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Compliance Controls Remains a Priority for Government

PHILIPSBURG:--- –Minister Lee along with Minister Gibson and Minister Boasman held a follow-up debriefing meeting regarding the compliance controls carried out on March 10, 2017, with representatives from SZV, the Police Department, Tax Department, and the Inspectorate of VSA. “Improving compliance is a process that touches all of the ministries, and current efforts have the support of the Council of Ministers. Current controls have shown that there are individuals occupying positions without the proper documentation in place. Positions such as sales, bartender, waiter/waitress, and cook are positions that locals can occupy”, stated Minister Lee
One of the main challenges identified in the meeting was the need to improve communications between the various departments. Every department has very specific responsibilities and authorities that, at times, creates barriers to the exchange of information. Overall collaborative strategies were discussed to find the most efficient and effective method to improve compliance. “Compliant businesses or businesses that are genuinely working to become fully compliant will find a government that is receptive and cooperative.”
“We are here to educate and help you become more compliant. “Those that demonstrate a blatant disregard for our people and our laws will find a government that is fully committed to improving compliance. Minister Lee stated that disrespectful and unlawful behavior must be addressed sternly. Otherwise, we are setting a precedent that disobedience is tolerated.” This unacceptable behavior undermines the fabric of our community. There are too many people, especially young adults, searching for work and every position that is held by an undocumented non-compliant worker is an opportunity for employment that can be held by a local.”
From the controls last we there have already been some positive results; such as one business that has already hired a number of locals to fill positions in their business. A number of businesses have expressed their gratitude for the efforts of compliance, as they are unable to compete on an unleveled playing field. Businesses that are compliant with the law, paying their taxes and various social premiums, find it difficult to compete against businesses that are non-complaint.
Government is in the process of pursuing a number of identified uncollected revenues. An interesting development is that we are now receiving tips to check certain businesses that may also be non-compliant. We are in the process of handling those while working on an overall strategy. Minister Lee recommended that the community remain proactive about becoming compliant and encouraged visiting the ministry’s website,, to make sure that you have an understanding of the rules and regulations surrounding compliance.

SMMC wants to know scope of audit requested by Minister of VSA.

emillee22032017PHILIPSBURG:---- The St. Maarten Medical Center (SMMC) is looking to get the scope of the audit that will be conducted by IVSA and IGZ, this audit was called for by the Minister of Health Emil Lee who said that the relationship between SMMC and the Inspectorate has been strained and as such he wants an independent audit conducted. At the time of the announcement, the Minister mentioned a range of areas that will be included in the audit which he said will take 5 to 6 weeks. However, last week when asked by SMN News to say if the audit will take place based on the target date, Minister Lee said that he along with the management of SMMC are in discussions and the date has been pushed back. He did say that the audit will take place but he could not affix a date unless the discussions conclude.
On Wednesday SMN News asked Minister Lee to shed light on what exactly the SMMC and he are discussing about the audit and if this opportunity is given to businesses that are being controlled since he is championing compliance from businesses. The Minister said in his response that SMMC wants to know the scope of the audit since the Inspectorate has a right to publish their findings. He felt that the negotiations and or discussions are healthy because of some of the laws on St. Maarten is outdated.
Asked about his role in these discussions the Minister said that as Minister of Health he has the right to discuss with the Inspectorate since that also falls under his responsibility. Minister Lee went on to say that he is a person that does whatever is necessary to bring about peace whenever it is needed.
It should be noted that SMMC has over the years resisted controls and or checks and balances and refuses to cooperate whenever they are called upon to disclose information to government bodies, even when there are calamities and reports of malpractice the SMMC would put up a wall since they are never in favor of checks and balances.
The Minister did say that the Inspectorate has a right and they also have the tools to use to get these institutions to comply, he went on to say that even though discussions on the audit is ongoing the inspectorate still can go ahead with its inspections.
The Minister had also announced that SMMC is looking forward to getting JCI accreditation, asked on Wednesday if SMMC could obtain such accreditation as is knowing a number of calamities that has been reported within recent months. The Minister did not give a direct answer to the question but did say that the JCI accreditation is a goal the SMMC has and that while the construction of a new hospital is in the pipeline, one of the things that have to be done is to get the staff of SMMC up to date.

Tourist Bureau to kick-off Summer of Sports campaign.

sports22032017~ Effort to boost St. Maarten Sports Tourism appeal ~

PHILIPSBURG:--- The St. Maarten Tourist Bureau (STB) is actively putting together a program to boosts its efforts to promote St. Maarten as a Sports Tourism destination. Entitled “St. Maarten Summer of Sports” campaign, STB has already targeted three events that it will seek to partner with and support for June/July 2017. All three events have the potential to attract athletes and sports enthusiasts from around the world to St. Maarten if these events are properly supported and structurally marketed.

Head of the STB Rolando Brison explained that STB has met with organizers of three established sports events, namely the Fittest on the Rock (an event geared toward athletics and Cross-Fit style competitions), the 7th annual Inter Islands Body Building Competition, and the Battle of the Fittest Basketball Tournament.

All events will be attracting athletes from around the Caribbean, and all events take place in the slow seasons, between June 1st and mid-July. “We are seeking a fourth event in the summer to support a create a series of sporting events in the summer that will be collectively marketing the entire island as an ideal place to enjoy fitness and sporting competitions,” Brison said.

He continued: "An important goal we have at the St. Maarten Tourist Bureau is to identify the events that have been attracting numerous people to the island by means of their sporting events and supporting them to ensure they can continue to grow each year. Sports Tourism is a growing industry within the world and particularly in the region.

“Our effort will extend beyond just supporting these and other sporting events where budget permits, but also by using all our promotional tools to help the organizers reach an even larger audience. One way we will do this promotes the collective of these summer sporting events though a "St. Maarten Summer of Sports" marketing campaign.”

He added that government’s support will also depend on the time submissions of necessary required documents and information by the organizers of these events. He also said that STB’s efforts to boost Sports Tourism will not only focus on the Summer months, rather look at the potential of supporting major sporting events in collaboration with other stakeholders, budget permitting.

Fittest on the rock
Fittest on the Rock is an event featuring local and foreign athletes and was held at the Blue Mall Cupecoy on Saturday, May 30th, 2015 for the first time. The event is a strength and endurance workout competition where the participants take part in various workouts. The event had a total of 60 registered athletes, 35 males, and 25 females, with participants form neighboring islands.

Inter-island Bodybuilding and Fitness
The 6th edition in 2016 had an important impact on 12 participating countries and 52 athletes. This year, organizers are expecting an increase in those numbers, including an anticipated 100 athletes. This event has also attracted representatives of two outside media sports magazine reporters namely: “Hybrid Caribbean Fitness and Wellness Magazine” out of Trinidad and Mr. Guillermo Asencio a sportswriter for the international Latino Sports Magazine “Muscular Development Latino Magazine” which covers the entire Latin region. All incoming countries federations / supporters will be housed at Simpson Bay Resorts and Marina and the grand showdown will take place at Maho Casino Royale.

Battle of the Fittest Basketball Tournament
The purpose of Battle of The Fittest Basketball Tournament is re-instill the love for basketball and inspire and motivate our younger generation to showcase their skills and possibly offer them an opportunity to do so on an international level. Battle of the Fittest brings the greatest collection of basketball talent within the region and surrounding Islands. Organizers have informed STB that they have already 10 countries confirmed to be attending the event.

President of Central Bank Emsley Tromp failed screening.

richardgibson22032017PHILIPSBURG:--- The President of the Central Bank Emsley Tromp failed the screening process announced Minister of Finance Richard Gibson at the Council of Minister's press briefing on Wednesday.
Minister Gibson said when the government of St. Maarten discovered that the managers and president of the Central Bank of St. Maarten and Curacao did not go through the screening process as required by law, St. Maarten requested the screening for the managers and President of the Central Bank. Gibson said VDSM failed the President of the Central Bank Emsley Tromp who still has the right to appeal that finding. He said until that process is completed the countries Curacao and St. Maarten cannot appoint anyone to that post. Gibson also confirmed that Tromp is still on suspension while a deputy was appointed to manage the daily affairs of the Central Bank.
The Minister of Finance also stated on Wednesday that the two managers passed the screening process, but both persons will reach the pensionable age before the end of 2017. Therefore, St. Maarten has to start looking for people to fill those positions as of now because finding the right people could be difficult.

Paint works on Sucker Garden Road this Saturday.

GREAT BAY(DCOMM):--- Ministry of Public Housing, Environment, Spatial Development and Infrastructure (Ministry VROMI), announces that paint works will take place on Sucker Garden Road on Saturday, March 25, and there will be a partial road closure.

The works will take place from 7.00am to 10.00am. The project entails the removal of paint by the use of sand blasting.

Since there will be a partial road closure, motorists in this area are advised to drive with caution and pay attention to workmen directing the flow of traffic.

Windward Roads will be carrying out the works.
Ministry VROMI apologizes for any inconveniences this may cause.

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