also given attention by the teachers. No child is made to feel different or lesser than another. Respect and discipline are a focus of the school which is spectacular.” said Kyria Ali.

The Ace School has been instrumental in securing placement for several students in Secondary Schools on the island. They facilitate students from Kindergarten to Grade Six and are currently expanding to accommodate a Day Care section.

With this extended contract from NAGICO, the A.C.E. School will be able to stay at their current Cole Bay location for another year rent free.


SXM Airport Honors Three at First-Ever “Security Day”

SINT MAARTEN (SIMPSON BAY-AIRPIORT) - Three employees of the Princess Juliana International Airport (SXM) were honored with awards for their heroic efforts at the first-ever Security Day celebration held on Sunday, October 14, 2018. 

Andrew Rombley, Clyde Boasman and Jubert Spanner were the honorees of the event. Honoree, Clyde Boasman was absent for the celebration and would later receive his award. The ceremony was also addressed by the Safety and Security Inspector of the St. Maarten Civil Aviation Authority, Raymond Jacobs.

Speaking at the ceremony, Michel Hyman, COO of the airport noted that “All over the world, airport security has become priority number one, especially in the aftermath of 9-11 and continuing threats of international terrorism.” He said this crucial aspect of the aviation industry is usually handled directly by government agencies, however, in the case of St. Maarten, “airport security is not executed by any government body.”

“This important function was officially delegated to the Princess Juliana International Airport operating company, PJIAE N.V. on October 14, 1977 as indicated in the Publicatie Blad 1978,” Hyman explained, adding: “That is why October 14th, has been chosen as Security Day, to celebrate and honor all our security personnel who have been doing a tremendous job in ensuring the safety of the hundreds of thousands of passengers, airline staff and others that make use of our airport facilities on a daily basis, all year round.”

He said he considers it “a big vote of confidence in PJIAE N.V. that the St. Maarten government would charge it with such a great responsibility.”

“Safety and Security have always been priority number one for us, and the performance of our security personnel has shown that this is not just a slogan. We live by it. We train for it. We abide by it. We invest heavily in it,” he told the gathering.

Stating that he was “mighty proud” of the Security personnel at the airport, Hyman added: “Not only are you the backbone of our operations here at the airport, you have also demonstrated that you are topnotch professionals in your field. I salute you today on this auspicious occasion and wish you abundant blessings and God’s guidance as you continue to make the Princess Juliana International Airport one of the safest airports in the world.”

Security Day will be observed from now on as an annual event at SXM Airport.



Undercover police officer helped bust suspected terrorist gang

SINT MAARTEN/THE NETHERLANDS – The arrest of a seven-member suspected terrorist cell last month was partly down to an undercover police officer who befriended the group over a period of several months, the NRC and RTL reported on Thursday.

In addition, the undercover policeman, who first approached the gang’s alleged leader by email, supplied weapons to the gang, which had been made safe, the papers said.

The seven men from Arhem and Weert were remanded in custody earlier this week while the investigation continues. Police said at the time of the arrests they had foiled a major terrorist attack but it remains unclear what event the gang was planning to disrupt.

The department began an investigation into the 34-year-old man they suspect to have led the cell in April, following a tip-off from the AIVD security service.

The AIVD said the man, an Iraqi national, had been planning an attack at a major event in the Netherlands with the aim of creating as many victims as possible. ‘The plan may have involved jackets packed with explosives and Kalashnikovs at an event and a car bomb elsewhere.

The investigation into the exact target is still ongoing,’ the public prosecution department said. (DutchNews)


Minister Johnson encourages business community participating in SMILE

SINT MAARTEN (POND ISLAND) – SMILE (Sint Maarten Innovation, Initiatives & Industries Linkup Event) will take place on November 2 and 3 at the University of St. Martin (USM).

It is an event that is open to the private sector, Government and USM students.

The organizers behind SMILE are the Sint Maarten Hospitality and Trade Association (SHTA), the Chamber of Commerce & Industry, ORCO Bank, Global Resourcing, and 360° of Innovation.

There will be workshops by the World Bank about the tendering process for rebuilding projects; social media strategy; customer experience, SXM tendering law; tax compliance; digital business on Sint Maarten; CPR training; international and Caribbean business networking; hydroponic agriculture and applying for Qredits funding for small and medium-sized enterprises.

Certain business sectors will be providing updates such as ORCO (housing project for professionals), Port St. Maarten, the Maho Group and GreenBox.

“The networking conference is a much-needed event at this juncture in building back better. All local businesses interested should have the opportunity to be part of the phase of rebuilding the country.

“There will be a number of valuable presentations and workshops providing a wealth of information about doing business differently after Irma. 

“This is where local businesses can find a niche that they can develop which can only enhance the economic development and ingenuity that is needed to continue moving the country forward in these challenging times.

“I encourage our business community to take part and learn about innovation and sustainable development that will be playing a key role in the post-Irma economy,” Minister of Tourism & Economic Affairs Stuart Johnson said on Thursday. 



SINT MAARTEN (POND ISLAND) - Minister of Public Health, Emil Lee was invited as a keynote speaker to the 12th Annual Caribbean Conference on National Healthcare financing initiatives hosted in Suriname. 

The conference took place on October 8-10th. The event brought together representatives of Caribbean countries with the focus on health care financing in the Caribbean. In his keynote address, Lee shared the plans regarding implementation of General Health Insurance on Sint Maarten, to which feedback received was “very positive”.

In Wednesday’s press briefing, Lee elaborated on the reason for the focus towards Universal Health Insurance for country Sint Maarten. Universal Health Insurance is one of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, “this means it is a global goal – to which Sint Maarten has also recognized to be important.” The World Health Organization defines Universal Health Care as; Universal health coverage (UHC) means that all people and communities can use the promotive, preventive, curative, rehabilitative and palliative health services they need, of sufficient quality to be effective, while also ensuring that the use of these services does not expose the user to financial hardship.

“Right now, not everyone in our community has access to healthcare. We have a very fragmented system and unfortunately we have people who fall between the gaps and they have challenges. I don’t believe that that’s correct. Access to healthcare is a human right and we need to look at our whole health care system and that is part of our whole health care reform.” – Emil Lee, Minister of VSA

The topic of health care reform looks at; how can we make health care accessible and how can we ensure the quality of that health care and at what cost. Lee stated that some countries have presented that they were able to reduce pharmaceutical costs by 50% and others have focused on education and prevention programs, as part of their health care reform strategies.

A common challenge shared by the Caribbean countries was noted to be ‘treatment compliance’. Many countries reported that patients are diagnosed and get receive medication yet fails to taking these as prescribed. “I hear too often in the community where people only take their blood pressure when they “feel” it is too high.” Lack of compliance influences the quality of health, quality of life and also the health care budgets of a country.

For Sint Maarten, National Health Reform is a comprehensive plan to improve health care access, quality and cost. This includes plans and policies for: Pharmaceutical cost control (GVS), Efficiency and quality control through Health Care Information systems (HIS), Registry for medical professionals (BIG), Focus on prevention, Health in all policies; government-wide, for example seat belts & helmets, Septic systems, Dump, solid waste management and Education.

Essential to National Health reform on Sint Maarten is the new General Hospital. The World Bank team is currently on Sint Maarten with regards to the 25-million-dollar grant to the hospital for the reinforcement of the current facility. This phase of the project will ensure consistency in the plans to improve the quality of care close to home. 


Minister Johnson commends HAL for supporting local Maritime Training Course

SINT MAARTEN (POND ISLAND) – The cruise line Holland America Line (HAL) has contributed to a comprehensive three-month maritime course which will allow 10 local young people to obtain local and international certifications.

The course is being coordinated by Kidz at Sea Foundation and K1 Britannia.

Kidz at Sea focus has been on exposing the nation’s youth to job placements in the maritime sector by first offering training opportunities.

K1 Britannia second chance program was established by the civic organization to focus on the current needs of youth by getting them training and providing mentoring that would enhance their possibilities for finding employment.

“I was pleased to learn about the support that Holland America cruise line is providing to a local maritime training program for our youth.

“Efforts have been underway over the years to get more young people involved in the maritime sector. We need locally trained persons who can do the job at the various ship/boat yards throughout the country.

“There are also employment opportunities with day charters, dive boat operations, mega yachts and the cruise lines.

“There are other opportunities as well within the maritime sector and the nation’s youth can benefit from by being gainfully employed.

“I would like to take the opportunity to commend HAL for their support and commitment to helping creating employment on the island.

“I also commend the Kidz at Sea Foundation and K1 Britannia for their efforts in pulling this together and making it happen.

“Both organizations have years of experience with the existing societal programs that they offer which is making a positive mark on our island as they get the training and find employment in the ever-important maritime sector,” Minister of Tourism & Economic Affairs Stuart Johnson said on Wednesday.

Kidz at Sea Foundation and K1 Britannia have collaborated to create a training program that will offer certification through the level of Coastal Captain along with maintenance know-how including knowledge of basic keelboat, basic cruising, bare boat cruising, and STCW-2010 (Standards of Training, Certification and Watchkeeping code).


Prime Minister Rhuggenaath supports proposal of the Social Economic Councils of the Caribbean

SINT MAARTEN/CURACAO - On Friday, October 12th, 2018 the Social Economic Councils (SERs) of the Dutch Caribbean countries of the Kingdom, held a meeting with the Prime Minister of Curacao the Hon. Eugène Rhuggenaath.

The purpose of the meeting was to achieve a sustainable policy in the field of labor/economic migration. It is important that the Caribbean countries within the Dutch Kingdom, Aruba, Curaçao and Sint Maarten, work together, each with their own responsibilities, laws and regulations.

Collectively, scenarios can be explored that can lead to medium- and long-term socio-economic development.

All three countries are confronted to a greater or lesser extent with the same issues in the areas of ​​population policy and socio-economic development. The challenges that present themselves in among other things, a prolonged stagnating economy, increased aging, brain drain, a social welfare system that is under pressure, an unequal labor market, the socio/economic crisis in Venezuela and the issue of undocumented migrants in general.

The question here is what impact regional and international developments of migration will have on the aforementioned socio-economic issues and how policy can be accommodated in this respect.

The countries can support each other in the field of developing strategic policy, substantiated based on 'lessons learned' and 'best practices' of the Kingdom, in the region and elsewhere.

The policy will have to focus on the aforementioned challenges, as well as on the opportunities and benefits that migration and especially labor migration entails, for sustainable socio-economic development in the countries with the emphasis on future of work, social certainty, medical care, and improved living conditions in the neighborhoods.

The Presidents and the Secretary-Generals of the SER institutions gave a presentation to the Prime Minister, which focused on the theme of labor migration in the context of the aforementioned challenges and the underlying principles with regard to sustainable socio-economic development.

In closing it was also proposed by the participating SER institutions to organize a joint symposium in Curaçao for the first quarter of 2019.

Prime Minister Rhuggenaath, in turn, has expressed the idea of ​​supporting a symposium as well as cooperation between the three countries. He will discuss this with his colleagues of Aruba and Sint Maarten this month, during the next tripartite meeting of the Prime Ministers of the three Caribbean countries of the Kingdom.



SINT MAARTEN (PHILIPSBURG) - The NAGICO Insurances Group is delighted to announce their sponsorship of a four-man team, called Atlantic Discovery, set to row across the Atlantic Ocean in a test of physical and mental endurance, the Talisker Whisky Atlantic Challenge

The Challenge begins off the Canary Islands on 12 December, when the Atlantic Discovery team will commence a row of 3,000 miles unsupported, skirting the hurricane development corridor, to finish in Antigua. 

“We have chosen to back Atlantic Discovery’s exceptional human endeavor because it resonates so closely with NAGICO’s story,” explained Group Chief Strategy and Development Officer Kyria Ali.

Ms. Ali continued: “Hurricanes Irma and Maria dealt devastating blows to the Caribbean last year and, despite these darkest of moments, when we were all surrounded largely by despair, NAGICO has proven that we are a group that can be trusted to deliver.”

The team will be rowing for two hours on, two hours off for about 40 days, making their own water, eating rehydrated ration packs, sleeping 90 minutes at a time in two small cabins, facing the elements and enduring the full might of the sea.

“This remarkable team is taking on a challenge that, to the average person, seems impossible to achieve,” Ms. Ali said.  “The expedition is about resilience, teamwork, and becoming stronger. This is NAGICO’s story.”

Speaking on behalf of the Atlantic Discovery team, Cameron Parker, a Zurich-based director at Swiss Re, said that the alignment between NAGICO’s values and the team ethos was the factor that made the partnership a reality. 

“We are absolutely honoured that the NAGICO Group has chosen to come on board as our primary sponsor. The distinctive green NAGICO branding of our ocean rowing boat, Ellida, will mean that this dynamic and versatile insurance group, one with a significant footprint in the Caribbean, can tell their remarkable story: how they stand tall against adversity; support the Caribbean Communities; and deliver on promises.  NAGICO is an inspiration to us and we want to make them proud and celebrate with them at the finish.”

Other members of this intrepid team include London-based members Ben Ajayi-Obe, data scientist, Isaac Kenyon, geologist and Jack Hopkins, cyber security researcher.

The team is participating in the row to raise £60K (USD 80K) for Multiple Sclerosis (MS), which affects 2.5 million people worldwide.  Mr. Ajayi-Obe’s mother Rose was diagnosed with MS while her son was still at school. 

“My mum has lived with MS for 18 years,” Mr. Ajayi-Obe said. “Every day is a frustrating struggle, yet she overcomes her symptoms with sheer determination and grit.  She has taught me that one grows as a person by overcoming adversity.”



Minister Johnson congratulates Levenstone and Gibs

SINT MAARTEN (POND ISLAND) – The Coast Guard Substation in Sint Maarten will have a new head as of December 1, namely Jocelyn Roberto Levenstone.

Levenstone worked with the Coast Guard in the past and is currently Chief of Security at Port St. Maarten.

Windward Islands Airways International (Winair) also appointed Camille Gib’s to Captain, bringing the total number of Winair captains to 15.

Gibs who before was First Officer, pursued a one-month intensive training course to earn his bars as captain.

“I would like to take the opportunity to congratulate Levenstone on his appointment as head of the Coast Guard Substation.

“We must always promote our own to hold key positions in order to further develop the country in the national interests. I am pleased that a suitable candidate was found for this very important function and I am sure Levenstone will do an excellent job.

“The Coast Guard plays a key role in the detection and control for drugs, border control, fisheries and environmental surveillance, monitoring of safe shipping, and handling of maritime distress and safety at sea,” Minister of Tourism & Economic Affairs Stuart Johnson said on Tuesday.

Johnson added: “Winair, our local airline, last year September was confronted with the ravage Hurricane Irma bestowed upon the country from North to South, however, due to the resilience of the people that work at the airline, along the management and the supervisory board, Winair has made a remarkable comeback.

“Winair plays a very important role in ensuring airlift between our sister islands of Saba and St. Eustatius. The airline has grown due to the stewardship of the supervisory board, management and staff and the future for the airline is very bright once they continue on the track that they have embarked upon.

“I take this opportunity to congratulate Gibs on his promotion. I am proud to see sons of the soil reach for the stars and achieve what they have worked for,” Minister Stuart Johnson concluded on Tuesday.


Minister Johnson receives Maximum Price List 2018 Hurricane items Booklet

SINT MAARTEN (GREAT BAY, DCOMM) – The Head of the Inspectorate of Tourism, Economic Affairs, Traffic and Telecommunications (TEATT) Lucien Wilson, recently presented Minister of TEATT Stuart Johnson, with a copy of the “Maximum Price List 2018 Hurricane Items Booklet.”

The booklet contains a list of hurricane season related items whose price are regulated by ministerial regulation titled “Regeling prijsvaststelling in verband met uitzonderingstoestanden 2018”/ Ministerial Regulation on Price Determination related to a state of emergency 2018, came into force on August 22, 2018.

Booklets will be printed and distributed to the public containing a list of the regulated items and the maximum price at which they may be sold by retailers to assist the public when making purchases.

The objective of the aforementioned ministerial regulation is to set preventive measures for price gouging of movable goods (water, groceries, batteries, construction materials, etc.) which are needed during a state of emergency (for example a hurricane).

This regulation is in force until November 30, 2018. Willful violations of the regulation may include criminal prosecution and a fine of up to NAƒ10.000,-

The Inspectorate of TEATT already publicized back in September making aware that all hardware stores, supermarkets and suppliers of construction material are informed of the existence of this regulation and their obligation to comply with the established maximum prices once a state of emergency has been declared.

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