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USM should be put as a top priority on the to do list.

Dear Mr. Editor,

First, I would like to congratulate the incoming UP/DP/Brownbill Government which I have a lot of confidence in to move us forward and addressing the real issues affecting our island.
One of the real issues I would like the Minister of Education to put high on her priority list is to accelerate the adjusted design of the draft Tertiary for Education Ordinance and to present an advanced/adjusted draft much sooner than the previous Government.
As a former Member of Parliament, I believe the previous Government could have done a better job of speeding up the process of the draft Tertiary for Education law instead of waiting two years to work on it and to have the draft ready earlier than June 2018 to present it to the Council of Ministers for approval.
I also would advise the Minister of Education to let USM Management give their input in the drafting of the law in which the former President of USM was denied in the past to give such input in the drafting of the law. This is the time for us to raise the bar and do the right thing with the input from all stakeholders in the urgent drafting of this much-needed draft ordinance for the island of St. Maarten.
There is no politics in Education. Education is our greatest pathway to opportunity in St. Maarten. So we need to invest in and strengthen our university today, and for generations to come. Education should be the Legislature's and any Government top priority and should be put at the top of any Government to do list. We need to come with a permanent solution instead of a three month MOU to save our University of St. Martin and find creative ways to increase their subsidy for USM to continue to educate our people and future generations.
In closing, I am looking forward for the new Minister of Education to put USM on the top of her to do list during her interim period in office. USM Board, Management, Staff, Faculty, Students and the people of St. Maarten would be very grateful for your assistance of making USM again the key to a brighter future in our community. USM education is an investment in our future.

Maurice Lake


The Caribbean needs incubators!

budslabbaert05102017Wow, why, what? Is there an upcoming baby-boom? Is it related to this year’s carnival? Why don’t they distribute contraceptives? Those are questions that I don’t have answers for. But I had something else in mind anyway. I believe that the Caribbean needs Business Incubators.

Unemployment rates in the region are too high; especially among young persons. There is no such a thing as opening up a can of jobs. The problem does not get enough attention. Well, attention maybe, if one considers ‘talk-talk’ to be attention. In some cases, measures are taken, like providing extended education for young people. However, how does having another education certificate help, if one is still not able to find employment, because jobs are just not available. There is a distinct difference between providing a job and keeping persons entertained for another one or two years. Yet, it is meant well, so one should not criticize too much. The basic thinking behind it is not wrong but it is not creating jobs. Jobs are created by businesses.

Then let’s create businesses. Start-ups. Some young talented persons or spirited members of an earlier generation may be able to get an operation going. So, let’s make special loans available at attractive soft conditions. That’s positive thinking. It may work well if the operation is retail related because a turnover of products could bring revenues fairly quick. What about the entrepreneurs-to-be who are into offering services that need more lead time to bring in revenue. Some professionals in their own right are just not typically salespersons to market their services. Their activities may be valuable but are too specialized for a quick start.

Just imagine how their startup-up funding may be used. First renting an office space; usually one or two-month rent deposit is required. Buying office furniture and equipment. Acquiring telephone and internet connections. Secretarial services may be needed. Every startup may have different needs. Listing all those may look like dramatizing things. Thus, I stop here. One thing should be mentioned though is that the young entrepreneurs may lack some experience in running an operation, like marketing, accounting or other skills.

What if a Business Incubator was available? A facility that would have space to accommodate several startups. The individual units would be fully furnished. Telephone connections through a central system. WIFI signal throughout the building. Central secretarial services. In principle, one facility administration takes care of all, including things as hiring services ranging from cleaning to accounting. Management training could be included in the incubator concept. It would be a truly professional and motivating environment to operate from. Since there are several start-ups with different services in the same building, it is very well possible that the incubatees could cooperate and initiate joined activities. The model of the Incubator can be shaped to the needs of a particular territory, or for the typical professional needs of a certain group of startups.

Taking part in the Business Incubator should in principle be free. Of, course there will be conditions and agreements before being accepted. The funding for the facility could be provided by a government agency (e.g. Development Authority), Chamber of Commerce, or an International Development Bank. An incubator could be part of, or associated with a college or university.

In 2009, a Caribbean Business Incubator Association was launched by representatives from 10 independent Caribbean countries. Some had business incubation programs, other were preparing implementation of such programs. It was in the line of thinking being a part of a CARICOM Single Market and Economy. The organization announced that it was member of a global organization of more than 300 incubators in 86 countries. But the organization is not operational anymore. The Association is dormant due to lack of funding.

On a local level, the idea of a Business Incubation deserves a closer look. The idea of a Business Incubator is not new. It is a catalyst tool for economic development. It can be part of the solution to develop new native businesses that encourage self-employment first, and when the new operation is successful and grows, it can provide employment for others. A bit of a multiplying effect.

Business Incubators can be shaped for any need or seize They could be as big a technology parks. Let’s not go too far though with our imagination and keep both feet on the ground considering where we are. But then again, when reaching out for the stars, one will not end up with a hand full of mud. Mind that my columns should only be considered as ‘food-for-thought’. I’m old and wise enough to know how I myself would handle a circumstance if needed to. But who am I? Yet, an old fox knows more tricks to get a rabbit out of a hole than a puppy with a degree. I just do my writing to help others with ideas.

Caribbean territories should focus more on the potential of entrepreneurs as drivers of economic growth and play an important role in job creation. A study has shown that there is no specific geographic trend in terms of where innovative entrepreneurs can be found. There is no evidence either that developed countries have a higher rate of novel product-market combination. So..., let’s get going here.

by Cdr. Bud Slabbaert

Housing & Jobs First!

Building Back Better with Good Governance is key for progress

loekiemorales11012018Sint Maarten has been hit by the devastating hurricane Irma and still we can see around us lots of damages to houses, commercial buildings and our infrastructure. But we have resilience people, who know the dynamics of fighting back to get there, where we want to be: A recovered Sint Maarten, not only physically but also mentally. The Recovery plan with its principle of ‘Building Back Better’, tackles great part of the physical issues, yet we need to deal with much more, if we want a real recovered (meaning sustainable development for) Sint Maarten, as we are heading to the future.

I, Lucrecia Morales, better known as Loekie Morales, believe that only in dialogue with the people and taking into account their needs, we can create sustainable solutions, that make sense. I believe that Building Back Better (& Smarter) for Sint Maarten & Empowering of the Youth & Women via skills to start their own Small and Medium Enterprises are important for a solid and sustainable basis for the development of our country as a whole. Right now, it’s about Housing & Jobs first!
I originate from a single mother, poor family and have gotten the example of my mother and grandmother of working hard with determination and perseverance to lift oneself out of poverty. My grandmother was a huge motor for our family, with her positive thinking norms and values. ‘If you really believe in something, go for it in a positive, honest way and with determination and you will get there!,’ my dear Wela used to say. Today I have a Doctorandus Degree in Environmental Geography and am an author, who have published 9 juvenile books. I am president of a foundation (Beyond Kultura Events Foundation), which strengthen the youth with enhancing their reading and writing skills, teaching them with projects like the Caribbean Living Statues, that with using their creativity and believe in oneself, one can create a nice world for oneself and for others.
So, by my own efforts, I have earned my position. I don’t have family ties on Sint Maarten and have no interest to put families or friends in good positions. I have chosen to give my positive energy to the best interest of the people of SXM. TENGO COMPROMICIO CON LA COMMUNIDAD!
I have lead environment and spatial planning projects in Holland and worked since 2000 for Government of Sint Maarten as a program manager for Environment, Monument Care, and Social Development. With my multilingual skills (Papiamentu, English, Dutch and Spanish) and being a bridge builder, a team player, committed, persuasive and motivational, I will strengthen government from another angle.

Why I have entered political arena
I was always involved in the political arena before I came to SXM in 2000. I was a member of the Labour Party and later of Pro Arnhem. In 2015 I established Beyond Sint Maarten Development Party, based on Social Democratic principles and joint with HOPE with the same principles to contest the parliamentary elections on Sint Maarten in 2016. Since postulation day, I am postulated myself to be chosen, on the National Alliance list, # 15 for the 26th of February parliamentary election. I am thankful to the former leader, who has given me a wider platform to reach out to the people of Sint Maarten. I’ve joint the National Alliance mostly because of its strong Social Democratic ideology. Next to that, I think that with a wider platform, I will be better able to reach more people to work on Good Governance, Empowerment of the Youth and Women, Environmental Sustainability and Clean Energy. But, first things first: working on SMART Housing and Jobs is the most important for the coming 4 years, after hurricane Irma hits Sint Maarten. We need more independent women in government to make it more balanced.

Lucrecia (Loekie) Morales

How Do You Wet Lease A Wet Lease?

olivierarrindell03042017According to the Chairman of the Board of the aviation company AVA Airways, Olivier Arrindell, the current Director General of the Civil Aviation, Louis Halley with the approval of the Minister of TEAT is protecting the St. Maarten airline. This is not contributing to St. Maarten economic development at all. “This is causing serious damage to the flying public that needs a good air service, safety and competitive prices,” said Arrindell.
Arrindell also stated that the Minister is violating all recommended ICAO practices to promote competition in air service in an equal plain playing field for all involved. St. Maarten continues to maintain an IASA FAA cat 2 safety record with no direction of getting out because of these questionable practices by the SMCAA. “How can the Director General, Louis Halley with the approval of the Minister of TEATT approve an ACMI (“wet lease”) by Winair with another airline that has a questionable operation specification and certification? How is Winair going to do this with a questionable wet lease of an airline in Haiti with an aircraft registered in South Africa that they, themselves, are wet leasing?”
“To my knowledge St. Maarten does not have an air transportation agreement of this sort with South Africa. Even if St. Maarten had an air transport agreement with South Africa how does one wet lease a wet lease? What do you call this ‘flood lease’?” According to Mr. Arrindell, the safety of the St. Maarten people is of big concern of his and he is questioning the capabilities of the Director General of St. Maarten CAA and the Minister.
The Winair - PAWA wet Lease deal did not work. “Today we are seeing that another special questionable construction is about to take place instead of St Maarten and Winair come together and certify and Airbus aircraft as a dry lease onto Winair’s operation specification. In that way Winair can contribute more to St. Maarten and provide direct jobs such as cabin crew.
Aircraft leases are used by airlines or leasing companies and other aircraft operators. Airlines lease aircraft from other airlines or leasing companies for two main reasons: to operate aircraft without the financial burden of buying them, and to provide temporary increase in capacity. The industry has two main leasing types: wet-leasing, which is normally used for short-term leasing of 6 months, and dry-leasing which is more normal for longer-term leases. The industry also uses combinations of wet and dry. For example, when the aircraft is wet-leased to establish new services, then as the airline's flight or cabin crews become trained, they can be switched to a dry lease.
Is Winair doing this? No, therefore Winair’s operation is one that needs to be reviewed and has to be evaluated. An airline that is wet leasing an aircraft cannot in turn wet lease it to another airline.

Olivier Arrindell

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