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USP to restructure party operations.

PHILIPSBURG:--- With an eye on the future and living up to its founding principles, the United St. Maarten (US) party is in the process of restructuring its board, party platform, and representation in preparations for the upcoming electoral cycle.

The board of the US said that it is vital for any political organization to re-examine and plan for the future, especially in changing times. “Political parties are the major players in the democratic transitions. However, some have been unable to change their practices and/or adapt to ever-changing realities, and have sometimes disappeared. As a party of the people, in which the people of St. Maarten have shown confidence multiple times, it behooves us to restructure where necessary,” the board said.

It added that changing times and international realities, along with the direct challenges presented in the aftermath of hurricane Irma and the ongoing pandemic, have not gone unnoticed by the USP. As such, the party said focused leadership, dedication to proper governance, and an emphasis on ensuring that the people of St. Maarten have a clear understanding of the challenges that the country is facing are of the utmost importance.

The party board said the clear lack of consultation with the people of St. Maarten on vital issues does not equate to proper governance. Throughout the Caribbean, the US said, examples can be found of governments consulting their people prior to major decisions, decisions that will affect the lives of your very population.

“References to agreements signed by government on behalf of the people of St. Maarten in the form of country packages, COHO, liquidity support, and the consequences of such have yet to be clearly explained. No democracy the world over has ever been run successfully without the full involvement of its people,” the US said.

The board of the party stressed that transparency is one of the core pillars of any democracy and the current governing coalition seems determined on using confidentiality as an excuse for its lack of transparency and misleading and mixed messaging as the order of the day.

“The country has no clear direction and the leadership void has been exasperated and highlighted by performances of ministers and the members of parliament in this NA/UUP coalition on the floor of Parliament. There has yet to be a decision made by either body that is not clouded in controversy.
How can the people of this country foster a sense of tranquility and hope that better days are coming without a clear understanding of what decisions are being made, and how those decisions are going affect their lives and livelihoods in the near future,” the board said.

It continued: “If the only clear decisions made thus far in the form of salary benefits and cuts, which as stated by government had no direct positive impact on its coffers, is an example of what’s to come, it would explain the smoke and mirrors governing style of this National Alliance led coalition.”

The party said it is fairly simple and obvious what the people want and need. They want competent leadership and representation to tackle issues that improve their standard of living. “Not pet projects that do not put food on their table.”

It is with those sentiments in mind that the board of the United St. Maarten party will begin its journey towards restructuring while maintaining its core belief of educating and elevating the people of this nation to operate at their highest potential by providing food for thought.

Dutch Caribbean Nature Alliance Paints Bleak Picture of the Impacts of Climate Change in the Dutch Caribbean.

~Concerned at Lack of Mention of the Impacts of Climate Change During Address of King Willem Alexander at the Joint Session of the States-General of the Netherlands.~

dca20102021Kralendijk:--- The Dutch Caribbean Nature Alliance expressed its concern at the lack of attention on matters related to the impact of Climate Change in the Dutch Caribbean in The Hague. Despite Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte mentioning the impacts of Climate Change in the Dutch Caribbean during his intervention at the UN General Assembly in September, very little concrete actions and support for what will be the most critical crises facing people of the Dutch Caribbean in the immediate future. The statements from the regional conservation network come on the eve of the opening of CoP26 held in Glasgow, Scotland from November 1st to November 12th.
“While it was commendable that climate change has been mentioned by Dutch Politicians lately, we are still quite concerned that very little attention is being paid to the impact climate change will have on the Caribbean part of the Kingdom, this while it is clear that those living in the Caribbean, the biodiversity hotspot of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, are at the forefront of the climate crises,” commented DCNA Director Tadzio Bervoets.
Bervoets continued to mention that during meetings held recently with various parliamentarians and directorates in the Netherlands, DCNA highlighted the existential crises posted by the changing climate; “We had to remind the politicians, bureaucrats, and technocrats in The Hague that the various agreements and accords related to climate change are ratified by the Kingdom of the Netherlands and not by only the Netherlands, and as such there has to be increased focus in ensuring that the islands are better equipped to deal with what is expected to be an existential crises. We even had to explain issues such as increased hurricanes, coral bleaching, sargassum invasions, and droughts to what we assumed would be experts in climate change who had no idea about these impacts. This is both disappointing and alarming,” continued Bervoets.
The most recent climate change predictions for the Caribbean region by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) are alarming and suggest that the islands of the Dutch Caribbean will go through profound environmental changes within the next few decades. The IPCC has projected that for the Caribbean Region an increase in air temperature of 1.4°C will result in a decrease in rainfall of 5 to 6%; an increase in the frequency and intensity of extreme weather events including a 66% increase in hurricane intensity; and a rise in sea level of 0.5 to 0.6m as a result of thermal expansion of water and glacial melt.
These climate change predictions are especially worrying in the context of an already visible warming trend. Average temperatures in the Dutch Caribbean have risen steeply over the past 40 years according to recent data. In Curaçao, research carried out by the Meteorological Department found that over the past few decades the island has progressively experienced more hot days and fewer cooler nights. Because the islands of the Dutch Caribbean form two geographically distinct groups separated by more than 900 km of open water, it is expected that climate change will not impact these two island groups in the same way. Aruba, Bonaire and Curaçao are located in the Southern Caribbean, an area that is predicted to become warmer and drier, with longer seasonal dry periods. Saba, St. Eustatius and St. Maarten, which are located in the Northeast Caribbean and therefore within the Caribbean hurricane belt, are predicted to experience more frequent and violent tropical hurricanes, as was evident during the disastrous 2017 Hurricane Season. All of the Dutch Caribbean’s marine and terrestrial ecosystems and the species that inhabit them will be affected, to varying degrees. Coral reefs are predicted to be especially vulnerable as higher ocean temperatures and ocean acidification will undoubtedly result in mass coral bleaching events, among other things.
The economy of the Dutch Caribbean Islands is also largely dependent on tourism and it is expected that this single economic pillar will also be drastically impacted: increase in storms and hurricanes may result in tourists’ perception of destination as unsafe; beach erosion and coral bleaching may negatively impact perceptions of destination attractiveness; there will be an increased risk of damage to coastal resort properties by violent hurricanes and other storms and of damage to tourist attractions; on Bonaire, beach erosion due to loss of shallow reefs leaves historic plantation buildings like those of Washington Slagbaai Park vulnerable.
The Dutch Caribbean Nature Alliance (DCNA) released a special edition of their free digital newsletter BioNews highlighting the challenges facing the Dutch Caribbean in the fight against climate change. Using internationally accepted climate change predictions and (research) reports, impacts both above and below water have been defined for all six islands, stressing the need for immediate action to build resilience against the effects of climate change. Loss of nature has far-reaching negative consequences for the local population since nature serves as both one of the most important sources of income and offers protection against extreme weather conditions. However, it will take a concerted effort to ensure that nature, lives, and livelihoods are not lost due to inaction by decision-makers.


“I will do whatever it takes to safeguard our Economy" --- Ottley.

omarottley23042021PHILIPSBURG: --- Minister of Labor Omar Ottley did not mix words on Wednesday when he said that he is willing to do whatever it takes to safeguard St. Maarten’s economy while ensuring there are more jobs for its people.
Ottley was responding to questions about some disgruntled club and restaurant owners that have been complaining about the measures put in place for them during the curfew. Ottley said that just recently government extended the curfew hours to 1 am while the measures are to be put in place, thus he does not know what the complaining is about.
Ottley said the only measure that is in place both for daytime and nightlife is zero-tolerance when three ministries came together to put in place a ministerial decree which reduced the active cases of COVID-19 from 349 cases to 157 cases in two weeks, two weeks later there are 47 active cases. The Minister said some of the decisions made by him or the government may upset some business owners however, as long as these business people could reflect and say they understood his actions then he could live with his decisions knowing that no one can satisfy everyone.
The Minister made clear that there will be measures in place to ensure a safe reopening one being advertising that St. Maarten is open for the fully vaccinated. He said that there are pending discussions with the COM on another extension as of November 1st because the economy on St. Maarten must survive.
The Minister of Labor said almost every week the Prime Minister and Minister of finance have been announcing new stipulations and requirements even though the money St. Maarten got from the Netherlands is not a grant but a loan. He made clear that he is also the Minister of labor along with health and has done everything necessary to safeguard the health of the people, however, it is time that he places focus on the labor aspect since this season will be a busy season for St. Maarten.
Ottley further made clear that St. Maarten needs to reopen and it will reopen in a manner that will avoid them shutting down ever again, therefore it takes some people being upset because of the measures in place then so be it since he is able to see the bigger picture. That bigger picture he said is having an amazing season, with five new flights and Air France promising to land on St. Maarten 10 times weekly, five new cruise vessels on board for the upcoming season.


Travelers that are fully vaccinated will be allowed entry by November 1st.

~ Only WHO& RIVM approved vaccines will be accepted--- Ottley~

omarottley14062021PHILIPSBURG:--- Minister of Public Health and Labor Omar Ottley announced on Wednesday that travelers that are fully vaccinated with World Health Organization (WHO) and RIVM approved vaccines will be allowed entry on St. Maarten without testing.
Ottley said that fully vaccinated persons are less risky when it comes to the spreading of the coronavirus.
This will only be applicable for travelers that are fully vaccinated with the approved vaccines of the RIVM and the WHO organization. The Minister went on to state that this is something that the ministry has been monitoring for some time, and with proven research has decided to proceed in this direction.
Research has shown that the viral load of a fully vaccinated person, who is infected with COVID-19, lowers much faster than a person that is unvaccinated. This means that while there are a few breakthrough cases of fully vaccinated persons, the chances of these persons spreading the virus or becoming severely ill is tremendously low.
The Minister stated that the vaccine allows your body to fight the virus once the infection moves from the nasal cavity and into the bloodstream. Severe illness is avoided by being vaccinated, as your body will be better prepared to fight the virus.
On St. Maarten, there is a recorded 1.6% death rate, in which 0.04% were fully vaccinated. A similar percentage is recorded for the number of fully vaccinated hospitalizations. “This shows that the vaccine is highly effective and we can move towards allowing fully vaccinated persons to enter without requiring a test,” said Ottley.
Minister Ottley announced that his short-term plan is to also develop the COVID-19 recovery Digital COVID-19 Certificate (DCC), which allows persons to register their past infections and show proof of natural immunity.
Please note that the requirements for unvaccinated persons remain the same, for further details visit the Government website.
Please see the List of WHO-approved vaccines below:
* Moderna
* Pfizer/BioNTech. (FDA Approved)
* Janssen (Johnson & Johnson)
* Oxford/AstraZeneca.
* Sinopharm (Beijing) BBIBP
* Sinovac. CoronaVac.


Government working on adjusting minimum wage, advice sent to the SER.

~ Government also awaiting Cost of Living Assessment.~

PHILIPSBURG:--- The Minister of Labor Omar Ottley confirmed on Wednesday at the weekly council of ministers press conference that his ministry is busy working on adjusting minimum wage especially since the cost of living of St. Maarten is soaring.
Asked by SMN News what exactly government is doing to assist minimum wage earners the Minister said he signed off on an advice and sent to the SER for their advice on adjusting minimum wage. He said the intention is to add a one-time indexation to the minimum wage for the missed years. Ottley said as soon as the SER sends back the advice he will act accordingly. The Minister assured that his ministry did what is needed but they must wait on the advisory body for a response.
The Minister of Labor said that just last week the Minister of TEATT Roger Lawrence presented government with the increased food prices and they have been working collaboratively to address the problem. Ottley said the soaring food prices is a worldwide situation but that does not mean government will accept it all.
Prime Minister Silveria Jacobs in her comments relating the matter said last week’s, meeting was a follow-up meeting; and that government asked the departments within the Ministry of TEATT to provide government with answers relating to the skyrocketing of food prices. She said that several recommendations were also made. Jacobs said her government is looking at a multi prong approach besides looking at wages. Jacobs said her government took note of the complaints about wages in general including within government, thus she has asked the personnel office of government to bring forward some solutions to the existing problems.
The Prime Minister said prior to the policy that is being worked on by the Ministry of Labor, the Ministry of General Affairs also requested the SER to provide a cost of the living assessment. Jacobs said that the SER is supposed to finalize and approve a report which will be shared with government within short.

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