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Coast Guard helps vessel between Statia and St. Barths.

rescue07122022PHILIPSBURG:--- Last Monday the Coast Guard received a notification that a vessel was experiencing engine problems. The vessel, with two persons on board with the name CK was drifting between Sint Eustatius and Sint Barths. A Coast Guard patrol boat sailed immediately to the area in search of the vessel to assist. Once near the vicinity, the Metal Shark crew saw a red flare (maritime distress signal) which presumably came from the boat in distress. The Coast Guard patrol boat immediately sailed to the location to investigate and found the vessel CK with the two persons on board. The boat and its passengers on board were safely brought to Simpson Bay in Sint
Maarten by the Coast Guard patrol.

MP Wescot: “Government not transparent with respect to the budget of the Integrity Chamber. Answers to parliament not truthful and the question is why.”

sarahwescotwilliams10072016PHILIPSBURG:--- The acceptance of the initial national budget 2022 included an amendment, initiated by coalition MP Brison that reduced the budget of the Integrity Chamber by approximately 700.000 guilders, without an utterance by the minister involved, in this case, the Prime Minister. This money was so-called redistributed to the island’s promotion. Only to learn later that this money could not be spent on promotion”, the MP explained.

In the meantime, the government was confronted with a disappointed Integrity Chamber, unable to fulfill (all of) its plans.

“Aware of this dilemma, I questioned the Prime Minister about her acceptance of the reduction without ascertaining if the work of the Integrity Chamber would be compromised”.

By letter, the PM acknowledged the challenges faced by the Integrity Chamber due to the unilateral cut in its budget and assured me that the budget of the Integrity Chamber would be amended in the amended budget 2022. Furthermore the PM stated that this amendment would increase the Integrity Chamber’s budget with f. 300.000,—.
See the PM’s letter to parliament attached.

“Lo and behold, the amended budget arrives at parliament, is passed by a majority in parliament, and nowhere is a correction of f. 300.000 to the budget of the Integrity Chamber evident”.

Hence, I submitted the following to the Prime Minister based on her letter to parliament:
In your letter of October 31, 2022, in response to my queries regarding the amended budget of the Integrity Chamber (IC), you stated and I quote “…that internally it was decided to increase the budget of the integrity chamber with 300,000 guilders and that this would be done in the amended budget 2022.

In the meantime, the amended budget 2022 was passed by parliament. Item number 2100.44102 amounts to the same amount of the original budget 2022, as initially passed by parliament namely, 1.772.932 million guilders, due to the Brison amendment.

Kindly respond to the following questions.

Is my comprehension correct that the budget was to include an increase for the IC?
if so, where in the budget is this increase for the Integrity Chamber manifested?
In your letter, you indicated that it was part of the budget to be sent to parliament. Was that done?
if not, why not?
If yes, is it still to be done?
Would the Prime Minister agree that what has been stated in the letter of October 31st to the parliament is misleading?
Was the Prime Minister ever made aware of this? If so, when and by whom?

Why is this issue so important? “Like it or not, the integrity chamber is here with its tasks according to law. Citizens have an avenue for redress of integrity issues. We either count this institution to our checks and balances or we do not”, the MP added.
We do not willfully frustrate its operations.

CDFHA & St. Maarten Academy PSVE host men’s day panel discussion for students.

PHILIPSBURG:---  As a continuation of this year’s International Men’s Day activities the Department of Community Development, Family & Humanitarian Affairs (CDFHA) and the St. Maarten Academy PSVE joined forces to host an all-male panel discussion under the theme “Things I wished my father taught me” for its male students on Wednesday, November 23, 2022, from 8 am-10.30 am. International Men’s Day, is observed annually on November 19, is a day to promote positive role models, raise awareness and draw attention to the issues affecting men and boys and their wellbeing. The panel featured several community leaders namely Mr. Clifton Wilson, Mr. Mauricio Dembrook, and Mr. Sjorensly Valies, and was moderated by Mr. Riegnald “Bakari” Arrindell. Also, Mr. Valies discussed the importance of exercising self-control (thoughts and actions) and implored the young men not to ignore their mental health. He reminded the audience of their unique ability to make their dreams come through providing they create a plan for their lives.

From left to right: Mr. Mauricio Dembrook, Mr. Riegnald Arrindell, Mr. Sjorensly Valies, and Mr. Clifton Wilson
In his presentation on “Starting & managing a family business” by Mr. Mauricio Dembrook stressed the importance of developing a strong work ethic, mastering one unique skillset and sharing the ins and outs of working for one’s self, and dispelling the myths about being one’s own boss. Mr. Dembrook also encouraged students to acquire the requisite knowledge and skills to add value to the workplace, family, school, and other areas of their lives. Additionally, Mr. Valies & Mr. Wilson highlighted the virtues of volunteerism & activism to improve the quality of life of others and to make a difference in their respective communities. They called on the young men to join a foundation to support worthy causes. The Men’s Day panel discussion sought to bridge the gap between in-class learning and real-world experience and inspire them to become self-motivated leaders. The Department of Community Development, Family & Humanitarian Affairs wishes to thank the Management, staff and students of the Academy PSVE for its support and assistance in making the International Men’s Day project a huge success.


Ministry of VROMI announces Temporary Road Closure of A.T. Illidge on Saturday.

roadclosure07122022PHILIPSBURG (DCOMM):--- The Ministry of Public Housing, Environment, Spatial Planning, and Infrastructure (Ministry of VROMI), hereby announces that there will be an interruption in the traffic flow on the A.T. Illidge Road (Dutch Quarter), the proximity of Nazareth Road on Saturday, December 10, 2022, from 7:00 am until 11:00 am.
Motorists are requested to be vigilant and observant of the traffic directional signs.
Motorists coming from French Quarter and Belvedere will use Bishop Road, Sucker Garden Road, and/or Middle Region Road to get to their desired locations.
Motorists coming from Madam Estate to Dutch Quarter will use the Middle Region Road to reach their destination.
The road closure is in connection with the maintenance of the sewage pump pit in the area of Nazareth Road.
The Ministry of VROMI apologizes for any inconvenience that this may cause.

TEATT set to Launch Online Business License Application.

omarottley07122022PHILIPSBURG:--- The Ministry of Tourism, Economic Affairs, Transportation & Telecommunication (TEATT), will be introducing its online business license application services on January 1st, 2023.

The Honorable Minister Omar Ottley and the Ministry of TEATT introduced the online system that will revolutionize the way we request a business license on St. Maarten. The system has been introduced to the various notaries and administration offices that help the population with various requests.

Members of the business community are scheduled to meet with the department of TEATT later this week to provide feedback. In the next few weeks, the public will be informed on how the online application system works via the Government’s website, the local media, and the Government’s Facebook page.

Although the system had been near completion for some time, the Department of Economic Licenses’ (DEL) focus has primarily been on eliminating the backlog. The department has been working diligently to clear and organize itself in a way that it could be ready to handle more requests in a shorter time.

The goal is 2-4 weeks with exceptions on certain types of licenses that require some extra due diligence. For example, operating license requests for restaurants, bars, etc; because these requests have a different handling process.

Minister Ottley has made it a priority that all staff will be trained and versed in the online process and system in the coming weeks. “St. Maarten is open and ready to take on your business,” said Minister Ottley.

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