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Savings of 12 Million guilders for supply of public drinking water.

sevenseaslee18042018PHILIPSBURG:--- Minister of VSA, Emil Lee announced on Wednesday April 18th, that negotiations for the amendment of the contracts for the supply of public drinking water, produced by Seven Seas Water have been concluded and signed off in a positive and desirable savings of four (4) Million guilders annually for a period of three (3) years. As Minister of Public Health, Emil Lee is responsible for the public supply of drinking water. Negotiations took place together with the Ministry of VROMI who is responsible for the distribution of drinking water and the Ministry of Finance.
“Prior to hurricane Irma, the country was already in a situation where the water being produced was more than the actual consumption capacity. As a result, the generated loss in 2016 was 1.1. Million guilders. We took the time to examine the current contract with Seven Seas. It is a ‘take or pays’ contract, meaning that whether the country takes the water or not – by agreement, the country is obligated to pay for the contracted production of water. And that loss, in terms of water that is paid for but consumed, was projected to be about 4.6 Million guilders annually.” – Emil Lee, Minister of Public Health
Based on an agreement that was signed in 2012 between Government and Seven Seas Water; as per 2016 the daily amount of water to be made available was raised from 15.500 m3 per day to 18.500 m3 per day. The amendments consist of Government reverting to the pre-2016 volumes of 15.500 m3 daily, in exchange for the extension of the agreement, with the possibility to extend for two (2) more years thereafter.
“That gives us some breathing room in terms of cash flow; it allows us to get the hotel plants back in operation and it allows us to finalize discussions and negotiations with the French side, with the Harbour and the cruise lines as possible clients to sell water to.” – Emil Lee, Minister of Public Health
It is the desire of G.E.B.E to independently produce drinking water for the country; the contract with Seven Seas Water makes provisions that allows the possibility for the country to negotiate an early buy out of the contract. The negotiated amendments to the contract includes the expansion of the applicant criteria to the scholarship funds of the Desalination Resource Development Program (DRDP), which is part of the water contract with Seven Seas Water. There is currently 240.000 dollars in the scholarship fund; the fund allows students to specialize in water engineering.
“We have broadened the terms that allow a broader participation of who can access the scholarship funds with the understanding that what we are trying to do is we are trying to train individuals in water production on Sint Maarten, equipping the country to be able to take over the water production on its own in the future.” – Emil Lee, Minister of Public Health.

Minister Wuite supports local students at UNICEF Children’s Rights Film Festival Finale in Curacao.

jwuite18042018PHILIPSBURG:--- Minister of Education, Culture, Youth and Sport Jorien Wuite traveled to Curacao on Friday, April 13th and returned on Monday, 16th. The primary purpose of the visit was to support students of the Hillside Christian School who, after winning the local competition of UNICEF’s Children’s Rights Film Festival, were invited to participate in the regional finals amongst the Dutch Caribbean. The Minister acknowledges that UNICEF has been instrumental in the recovery process of St. Maarten; contributing in a number of programs to protect and encourage the healing and well-being of St. Maarten children in the aftermath of hurricane Irma.

The children, along with their chaperones and UNICEF coordinators, were able to meet and interact with students from all six Dutch Caribbean islands. They participated in workshops, explored and were able to expand their horizon. The children were very well behaved and very gracious when it was revealed that they were not victorious. Ultimately the top prize was given to Bonaire however the Minister expressed that she was extremely proud of the students. As part of the panelist of judges, the Minister was very impressed with the quality of the films presented by all the islands.

While in the Curacao, the Minister also took the opportunity to pay a courtesy visit to the Minister of Education, Science, Culture and Sports Marilyn Alcala-Walle. Minister Wuite left that meeting both enthused and encouraged as both Ministers recognized the similarities of their portfolios and were able to immediately connect. The education agendas clearly confirmed a mutual interest and priority for the position of public education, renewed legislation for higher education and the associated challenges of the so called “boy problem” and early dropout of at-risk youth.

The Ministers discussed the status of St. Maarten exam students that stayed on Curacao to complete their final year of secondary education after the hurricane. She pledged the Ministry’s support and coordination to ensure that the needs of the students are continuously monitored. In the area of Sports they dialogued on anti-doping policies and structures that support the observance of the International Convention against Doping in Sport which would enable athletes’ participation in regional and international competitions. Applying technology to encourage capacity building between the respective ministries is another proposal that both Ministers also saw as a valuable opportunity.

At the conclusion the meeting Minister Wuite graciously accepted the invitation of Minister Alcala-Walle to join her at Bandabou’s Harvest Parade which according to Minister Wuite “was a delightful highlight of our shared time together. As Ministers of Culture it clearly underscored our joint responsibility and love for cultural heritage! I definitely look forward to further collaboration with the Minister and Ministry in Curacao as I believe we have much to learn and teach each other.”

Minister Wuite is thankful to the Minister Alcala-Walle and the community of Curacao for their friendliness during the visit and she looks forward to a continued partnership between the Ministries.

25,000 Fun Miles to be won with giant photo frame.

funmiles18042018PHILIPSBURG – Fun Miles has been bringing extra fun to St. Maarten Carnival for many years, and this will be no different during the 2018 edition. Revelers are invited to visit the Carnival Village, look for the giant Fun Miles photo frame, photograph themselves in this photo frame, and post the photo(s) to Facebook with the hashtag #funmiles. They will then have a chance to win no less than 25,000 Fun Miles. This amount of Fun Miles lets the lucky winner go on a trip, a shopping spree, or do many other fun things. The prize drawing will take place on May 4th.

Safety drill at ENNIA headquarters.

ennia18042018Willemstad:--- On Wednesday, April 18th at 11 a.m., a safety drill was performed at ENNIA headquarters on J.B. Gorsiraweg 6. As part of the ENNIA safety plan, the ENNIA emergency response team periodically receives training and gets evaluated. The safety drill consisted of an unannounced simulation of an unsafe situation which required the building to be evacuated. Everyone present in the building must participate in these types of safety drills. The fire department and ambulance services also participated in this exercise.

ENNIA made sure to immediately inform all visitors outside about the safety drill, to prevent any unnecessary commotion. The media was also informed about the fact that the evacuation of the building and the presence of the fire department and ambulance services were just part of the exercise, so that everyone was aware of all the facts.

During these types of drills, knowledge, communication skills, and procedures are tested and later evaluated. This ensures that the employees stay alert and are properly prepared to help prevent any possible disasters or incidents that could affect the organization. A professional organization is properly prepared and takes the time and money to invest in its people and other resources, so it can properly respond in the event of a disaster. “Our emergency response team is well-organized and periodically receives training and safety drills. This elaborate exercise is a part of this training”, says ENNIA director Reinald Curiel.

Persons with disabilities recognized as equal members of society

The Caribbean is home to some 1.3 million persons living with disability; a quarter million of these suffering significant disability. These numbers are expected to increase in the coming decades with the aging of the Caribbean population and the exponential growth in incidence of non-communicable diseases.

The situation of persons with disability in the Caribbean and the status of current policy programmes interventions are assessed in a new ECLAC Caribbean study. Entitled 'Disability, human rights and public policy in the Caribbean’, the study also identifies gaps, good practices and priorities for future action in areas such as health and rehabilitation, education, the labour market and access to services.

Over the years, attitudes towards persons living with disability have become more positive. Efforts have been made to ensure that they are more fully and productively integrated into Caribbean society. There are signs of progress in the form of ramps outside buildings; specialized transport services on the streets; and a noted increase in children with disabilities attending mainstream schools.

Nevertheless, much still needs to be done to make schools, workplaces, public spaces, buildings, transport systems and cultural services accessible to these citizens. There is also need for transformation of social attitudes to promote the wider participation of persons with disabilities in activities which others take for granted. Such development would significantly enhance their social well-being, including outcomes in education, employment, health and housing.

Most Caribbean states have now ratified the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (2006), which is the universal treaty that addresses the rights of this group, and the obligations of governments in this regard. This represents an opportunity for member States, together with organizations for the mentally and physically challenged and other stakeholders, to work towards implementing measures to fully protect and realize the human rights of persons with disabilities.

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